The National Association of Japanese Canadians held its Annual General Meeting in Toronto on September 21-22, 2013. The GVJCCA was represented by Jack Matsushita and me. It was a special AGM because it included a 25th Redress Anniversary Banquet at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.The keynote speaker was Art Miki. As is well known, Art led the negotiations to achieve a just redress settlement for Japanese Canadians interned during the Second Word War. Many moving speeches preceded Art’s keynote speech. They included speeches by Ken Noma, president of the NAJC, the Honourable Jason Kenney, and the Honourable Gerry Wiener. Gerry Wiener played a significant role in the signing of settlement documents on September 22, 1988.
Jason Kenney spoke of the mistreatment of Japanese Canadians by authorities as representing a dark moment in our country’s history. He remarked that Canadians rightfully look back upon what happened with regret. He said, “As Minister responsible for Multiculturalism, I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the lessons learned from past mistakes that are at odds with our values as a society, to use those lessons to continue to build a better future for Canada.”
The AGM touched on continuing challenges for the NAJC and its various chapters. They include the need to develop a broader mandate beyond human rights. Also of concern was the proliferation of other community groups and organizations within the local community that tend to work at odds with each other. This is topical within our own community. Under the leadership of Ross Saito of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, various local Nikkei organizations have begun meetings with the aim of developing an alliance to rationalize and clarify the purposes of the respective organizations under one umbrella. The objective is to speak with one voice and by doing so to strengthen the Nikkei voice as a whole in the community while simultaneously spotlighting the specific and unique services each organization provides the community.
We broke into discussion groups to address concerns found in the president’s report of Ken Noma: (1) Membership; (2) Financial Stability; and (3) Community Development & Networking. I look forward to receiving a report on the summary of the conclusions reached in the respective discussion groups.
The National Executive Board’s Community Development Committee Report brought good news for the GVJCCA. We are recipients of an award of $1,500 dedicated to expand the effectiveness of the Bulletin as a national journal and to archive past issues of the Bulletin in digital format.
Another moment of pride for us was the announcement of Tosh and Mary Kitagawa as recipients of the NAJC National Award. Singled out among many human rights achievements credited to the dedicated work of Tosh and Mary were their successful efforts at getting the University of British Columbia to award honorary degrees to Nikkei students who were deprived of graduation from UBC because of internment.
Finally, I am pleased to report that Vancouver was selected as the site of NAJC’s Annual General Meeting in 2014.
Gary Matson, President, GVJCCA