NAJC Undertakes Survey of Immigrant Issues
by Lillian Nakamura Maguire
Chair, NAJC Human Rights Committee
As a child growing up in Regina, I remember my parents often welcomed newcomers from Japan to our home. My mother would miraculously prepare a tasty Japanese dinner from the “surprise” packages hidden away in her kitchen. I often wondered how she managed to stretch a meal for seven kids and the dinner guests. One of our neighbours worked as an Immigration officer, and he often connected Japanese speaking immigrants to my parent’s home. My parents were far from bilingual, but they offered support in making the transition to Canada a bit easier for others. They were well aware of the hardships having experienced the forced relocation from BC to Manitoba and finally to Regina.
This memory of my parents and their hospitality came to mind as I began to learn more about present day immigrants coming to Canada – the “imin.” In Yukon we’ve experienced an influx of many young singles and couples, some of them married or partnered with non-Japanese Canadians. I’ve offered friendship and support to many, following in the tradition of my parents.
But last spring this individual action took on more scope when the National Executive Board (NEB) of the National Association of Japanese Canadians wondered if the Association needed to look at some of the issues of new immigrants or “imin” across Canada. NEB thought that young, single imin women often faced different issues than that of male counterparts. We wondered what resources are available to provide information and support to both married and single imin women. Was there any role for NAJC, albeit with its limited resources, or was this being effectively addressed locally? These and other issues shaped the survey questions that the Human Rights Committee has sent out to NAJC member Associations across Canada.
The NAJC recognized that in larger cities like Toronto and Vancouver, there are some services for immigrant women, as well as specific services for imin women. But what about in rural and/or smaller centres? Questions arose about :
• What agencies are providing services for imin women?
• What services and information are available to imin in smaller communities?
• How many imin are members of NAJC member organizations?
• Are there gaps in information and resources?
• What are some of the issues faced by imin? – single and married men/women?
The information collected from across Canada will provide a snapshot of some of the issues of imin, and whether or not member organizations of NAJC believe that with our limited resources, there is a role for the organization nationally.
Please take a moment to fill in the survey on behalf of your member organization or as an individual member. For a copy of the survey, contact the National office at email@example.com. We welcome your comments and look forward to receiving them by the end of November. These will be compiled, discussed by the NAJC Human Rights Committee and recommendations will be made to the National Executive Board of NAJC.