Over 270 Submissions for Japanese Canadian Historic Places

Thank you for speaking up and submitting nominations for Japanese Canadian historic places. The deadline was November 30. Heritage BC reports that over 270 submissions were received and will be reviewed. We will keep you posted as we receive information.

Speaking out about our collective concern about the short timeline for the nominations for Japanese Canadian historical places was 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 wanted to ensure as many people as possible would have the opportunity to hear about the call and submit nominations. We created a Facebook page, JC Sites BC, to provide a forum for discussion and sharing information about the nominations process. We 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. Please see the September edition of The Bulletin for more information and JC Sites BC on Facebook.

Tents at Bayfarm. Photo courtesy of Nikkei National Museum.

Media Release: Japanese Canadian Community Organizes so History is Not Forgotten

Vancouver, BC: Japanese Canadian community organizations and individuals have joined together and launched a Facebook page, JC Sites BC, in response to a provincial government call for nominations for historically significant Japanese Canadian places.

 

Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (GVJCCA) president Lorene Oikawa says, “We want to ensure as many people as possible hear about the call and are able to submit nominations. That’s why we spoke out about the original deadline date and the requirement to determine ownership of the property. It has been removed & the date changed.”

 

On July 7, 2016 Heritage BC announced on behalf of British Columbia Ministry of International Trade and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations that nominations of historic places for the Japanese Canadian Historic Places Recognition Project would be accepted until September 9, 2016. A letter signed by individuals and representatives from Japanese Canadian community groups including the GVJCCA, Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, and the National Association of Japanese Canadians was sent to Heritage BC requesting an extension.

 

On September 8, 2016, Heritage BC announced an extended deadline to November 30, 2016.

 

“We are pleased we were heard and we are looking forward to collaborating with Heritage BC for the nomination process, and the next steps which we are hoping will include a rich resource that will teach the stories of Japanese Canadians,” says Laura Saimoto, Alumni Director, Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall.

 

The Facebook page, JC Sites BC, provides a forum for discussion and sharing information about the nominations process. A document has been set up so people can self-report nominations being made, because the information is not being made available. Oikawa notes that seeing where there are gaps may encourage people to submit nominations and help each other so that important historical sites are not being missed. Oikawa says, “The ownership question on the application form is no longer a requirement thanks to the community speaking up.” Saimoto adds that people can submit more than one nomination and there can be multiple nominations for a historic place. Saimoto says, “Sites can be buildings to entire neighbourhoods. It can also be parks or land where there aren’t any buildings.”

 

Nominations must be made by November 30, 2016 on the application form available at the Heritage BC site, www.heritagebc.ca The Japanese Canadian community Facebook page is at http://bit.ly/2ba36Lz

 

“Japanese Canadians have been in Canada since the 1800’s so the history of Japanese Canadians is the history of BC,” says Oikawa. “Their contributions and the historical injustice of forced displacement and dispossession should not be forgotten, and it should be in the core curriculum. We need to know our history or we repeat the mistakes.”

 

Media contacts:

 

Laura Saimoto, Vancouver Japanese Language School & and Japanese Hall, Alumni Director

lsaimoto4@gmail.com           (t) 604-351-0788

 

Lorene Oikawa, Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association, President

l.oikawa@najc.ca                    (t) 604-777-5222

GVJCCA Legacy of Redress Forum: What it means to be Muslim in Canada today.

The GVJCCA Human Rights Committee is presenting another Legacy of Redress Forum sharing the perspective of what it means to be Muslim in Canada today. Guest speakers are Itrath Syed, PhD Candidate of School of Communication at SFU and teacher of Women’s Studies, Langara College, and Hasan Alam, a lawyer working on civil rights and community education.

 

Date: Saturday, October 15, 2016
Time: 2 to 5PM
Place: Tonari Gumi, 42 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

 

Please come to this forum to learn about the Muslim community in Canada.  Why did Japanese Canadians experience a horrible déjà vu after 9-1-1? Are Canadians who are Muslim today’s “Enemy Aliens” as Japanese Canadians once were?  Let’s discuss what can be done to combat Islamophobia.

 

Refreshments will be served.

Media Release: Recognition of Japanese Canadian Historic Sites

Recognition of Japanese Canadian Historic Sites
***Heritage BC has extended the nominations deadline to November 30, 2016***

Aug. 22, 2016

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE

What historic places in B.C.’s Japanese Canadian history do you feel should be recognized as significant for future generations? The Japanese Canadian community wants your input!On July 7th, 2016, Heritage BC announced on behalf of British Columbia Ministry of International Trade and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, that nominations of historic places for the Japanese Canadian Historic Places Recognition Project will be accepted until *November 30th, 2016. (https://secure.heritagebc.ca/japanese-historic- places-recognition-project/). [*The new deadline was announced on September 8, 2016.] British Columbians now have the opportunity to nominate places or sites that you feel tell the history of Japanese Canadians in B.C. In collaboration with Heritage B.C. and the provincial government, the Japanese Canadian community hopes that this provincial registry will become a stepping stone to create a digital interactive educational mapping tool to teach the lessons of Japanese Canadian history.

