The National Association of Japanese Canadians is a non-profit incorporated community organization in Canada that represents the Japanese Canadian community. Formed in 1947, the NAJC focuses on human rights and community development.
The NAJC successfully negotiated the historic Redress Settlement on behalf of all Japanese Canadians who suffered injustices at the hands of their own government during and after World War II when they were dispossessed, forcibly relocated and interned. On September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and NAJC President Art Miki signed the redress agreement acknowledging the wrongs committed against Japanese Canadians.
The National Association of Japanese Canadians calls upon the Government of Canada and the Museum of Civilization to immediately halt plans for the shipment of the gillnet boat Nishga Girl to the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site and be transparent in revealing the rationale behind the removal of the boat. Nishga Girl, a donation of Chief Harry Nyce and his wife, is an important gesture of reconciliation and must be treated with due respect. The NAJC calls upon the Government of Canada and the Museum staff to engage in direct discussions with Chief Nyce or his representatives and the NAJC to determine any future plans for the boat.
Nishga Girl, built by Japanese Canadian Jack Tasaka, is an important symbol to the Japanese Canadian community who assisted the Museum in raising funds for the shipment and installation of the boat. The boat reflects the sacred bond between the First Nations people and the Japanese Canadian community. The Assembly of First Nations was one of the earliest organizations to support the National Association of Japanese Canadians call for Japanese Canadian Redress.
As this is the 25th anniversary of the Redress settlement it is important to honour the history of the First Nations people and remember those communities that – in spite of challenges – helped to forge Canada’s history.
Parlliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra calls Nishga Girl Storage
This week, when MPs Pierre Nantel and Jean Crowder asked Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra in the House of Commons if the Nishga Girl will remain in the capital, he replied that the artifacts in the Museum are not supposed to “only be enjoyed by certain groups of people” and should not “stay in storage at the Canadian Museum of History”.
The history of the Nishga First Nations and of Japanese Canadians, is an integral part of Canadian history and rejects Mr. Calandra’s marginalization of the contributions made by all communities to the development of Canada – this is not a ‘them’ and ‘us’ history but ‘our’ history.
The NAJC urges Canadians to contact Heritage Minister James Moore at email@example.com or by telephone at 1-613-992-9650 and urge him to reinstate the Nishga Girl in the Museum of Civilization and urge officials of the Museum to hold face-to-face meetings with Nishga First Nations and the NAJC to resolve this issue.
Abraham Maslow in his academic paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”, offered his theory on human behaviour based on a ‘hierarchy of needs’ that was illustrated in the form of a pyramid. Maslow identified Physiological needs as the most basic (food, shelter), followed by Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem and the highest need being Self-Actualization. He believed that progressively smaller number of people go beyond their own ego/physiological state to reach the highest level. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be used as one perspective in our understanding of the motivation behind those Nikkei volunteers who were involved in the Redress movement as well as those who rallied to rebuild our communities after 1949 when the War Measures Act was allowed to lapse by the Canadian Government. Most social and political movements begin with a small number of ‘self-actualized’ individuals who create the synergy that – in due course- attracts and mobilizes the mainstream. Maslow’s theory has given way today to the importance of attachment to explain human motivation; the relationship of a child with at least one parent that will have an impact on the child’s development in the future.
The fact that we are now five generations is due to the ‘gambare’ spirit of the Nisei. We owe a tremendous ‘ON’ (debt) to this generation – a debt that can never be repaid fully. The internment robbed them of educational and career opportunities and left some with very deep emotional and psychological scars. Due to the political and racist obstacles, the Nisei had no other choice but to do what was necessary to survive by looking after their financial and physiological needs first.
I believe that the most important aspect of teaching – once the content is mastered – is how to deliver the package of historical information in an engaging and relevant manner to high school students within a set class time. The daily half-hour drive to school was the time that I used to refine my approach so that it would align to the exceptionalities and dynamics that exist in each class.
Based on my involvement with our Nikkei community and raising two yonsei sons; I have learned that the opportunities to engage and teach the next generation is fleeting at best. The challenge is to determine what will engage youth for any meaningful length of time that will help to sustain and enhance our community. We need to capture their energy and ideas. Perhaps it is analogous to fishing – a lot of casting for very few nibbles. We need to find ways to empower them to so that they can organize projects which appeal to them.
