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Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

The Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference (JCYLC) is an annual workshop and traveling conference based in Canada. The inaugural conference was held in Toronto, Ontario in September 2013.[1] In 2014, the JCYLC travels to Vancouver, British Columbia[2] and will take place between September 19 and September 21.

As stated on the JCYLC website, the conference is designed to bring together youth in communities from across Canada to discuss the various issues they face and successes they have experienced as Japanese Canadians. Simultaneously, the event is designed to provide a space allowing attendees to collaborate on ways to further inspire youth to make positive contributions within their communities. The conference is organized in collaboration with the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) and will run concurrently to the NAJC Annual General Meeting.[3]

Taken from the JCYLC webpage, the conference states that: "By prioritizing dialogue and empowering young people through workshops, heritage tours, panels, and trans-generational discussion, the JCYLC offers a unique opportunity for young Japanese Canadians to develop, inspire, and lead nikkei communities across the country".[4]


The Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference (JCYLC) was inspired by a youth meeting and digital storytelling workshop that took place at the 2012 National Association of Japanese Canadian (NAJC) Annual General Meeting, in Kamloops, British Columbia. Working across ages, backgrounds, and levels of activism within respective communities, attendees engaged in a discussion about the Japanese Canadian experience, and many common themes emerged. With this momentum, participants wanted to continue the discussion on Japanese Canadian experience, and to discover, innovate, and develop new methods of empowering young community members to grow as leaders. Hence, the JCYLC emerges from that spirit of organic discussion and authentic leadership.

The first annual Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference (JCYLC) took place in Toronto, Ontario, from September 20 to 22, 2013, co-chaired by Lisa Schoenhofer, from Ottawa, and Lindsay Tsuji, from Toronto. By creating a dialogue led by Japanese Canadian youth, this conference was designed to unite Japanese Canadian communities across Canada, and to discuss the issues and successes of making a positive contribution to our communities. As in 2012 with the impromptu discussion, the official 2013 JCYLC conference ran concurrently with the NAJC AGM, attended by seven young adults from across the country (Calgary, Lethbridge, Kamloops, Ottawa, and Toronto), as well as occasionally by additional guests.

At the conference, by engaging in workshops, discussions, and a close-knit, team-building environment, delegates expressed their thoughts and ideas regarding community-building and event planning, specifically with an attentiveness to types of community-building and event planning that would offer a sense of unity to the national Japanese Canadian community. In addition, delegates reflected on what motivates them, what drives them to become and to stay involved in their respective communities, identifying cultural pride (i.e. pride passed down from generations, general societal perceptions of 'cool' Japan, and personal experiences travelling to Japan) and a certain feeling of guilt or obligation to the Japanese Canadian community (i.e. If I don't do it, who will?). Included in the 2013 JCYLC was a simulation workshop ("A JC Community Needs Your Help"), wherein delegates were invited to focus on Kamloops as an example city, and to try to provide some practical and concrete actions that would bolster the involvement of Japanese Canadian young people living in Kamloops. This simulation session was particularly productive in terms of ideas: delegates generated an abundance of ideas for Japanese Canadian youth involvement in Kamloops. Thus, the main challenge during this session was to interpret those ideas and transpose them into a realistic context, whereby they could be realized using resources that are actually available to the city of Kamloops. During this simulation session, delegates also noted the importance of self-care for a leader: with busy schedules and, in many cases, stressful life transitions, the young Japanese Canadians that attended the 2013 JCYLC emphasized that leaders need to remember to work on tasks that maintain motivation without jeopardizing the extent to which a young person can lead a healthy lifestyle.

At the 25th Redress Anniversary Banquet, delegates reflected on historic Japanese Canadian human rights accomplishments as well as the relevancy of human rights in the present. Art Miki and Joy Kogawa attended the banquet as guest speakers and inspired young leaders with their compelling and engaging speeches.

In addition, Toronto-based artists joined the conference by leading workshops in which delegates collectively created art pieces. Each art piece was passed around the room so that each delegate contributed to it. By creating art collectively, this workshop highlighted the value of shared responsibility, the experience of collective effort, and the fact that when people are each responsible to one larger project, it builds commitment.

Delegates from the 2013 JCYLC show tremendous potential and promise for growing into strong and thriving leaders in their communities. Japanese Canadian centres and groups across the country recognize the importance of youth involvement, particularly regarding the sustainability of their communities. The JCYLC Committee encourages centres, groups, and communities nation-wide to make space for youth and work together across generations to bolster nikkei communities.


  1. Schoenhofer, Lisa. "Young Leaders Conference". Retrieved 31 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  2. Schoenhofer, Lisa. "Young Leaders Conference". Retrieved 31 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  3. Young Japanese Canadian Leaders. "2014 Vancouver Conference". Retrieved 31 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  4. Japanese Canadian Young Leaders, **. "Home". Retrieved 31 July 2014. External link in |website= (help)

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