President Lorene Oikawa’s Message – August 2017

I am trying to write, but I am distracted by the night sky. It has an odd brown pink tinge. My windows are open and it doesn’t smell smoky, but something is tickling my throat, and I am starting to cough.
Even though I am about 400 kilometers from the wildfires, the smoke has made its way to the Lower Mainland. We have a reception centre at a Cloverdale arena in Surrey. Some of those who left the wildfires are making their way here, although, many are in Kamloops.
I have family and friends in Kamloops, and the Cariboo. Even though they are safe, I feel a bit anxious when I hear the news and see the posts on Facebook. The province of BC has declared a state of emergency.
I feel for those who have fled their homes, and those who are worried they are next. I thank all the firefighters, responders, and everyone who is helping out. What is inspiring are the stories of people who are volunteering and offering their homes for people and/or animals. One young boy is making up goody bags for children who have had to leave their homes.
The news reports talk about the evacuation. They describe the plight of families who, with little notice, have had to pack up and leave their homes. One family talks about how little time they had, and that they only had time to pack a few suitcases.
It’s strange to hear something familiar, but in a different context. Evacuation has a different meaning for Japanese Canadians. The term was the euphemism used by the government, to describe the forced uprooting of 22,000 innocent children, women, and men. Canadians of Japanese ancestry were targeted 75 years ago, and were forced from their homes and communities, dispossessed, and incarcerated.
I am hoping by the time you read this, the conditions will have changed, bringing much needed relief to the over 45,000 (number is increasing as I write) people who have had to flee their homes, and the nearly 3,000 firefighters who are battling over 150 fires, and countless others who are helping out.
Any contribution you can make would be greatly appreciated.
Slices of pork, grilled to sweet and salty perfection, layered with Japanese rice, and wrapped with a strip of nori (seaweed). It’s that time of year when I get intense cravings for Musubi, SPAM sushi. It’s a very popular snack in Hawaii, and it’s become a favourite of GVJCCA and NAJC (National Association of Japanese Canadian) foodies across the country.
Once again, we will have Musubi available along with our wild salmon BBQ dinner at the 41st annual Powell Street Festival on Saturday, August 5, and Sunday, August 6. For those of you reading The Bulletin early, this is your reminder to drop by the GVJCCA food booth and barbecue on Jackson Avenue, by the Vancouver Buddhist Temple, and also our community booth in Oppenheimer Park.
Our community booth will have free copies of The Bulletin, a photo display of our events for the past year, and great information about some of the work we are doing for the community.
Since it is summer, it’s also the time of year when many families visit Hastings Park for entertainment and the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE). Make sure you check out the bright green Hastings Park 1942 signage by the Forum, Rollerland, and Livestock Building, telling the stories of the 8,000 Japanese Canadians who were detained there until being shipped out to camps.
Thanks to the NAJC for their support so that we can continue our work on the Hastings Park 1942 project and develop a teacher’s resource so that the stories will be shared in classrooms. This work is being developed with teachers so that it will be a valuable and useful resource for teachers.
We had a great time at the 5th Annual Tonari Gumi GVJCCA Charity Classic Golf Tournament at Meadow Gardens. Thanks to David Iwaasa for heading up the committee (and thanks to our GVJCCA Board Director Susanne Tabata on the committee), and special thanks to all of the volunteers, sponsors, and the golfers who helped to make this happen.
Congratulations to Premier John Horgan and the new provincial government in British Columbia. We look forward to meeting with you.