How do we deliver Nikkei historical information in an engaging and creative manner? One vehicle might be the Japanese manga genre – although it must be noted that not all youth are drawn to it. The current manga project out of Toronto, Nikkei Manga-gatari, will allow accessibility of the three generations of Nikkei history and culture in an engaging visual format. The inspiration for this project was the immensely popular 1983 manga titled Oishinbo that dealt with Japanese food and cooking. Written by Tetsu Kariya and drawn by manga artist, Akira Hanasaki, it has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. On the surface, the manga is about the exploits of newspaper writers trying to track down the ‘ultimate menu’ that reflects the best in Japanese cuisine. Each volume focuses on an essential ingredient and gives the reader detailed social, cultural and historical information.
As Terry Watada, the author of Nikkei Manga-gatari notes: “Each story will illuminate the humanity of each Japanese Canadian generation. The Issei story follows a Nikkei soldier of World War I through his exploits before, during and after the battle of Vimy Ridge. The Nisei story looks at the lead-up to WWII and the internment experience. TheSansei story looks at a sansei’s discovery of his past and its implications for his life.”
The Honourable Julian Fantino
Minister of International Cooperation
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A0A6
Dear Minister Fantino:
Re: CIDA merger with Foreign Affairs and International Development
The National Association of Japanese Canadians would like to express its support of the government’s recent announcement to maintaining its commitment to international development and humanitarian support.
With the recent merger of Canadian International Development Agency with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, we are concerned that this will shift international aid to those projects tied to the pursuit of economic opportunities for Canadian businesses, which may not necessarily be in the best interests of communities that are supposed to benefit from the aid.
National Association of Japanese Canadians
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* Visits to: Tokyo, Kamakura, Odawara, Atami and Hakone.
* Free 2 days at leisure to explore on your own with information provided or take option tour to visit Nikko heritage site.
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Cost: land only $2,152 based on shared accommodation.
Meals : Breakfast 7, Lunch 3, Dinner 3. Continue reading NAJC Heritage Tours
On this, the 25th Anniversary of Reddress, the National Association of Japanese Canadians has created a Sustaining Fund to fund the activities of the NAJC going forward. Thank you for your support.
A Need for Vigilance
by Art Miki
This year, as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Japanese Canadian redress settlement, it is a time to reflect on the achievements of NAJC and what the future holds for us. In achieving redress, the NAJC demonstrated that perseverance and faith in our democratic system finally led to the achievement of redress and reinforced Canada’s commitment to human rights. Our redress agreement became a precedent for the Canadian government to deal with and apologize for other past injustices such as the Chinese head tax, the Ukrainian internment and Indian residential schools.
I first heard the hauntingly iconic song, Watari Dori, in Jesse Nishihata’s documentary film (1973) of the same name. His family’s life history was the framework for the film’s exploration of Japanese Canadian internment and dispersal. Jesse’s film was an invaluable resource in my grade 10 Canadian History classes ever since I began my teaching career in 1976—no other documentaries were available at that time. The song is an anthem to all travellers displaced from their homes due to economic or—for our community—political reasons. For many, the hope of returning home to Japan or British Columbia remained a dream.
Abraham Maslow in his academic paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”, offered his theory on human behaviour based on a ‘hierarchy of needs’ that was illustrated in the form of a pyramid. Maslow identified Physiological needs as the most basic (food, shelter), followed by Safety, Love and Belonging, Esteem and the highest need being Self-Actualization. [...] Read more →
The National Association of Japanese Canadians calls upon the Government of Canada and the Museum of Civilization to immediately halt plans for the shipment of the gillnet boat Nishga Girl to the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site and be transparent in revealing the rationale behind the removal of the boat. [...] Read more →
To promote and develop a strong Japanese Canadian identity and thereby to strengthen local communities and the national organization; and To strive for equal rights and liberties for all persons-in particular, the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
A strong, unified community founded on diversity and committed to human rights for all for the enrichment of Canada
On December 1, 2012, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at Hastings Park in Vancouver. To read a full article on this event, click HERE.
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It is not enough just to have a birth certificate, certifying one’s birth in Canada. It is not enough to be a native Canadian and expect that mere birth alone is everything: privileges, responsibilities, pride, allegiance. One must grow into citizenship; one must shoulder the responsibilities before there is any real joy in the privileges; one must be vigilant for the honour of one’s country, its integrity, else how can one say with pride: "I am Canadian." Muriel Kitagawa