Interviews edited by Randy Kondo
Translated by Sayaka Endo
The Nikkei Seniors Health Care & Housing Society is pleased to announce the appointment of two new directors to the NSHCHS Board: John Kamitakahara and Sandra Song.
We asked John and Sandra to tell us a bit about themselves so that we can get to know them better.
John is a B.C. born and raised Sansei who is currently the owner of Kami Insurance Agencies Ltd. Being involved in the local Japanese community was not always on his mind growing up in Burnaby but this changed in his mid-twenties. John developed an interest in his Japanese culture and heritage, lived in Japan for a year, and returned with a new outlook on his background. He embraced his heritage and became more involved in his father’s established insurance business. Through this work, John has made strong connections with many members of the Japanese Canadian community.
John joined the Board of Directors because of a desire to contribute to the Nikkei societies and because of his personal challenges in finding good care and housing for his ageing parents. John recalls that his mother participated in the Nikkei Seniors’ Iki Iki program which was a bright light for her.
With COVID-19 adversely affecting the funding of many not-for-profit societies such as the NSHCHS, John hopes to find creative ways to raise funds for the Nikkei Place Foundation, other local societies and businesses that have been affected by this pandemic. He believes that Nikkei Place with the NSHCHS and the NNMCC are necessary to care for our elders and to keep Japanese culture alive for future generations.
Sandra currently serves as an administrator at Adler University and provides oversight to three graduate programs in Public Policy and Administration. She possesses over ten years of policy experience in the federal government and has served in various not-for profit organizations as a volunteer Board Advisor/Consultant across a range of issues, including government relations.
Her knowledge of seniors is both academic and personal. As an academic, she studied the different issues and challenges facing the elderly in Canada and also volunteered at a gerontology unit during undergraduate studies in Montreal. On a personal front, Sandra has an elderly parent presently dealing with the challenges of dementia. This experience has made her more conscious that we must advocate for our vulnerable seniors to maintain a life of dignity with person-centred care. When our parents and elders cannot “voice” their concerns, we must step in to ensure they are heard. The NSHCHS’s mandate to “serve our seniors and help them lead a life with good health and vitality for all” aligns with her values and commitment to social justice and to ensure delivery of programs and services that are inclusive and barrier-free.
Sandra’s knowledge of the Japanese Canadian community mainly springs from her relationship with her husband who comes from the Tohoku region. And, as a second generation Asian Canadian of immigrant parents, she understands the challenges seniors face in building a life in their adopted community/homeland.
We are most fortunate to have two qualified, experienced, and enthusiastic new directors and we look forward to their contributions to the Board and to the NSHCHS.
A warm welcome to John and Sandra!