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VNCS :: ビクトリア日系文化協会

The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society – Celebrating Japanese-Canadian Culture

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VNCS Board of Directors

Each year at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) the members of the VNCS elect an Executive Group from the general membership whose responsibility it is to execute the work of the society throughout the year. The positions are all volunteer. Below is a list of the current and past Executive Officers and Directors.

2018 Executive Officers

Tsugio Kurushima – President

kurushima-tsugioTsugio Kurushima is a Nisei born and raised in Winnipeg. He moved to Victoria with his family in 1979. Tsugio got involved in Japanese Canadian affairs during the Redress Movement in the 1980’s. Since that time he has been active in the Nikkei community not only in the greater Victoria area but also on Vancouver Island. He is a founding member of the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society and has served on its Board since its inception in 1994, holding the capacity of President for 8 of those years. Tsugio is a member of Uminari Taiko and the Furusato Dancers. In addition to his Japanese cultural interests he is active in hockey, golf, church and playing his guitar. Tsugio is married to Susan and has 2 adult children, Carmen and Bradley.

Debbie Ibaraki – Vice President

ibaraki-debbieBio information pending.

Ken Watai – Treasurer

watai-kenA retired mining executive, Ken was born and raised in Japan. His wife is a member of faculty at UBC, Asian Study and they have four children and four grandchildren. Ken served as a director for VNCS from 2000-2004 and accepted the current position when the former treasurer moved to Vancouver early in 2010. Ken is currently promoting Premium Japanese Sake for BC, Alberta with Consulate General of Japan through various cultural events.

Secretary

VACANT

Mike Abe – Past President

abe-mikeMike Abe, a Sansei, was born and raised in Ontario where he graduated from McMaster University with a degree in Biology. He worked and lived in Japan from 1987-1993 where he met and married Izumi Masuda. Their eldest son, Kento was born in Kofu, Japan and they moved to Canada, settling in Victoria in 1993. Their daughter, Natsuki was born in Victoria in 1998. Mike worked at Tourism Victoria for 13 years and for 7 years at Tourism BC. He is currently the Project Manager for Landscapes of Injustice at the University of Victoria. This is a research project focused on the dispossession and forced sale of property owned by Japanese Canadians during WW II in British Columbia.

Mike enjoys golf, shodo and sumi-e and holds a third degree black belt in Yoshinkan Aikido. He has been editor of the Victoria Nikkei Forum newsletter since 2001 and has served as VNCS president for seven years over the last ten years.

2018 Directors

Mieko Fedrau

fedrau-miekoMieko Fedrau was born and raised on a rice farm on the west coast of Japan and moved to Edmonton in 1986. She studied American Literature at Niigata University (M.A.) and Education at the University of Alberta (B. Ed.). She taught Japanese Language and Culture at Harry Ainlay High School in Edmonton for 21 years. Since moving to Victoria in the fall of 2015, Mieko and her husband have been enjoying their retirement. Mieko likes reading, travelling, practicing Kana Calligraphy, playing Badminton and Golf, hiking and watching Japanese drama and news shows. Her daughter currently attends Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

Kyla Fitzgerald

Kyla Fitzgerald was born and raised in Victoria, B.C. With a Japanese mother and Canadian father, Kyla experienced a bicultural upbringing. While she attended school in Canada, she spent her summers in Tokyo, Japan to spend time with her mother’s family in which she was able to discover, learn and enjoy Japanese culture and language. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Victoria pursuing a Master of Arts in History. In addition to her studies, she is a research associate with UVic’s Landscapes of Injustice project, which is dedicated to recovering and grappling with the forced sale of Japanese-Canadian-owned property. Kyla’s passion for raising cultural awareness and multiculturalism in the community compelled her to join the VNCS this year.

Lorin Goshinmon

When not being the home handyman; some of my time is spent practising – playing music and karate. Lived in Victoria for 33 years, born in Lethbridge Alberta, of Okinawan heritage. Lorin is a retired graphic artisit from the promotional products industry and I look forward to lending a hand to the organization.

Hitomi Harama

harama-hitomi Hitomi Harama, was born and raised in a family of Kimono connoisseur in Japan. She came to Victoria in1994 for her graduate study at University of Victoria, and immigrated in 1998. She is specialized in cross-cultural education and language study (MA) as well as Kimono and Japanese traditional culture.

She has been working as a Kimono and Japanese culture consultant in BC. Her work includes curating exhibitions, promoting traditional Japanese performing Arts to Canada, and consulting for various projects, such as films, shows and events. She is the owner of UmeSilk Kimono, promoting to wear kimono in Canada as well. She is also a skilled English-Japanese interpreter/translator for Provincial Language Services and a member of Society of Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia.

She is happy to be involved with the VNCS as a board member and be able to help promote the goodness of Japanese culture through the Nikkei cultural society.

Amy Kawano

kawano-amyAmy Kawano was born in Vernon, B.C. and raised in Okanagan Centre. Upon graduation from high school, she moved with a group of girls to Victoria, BC. Her first job in Victoria was with Medical Services Plan (then called BC Medical) but after three years she moved to Vancouver to be a little closer to family. She then worked for a wholesaler who sold giftwrap paper and ribbons. After approximately 25 yrs. in Vancouver Amy returned to Victoria BC in 1995. Her brother introduced her to the VNCS and she was then asked to become a Board Member. Once she got involved with the organization, Amy has really enjoyed assisting with the different events and overseeing the food preparations for the Cultural Fairs. She learned how to make manju which she had never made before – “my grand-mother always made it for us”. This experience has been very rewarding and Amy would like to thank all those who volunteer to help put on the events. Amy has now been a board member for over ten years and at this time would like to welcome all the new Board Members for 2011.

