President’s Message October 2016

By Lorene Oikawa

And the award for outstanding volunteers goes to…

Our GVJCCA volunteers. Yes, we really appreciate you!

Thank you again for all your talents and time to support the GVJCCA including helping with the monthly mail out of The Bulletin Geppo magazine and translation, all your work at our annual wild salmon barbeque and musubi food booth, and our annual community bowl-a-thon. Your efforts make our events and our magazine very successful.

To show our appreciation, we would like to invite you, our volunteers, to an appreciation evening on Friday, October 14th from 7-9 p.m. at the Nikkei Centre, Room 105, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby. Please RSVP by October 10 to April at 604.421.36322 or email aprilshimizu@gmail.com

The board of directors and I are looking forward to meeting with you and catching up. We do have lots of news to share, and we won’t make you wait.

I am honoured to announce that I was elected Vice President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) at the 2016 AGM in Calgary in September. I am excited to be working with new NAJC President David Mitsui, and a very accomplished board including our own GVJCCA Board Director, Susanne Tabata, and GVJCCA Human Rights Committee member, Lisa Uyeda.

We will be furthering the aims of the national organization to strengthen our communities and work to eliminate racial discrimination. Next year is an important anniversary, it will be 75 years since Japanese Canadians were forcibly uprooted from the west coast, and unjustly incarcerated and dispossessed. We must continue to work on ensuring the historical injustice is remembered so that people learn and we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. When we see the news today, and hear some commentaries, you could be forgiven for thinking we have not made many advances towards equity and an inclusive society.

There is much work to be done, and I will also continue as President of the GVJCCA. The GVJCCA is a member organization of the NAJC, and the GVJCCA has an important role representing the historic homeland of Japanese Canadians. The NAJC is the only national organization representing Japanese Canadians, and negotiated the historic Redress agreement with the Government of Canada on behalf of all Canadians of Japanese ancestry who suffered injustice from the racist government policies during the Second World War. For more information about the NAJC, please see their website at www.najc.ca

The NAJC and GVJCCA have a history of defending the rights of people and expressing the concerns of our communities. Speaking out about our collective concern about the short timeline for the nominations for Japanese Canadian historical places has been effective. On September 8, 2016, Heritage BC announced an extended deadline to November 30, 2016.

On July 7, 2016, the Province of BC announced a call for nominations for historically significant Japanese Canadian places in British Columbia to be officially recognized. The deadline was set for September 9, 2016. The NAJC and GVJCCA along with other Japanese Canadian groups and individuals were concerned and spoke up about the short timeline. We want to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to hear about the call and submit nominations. We have created a Facebook page, JC Sites BC, to provide a forum for discussion and sharing information about the nominations process. We have also set up a document so we can try to track nominations made and in progress. Seeing where there are gaps may encourage people to submit nominations and help each other so that important historical sites are not being missed. This is only the first step towards ensuring the contributions of Japanese Canadians are not forgotten and to help prevent anyone else’s suffering from racism and injustice. Please see the September edition of The Bulletin for more information and JC Sites BC on Facebook. [Links are posted on gvjcca.org]

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Please join us for another GVJCCA Legacy of Redress Forum on October 15, 2-5 p.m., at Tonari Gumi. We will have special Muslim speakers who will share their perspective of being Muslim in Canada. Why did Japanese Canadians experience a horrible déjà vu after 9-1-1? Let’s have some conversations and discuss how we can work together for a safe, welcoming, inclusive society. See the event posting for more information.