Japanese Canadians have made an important contribution to the history and building of B.C. since their arrival to Canada in 1877. Early immigrants worked in various industries including fishing, logging, and farming, creating many thriving communities such as Vancouver, Steveston, and for example places along the Skeena River. Japanese Canadians faced the injustices of being stripped of the vote in 1895, stripped of fishing licenses in the 1920’s, then during the second World War the injustices of forced displacement, internment and the dispossession of their properties by the federal and provincial government. Unable to return to the coast until 1949 due to racist politics, they were subjected to a violation of basic human rights by being forced to go east of the Rockies or be deported to Japan. In the process of rebuilding, they won a successful fight for Redress in 1988.

The history of Japanese Canadians is the history of BC, telling the Canadian immigrant story of overcoming a barrage of challenges to being acknowledged and celebrated as a vibrant part of the multicultural fabric of British Columbia society today.

Sites do not have to be grand, or even very old. They can range from buildings, monuments, cemeteries and parks to entire neighborhoods or districts, and abandoned sites that once stood, but have now been reclaimed by nature. To nominate a historic place complete or mail the online form by November 30, 2016. [On September 8, 2016, a new deadline of November 30, 2016 was announced replacing the original deadline of September 9, 2016.]

Submit nominations on the Heritage BC form, but also list up your site on the Japanese Canadian community Facebook page http://bit.ly/2ba36Lz . The Facebook page will give real time information on what sites under which categories British Columbians have nominated in such as internment camps, cemetery sites etc.

Media contacts:

Laura Saimoto, Vancouver Japanese Language School & and Japanese Hall, alumni director

lsaimoto4@gmail.com;  (t) 604-351-0788

Lorene Oikawa, Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadians Association, President

lorene.oikawa@gmail.com;  (t) 604-842-8202

Honouring Our People Book Launch

by Lorene Oikawa

It turned out to be a nice day. Sometimes when the weather is too good, it discourages people from attending indoor events. That wasn’t the case with the GVJCCA Honouring Our People book launch. The room was packed with about 60 people including about 15 storytellers and another three who were family representing storytellers who were in the book.

Storytellers and co-editors. Roxanne Ryan back row, far left.

Storytellers and co-editors. Roxanne Ryan back row, far left.

Members of the Honouring Our People Book Committee were greeting people, people were chatting, and it was reminiscent of how this book started.

On three days in September, 2009, families, friends, and survivors came together for the Honouring Our People: Stories of the Internment conference in Burnaby, BC, at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre. The conference paid tribute to the Japanese Canadians who experienced racism, alienation, betrayal, restrictions, uprooting and loss during and after WWII. We also acknowledged the resilience and perseverance shown by Japanese Canadians who not only endured, but often prospered after the war. We created a safe space for a dialogue between generations, and descendants of survivors had the opportunity to learn more about their family’s history.

Miyuki Nagata and Lillian Nakashima

Miyuki Nagata and Lillian Nakashima

For some, it was the first time they heard the stories of what their families went through. It’s quite common for Japanese Canadian families to not know their family’s history. One of the book’s co-editors and a storyteller herself, Mary Kitagawa observed at the conference, “It is often stated that many have kept this trauma deep within their psyche because it is so painful to talk about it. Many children and grandchildren are not aware of their ancestors’ past.”

At the book launch, Editor Randy Enomoto offered a glimpse of the huge amount of work that goes into producing a book. He gave an example of how he ran into problems when checking a few references to online material that were now “dead links” one year later and he had to get the co-editor to find updated references. He also teased the audience with some other “secrets” and said, “You’ll have to buy the book to find out what happened.”

Editor Randy Enomoto

Editor Randy Enomoto

Tosh Kitagawa, another co-editor and storyteller, who led the work to obtain the funding for the book shared some of his experiences. Tosh and his family were interned on a sugar beet farm in Diamond City, Alberta. He gave kudos to Emi Kordyback, who was in the audience, for her work as chair of the conference organizing committee. Indeed, we owe a lot to everyone who worked on the conference.

I noted that we have many people to thank including a list of volunteers, transcribers, our storytellers, my fellow co-editors, book designer John Endo Greenaway, and our editor Randy Enomoto. We acknowledge all the contributions to our book.

Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence is where you will discover what happened to the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were forcibly removed from their homes. We’ve included stories from people representing their various internment locations such as the internment prison camps and sugar beet farms. You’ll read some very personal stories, most of which are transcriptions of what the storytellers told us. Their voices convey their joy and pain, and allow you to share their laughter and tears.