Karen Kobayashi

Karen Kobayashi, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and a Research Affiliate with the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria. She has been involved in the Japanese Canadian community since her teenage years in Toronto, first as a member of the original NAJC Youth Group and later in her early adult years in Vancouver as a Board member of the National Nikkei Heritage Centre Society, the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre Society, and as Chair of the Board of Tonari Gumi.

Before moving to Vancouver to begin her doctoral studies, she was the Project Director for Program and Support Service Development at the Momiji Health Care Society and Momiji Centre in Toronto. She has consulted for the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, helping to develop their Community Needs Assessment in 2011, and is currently evaluating their dementia care program (Iki Iki) at three sites in the Lower Mainland.
Academically, she is a member of the Asian Canadian Studies working group at UVic and has delivered a number of lectures and presentations on the intersections of ethnicity, immigrant status, health, and aging at national and international conferences and workshops.

Craig Mercer

mercer-craigCraig Mercer was born and raised in Victoria, BC where he graduated from Royal Roads University with a diploma in network security as well as technical certifications in systems administration and systems design. While working for the Ministry of Attorney General in 2003 he met a young lady from Osaka, Japan named Kana Ogino. They married and moved to live in Osaka, Japan from 2005 to 2007. Their daughter Grace Yuki was born in Osaka in 2005. Their son Wyatt Haku was born in Victoria in 2009. Craig is currently working as the Direcor for Project Methodology at Island Health (aka VIHA).
Craig has been serving as a Director with the VNCS Board off and on since 2010 and looks after the VNCS website.

Kana Mercer

mercer-kanaKana Mercer was born in Fukuoka and her family moved to Osaka when she was 7. Kana came to Victoria on holiday working visa in 2003 and met Craig. After they got married in Victoria in 2004, they moved to Osaka and lived there until they moved back to Victoria in 2007.
Kana has been on a journey of homeschooling her 2 children (Grace Yuki & Wyatt Haku) and enjoying new challenges.
She also has been encouraged to help young Japanese people who come to Victoria to start up their new adventure.

Yukari Peerless

peerless-yukariYukari Peerless was born in Osaka, but grew up in Sasebo, Nagasaki. She moved to Canada in 1998.

She joined VNCS to stay connected with Japanese culture, and joined the board in 2014. Since joining the VNCS, she has been interested in learning more about the histories of Japanese Canadians and hopes to connect immigrants and Japanese Canadians.

She is the owner of Lucid Communication, an ESL and consulting firm. She also blogs on various social media platforms.

Yukari enjoys reading, movies and theatre when she’s not busy taking care of her two boys.

 

Past VNCS Board of Directors

2017 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Tsugio Kurushima
Vice President: Debbie Ibaraki
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Vacant
Past President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Mieko Fedrau
Kyla Fitzgerald (Ex-Officio)
Hitomi Harama
Amy Kawano
Karen Kobayashi
Tomoko Okada
Yukari Peerless (Communications Director)
Cristina Shore
 

2016 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Tsugio Kurushima
Vice President: Debbie Ibaraki
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Vacant
Past President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Mieko Fedrau
Kyla Fitzgerald (Ex-Officio)
Hitomi Harama
Amy Kawano
Karen Kobayashi
Tomoko Okada
Yukari Peerless
Cristina Shore
Jeff Tanaka
 

2015 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Vice President: Cristina Shore
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Toni Burton
Past President: Tsugio Kurushima
Patti Ayukawa
Kyla Fitzgerald (Ex-Officio)
Debbie Ibaraki
Amy Kawano
Karen Kobayashi
Craig Mercer (VNCS Website/Grant Applications)
Kana Mercer
Yukari Peerless
 

2014 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Vice President: Cristina Shore
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: vacant
Past President: Tsugio Kurushima
Kyla Fitzgerald (Ex-Officio)
Debbie Ibaraki
Amy Kawano
Yukari Peerless
 

2013 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Vice President: Cristina Shore
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Debbie Ibaraki
Past President: Tsugio Kurushima
James Harada-Down
Debbie Ibaraki
Amy Kawano
Craig Mercer (VNCS Website/Grant Applications)
Noreen Scarth
Henry Shimizu
 

2012 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Vice President: Cristina Shore
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Debbie Ibaraki
Past President: Tsugio Kurushima
James Harada-Down
Debbie Ibaraki
Amy Kawano
Craig Mercer (VNCS Website/Grant Applications)
Noreen Scarth
Henry Shimizu
 

2011 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Vice President: Cristina Shore
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Debbie Ibaraki
Past President: Tsugio Kurushima
James Harada-Down
Mami Harada-Down
Brian Harvey
Debbie Ibaraki
Amy Kawano
Craig Mercer (VNCS Website/Grant Applications)
Cody Poulton
Noreen Scarth
Henry Shimizu

 

2010 Executive Officers & Directorss

President: Tsugio Kurushima
Vice President: Cristina Shore
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Susan Kurushima
Past President: Mike Abe
Mike Abe (Victoria Nikkei Forum Newsletter)
Kathy Harris
Debbie Ibaraki
Akira Iwase
Roy Katsuyama
Amy Kawano
Craig Mercer (VNCS Website/Grant Applications)
Henry Shimizu