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The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society – Celebrating Japanese-Canadian Culture

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Support Japan 2011 – Gambare Nippon! News Release #6

Support Japan 2011 – Gambare Nippon

Successful Japanese Children’s Day Festival
enjoyed by children at University Heights Mall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2011 Victoria, BC

Support Japan 2011

The Support Japan 2011 Gambare Nippon group held its fourth fundraiser, the Japanese Children’s Day Festival at University Heights Mall on May 7th . It was an event that provided hands-on Japanese activities and entertainment for kids and the young at heart. Thank you to University Heights Mall for hosting our event, which raised more than $3,500 in donations and t-shirt sales. And thank you to University Heights for arranging radio promotion on Ocean 98.5 and Jack FM leading up to the event.

This event was very special, and transcended fund raising. We’ve had other events that raised a lot more money but the energy and excitement of the kids enjoying the activities and gathering stamps in their activity passport was priceless.

The theme of the event was Kids Helping Kids and was evident in many ways. One of the activities that participants did was draw pictures and write messages to show support and encouragement to their counterparts in Japan. Just last week Bill McCreadie, President of the Victoria Morioka Friendship Society and his wife, Rita travelled to Morioka, Victoria’s sister city and during their visit they toured elementary and junior high schools in Rikuzentakata City in the disaster area and delivered the pictures to the students there.

In between performances by the Japanese School Children’s Choir and Dance troupe, the Furusato Dancers and storytelling, there was the opportunity to introduce and highlight some of our local heroes in the community. We welcomed Owen and Tyler, 7 year old buddies from St. Patrick’s School who were on hand to donate all the proceeds from their recent birthday parties. Owen is a veteran at fundraising and at the age of four he raised over $500 for school supplies and clothing for his pre-school’s foster child in Africa and raised a similar amount for the Haiti Earthquake Relief efforts. His charitable nature has rubbed off on his good friend Tyler as the two combined to raise $423.

And another local hero that we were honoured to come on stage was 8 year old Samantha from Willows Elementary School. Not only has the school sold over 380 Support Japan 2011 t-shirts, Samantha came up with the idea and spearheaded a “toonie” drive and raised over $1,130 dollars for the relief efforts.

We also welcomed 8 year old Anna, a Grade 2 student from Deep Cove Elementary School near Sidney who also had a birthday and was looking for a place to donate the proceeds from her party which had a Japanese theme. She found out about our Children’s Day event and what better place to donate her $100 than at the Kids Helping Kids event for the kids in Japan.

And not all donations were financial. We had 11 year old Aleia (holding her message above left), a Grade 6 student from Gordon Head Middle School come up and ask if she could sing as song. And boy could she sing as she belted out a rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that would have made Judy Garland proud. The audience was overwhelmed with her talent and asked for an encore. Aleia responded with a beautiful singing of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus which she felt had an appropriate message about overcoming obstacles and persevering. Her school has also been active in fundraising for Japan and through t-shirt sales and collecting donations has raised over $1,500.

The highly successful t-shirt campaign also continues with over 8,000 Support Japan 2011 Gambare Nippon (Never Give Up, Japan) t-shirts sold. All net proceeds from the t-shirt sales will go directly to the Japanese Red Cross and all net proceeds from donations collected from this event will go to the Canadian Red Cross-Japan Earthquake/Asia Pacific Tsunami Fund.

The success of the t-shirt campaign can be attributed to several local schools taking on the cause and selling the shirts to their students, teachers, families and friends. It’s a great way to show support and to sport this attractive
t-shirt designed and produced locally here in Victoria. In addition to Willows Elementary and Gordon Head Middle School, other schools that have been involved in selling the Support Japan 2011 Gambare Nippon t-shirt include Sir James Douglas School, Campus View School, Oaklands School, Dwight International School, Bayside Middle School, Pacific Christian School, Ecole Victor Brodeur School, Strawberry Vale School, Cloverdale Traditional School, Keating Elementary and Lighthouse Student Centre.

Just after a news story by Jack Knox about the t-shirts appeared in the Times Colonist, we got a call from Pat McLeod looking for a t-shirt for her 5 year-old nephew Marco because he had heard about the Japanese earthquake and wanted to raise money at his birthday party that Saturday to help out the people in Japan. We appreciate being the beneficiary of $235 from little Marco from his party in Nanaimo in March.

We are grateful to the people of Victoria for supporting our Japanese community to raise funds for our friends and families in Japan during this trying time. Our fundraising events and t-shirts sales have raised more than $100,000. We hope that many people have been able to experience our cultural programming and we invite more schools to consider joining in the t-shirt campaign.

We are also grateful for other schools that are raising money for the relief efforts. Over 500 students from the Ladysmith Elementary, Intermediate and Ecole Davis Road held a Walk for Japan last week and raised over $1,900 for Canadian Red Cross. Children of the Pacific Ocean helping children of the Pacific Ocean, they wanted to help because they have family and friends in Japan and because this tragedy touched all of them. The students at Frank Hobbs Elementary are also raising funds by selling origami book marks.
And I can’t forget the look on 8 year old Alex’s face as it beamed with pride as he donated his $8 from his birthday twoonie party. And kudos to Tristan and Aiden for sending in the money they raised selling golf balls at Cedar Hill Golf Course.

And we have to salute our tireless performers, the Japanese school children’s dance and choir who have performed for and entertained so many people through our events under the leadership of Rina and Harumi senseis.

We are proud of the youngest generation showing the biggest hearts – our future looks like it is in good hands.

About the Support Japan 2011 Gambare Nippon group
The four largest Japanese Canadian organizations in Victoria have joined together to raise funds for emergency relief efforts in Japan. The organizations involved are the Japanese Friendship Society (JFS), Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS), Victoria Morioka Friendship Society (VMFS) and the Victoria Japanese Heritage Language School Society (VJHLSS).

Media contact: Michael Abe
President, Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society
Spokesperson, Support Japan 2011 Gambare Nippon

Cell: (250) 704-6164
Email: or

Website: www.vncs.ca