The Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (GVJCCA) is a non-profit organization that builds communities, and advocates for social justice primarily for people in Canada of Japanese heritage, and their families. The GVJCCA is the publisher of The Bulletin/Geppo, a journal of Japanese Canadian community, history & culture.

March 21, 2018 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Every year on March 21st we acknowledge the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day was proclaimed by the United Nations in remembrance of a horrific act of racism in 1960. Take a moment to remember the 69 unarmed black men, women and children who were killed and over 180 who were injured. Police opened fire on people who were participating in a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws.” Many were shot in the back as they were trying to leave the area in Sharpeville, a black township in South Africa.

We have made great strides in 58 years, and examples of positive stories of how we get along outnumber the negative stories, but we must not be complacent. Racism and discrimination still exists in our workplaces, schools, unions, organizations, online, and in the headlines.

The theme for 2018 is “Promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination.” We all have a responsibility to speak out against any racist action and intolerant messages. We also have an important role in promoting a respectful, inclusive society.

Sometimes it starts with a story. When we share our stories there is an increased awareness and the breaking down of stereotypes.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Redress when the Federal government apologized for the racist uprooting, dispossession and internment of 22,000 children, women and men. These Canadians (most were Canadian born) of Japanese ancestry were targeted and labelled enemy aliens despite the assurance of the leads for the RCMP and Canadian army who said there was no evidence and no threat. In 1988, the Federal government did apologize, and said never again.

Yet, we see certain communities such as First Nations and Muslims who are constantly under attack, and the fear mongering that is being used today is very similar to the rhetoric used in 1942 against Japanese Canadians.

I have a personal connection. I am a fourth generation BCer of Japanese heritage and both my mother and father’s side of the family were interned. My mother’s family who had been living in Cumberland on Vancouver Island since the 1800s were allowed two suitcases for my grandparents and six small children. They were then sent to Vancouver. They had to live in the animal barns in Hastings Park with other detainees before being sent to the Kootenays.

Sadly, many of our elders are no longer with us. And whether out of a survival instinct, or a desire to protect their families from that dark period, many did not share their stories with their families. Our stories are missing from the history texts and not consistently taught in schools. The GVJCCA produced the Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence book which provides stories from a wide range of Japanese Canadians who were interned at various locations. This is just one example of the many initiatives in our community.

The stories of our past are important if we and future generations are to learn from our history and not repeat the mistakes.  

On March 21, use the opportunity to speak up and support diversity in our workplaces, schools, homes, unions, and communities. Every day challenge racism. Do not accept intolerance from anyone, not from governments, employers, co-workers, friends, family or those who comment online and on social media. We all benefit from a thriving inclusive society.

Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association (GVJCCA) Annual General Meeting


Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 2 p.m.

Tsubaki Room – Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC

If you would like an opportunity to connect with our vibrant community, help preserve and share our Japanese Canadian history, and advocate for social justice, join us for this annual review of the activities of the GVJCCA, and learn about our plans for the year.

Nominations to the GVJCCA Board of Directors are being accepted. At this time, we are especially interested in recruiting board members with skills and experience in governance, financial management, community outreach, public relations, and fundraising.

Expressions of interest should include a cover letter describing your interest in our organization as well as a resume and be emailed to gvjcca@gmail.com Attention: GVJCCA President by March 16, 2018.

Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey Film Launch


Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey Film Launch
Snnday, March 4

2-4 p.m. Surrey City Centre Library

10350 University Drive, Surrey

Join us for the launch of the short film, Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey. The film captured some highlights of last year's event when we heard and shared the stories of the early settlers who came from Japan to build their lives and contribute to the growing community of Surrey. The stories also remind us about the reasons we need to support inclusiveness and reject the racist rhetoric that we thought would never be heard again, and is being repeated today. Discover a part of Surrey's rich cultural heritage and learn that we have more in common than you may think. Surrey's Poet Laureate Renée Sarojini Saklikar will be hosting the event along with Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association president Lorene Oikawa.

Thank you for your support for the 2018 4th Annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon!


Thank you. Lots of smiles and laughter at the 4th Annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon.

We have lots of people to thank including the bowlers, supporters, donors, and the volunteers. We will have the full list in the April Bulletin. 