Sadly, we have lost some of our storytellers in the book: Harry Aoki, Teruo Ted Harada, Emi Hirata, Jiro Kamiya, Isabel Kimoto, Yukio Tony Nasu, Bob Nimi, Dr. Nori Nishio, Seichi Bill Tahara, Dr. Teiso Uyeno, David Yamaura, and Yonnie Yonemoto.

Mary Kitagawa presents book to Ray Iwasaki

Mary Kitagawa presents book to Ray Iwasaki

At the launch, we expressed our gratitude to them for sharing their voices, the gift of their stories, and extended our condolences to their families.

We were fortunate to have a few family members present who were able to receive a copy of the book, and each co-editor was also pleased to acknowledge and present some storytellers with a copy of the book. For those storytellers in the book who weren’t able to attend the launch, we will be sending a copy of the book to them.

Our launch ended as it began, on unceded traditional Coast Salish territory with a special Aboriginal greeting of words and drumming by Roxanne Ryan.

The gathering continued with refreshments including a special cake with the cover of the Honouring Our People book. The storytellers and members of the book committee got together for a group photo, and there were lots of conversations as people looked at the photos and read over the stories in the book.

Bulletin founder and first editor Mickey Tanaka (nee Nakashima) and Min Tanaka

Bulletin founder and first editor Mickey Tanaka (nee Nakashima) and Min Tanaka

With Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence, we are hoping the stories will be shared, and be the inspiration for continued storytelling and for creating the opportunities for dialogue and learning.

Postscript: Our first printing sold out and we will be going to a second printing. We will be selling the book at our GVJCCA community booth at Powell Street Festival on July 30 and 31. Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence will also be sold at a few locations including the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. The book price is $24.95 plus GST.

GVJCCA invites you to the Hiroshima – Vancouver Peace Concert

Hiroshima Vancouver Peace Concert

Hiroshima Vancouver Peace Concert

Please join us on Tuesday, August 9, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm for the Hiroshima – Vancouver Peace Concert at Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre 6688 Southoaks, Burnaby, BC, featuring special guests from Japan who will be performing traditional Japanese court music, classical dancing, singing, and a demonstration of Aikido. The concert is free to the public.

Performers include nationally-known stars in Japan: Jazz singer Izumi Kimoto and Koto player Yoshie Tachikawa. Morimichi Hikichi and Takahiro Hashiguchi will be demonstrating Aikido.

Vancouver-based Chibi Taiko will make a guest appearance.

The Hiroshima Goodwill Cultural Mission is on a Canadian tour with only two stops, in Montreal on August 7 and Metro Vancouver on August 9.

The group is from Hiroshima, the first city to experience the horrors of the atomic bomb, and they are sharing their music and culture to promote peace in the hearts of all people.

Gagaku Singer & dancer Ms. Izumi Kimoto who is a nationally known jazz singer in Japan.

Gagaku Singer & dancer Ms. Izumi Kimoto who is a nationally known jazz singer in Japan.

Koto & Gagaku player Ms. Yoshie Tachikawa

Koto & Gagaku player Ms. Yoshie Tachikawa

NAJC – GVJCCA In Solidarity with the LGBTQ2 Community

As Pride parades and events are underway, many are taking the opportunity to pay tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting. The signs say “never forget” and some list the names of the 49 who lost their lives in the horrific shooting at Latinx Night at the gay nightclub in Florida.

The National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) offers heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of those who were killed, and our thoughts are also with the 52 people who were injured. We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ2 community.

The NAJC condemns violence against any group of people, and also finds the xenophobic and anti-Muslim response to the shooting to be very troubling. Just as we speak out against homophobia, we must also speak out against Islamophobia.

This isn’t just a problem in the US. We have seen increasing attacks on Muslims including a recent one against a mother wearing a hijab in a London, Ontario supermarket. We’ve also seen xenophobia used to support the vote for Britain to leave the European Union, and now in the backlash after the Brexit win.

On this Canada Day, let’s make a commitment to work together and drive out the hate from our communities. Japanese Canadians know too well how discrimination and racism can harm communities. Our history includes the unjust uprooting and incarceration of 22,000 innocent Canadian children, women and men who were targeted because of their Japanese ancestry. Never again. The NAJC will continue our work for inclusiveness, diversity, and equity and equality for all Canadians. Individuals, organizations, and government can make a difference to ensure Canada is the safe, welcoming country we want it to be.

Formed in 1947, the National Association of Japanese Canadians is a non-profit incorporated community organization that represents the Japanese Canadian community, and focuses on human rights and community development.

The GVJCCA is a member organization of the NAJC.