JC Legacies Update March 2024

JCLS News • March 5, 2024

With the heart and purpose of honouring our elders past and present, who endured and persevered despite hardships, are we doing enough? We have the duty to ensure their legacies are not forgotten and to fully acknowledge Japanese Canadians outside of BC who were pushed far away from their west coast roots. 

It has been a very difficult time for many families who have lost their loved ones while waiting for the Japanese Canadian Survivors Health & Wellness Fund to open. Loss is difficult at any time. We feel the deep pain and the frustration along with our board, and staff who are also facing the loss of family members at this time. And we support the efforts of  the Survivors Fund team who are working nationally to provide health supports to our elders (jcwellness.org).  

We remember our original communities in BC who vanished overnight in 1942, and whose names are lost to time. Our BC Heritage Sites team has been hard at work carving out lasting legacies at 30 heritage sites throughout BC, working with local governments and community. A great deal of gratitude goes out to Linda Kawamoto Reid, whose work has been thorough and inspirational throughout the research and discovery phase, supported by Lane McGarrity.

The big legacy project is the Monument Park and Japanese Garden in Victoria, to be built close to the legislative precinct. The University of Victoria has been thourough and diligent in creating the Monument Database found here: hcmc.uvic.ca/project/monument. Work to create this lasting legacy for thousands of Japanese Canadians has been a four-year journey of community engagement. Expect a Request For Proposals to be issued sometime this spring by the Province. We will share this information as soon as it is ready. The finished project will be a meditative park, accessible to all, including local residents, and surrounded by a low profile wall containing the names of impacted Japanese Canadians organized according to place of origin. 

We again thank Mike Abe, who was seconded from the upcoming Past Wrongs, Future Choices research project at the University of Victoria for one year. Mike took the lead in disambiguating names from 14,500 community records case files digitized by the Landscapes of Injustice project. We also thank Maureen Bird, Stewart Arneil, Martin Holmes, Natsuki Abe, Aya Timmer, Megan Koyanagi, Sakura Taji, Kikuye Inouye, and Stacey Inouye for their work on the database.

Thank you once again to the applicants from across the country who have engaged so meaningfully with the Community Fund. Our most forward-looking and busiest program is the nationally accessible Community fund, with all six streams having completed first intakes. Thank you to the incredible work of the staff and assessment teams. Our hardworking Community Fund staff is Larissa Higo, Chika Buston, Eleanor Clarke, Rebecca Boschmann, Yumi Kawaoka, and Chiaki Yamada. And a big thanks to Jan Nobuto who is assisting with our grant agreements, along with Linda Kawamoto Reid.  

A second Intergenerational Wellness intake will open for applications on April 1. Sports will also open this spring. Please sign up to our newsletter (jclegacies.com/contact) for upcoming details.

We thank the ongoing input from Gary Kawaguchi, Nao Seko, Mike Matsuo, Mike Aoki, Yasushi Ohki, Kim Kalang, Alex Miki, Nicola Koyanagi, Carley Okamura, John Endo Greenaway, Jan Nobuto, Vicky Sunohara, Jim Kojima, Mitchell Kawasaki, Alan Sakai, George Iwama, Lisa Domae, Kirsten McAllister, David Moritsugu, Bev Ohashi, Richard Kobayashi, Jay Hirabayashi, Lucy Komori, Leanne Toshiko Simpson, Jeff Masuda, Jordan Riley, Dan Nomura, Naomi Yamamoto, Maryka Omatsu, and Art Miki.  

Thank you… 

– Susanne Tabata, CEO, and the Japanese Canadian Legacies office

Japanese Canadian Legacies are initiatives that honour our elders past and present. We are grateful to be doing this work on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples.