JCAA Human Rights Committee
One purpose stated in the JCCA Constitution is to “protect and promote the past, present and future legal rights and democratic freedom of all persons in Canada regardless of race, religion, status or sex.” (JCCA Constitution 1985)
The Greater Vancouver JCCA Human Rights Committee was established in 1990 following the 1988 Japanese Canadian Redress Settlement. As a standing committee of the GVJCCA, the Human Rights Committee addresses human rights, race relations and discrimination related issues. We work with the Board of the GVJCCA, members of the Japanese Canadian Community, the National Association of Japanese Canadians, and the public at large. Currently, committee members include Tatsuo Kage, Mary and Tosh Kitagawa, Lillian Nakashima, David McIntosh and Judy Hanazawa.
What does the GVJCCA Human Rights Committee do?
The Committee provides education, advice and support for those who have experienced a human rights violation. If necessary, we refer individuals or groups to an appropriate government or non-government agency and make sure those people who have human rights related concerns receive proper and effective assistance. Over the past 17 years, case situations referred to us involved racial discrimination and sexual and other forms of harassment in the workplace.
We organize workshops and seminars for community members on human rights and related community development. For example, in past we presented workshops in Vancouver, Kamloops, Nanaimo and Nelson on Japanese Canadian Intermarriage and Children of Intermarriage. During 2005 we focused on the psychological and emotional trauma of the Japanese American (and Canadian) internment by presenting the film Children of the Camps produced by American Psychologist, Dr. Satsuki Ina. Another bilingual presentation was Closing the Gap about relations between Ijusha and Canadian born persons of Japanese ancestry. We also held bilingual (Japanese/English) workshops on sexual harassment, domestic violence, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Peoples Rights and Issues, and Racial Profiling related to Canada’s Post 9/11 Security Measures.
We also contribute to Japanese Canadian journals such as The Bulletin and the Nikkei Voice, reporting our activities and concerns.
In 1995, we published the first free English/Japanese Bilingual Human Rights Guide for Japanese Canadians. The free updated 2003 guidebook presents our Japanese Canadian history of struggle for equality and justice as well as information and guidance for English and Japanese speaking community members and visitors, on what to do when experiencing various workplace or personal difficulties, including racial and other forms of discrimination.
Our educational work includes participating in letter writing campaigns regarding our concerns about a human rights or discrimination issue.
Each year we operate an information and display booth at the Powell Street Festival.
We work closely with other Japanese Canadian groups, anti-racism and human rights groups and ethno-cultural organizations. Our committee is a member of the BC Human Rights Coalition and Amnesty International. Our activities have included:
Participating since 1990 as members of the National Association of Japanese Canadians Human Rights Committee. Past committee member Kiko Hirano and current committee members Tatsuo Kage and Judy Hanazawa have served as Chair of the NAJC Human Rights Committee.
Strengthening links with the aboriginal community through supporting various campaigns related to inherent Aboriginal rights;
Working with community organizations such as Tonari Gumi to present community education workshops for new immigrants and student or working visa visitors on topics such as workplace harassment and personal safety;
Working with various organizations who advocate for comfort women, germ warfare, slave labour and other victims seeking Japan’s apology and redress due to historic Japanese militarism in Asia;
Working with the Chinese Canadian community on their Redress campaign for head tax payer families;
Outreaching to Muslim Canadian community representatives such as the Islamic Speakers Bureau and hosting a community education workshop on racial profiling, Canada’s security, and the Islamic faith; participating as delegates and presenters in anti-racism, human rights and world peace related international conferences and forums held in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto, Tokyo, Vienna, Durban, South Africa and Montreal;
Working with the Seniors Community in BC to advocate for revisions to the BC Human Rights Act so that those over age 65 are protected from age discrimination;
Working with the Save Article 9 Group on various film and community education workshops supporting world peace and anti-militarism in Japan;
Over the last 18 years, committee members have been sincerely enriched by meeting and working with individuals and groups from our community and from other communities, who have shared their personal experience or knowledge about social justice issues. This includes the various past members of our committee. We recognize human rights activism as a legacy from the hard work and struggles of our earlier generations, and the 1988 Redress settlement for Japanese Canadians, a landmark victory in the history of human rights in Canada! We always welcome new members. If interested please contact the GCJCCA or join us at our monthly meetings on the second Saturday of each month from 9:30 to noon at the GVJCCA office.