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.

2022 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 many 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. Founding member.

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 with the Sake Association of British Columbia, throughout BC and Alberta and also with the Consulate General of Japan through various cultural events. Founding member.

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.

2022 Directors

Natsuki Abe

Natsuki Abe - 2020 new board memberBorn and raised in Victoria, Natsuki Abe is a Yonsei on her father’s side and a Nisei on her mother’s side. She has been involved with the VNCS since she was very little. Natsuki is currently a fourth year history undergraduate student at UVic, specializing in Canadian history. She is a research assistant on for the Landscapes of Injustice project that focuses on the dispossession and forced sale of property owned by Japanese Canadians on the west coast during WWII. While on the VNCS board of directors, Natsuki wishes to increase her involvement with the Nikkei community and help promote JC history through the newly formed Heritage Subcommittee within VNCS. Board member since 2020.

Maureen Bird

Coming SoonBio Pending.

Yuuri Daiku

Coming SoonYuuri comes from a multicultural family and spent his younger years in Europe and Victoria. After completing his studies in literature at UVic he moved to Japan where he lived for almost 20 years, got married, and worked as translator, instructor, tour guide, and guesthouse manager. Back in Canada since 2015 he has been working for tour companies in BC, Alberta, and the Yukon. Yuuri and his wife have been VNCS members since 2018.

Karen Koyanagi Geiger

Karen Koyanagi Geiger is a Yonsei and was born in Vancouver. She has called Victoria home since 2008. Karen has 25 years of leadership experience with the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia. She was a recipient of the Public Service of Canada’s ‘Women Making A Difference’ Award. Her grandmother and father were born on Vancouver Island, and she would like to contribute to the Japanese community by honouring her ancestors and elders by creating a more empathetic and inclusive world for future generations. Karen enjoys international travel, growing orchids, and learning to cook her family’s traditional Japanese dishes.

Reyna Goshinmon

Reyna Goshinmon is a “hapa, yonsei, Uchinanchu” (mixed-race, 4th generation Okinawan Canadian) who lives and works on the unceded traditional territories of the Lekwungen speaking people, also known as the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations communities.

Reyna founded her own small, independent business in 2016 and has spent the last 20 years in retail, service and sales management. She brings her experience and skill sets to the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society Board of Directors and trusts that they can be applied within the organization, to help support and promote the nikkei community.

Reyna looks forward to representing the Okinawan and Japanese Canadian community, contributing to the organization and connecting with people.

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.

Craig Mercer

Craig MercerCraig 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 a Manager with the Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) Centre of Excellence (CoE) at Coast Capital Savings Federal Credit Union.

Craig has been serving as a Director with the VNCS Board off and on since 2010 and looks after the VNCS website.

Yukari Peerless – Communications Director

Yukari has been helping to bridge the cultural gap between Japan and Canada ever since 1998, when she moved from her native Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, to Victoria. She has become the go-to person for all things Japanese culture and performing arts on Vancouver Island.

One of Yukari’s first jobs in Canada was working for the Canadian College of Film and Acting. Her interest in the theatre arts was fuelled by watching student films and participating in acting workshops.

She serves as the director of communication at Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society. She also serves as a board member at Canadian College of Performing Arts where she is an active member of Cultural Safety Working Group. She is also a part of the Arts, Culture, and Education committee at National Association of Japanese Canadians.

As the owner of Lucid Communication, she provides a variety of services such as interpretation and cultural consulting to Japanese and Canadian clients, including the local government and the government of Japan. Past projects and clients include ANA, Dove, Post and Disney.

As a host and producer of Living Brave Podcast, Yukari enjoys showcasing Japanese and Japanese-Canadian/Japanese-American artists. Additionally, she produces a Japanese podcast focused on various social issues.

Yukari is also a digital content creator and can be found across social media.

Christina Shore

Maria Cristina Shore (Nisisaki Fukuda) is a Sansei born in Mexico City, Mexico and moved to Victoria in 1983. She has been active in the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS) for many years participating in activities, as well as sitting on the Board of Directors and Steering Committees, and serving as President. Currently she enjoys being a member of the Furusato Dancers and bringing a touch of the Mexican-Japanese community to us with her pinata creations. Cristina works with the Inter Cultural Association of Victoria (ICA Victoria) assisting immigrants and refugees transition into the greater Victoria community and contributes a unique perspective to the VNCS.

Past VNCS Board of Directors

2021 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Tsugio Kurushima
Vice President: Debbie Ibaraki
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Vacant
Natuski Abe (Heritage Committee)
Maureen Bird
Sandy Cohen
Mieko Fedrau (Cultural Outreach)
Lorin Goshinmon
Rieko Hatakeyama
Amy Kawano
Craig Mercer (Website Admin)
Yukari Peerless (Communications Director)

2020 Executive Officers & Directors

President: Tsugio Kurushima
Vice President: Debbie Ibaraki
Treasurer: Ken Watai
Secretary: Vacant
Natuski Abe (Heritage Committee)
Mieko Fedrau (Cultural Outreach)
Lorin Goshinmon
Amy Kawano
Scott McDonald (Website Admin)
Craig Mercer (Scholarship Committee)
Yukari Peerless (Communications Director)
Bruce Yoshida

2019 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
Lorin Goshinmon
Amy Kawano
Scott McDonald
Craig Mercer
Yukari Peerless (Communications Director)
Bruce Yoshida

2018 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
Lorin Goshinmon
Hitomi Harama
Amy Kawano
Karen Kobayashi
Craig Mercer
Kana Mercer

Yukari Peerless (Communications Director)

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