Handing over the reins
By Gary Matson
As outgoing president I am sharing this President’s Message with the incoming President Derek Iwanaka. On Saturday, March 15, 2014 the Greater Vancouver Japanese-Canadian Citizens’ Association held its Annual General Meeting at Nikkei Place. We had a good turnout. Derek superbly chaired the meeting. Among the many reports filed by directors and committee chairs I would like to single out Jack Matsushita for special thanks. Jack overcame many obstacles to produce informative financial statements. He must have devoted many hours pulling things together so that he could achieve the commendable results that he did.
I am very pleased with the makeup of the new Board elected at the AGM. We now have 15 directors on the Board. They include diverse and energetic individuals. Many of them were formerly or are presently involved in other Nikkei organizations. As a result, they have much to offer to the GVJCCA and how we can better serve the Nikkei community. In accordance with our Constitution, officers will be elected at our Board meeting in early April. Derek has the strong support of his fellow directors to become our new president. I personally want to express my gratitude to Derek for his enthusiastic achievements this past year as vice-president of the GVJCCA. The GVJCCA will be well served with Derek as president.
Turn! Turn! Turn! is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. Pete Seeger died earlier this year. He was one of those rare individuals gifted with talent, integrity and an abundance of love for all that inhabit this world of ours. At first I did not realize that Pete Seeger wrote the song. I first knew it as a big hit of the Byrds in 1965. Pete Seeger took the lyrics of the song from the Book of Ecclesiastes found in the King James version of the Bible. The first line of the song reads “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” The song came to be interpreted as a plea for world peace. Many interpretations are possible. Applying my own interpretation to the first few words of the song, I take it as call to respect the inevitable change of seasons and the change of our fortunes. I am happy to have had a season or two as president of the GVJCCA. It is now Derek’s turn.
By Derek Iwanaka
Hello! First of all, thanks to Gary for leading our organization for the past two years and for now backing me to takeover as President of this long-standing and vital Japanese-Canadian (“JC”) organization. To put this new position into perspective I sometimes compare life to hockey. For me, after serving on the Tonari Gumi board from 2006-2012 and the NNMCC board from 2011-2012, I consider this role like becoming the Captain of the Montreal Canadians of the JC world. The GVJCCA is one of Canada’s oldest JC organizations and its members have achieved so many amazing feats, thus accepting this role will truly be an honor for me.
As some of you may know, the GVJCCA has served the JC community in numerous ways for over 60 years but in more recent times some members have questioned whether it is still relevant or even needed in today’s society. I was one of them. But then I listened to past stories from Gordon Kadota and learned that during the 1950s and 60s, the GVJCCA was without question, “the” organization to represent the Japanese-Canadian community in every aspect and in the 1980’s it went on to form the GVJCCA Redress Committee which helped fight for and achieve Redress in 1988. The GVJCCA also spawned some of the great JC organizations that continue to flourish today. After so many great achievements, it has come to our Board’s attention that some feel our organization is now mainly known for its Human Rights Committee, The Bulletin, and possibly a Golf Tournament. While the first two functions are still critically important, perhaps it is time we did more. In order to facilitate positive changes, our newly elected 2014 Board would like to collect input from the community and use it to reinvigorate this great organization by creating a clearer vision for our future. While our Directors have their own views, we would like to know your ideas and priorities for the GVJCCA. To that end, we will host a community forum on Sunday, May 4th from 2:00pm until 4:30pm at the new Tonari Gumi building at 42 West 8th Avenue in Vancouver and we hope anyone interested in the future of the Japanese-Canadian community will come out to share their thoughts and opinions. I hope you will join us. Thank you for your support!