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The Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (GVJCCA) is a non-profit organization that builds communities, and advocates for social justice primarily for people in Canada of Japanese heritage, and their families. The GVJCCA is the publisher of The Bulletin/Geppo, a journal of Japanese Canadian community, history & culture.

May is Asian Heritage Month

Vancouver Map 1912

Vancouver Map 1912


GVJCCA walking tour

GVJCCA's walking tour on May 20 is part of 2018. The walking tour will be a Pan Asian view of life in the Powell Street area. Hear the stories of how Asian Canadians lived and worked in the Powell Street area over 75 years ago. Join Hayne Wai, Chinese Canadian Historical Society, Naveen Girn, Komagata 100, and Lorene Oikawa, Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association, for a walk around the Powell Street area in Vancouver. Meet near Chapel Arts (304 Dunlevy, at the corner of Dunlevy and East Cordova) at 10 a.m. 

Free event, open to the public. For more info, contact gvjcca@gmail.com or 604.777.5222. Registration not required, but confirmation of your attendance would be appreciated to give us an idea of numbers. Thank you.

Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated in Canada for about 20 years, but it was 16 years ago when May was officially declared as Asian Heritage Month by the Canadian government. It is also the 30th anniversary of federal Redress when the federal government apologized to Japanese Canadians for the racist act of uprooting, dispossessing, and internment of Canadians of Japanese ethnicity in 1942. It wasn't until 1949, five years after the war ended that Japanese Canadians were allowed to move back to the west coast or move anywhere in Canada, and they were allowed to vote. There was no evidence against any Japanese Canadian and the RCMP and military told the government at the time that there was no evidence and no need to take any action against Japanese Canadians. 

Asian Heritage Month

April 18, 2018 is National Canadian Film Day


Join the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (GVJCCA) and the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) for a free screening at Tonari Gumi in Vancouver. GVJCCA and NAJC are hosting the films, The Breadwinner and Meditation Park, as part of the National Canadian Film Day on Wednesday, April 18th starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Breadwinner is an Academy Award nominated animated feature about Parvana, an 11 year old girl, who disguises herself as a boy to help her family survive under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

Meditation Park is about a Chinese-Canadian family and a journey of self-discovery for the matriarch Maria. Her daughter is played by Sandra Oh.

GVJCCA & NAJC host National Canadian Film Day    

Wednesday, April 18, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Tonari Gumi, 42 W8th Avenue, #101, Vancouver

The Breadwinner

Meditation Park

March 21, 2018 – International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Every year on March 21st we acknowledge the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day was proclaimed by the United Nations in remembrance of a horrific act of racism in 1960. Take a moment to remember the 69 unarmed black men, women and children who were killed and over 180 who were injured. Police opened fire on people who were participating in a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws.” Many were shot in the back as they were trying to leave the area in Sharpeville, a black township in South Africa.

We have made great strides in 58 years, and examples of positive stories of how we get along outnumber the negative stories, but we must not be complacent. Racism and discrimination still exists in our workplaces, schools, unions, organizations, online, and in the headlines.

The theme for 2018 is “Promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination.” We all have a responsibility to speak out against any racist action and intolerant messages. We also have an important role in promoting a respectful, inclusive society.

Sometimes it starts with a story. When we share our stories there is an increased awareness and the breaking down of stereotypes.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Redress when the Federal government apologized for the racist uprooting, dispossession and internment of 22,000 children, women and men. These Canadians (most were Canadian born) of Japanese ancestry were targeted and labelled enemy aliens despite the assurance of the leads for the RCMP and Canadian army who said there was no evidence and no threat. In 1988, the Federal government did apologize, and said never again.

Yet, we see certain communities such as First Nations and Muslims who are constantly under attack, and the fear mongering that is being used today is very similar to the rhetoric used in 1942 against Japanese Canadians.

I have a personal connection. I am a fourth generation BCer of Japanese heritage and both my mother and father’s side of the family were interned. My mother’s family who had been living in Cumberland on Vancouver Island since the 1800s were allowed two suitcases for my grandparents and six small children. They were then sent to Vancouver. They had to live in the animal barns in Hastings Park with other detainees before being sent to the Kootenays.

