It was a starlit night. Friday, September 14, 2012, Morgan Elander, Mieko Amano and I travelled by car to attend this year’s NAJC AGM in Kamloops. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we arrived late, sometime after 11:00pm. After Morgan and I checked into the conference hotel, the Holiday Inn, we walked to the nearby Kamloops Japanese Canadian Culture Centre hoping that the Hospitality Room had not closed down at the scheduled time of 10:30pm. It had. It would be the only disappointing moment for us at the AGM.
NAJC president Ken Noma ably chaired the two days of meetings. He gave a National Executive Board (“NEB”) President’s report and an NEB Heritage Committee Report. Among other topics, Ken spoke about the upcoming 25th Anniversary of the Redress Settlement in 2013 and The Bulletin expanding its geographic reach to include events from Eastern Canada beginning with the September 2012 publication. It was decided that the 2013 NAJC AGM will be held in Toronto. Gratitude was expressed to the following departing executive members: Terumi Kuwada (Past President); Takashi Ohke (Treasurer); David Iwaasa (Membership); and Steve Seller (Constitution & Bylaws). I want to express my personal gratitude to all those past, present and future individuals who volunteer their time to the common aims of our community. It was my honour to receive on behalf of our own Tatsuo Kage the first Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Award.
The main item on Sunday’s program was video Digital Storytelling on the theme of “I am a Japanese Canadian.” The presenters were for the most part young Nikkei adults. This fit in with one of the aims of the AGM. A concurrent Young Adult Conference was a focus of the AGM. We were all encouraged by the excellent presentations and with the knowledge that this youth movement is to be a cornerstone of the AGM in Toronto next year.
It was a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to engage with fellow NAJC chapter members from throughout Canada. We may be separated by geography, but we are bound by common goals. They are goals that speak to the heart of what it is to be a Japanese Canadian by heritage or by shared values.