2018 GVJCCA Bowl-a-thon Committee and Volunteers

GVJCCA 2018 Photo Contest

The Bulletin / Geppo around the World in 2018!

Take your copy of The Bulletin / Geppo with you on your travels and snap a photo of you and The Bulletin / Geppo. See below for the sample photo of the GVJCCA prez when she was in Japan. We'll publish some of our favourites during the year and one lucky person will win a prize for our favourite photo. Photos must be taken from January 1, 2018 to December 10, 2018, and must include and clearly show The Bulletin / Geppo. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) December 10, 2018. 

Click here for the fine print 

Happy New Year! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

On behalf of the GVJCCA Board, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

We hope you are enjoying your time with family and loved ones, and have the opportunity to sample the traditional foods associated with New Year's.

Osechi Ryori




Inari Sushi

Wrapping up 2017 and looking forward to 2018!


Legacy of Redress 2017 Photo by Ali Bordbar


GVJCCA CLiFF 2017 Film Festival


GVJCCA Prez loves musubi and wild salmon!


Free films & popcorn too!

GVJCCA 2017 Film Festival

Join us for free film and popcorn on Saturday, November 25, 2017 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 101 - 42 West 8th Avenue in Vancouver. We will be screening three movies, The Vancouver Asahi, The Orange Story, and Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey.

More information here and on our Facebook page here.


Honour. Remember. Respect.

Remembrance Day 2017 at the Japanese Canadian cenotaph in Stanley Park

The rain stopped. The large crowd at the Japanese Canadian cenotaph in Stanley Park gathered to pay their respects to the Japanese Canadians who served Canada starting with World War One. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge during World War One. 

Remembering the Japanese Canadians who served Canada since World War One.

Sharing the images and stories of the Japanese Canadians who served Canada.

Photos: Lorene Oikawa

More photos posted on our Facebook page here.

Remembering the 1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students

Families of 1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students and one 1942 student. GVJCCA President Lorene Oikawa (red jacket) representing her Uncle Ted Harada.

Photo: Gilbert Akham

It is the 5th anniversary of the Honorary Degree Ceremony for the 1942 Japanese Canadian UBC students who were expelled in 1942. It's also the 75th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Canadians. UBC hosted a Day of Learning where we remembered the students, discussed how we may learn and never repeat the injustice. Also, a revised yearbook, A Degree of Justice, for the 1942 students was launched.GVJCCA is pleased to have provided support. Thank you to the initiative of Tosh and Mary Kitagawa who spearheaded the campaign to have the students honoured.



Photos: Lorene Oikawa

1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students Yearbook, A Degree of Justice 

Mary Kitagawa and how she started the campaign to honour the 1942 UBC Students.

More photos posted on our Facebook page here.

Giving Thanks to Our Wonderful GVJCCA Volunteers!

GVJCCA Volunteers at Appreciation Party

We had a fun luncheon with some of our Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association volunteers. We enjoyed good conversations, delicious food, and prizes. Our volunteers are such caring, dedicated people. Some have been our volunteers for years, coming back to help every year with our initiatives such as our annual salmon BBQ. Our volunteers help us so we can continue our important work for the community.We are giving thanks this weekend including a BIG thank you to our volunteers!

Thank you Shag Ando for the delicious salmon!

Some of our wonderful JCCA volunteers!

Delectable desserts following a scrumptious lunch.

Sushi for JCCA Volunteers

Karaage Chicken for JCCA Volunteers

If you're interested in developing your skills, supporting the important work of the GVJCCA, and learning more about the Japanese Canadian community, consider volunteering with us. For more information, contact us by email gvjcca@gmail.com or by phone 604.777.5222. Send us your resume and a letter outlining your experience, skills, and why you're interested in volunteering with us. Send your information "Attention: Lorene Oikawa, President" to gvjcca@gmail.com or by Canada Post, mail to GVJCCA 249 - 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC V5E 4M7

Thank you. 