Sadly, many of our elders are no longer with us. And whether out of a survival instinct, or a desire to protect their families from that dark period, many did not share their stories with their families. Our stories are missing from the history texts and not consistently taught in schools. The GVJCCA produced the Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence book which provides stories from a wide range of Japanese Canadians who were interned at various locations. This is just one example of the many initiatives in our community.

The stories of our past are important if we and future generations are to learn from our history and not repeat the mistakes.  

On March 21, use the opportunity to speak up and support diversity in our workplaces, schools, homes, unions, and communities. Every day challenge racism. Do not accept intolerance from anyone, not from governments, employers, co-workers, friends, family or those who comment online and on social media. We all benefit from a thriving inclusive society.

Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association (GVJCCA) Annual General Meeting


Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 2 p.m.

Tsubaki Room – Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC

If you would like an opportunity to connect with our vibrant community, help preserve and share our Japanese Canadian history, and advocate for social justice, join us for this annual review of the activities of the GVJCCA, and learn about our plans for the year.

Nominations to the GVJCCA Board of Directors are being accepted. At this time, we are especially interested in recruiting board members with skills and experience in governance, financial management, community outreach, public relations, and fundraising.

Expressions of interest should include a cover letter describing your interest in our organization as well as a resume and be emailed to gvjcca@gmail.com Attention: GVJCCA President by March 16, 2018.

Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey Film Launch


Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey Film Launch

Snnday, March 4

2-4 p.m. Surrey City Centre Library

10350 University Drive, Surrey

Join us for the launch of the short film, Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey. The film captured some highlights of last year's event when we heard and shared the stories of the early settlers who came from Japan to build their lives and contribute to the growing community of Surrey. The stories also remind us about the reasons we need to support inclusiveness and reject the racist rhetoric that we thought would never be heard again, and is being repeated today. Discover a part of Surrey's rich cultural heritage and learn that we have more in common than you may think. Surrey's Poet Laureate Renée Sarojini Saklikar will be hosting the event along with Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association president Lorene Oikawa.

Thank you for your support for the 2018 4th Annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon!


Thank you. Lots of smiles and laughter at the 4th Annual GVJCCA Community Bowl-a-thon.

We have lots of people to thank including the bowlers, supporters, donors, and the volunteers. We will have the full list in the April Bulletin. 

2018 GVJCCA Bowl-a-thon Committee and Volunteers

GVJCCA 2018 Photo Contest

The Bulletin / Geppo around the World in 2018!

Take your copy of The Bulletin / Geppo with you on your travels and snap a photo of you and The Bulletin / Geppo. See below for the sample photo of the GVJCCA prez when she was in Japan. We'll publish some of our favourites during the year and one lucky person will win a prize for our favourite photo. Photos must be taken from January 1, 2018 to December 10, 2018, and must include and clearly show The Bulletin / Geppo. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) December 10, 2018. 

Click here for the fine print 

Happy New Year! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

On behalf of the GVJCCA Board, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

We hope you are enjoying your time with family and loved ones, and have the opportunity to sample the traditional foods associated with New Year's.

Osechi Ryori




Inari Sushi

Wrapping up 2017 and looking forward to 2018!


Legacy of Redress 2017 Photo by Ali Bordbar


GVJCCA CLiFF 2017 Film Festival


GVJCCA Prez loves musubi and wild salmon!


Free films & popcorn too!

GVJCCA 2017 Film Festival

Join us for free film and popcorn on Saturday, November 25, 2017 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 101 - 42 West 8th Avenue in Vancouver. We will be screening three movies, The Vancouver Asahi, The Orange Story, and Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey.

More information here and on our Facebook page here.


Honour. Remember. Respect.

Remembrance Day 2017 at the Japanese Canadian cenotaph in Stanley Park

The rain stopped. The large crowd at the Japanese Canadian cenotaph in Stanley Park gathered to pay their respects to the Japanese Canadians who served Canada starting with World War One. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge during World War One. 

Remembering the Japanese Canadians who served Canada since World War One.

Sharing the images and stories of the Japanese Canadians who served Canada.

Photos: Lorene Oikawa

More photos posted on our Facebook page here.

