JCAY – Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon
The Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon (JCAY) is a well-established non-profit organization of some 80 members (as of September, 2015) that plays a significant role both in the lives of the members and in the wider community of Whitehorse, Yukon. Its objectives are clearly spelt out in its constitution (see attached).
JCAY was officially founded at the first Annual General Meeting on March 3, 2009 with 16 people in attendance.
From the onset, JCAY strove to introduce to general public the traditional Japanese culture as best we could, which is the first and foremost of all our mandates. Beginning with the first offering of the series (Kurosawa’s “Yôjimbô”) in June 2009, the Japanese Film Festival became a regular cultural event in town, once or twice a year, and is eagerly anticipated by film lovers in the city, JCAY members and non-members alike.
In response to the Great Tohoku Earthquake on March 11, 2011, the entire JCAY membership gathered force to stage a huge fund-raising event, a “Japanese Village Festival” on April 3. This event enabled us to send a donation of more than $40,000 to the Japan Red Cross Society in a timely fashion.
Japanese Village Festival also helped to fire up a keen interest among local people in Japanese traditional culture. In the year 2012, in addition to the usual Japanese Film Festivals, JCAY offered a concert of Koto-Shakuhachi Duo in March, and the “Noh Theatre in Canada – a lecture/demonstration” in May. Both of these events, as well as many of our Film Festivals, were made possible with the financial assistance of the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver and the Japan Foundation in Toronto. They continue to support us in other areas of our needs; JCAY is grateful for that.
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Internment of Japanese Canadians (2012) and the 25th anniversary of the Redress (2013), JCAY organized a series of special events; some were screening of films such as A Sorry State, some were a lecture by an invited guest Dr. Roy Miki, always with a display of historic photos of the Internment. In March, 2015, as the fourth event of this series, the Film Festival of Japanese Canadian History was presented to a packed crowd of 130 (some late comers even had to be turned away!); Kiri’s Piano and The Vancouver Asahi were screened. This particular event was funded by the New Canadians Event Fund of the Yukon Government.
This series of events helped JCAY members, particularly younger generations, as well as general public to better understand the history of Japanese Canadians and to appreciate our contributions to the Canadian society.
In June of this year, JCAY has presented a three-day Taiko Festival with the special guest Uzume Taiko from Vancouver. We offered a school concert, an open air performance, a big evening concert, and Taiko workshops. The Arts Fund of the Yukon Government was the biggest financial contributor for this event; Yukon Arts Centre, City of Whitehorse, and several local businesses have also provided us with financial and in-kind support.
The morning show for school children on Thursday was well attended with about 300 people in the audience. The outdoor performance at the Shipyards Park on Thursday afternoon was much appreciated by the visitors to the Fireweed Market, possibly 200 or more people. The highlight of the whole Festival was the Friday night concert. It brought in well over 170 people to the beautiful Yukon Arts Centre. Very appreciative audience gave Uzume Taiko a standing ovation immediately after the performance. A lot of people approached me after the concert to thank JCAY for bringing Uzume Taiko to Whitehorse.
On Saturday, Uzume Taiko members led the Taiko drumming workshops. We used the practice Taiko that JCAY members made on Thursday night with the guidance of Uzume Taiko members. Workshop participants went through a good workout, and everyone enjoyed it tremendously. Sufficient interests were built up among participants, so we started a Taiko group here in Whitehorse.
JCAY’s Tea Ceremony group presents a demonstration for the general public from time to time. Along with Tea Ceremony demonstration, JCAY often showcases other Japanese traditional activities, such as Origami, Bon-odori, Kendama, and Japanese calligraphy, at many community multicultural events.
All these cultural events JCAY offers – guest performers, Japanese films, and local cultural presentations – are very popular and eagerly anticipated by the audiences in this culturally vibrant northern city.
Besides these cultural activities, JCAY members gather together for many social get-togethers, both as official JCAY social events and just as small group gatherings on their own. At these occasions, members exchange information and personal news with each other. Recently, we have seen an influx of young Japanese people to the Yukon, sometimes to study English and sometimes to work locally with a goal of eventually obtaining a permanent resident status. Those new comers benefit considerably by this networking through JCAY. They also receive translation service for nominal fees for submitting necessary documents to government agencies.
A group of volunteers organizes a monthly PlayCare activity for young children to socialize in Japanese language, averaging about a dozen children each time. Japanese Conversation Classes are offered for adults by a qualified volunteer instructor, with the registration fees going directly to JCAY. Other events that are offered for, and organized by, JCAY members include: cooking, canoeing, snowshoeing, bowling, “mochi” (rice cakes) making, Obon (お盆) ceremony, and lending library of Japanese books and DVD’s.
From time to time, representatives from many ethnic and cultural organizations in Whitehorse get together to organize multicultural activities with the purpose of promoting better understanding and cultivating harmony among diverse populations of the city. JCAY has been very active in this endeavour in the community, working hand in hand with the like-minded people, to build a city free of racism and discrimination.
I am happy to conclude this report with the most recent and important development. For several months, we have been working hard to establish a Japanese Language School for Children in Whitehorse, in view of the ever increasing number of children of Japanese parents in our community; the number seems to continue to increase! All interested JCAY members, whether parents or not, are meeting on September 20th to have an in-depth discussion on the structure and the operation of the School.
by Fumi Torigai 鳥飼文彦
President, Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon
Main part of our constitution
The purpose of the Association is to:
1. Promote, preserve & increase understanding of Japanese culture and language
2. Organize social and recreational activities for the Japanese Canadian community and friends
3. Provide information and support to Japanese Canadians, in particular to Japanese newcomers/visitors in Yukon
4. Highlight the history and contributions of Japanese in Yukon
5. Address issues concerning the well-being of the Japanese Canadian community
6. Connect with other Japanese groups across Canada