I was deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Yumiko Hoyano in Edmonton several days ago. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Yumiko in person, I interviewed her for the February 2014 issue of The Bulletin.
Born and raised in Sapporo, Japan, she came to Canada in 1965, eventually settling in Edmonton with her husband, Jim, a fellow chemist. Yumiko embraced her adopted community and both she and Jim were heavily involved in the Edmonton Nikkei community for many years. In fact Yumiko only recently stepped down as editor of Moshi Moshi, the local newsletter, a post she held for thirty years. Several years ago, Yumiko wrote Reiko’s Hina Dolls, a short story that was turned into a 2012 film of the same name. Although we never met, I was impressed by Yumiko’s commitment to the idea of an inclusive Nikkei Community. A strong supporter of the NAJC, something she said in our interview resonated deeply with me: “Yes, NAJC does not make your everyday life more enjoyable and fun, but it is the organization which represents you! On the local level, it is easy to fragment our society if we are not careful to keep it together. It is easy to be bitter and un-sociable but such behavior would be unproductive. Only when people get together and plan, and carry out, do we begin to see what we can accomplish. We create our own destiny and history as an individual, as an organization, locally or nationally. Each centre and organization has its own culture and history. We see it only when time passes and many older people are no longer with us. Every day, week, month, year we must strive to be great since its accumulation makes your life.”
These are the words of a women who saw through the petty politics that can sometimes obscure the need to work together for the greater good, and who knew the potential within all of us. We would do well to take them to heart.
My condolences to Yumiko’s husband Jim, their daughter and their grandchildren for their loss. We are all the lesser for her passing.