Remembering the 1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students

Families of 1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students and one 1942 student. GVJCCA President Lorene Oikawa (red jacket) representing her Uncle Ted Harada.

Photo: Gilbert Akham

It is the 5th anniversary of the Honorary Degree Ceremony for the 1942 Japanese Canadian UBC students who were expelled in 1942. It's also the 75th anniversary of the internment of Japanese Canadians. UBC hosted a Day of Learning where we remembered the students, discussed how we may learn and never repeat the injustice. Also, a revised yearbook, A Degree of Justice, for the 1942 students was launched.GVJCCA is pleased to have provided support. Thank you to the initiative of Tosh and Mary Kitagawa who spearheaded the campaign to have the students honoured.



Photos: Lorene Oikawa

1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students Yearbook, A Degree of Justice 

Mary Kitagawa and how she started the campaign to honour the 1942 UBC Students.

More photos posted on our Facebook page here.

Giving Thanks to Our Wonderful GVJCCA Volunteers!

GVJCCA Volunteers at Appreciation Party

We had a fun luncheon with some of our Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association volunteers. We enjoyed good conversations, delicious food, and prizes. Our volunteers are such caring, dedicated people. Some have been our volunteers for years, coming back to help every year with our initiatives such as our annual salmon BBQ. Our volunteers help us so we can continue our important work for the community.We are giving thanks this weekend including a BIG thank you to our volunteers!

Thank you Shag Ando for the delicious salmon!

Some of our wonderful JCCA volunteers!

Delectable desserts following a scrumptious lunch.

Sushi for JCCA Volunteers

Karaage Chicken for JCCA Volunteers

If you're interested in developing your skills, supporting the important work of the GVJCCA, and learning more about the Japanese Canadian community, consider volunteering with us. For more information, contact us by email gvjcca@gmail.com or by phone 604.777.5222. Send us your resume and a letter outlining your experience, skills, and why you're interested in volunteering with us. Send your information "Attention: Lorene Oikawa, President" to gvjcca@gmail.com or by Canada Post, mail to GVJCCA 249 - 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC V5E 4M7

Thank you. 

President Lorene Oikawa’s Message – July 2017

I was asked what I love about Canada. I adore our home and native land, majestic mountains, rain forest, pristine water, and northern lights, but we are more than our amazing nature. My love for our country is really about the people. From First Peoples to Settlers, our diversity is what defines us and makes us strong. Our history is not without blemish. We must remember the historical injustices along with the good. We need to learn from our history so that we become resistant to hateful messages and we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Embracing diversity and creating an inclusive history of Canada will make us even stronger, and we will be a more resilient country.

On this Canada Day and throughout the year, especially since it is the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 75th anniversary of the uprooting, dispossession, and internment/incarceration of Japanese Canadians, we must remember our ancestors. The first documented arrival from Japan was 140 years ago, but there are stories of earlier contact.

Some indigenous oral history told to me by a friend, recalls visitors who were from far away, and yet, bore a resemblance to First Peoples. She thinks it was travellers from Japan. The history of First Peoples is a lot longer than settlers’ history, and we have much to learn.

During the festivities of Canada Day, 150 is being highlighted, but we must acknowledge it’s only a small part of the true history of Canada which is closer to 15,000 years. Indigenous peoples had their own communities and culture long before settlers arrived. 150 years has a very different meaning for them, because colonization has meant the destruction of their way of life.

We are using the hashtags #Canada150 #Canada150plus and #Canada15000 to show respect and acknowledge the history before Confederation. Just as we are calling out for people to remember our Japanese Canadian ancestors and other racialized settlers, we share the call from indigenous peoples for reconciliation.

Some Japanese Canadian pioneer stories were featured in our Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey event in May. We also encouraged the documenting of your family stories. We are profiling some of the Surrey stories in upcoming issues of The Bulletin. You can read Part 2 in this edition of The Bulletin.

If you are spending time with family during the summer, make a special effort to seek out your family stories especially from the older generations, and record them. Don’t wait for the perfect time, just do it now, because you may not get another opportunity. You can use your smart phone and film their responses. Ask them about their childhood. Ask them about their parents, and grandparents. Do it for your family and do it for our community. Too many times we regret not recording the story and we say we thought we had more time with them.

