President’s Message February 2016

by Lorene Oikawa

Opening up the GVJCCA mail is always interesting to me. There is an assortment of newspapers, magazines, flyers, advertising, bills (okay, we could use less bills), and cheques from you, our members. I always get a bit excited to pull out the membership and donation slips. I see the names and wonder about the connections to our community. A special thank you to those signing up or renewing your membership, and also, for the donations! Your continued support allows us to continue our good work for our members, and for the Japanese Canadian and Japanese community, and includes producing The Bulletin magazine.

Our January was very busy with our work to organize Shinnekai, New Year’s Celebration, and Keirokai, celebrating our valued seniors and New Year’s. Thank you to GVJCCA Board Director Yuji Matson for his work on the Shinnekai Organizing Committee, along with the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society. Thank you to GVJCCA Board Director April Shimizu for her work organizing Keirokai and thank you to Tonari Gumi for their assistance with the registration. Both events were enjoyed by the participants, and it was great to see so many attend from our Japanese Canadian community. We did thank the volunteers at the events, but I would like to give another big shout out to all the volunteers. Some of the volunteers have been helping us for years. We can’t put on the events without your help so thank you so much.

Coming up is our 2nd annual GVJCCA Japanese Canadian Community Bowl-a-thon on Sunday, February 21st. Children to seniors joined us last year, and it was so much fun for families and individuals. Plus we have lots of prizes in our raffle draw. This year we are trying out Rev’s Bowling Centre which is next to the Holdom Skytrain station on Lougheed Highway in Burnaby, and there are plenty of spaces at their parking lot. We will hand out free parking passes. Bowlers can also gather pledges for the GVJCCA, and other participating Japanese Canadian organizations. See The Bulletin website for more information, and for the registration and pledge forms. We have extended the registration deadline to February 12th, but please register as soon as possible.

Get ready for more events throughout the year, especially during May, Asian Heritage Month. We are working on ideas right now and we will share more information as it becomes available.

Would you like to strengthen your understanding of your Japanese Canadian heritage and help the GVJCCA work to preserve and share information about the Japanese Canadian community? Do you have skills such as marketing, communication, and fundraising and a desire to help the GVJCCA, a non-profit organization? Are you interested in working to eliminate racism and discrimination, through the sharing of our stories of our Japanese Canadian ancestors? Consider volunteering. We have different opportunities with upcoming projects and committee work. We need volunteers to accomplish our goals. Contact the GVJCCA for more information. If you are interested in volunteering by joining the Board of Directors, please submit a letter expressing your interest and your connection to the Japanese Canadian community, and outlining your experience and skills, by email or Canada Post to the GVJCCA, Attention: President, by February 29, 2016. The Annual General Meeting will take place on March 12, 2016. See the ad posted in The Bulletin on page 8.

I shared some of my impressions of my trip to Japan in last month’s Bulletin and I was asked by a few people if I experienced any earthquakes or shaking while I was in Japan. No, I didn’t. I enjoyed the trip so much that I didn’t even think about it until I visited the Life Safety Learning Centre in Tokyo.

At the Centre, I experienced three earthquake simulations which did shake us and not just physically. In the first simulation we were in a kitchen type setting and we were instructed to get down and duck under a table and hold on to the table leg. The room started shaking and the floor was moving. I was holding onto the table leg tightly. A cabinet fell near us which startled us even though we were warned. After that simulation we tried another where we had to open a door to get out, but the force of “water” outside was making it difficult to open it. In that simulation, I had to use the force of my body to push open the door. In the final simulation, we sat in a mock car and tried to open the door to escape, but the pressure of the “water” kept the door closed. Sitting in the car made it difficult to use my body weight against the door. When the alarm sounded, the guide told me it was too late, I had taken too long.

The people in Japan know they must prepare for earthquakes and other disasters, because they “will” happen so they have good resources and participate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in Vancouver who put off the preparation, because they think it’s “if” there is an earthquake.

I am fortunate that my mother has had the family thinking about preparation for a long time so I have an earthquake kit in my bedroom and in my car. However, I find that I’m in the minority. A good sign is that I do see more people participating in ShakeOut BC Day.

After I returned home, I was sitting at my computer one night, and around 11:39 p.m., I heard a loud bang and the wall shook. My first thought was that something had hit the house.

I quickly checked social media and discovered everyone was talking about it. It was an earthquake about 20 kilometres north of Victoria on Vancouver Island, but it was felt all through Greater Vancouver including the Fraser Valley, and definitely in Surrey at my house. The US Geological Survey website said it was a magnitude 4.8 earthquake while Natural Resources Canada said it was 4.3.

The earthquake had an impact on people, because it wasn’t theoretical, they experienced it. There was a huge increase in the interest in emergency kits and emergency preparedness. It was good to see, but it was also disturbing to hear that non urgent calls (questions about an earthquake) tied up 9-1-1 that night. We have a lot to learn.

For more information on ShakeOut BC Day, check the website at