Board Member Biographies
works for the Province of British Columbia. She is a director on a number of boards including West Coast Environmental Law and the Canadian Labour International Film Festival. She was the first and only Asian Canadian executive vice president for the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) for three terms from 2005 to 2014.
She is the founder of the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance in BC. Lorene has authored articles and been a spokesperson on a range of topics including women in leadership, human rights, migrant workers, social media, and labour history.
Lorene is a yonsei, fourth generation, British Columbian whose family migrated from Japan in the 1800’s and 1906.
April was born in Vancouver and raised in the Strathcona neighbourhood. She graduated from Britannia Secondary School, and in 1973, was one of the first employees hired by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. After eleven years of service with ICBC, she left her position as a planning assistant to raise her family.
As her children were growing up, among her most enjoyable family activities was attending the Japanese Canadian Citizens Association picnics and parties. Her husband Ken’s family are long-time JCCA members. Over the years, especially as the children became older, the family became increasing active and regular volunteers for JCCA events. April thoroughly enjoys participating and contributing to the organization and to the community, and in 2006, she joined the Greater Vancouver JCCA board. She especially enjoys fund-raising for annual JCCA events, such as the salmon barbecue sale at the Powell Street Festival and the Keirokai celebration for our beloved seniors.
April also serves as a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of B.C. and the Yukon, participating with Ken in several events annually. April has found volunteering to be very rewarding, and as a bonus, she has met and befriended many wonderful people. In her spare time, April enjoys activities with her family and friends, trips to Hawaii, dancing, and spectator sports, especially football and hockey.
Judy Hanazawa is nissei Japanese Canadian who was born in Merritt soon after her family moved from their internment site at Bridge River. When restrictions were lifted, Judy’s father resumed his occupation as a commercial gillnetter. Judy was raised in eastside Vancouver, and retains fond memories of a childhood in the downtown eastside Strathcona area. Upon receiving redress in 1988, Judy obtained a masters degree in social work, focusing on Aboriginal child and family services program development in the Squamish Nation. She also began her volunteer community service in the Japanese Canadian community, being inspired by Squamish leaders, especially the women with whom she worked, who devoted themselves to the well-being of the Nation’s children and families. Judy’s focus in the Japanese Canadian community has been on social justice and human rights related issues. Today, she enjoys semi retirement, her family life, and being a grandparent.
Gary’s interest in things Japanese began in 1969 when he entered UBC and took courses leading to a B.A. in Asian Studies. In 1982 he graduated from UBC with an M.A. in Modern Japanese Literature. A UBC law degree followed in 1985. Gary became a lawyer in 1986. He has a general solicitor’s practice serving mostly Japanese clients. Since 1986, Gary has served on many boards with a connection to Japanese or Japanese Canadians. Prior to joining the Board of the GVJCCA, Gary served on the Board of Tonari Gumi for six years. He has served on the Board of the GVJCCA for the past several years.
May is a sansei Japanese Canadian born in Vancouver and raised in “Little Tokyo”. From her high school days, she has always been interested in being involved with the “Japanese Canadian Community”. Britannia East Side Community Centre, before the elaborate Britannia Community Centre was built, was a place for Japanese Immigrants to congregate and socialize. With the program director, she created a program for new immigrants from Japan to meet once or twice a week. This is where she met Takeo Yamashiro and his group that came regularly. From here, she met him at Tonari Gumi and got involved in building a “young Japanese Canadian program. They had “coffee houses” and dances. She got more strongly involved in the community by joining the JCCA when she volunteered at the COPANI conference in Vancouver, and has since been a member of the JCCA board. Her vision is to see all of the various Japanese Canadian Organizations become a strong unit under one roof.
is a hapa issei of mixed Japanese and Euro-Canadian heritage, born in Kyoto and raised in Burnaby BC, where she currently works as a library/administrative employee. Over the years, she has been an active participant in the JC community, namely with the Powell Street Festival, the Nikkei Museum & Cultural Centre, and as a musician at the Tonari Gumi’s Coffee House Jazz Nights. She became involved with the JCCA out of an interest in human rights activism, cultural development strategies, and in the history of Japanese-Canadian internment and redress. She is pleased to be working with the executive board at this juncture in the JCCA’s development, and looks forward to connecting with the broader membership.
was born in Tokyo but moved to Vancouver with her family when she was 3 years old. Her family always intended to return to Japan, but twenty-some-odd years later, she’s still here. Aside from the obligatory Saturday Japanese School, Rutsu has not been involved in the Japanese-Canadian community. When she met Gary Matson in 2012, her curiosity led her to joining the JCCA board in 2013. She looks forward to continuing to discover more about the community. She currently practices estate planning and general business law with a downtown firm.
Greg is a sansei Japanese Canadian born and raised near Edmonton, Alberta. After receiving a BSc. in Mechanical Engineering he spent 13 years in the corporate world before moving to Vancouver in 2007 and becoming a full time photographer/documentary filmmaker. In search of his roots, he immersed himself in the vibrant JC community of the lower mainland, volunteering with the Powell Street Festival and Nikkei National Museum. In 2011 he worked as Operations Coordinator with the BC Japan Earthquake Relief Fund after the 3/11 triple disasters in Japan. Greg was the 2013 Vancouver delegate for the Japanese Canadian Leadership Program sponsored by the Japanese government. In 2014 he joined the board of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens Association. The Nikkei National Museum and Powell Street Festival have commissioned Greg for several works including the 10’ wide photograph Dispossession (2010), and the documentary films The Spirit of Nihonmachi (2011) and Children of Redress (2013).
Born in Japan to a nissei mother and Japanese father, my family moved to Vancouver when I was four. Leaving Japan and leaving my Japanese heritage is what I thought would be the best way to fit into Canadian society. I eventually learned that we can have the best of both worlds and our unique Japanese-Canadian culture and history is something to be very proud of. I’ve been a member of the GVJCCA board since 2011.