About the Fund

Background

The Province of BC has provided Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society (Nikkei Seniors) with $2 million as part of its commitment to honour seniors who lived through the traumatic uprooting and displacement of almost 22,000 Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. The Province of BC is acknowledging the role they played in the historical wrongs committed against the Japanese Canadian community during the period between 1942 and April 1, 1949. The grant came out of the efforts of the National Association of Japanese Canadians’ (NAJC) BC Redress initiative.  The NAJC is currently in talks with the BC Provincial Government to determine multiple legacy initiatives for the community.

Purpose

The Nikkei Seniors has designated the $2 million for the Japanese Canadian Survivors Health & Wellness Fund (Fund). At its core, the fund is primarily targeted at seniors who were directly impacted – uprooted and displaced – by the BC Government during this period. By extension, seniors whose families left BC during the war but were born out of province from 1942-1949 are part of this demographic. Nikkei Seniors will also strive to include impacted seniors who were not displaced yet lived in BC and suffered through this era and its aftermath. The fund will be distributed in Canada.

The purpose of the Fund is to provide grants to enhance programs, activities, and services that will directly benefit the health and wellness of these living survivors.

This Fund is an initial step to meet the health and wellness needs of these Japanese Canadian survivors and provide community asset mapping to identify health care gaps and this data will be used for future projects.

The project timeline is one year.

Meet the Team

Eiko Eby | Project Manager

Eiko Eby is a Nikkei Yonsei whose parents were both directly impacted by the BC Government actions by being displaced during the internment of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. Eiko was on the Board of the Central Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Cultural Society from 1987 until 2021, serving as President for the past 19 years. She has worked on numerous committees for the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) and was a member of the National Executive Board of the NAJC for four years 2016-2020. In these roles, she has contributed to the groundwork on the NAJC BC Redress initiative. Eiko also served as a member of the Community Council of the University of Victoria-led Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective. Eiko is a retiring professor in the Kinesiology Department at Vancouver Island University. In 2018, Eiko received the Vancouver Island University President’s Award for Outstanding Community Engagement for her work in the Japanese Canadian community.

Linda Kawamoto Reid | Project Assistant

Linda is a hapa sansei, born in the Okanagan after the Internment period.  Her father’s family including older cousins were directly impacted from the forced dispersal, and spread across the country.  During her career as a psychiatric nurse she worked on the front lines with the elderly population in homes or in care in South Vancouver.  Linda’s interest in Nikkei history started with reading her grandmother Koto Kawamoto’s story in the “Dream of Riches” in 1977.  Since then it has become a passion and a curiosity which led her to be on the Board of the JC Health Care Society from 1990-1998.  Retiring early, she volunteered for the JC National Museum and was eventually hired part time. Since then, she has been involved in many initiatives, including the Japanese Canadian Legacy Road Signage project which erected commemorative signs around the Internment or road camps in BC in 2017.  And she is the chair of the JC War Memorial Committee which hosts the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies in Stanley Park.   

Ruth Coles | NSHCHS Board President

Ruth Coles is currently the Board President of the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society (NSHCHS). For over 35 years, she has been active with the NSHCHS as Vice President of the Board and President since 2010. She was educated at UBC and the University of Toronto where she received her Master of Social Work degree. Ruth worked in the healthcare field for over 30 years as a social worker in management and leadership roles in Diversity Services. She advocates for caring and compassionate care, barrier free services and community building. Ruth’s commitment to volunteerism and helping the Japanese Canadian community stems from her family’s Christian values, the assistance her father gave to Japanese Canadian families in their relocation to Grand Forks during the dispersal of the Japanese Canadians from BC coastal areas, and her choice of social work as a profession. 

Susanne Tabata | NAJC, BC Redress Project Director

Susanne Tabata is the BC Redress Project Director for the National Association of Japanese Canadians, taking a lead in community relations, developing and refining the ‘asks’ in the six categories of: seniors’ health & wellness; anti-racism & commemoration; education; heritage; community & culture. A member of the NAJC’s National Executive Board, Susanne is working across community based organizations, stakeholders who implement programs and services, ad-hoc groups, and the BC government. She is helping steer the Nikkei Seniors Health Care & Housing Society with setting the framework of a $2 million initial fund from the BC Government towards supporting programs and services for Japanese Canadian survivors whose lives were impacted by the government actions of 1942-1949.

Susanne is a sansei, part-time Media Arts college instructor, mentor, mother, and full-time caregiver for her nisei father, Susumu.

Cathy Makihara | NSHCHS Former Executive Director

Cathy Makihara has served the seniors of the Japanese Canadian community for 30 years. Since attending Simon Fraser University, she has dedicated her work to serving her community.  Cathy has played an instrumental role in the development of Nikkei Place, a multipurpose complex in Burnaby, BC. As the former Executive Director of the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, she helped to create one of the first publicly funded assisted living complex in 2002 and opened the Japanese Canadian community’s independent seniors housing; and operated programs and housing for seniors in need.  In 2017, the Society was a driving force to develop Lively-Lively, a dementia-friendly day program that has expanded to several locations. Her introduction to the Japanese Canadian community began working as a field worker for the Japanese Canadian Redress Settlement where she developed a passion for working on community issues and needs.