President Lorene Oikawa’s Message – October 2017

The rain has arrived, and there is a chill in the morning. Now, we start the transition from summer to fall. It’s also the time for giving thanks. I am thankful for the love of family, and cherish the time I had with those who are gone. The good memories are what will comfort us, and a reminder to enjoy the time you have now, and with family and friends.
I am also thankful for all of our volunteers who appear every year, and to new folks too, who help us with our events and initiatives. We appreciate their hard work. This year at the Wild Salmon Barbeque and SPAM Musubi booth, they had to keep up with the huge demand, and we sold out around 4pm on Sunday. Everyone seemed to be following the come early, come often mantra.
We give thanks for all of our members, donors, and supporters. You help us keep going, with inspiration, and the financial means to continue publishing The Bulletin – Geppo magazine, and continue our leadership role to follow up on issues of concern to the community, and speak out for the community, and to take on the political role when necessary. We are also dedicated to working to preserve the stories of our families, our communities, and to protect the integrity of community projects and the work of Japanese Canadians.
The GVJCCA’s work is also supported by our National Association, and we are thankful to the NAJC for the connection to Japanese Canadian communities across Canada. We met in September at the Annual General Meeting and Conference in Ottawa. We commemorated the 75th Anniversary of Internment / Incarceration of Japanese Canadians. One of the special guest presenters Dr. John Price, University of Victoria, is a respected scholar and social activist. He talked about his working paper, Seventy Five Years is Long Enough. We discussed the unilateral apology delivered by the Government of British Columbia inside the Legislature on May 7, 2012 which did not acknowledge the fact that the provincial government instigated the incarceration and the subsequent diaspora of the Japanese Canadian community. Dr. Price’s paper is posted on the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives Migration and Mobility Program website, and can be found here:
We are also thankful to be able to have opportunities to work with the community and organize events and support initiatives.
Save the following dates/events in your calendar. More information including special guests will be posted at the website soon.

The GVJCCA will be hosting a free public forum on the Legacy of Redress at the Vancouver Public Library on Sunday, November 19, 2017 from 2 p.m.
22,000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry were labelled enemy aliens and forcibly removed from the B.C. coast in 1942. With rumours and fear mongering, the federal government used the War Measures Act to unjustly incarcerate Japanese Canadians and take their property including land, businesses, vehicles, fishing boats, and personal property. In 1988, the federal government apologized. It could never happen again. Or could it?

Join an interactive discussion about the historical injustice that happened 75 years ago, and how other communities are facing a fight for their rights today. More information will be posted at

A free film screening will be hosted by the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association on Saturday, November 25, 2017 at 2 p.m. The first film is The Orange Story, a short film from the 2017 Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF). The film is a drama about the Japanese American experience 75 years ago and the story of one Japanese American store owner. Our second film is a short documentary of the GVJCCA event held earlier this year, called Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey. If you are a subscriber to The Bulletin – Geppo, then you will have seen our monthly stories about Japanese Canadian pioneers, part of the research, emanating from our project. Did you know: “By the late 1930s, there were more than 45 Japanese Canadian families with farms in the [Strawberry Hill – Surrey] area owning a total of more than 245 acres of land. In 2017, Strawberry Hill was one of 56 sites officially recognized by Heritage BC’s Japanese Canadian Historic Places Project and listed on the BC Register of Historic Places.” Thanks to Grace Eiko Thomson, we are pleased to be showing as our third film, The Vancouver Asahi, which is a period drama about the Vancouver Asahi baseball team and how they faced racism and persevered to win multiple league titles. They also won the respect of those outside of the Japanese Canadian community. In 2003, the real-life Vancouver Asahi baseball players were inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and then in 2005, the BC Sports Hall of Fame. I have a personal connection, my grandfather was a pitcher for the Vancouver Asahi.
I hope we will see you at one or both events. It’s a thank you to our ancestors for their resiliency, remembering 75 years ago, and it’s also part of our important work to ensure that people know the stories of our Japanese Canadian communities, and that the injustices are not repeated.
Last but not least, special thanks to the GVJCCA Board who are also volunteers, our human rights committee, our editors, translators, and everyone who works to produce and deliver the Bulletin Geppo, and our past summer students, and our new admin assistant. It’s truly a team effort and for that I am very thankful.