Japanese Canadian community unites to help earthquake and tsunami victims

Over 50 members of the Japanese Canadian arts, business, culture, community and student groups, representing more than 20 different organizations, met together at the office of the Japanese Community Volunteers Association (Tonari Gumi) on Saturday afternoon (March 12) in order to combine their talents and energies to help the survivors of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck the northern region of Japan on March 11th.  The large group of interested individuals and organizations who gathered together at short notice agreed to support the creation of the “B.C. – Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” which will work out of the Tonari Gumi office at 511 East Broadway.

The move to organize was first spurred by the spontaneous actions of Japanese students studying in Vancouver who wanted to do something tangible to help those suffering in the aftermath of this massive natural disaster. Linda Ohama, a noted Japanese Canadian film maker, spoke for many in the meeting when she said, “I cannot stand looking at all the images and hearing from so many friends about the earthquake victims and families. We need to do something”.

It was agreed to set up two committees: one to help coordinate fundraising activities and to encourage more people to contribute; and another to organize a major fundraising concert, drawing on the talents of artists, musicians and performers within the community. Once an appropriate venue is secured, the committee will begin advertising this event, likely starting sometime this week.

The group agreed to continue encouraging individuals who wish to contribute to do so via the Canadian Red Cross through their toll free phone at 1-800-418-1111 or on-line at www.redcross.ca and to designate their donations to “Japan Earthquake Relief”.

Those wishing to contribute their time and talents to mobilizing more support in the Lower Mainland and/or becoming involved in the fundraising concert can call Tonari Gumi at (604) 687-2172 or check out the website. 

The following is a partial list of those organizations united to help:  BCJSN (Japan Love); BOSS; the Canada-Japan Society of BC; Chibi Taiko Vancouver Taiko Society; Japanese Canadian Citizens Association; Japanese Community Volunteers Association (Tonari Gumi); Japanese Women Business Association; Kiyukai; Loud (music group); Miyagi-ken Tomo no Kai; Mokuyokai; National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre; Powell Street Festival Society; Sakura Days Japan Fair; SamaSantie.com; UBC English Language Institute; Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall; Yayoi Theatre Movement Society.

Contact:  David Iwaasa
Executive Director Japanese Community Volunteers Association
Telephone:  (604) 687-2172
Email:  [email protected]

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