Sharing our stories can help people to understand the long history of Japanese Canadians and their contributions to our province and country, and the historical injustices against Japanese Canadians and why it must not be repeated.

In June, Statistics Canada released alarming data about a 60% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in Canada. Overall, hate crimes have increased about 5% and violent hate crime offenses have increased 15% in 2015. Although the number of incidents against Jewish Canadians decreased for the same period, Jewish Canadians are the most targeted group based on religion. With the reports of increasing incidents in the past year, it is very disturbing to think that what was shocking for 2015 will probably be eclipsed by the next set of numbers.

We need to speak up when we hear the kind of fear mongering that encourages the hateful attacks against a group of people. Recently, a former Canadian ambassador, Martin Collacott, penned an opinion column in the Vancouver Sun lamenting the numbers of non-white immigrants and how they will replace the white population.

I tweeted a response “An opinion that reminds me of the anti-Asian rhetoric in 1942” and a reminder that it’s the 75th anniversary of Internment, and I was quoted in one news article. There were others who also responded and pointed out that the author, who is a senior fellow at the right wing Fraser Institute, was misleading the public by expressing sentiments of a particular group rather than factual evidence. For example, he is trying to blame increased traffic on non-white immigration. One SFU professor posed the question, if the immigrants were white then would there be the same reaction.

If you know our stories, then you would recognize sentiments such as “Whites are being outnumbered” and “Non-white immigrants are taking our jobs, draining our services,” are lines that could have been lifted from 1942.

In the US, President Trump has tried to perpetuate racism with an attempted banning of Muslims from six countries. An appeals court has ruled against the ban. Trump is fighting the ruling citing concerns about terrorism. It’s the rationale that was used for the incarceration of Japanese Americans and Canadians. Except back then it was said that they were enemy aliens which was refuted (although not publicly) by the head of the RCMP and Canadian military. In 1942, 22,000 innocent Canadians, children, women and men, were uprooted, dispossessed, and incarcerated based on fear mongering and not any evidence.

So when someone says to you, “why do we need to know the stories of Japanese Canadians, it’s all in the past,” you can let them know that the ugly racist rhetoric is being used in 2017 and unless we speak out now, it will be too late to stop it.


I had the honour of addressing and congratulating the students at their graduation ceremony at the Vancouver Japanese Language School last month. I would also like to reiterate thanks to the parents and teachers who have been guiding the students on their journey. I took the opportunity to remind the students to learn their history and share the stories so they can effect positive change in the world.


We are grateful for receiving Canada Summer Job funding and we will have three students who will be working for the GVJCCA during the summer. They will be a big help with our annual Wild Salmon BBQ and Musubi Food Booth and Community Booth at the Powell Street Festival on August 5 & 6. Please drop by. It’s our major fundraiser for the year so not only will you enjoy delicious fresh salmon and SPAM sushi, you are helping us with our important work such as producing The Bulletin and working to stop racism.


Our work is as important today as when we formally started this iteration of the organization 65 years ago. I was looking at some old Bulletin magazines from 1977, the centennial year recognizing the 100th anniversary of the first documented Japanese immigrant to Canada, and I came across the description of the work of the JCCA. It talks about first forming to look at the “many legal injustices prevailing against the Japanese Canadians and of combatting widespread racial discrimination.” In 1977, “the Association continues today to function as a watchdog of minority-rights, as a voice representing the Japanese Canadian community and as a central organization initiating and coordinating community-related activities and programs.” It’s a good reminder of the work we must continue to do especially during these uncertain political times.


Recent News

HOP-Book-CoverNew Book! 
Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence


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Publishing monthly since 1958, The Bulletin/Geppo is a bilingual English/Japanese journal of Japanese Canadian community, history & culture.  EXPLORE

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The GVJCCA Human Rights Committee works with and supports the Japanese Canadian community, other human rights groups, and ethno-cultural organizations to promote human rights, and combat racism and discrimination, locally and internationally.  EXPLORE

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This bilingual Japanese/English Human Rights Guide is an online resource for those with questions surrounding rights and freedoms in Canada. EXPLORE

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Keep up-to-date on upcoming workshops, gatherings and other events. EXPLORE