President Lorene Oikawa’s Message – March 2018



Lots of work goes into producing the Bulletin Geppo. Before managing editor John Endo Greenaway puts it all together, Japanese editors Sleepless Kao (aka Kao Kasai) and Kazuho Yamamoto are working on the Japanese section, Advertising Manager Anne Jew is working with our advertisers, and Administrative Assistant Mitsuyo Okamoto is receiving the information of loved ones who have passed so we can remember them in the Milestones section and she is also pulling together the names of our wonderful supporters who are making donations so we can recognize them. We also receive the updates and event information for community organizations. John is also busy interviewing people and writing about the people, events, and history that make up our Nikkei community. The editorial board also receives and reviews submissions from writers inside and outside of our community who want to contribute to our monthly journal about the Japanese Canadian community, history + culture.

I am also one of the writers. I write my monthly president’s message and occasionally an article of interest. I am grateful to have volunteer translators who take my message in English and translate it into Japanese. Unfortunately, my language skills are limited to my first language English, high school Parisian French, rudimentary Japanese, and the ability to say hello in a handful of other languages. I think this is fairly typical of a yonsei (fourth generation) Japanese Canadian.

My memory for languages does improve when I am immersed in the culture and hear the proper pronunciation. If one has the resources to travel and stay in the country where you can learn a language, then you will learn it more quickly. Also, you will have the benefit of learning the culture to give you a much richer experience which will also help you with your language proficiency. When I was visiting Japan for the first time, I was surprised to have French words pop in my head. My synapses were activated and started to retrieve what I thought were forgotten words from long-term storage and moved them into my working memory. After French then came Japanese. “Hai, wakarimashita.”

But when I am home in Surrey and surrounded by English, I struggle to recall the vocabulary and grammar. When my grandmother was alive, I did pick up some terms mostly about food and traditions. My mother who had the benefit of going to Japanese language school improved her conversation skills with the help of some of her Japanese Canadian friends, and she could read some simple language, mostly hiragana which is the basic alphabet. She was a Sansei (third generation) so she wasn’t familiar with a lot of the Japanese customs and practises.

However, we did eat noodles on New Year’s Eve, clean the house and prepare Japanese food for New Year’s Day, and celebrate Girl’s Day, Hinamatsuri, on March 3 and Boy’s Day, Tango no Sekku, on May 5. My grandmother would make me three different manju (confections baked, steamed and with mochi), adzuki (red bean) rice and other treats. I would put out dolls to display, but Canadian style because I didn’t have the set of ornamental dolls that you see on the tiers of red rows. On Boy’s day we would have colourful Carp (fish) streamers. When I was older and researched the days, I discovered that May 5 was designated by the Japanese government in 1948 as a national holiday, Kodomo no Hi, Children’s Day, and it’s a final celebration in a week of celebrations known as Golden Week. Hinamatsuri became more commonly known as Doll’s Day.

Girl’s Day and Boy’s Day trace their origins to the Heian period (794-1185 AD). My mother’s side of the family came to Canada in the 1800’s so the traditions they were familiar with would be from the early Meiji (1868) and then Edo period (1603-1868 AD) and earlier. It is interesting how Japanese Canadian culture and language evolved from when the Japanese first settled and started their families. And that could be a topic for another month.

Do you have any tips on learning Japanese? Email me at gvjcca “at” gmail.com I’m a fan of apps on my phone so I’ve been using Duolingo, but I would like to hear about your favourite tools or techniques.

I hope you enjoy some treats on Doll’s Day, Hinamatsuri on March 3, and for those in Metro Vancouver, I hope to see you at the launch of the GVJCCA film, Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey on March 4, and at the GVJCCA Annual General Meeting on March 24. Details are in the community calendar in this edition and on our website gvjcca.org.


Thanks to Tony Matsumoto who responded to last month’s president’s message and shared his ikigai which include his grandchildren, golf, and helping people.


We go to press just after the GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon takes place so we will have our long list of thank you messages in the next edition. Thank you for your support!

Recent News

HOP-Book-CoverNew Book! 
Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence


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Publishing monthly since 1958, The Bulletin/Geppo is a bilingual English/Japanese journal of Japanese Canadian community, history & culture.  EXPLORE

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The GVJCCA Human Rights Committee works with and supports the Japanese Canadian community, other human rights groups, and ethno-cultural organizations to promote human rights, and combat racism and discrimination, locally and internationally.  EXPLORE

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This bilingual Japanese/English Human Rights Guide is an online resource for those with questions surrounding rights and freedoms in Canada. EXPLORE

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Keep up-to-date on upcoming workshops, gatherings and other events. EXPLORE