President’s Message August 2016

by Lorene Oikawa

Long summer days mean feasting on the local crops of fruit and vegetables. I’ve been enjoying blueberries and am hoping to get out to a local farm for some blackberries, sweet corn, and maybe some late strawberries. It’s also about this time of year when I start to experience intense cravings for fresh grilled, wild, salmon and musubi (grilled SPAM – fried pork with soy sauce and honey that tastes a little sweet and salty on top of rice, and wrapped with nori. Isn’t your mouth watering?). I hope you get a chance to try our comfort food at our annual GVJCCA wild salmon barbeque and food booth at Powell Street Festival on July 30 and 31. If you drop by to say hi at our food booth and our community booth, my apologies if you catch me with my mouth full. Mmmmm…

Thank you for supporting us at our wild salmon barbeque. It’s a major fundraiser for us, and we can’t thank you enough, and to all of our amazing volunteers and donors. Eat great food and support the work of the GVJCCA. It’s a wonderful way to spend a couple days of
your summer.

It’s the 40th anniversary of the Powell Street Festival and congratulations to the Powell Street Festival Society for their longevity and organizing an event that celebrates our Japanese Canadian culture and history in the area. It’s important to know and remember the history of our Japanese Canadian community. It’s about respecting previous generations, and understanding the true history of our country, and it’s also about the relevance to today’s society.

As one of my colleagues was leaving work for the day, she said she was almost afraid to watch the news tonight, wondering if there would be more events highlighting the hate and violence in the world. One thing that links so many of the events is the hate targeting people based on discrimination and racism. Also, the response to the events is very disturbing. Violence does not stop the violence.

Japanese Canadians continue to be shocked to see the constant targeting of Muslims, who are labelled terrorists just as Japanese Canadians were once labelled enemy aliens. I have had quite a few conversations about the work of the GVJCCA and the history of the incarceration of Japanese Canadians. What is missing in our society are the lessons of history.

The British Columbia Ministry of International Trade and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations recently announced that they “are seeking nominations from the public for historic places in British Columbia that they believe are significant or important to the history and development of the Japanese community in B.C. From the sites nominated a selection of historic places will be officially recognized by the Government of British Columbia and placed on both the B.C. Register of Historic Places and the Canadian Register of Historic Places (”

We encourage members of the Japanese Canadian community to make sure their voice is being heard and to nominate a place that is significant to our community. Japanese Canadians have been a part of British Columbia since the 1800s and our history is part of the history of this province and must be recognized.

The deadline for nominations is September 9, 2016, and you must complete the online form to nominate a place.

It’s a step forward and there is more work to be done.

The GVJCCA will be continuing our Legacy of Redress community forums. The GVJCCA Human Rights Committee is planning one in October to continue our work with the Muslim community. We are seeking to learn more about the current experience of the Muslim community and how we can support greater understanding. We will also be planning another forum with our Japanese Canadian community to continue to gather ideas about how our history can be embedded in the history of British Columbia and Canada, and used to combat the discrimination and racism that is occurring today. We are also interested in gathering the stories and thoughts of the Sansei (third generation) and beyond.

When we have worked out the details of our upcoming forums, we will post the information on our website,, and in The Bulletin/Geppo.

We hope you will join us on Tuesday, August 9, at 7pm at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre for a special free evening of traditional Japanese court music, classical dancing, and singing. The Hiroshima Goodwill Cultural Mission features nationally-known Japanese stars Izumi Kimoto and Yoshie Tachikawa.

Some good news for those of you who are looking for a copy of our newly- published book, Honouring our People: Breaking the Silence, featuring stories from survivors who were incarcerated at internment camps. Our first printing sold out, and our second printing will be available for purchase at our JCCA Community Booth at Powell Street Festival, at the Nikkei National Museum gift shop, and directly from us. Please drop by our office, Room 249, at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre during the Matsuri Festival. When other booksellers are confirmed we will post it on our website.