News > President's Report for the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the Society

President's Report for the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the Society

posted on 8:27 AM, July 4, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 
This is my report to the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia for 2011/2012.  

The activities of the Society this past year were still conducted partly in the shadow of last year’s triple disaster in Japan. Without forgetting the fact that the impact of 3.11 will be felt for years to come, there is a trend towards normalization in terms of what we as a Society were able to focus on and move forward with over the last year.  

I travel to Japan every couple of months it seems, but a highlight of one trip this year was to be part of the B.C. Premier’s Trade Mission in May, where on behalf of the Society, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, represented by President Wilf Wakely. The Society has long had a close relationship with the CCCJ, due in no small part to the work that the late John Powles did with both organizations, and which is why we called the Memorandum “The John Powles Alliance”.  

So while I used the word ‘normalization’, there were in fact a number of outstanding Society events over the past twelve months, highlighted by two of our Society Signature undertakings - the 36th annual joint Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia - Konwakai Golf Tournament and Dinner, organized by Russell Mark and Hiroshi Yamamoto, and the Annual Fall Gala which Executive Director Angela Hollinger and Events Committee Chair Bill McMichael organized featuring guest speakers Ambassador Jonathan Fried and B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources’ Steve Thomson.  

Our efforts in support of Canada’s trade-related agenda continued with events such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) round table in February led by Vice President John Tak; a panel discussion in March at the University of British Columbia on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the TPP; a briefing to Federal Member of Parliament Don Davies on the EPA and John Tak’s presentation in May on the EPA to the Standing Committee on International Trade in Ottawa. I would like to thank John and the ad hoc committee for their work in helping to assure that the Society’s interests are represented as part of these bilateral processes.  

Please note that details of most events which the Society engages with are recorded on our web site, either in the public news area or behind password protection in the members’ only area. In this regard, I would like to thank those who contribute content there, for example Justin Elavathil and Yongmin Lee (Masters of Arts students in UBC’s Asia Pacific Policy Studies) in reporting on the Society hosted event at UBC on the TPP/EPA entitled “What is in it for us Canadians”.
Last fall’s Bob Iwata Lecture Series saw UBC’s Dr. John Hepburn present his view of “Building Bridges between Canada and Japan”. Dr. Hepburn reminded us of the significance of not only institutional links, but of how researchers, teachers and students working across cultures develop new life perspectives which they carry with them throughout their lives. This reminder of our responsibility to engage across a broader spectrum in the bilateral Japan-Canada relationship was also echoed by the participation on the Premier’s Trade Mission of The University of Northern British Columbia and Royal Roads University.  

Although UNBC and Royal Roads are not (yet) Society members, in the year ahead, I would like to challenge Society members who are involved with educational pursuits to ask how the Society might better serve their interests, especially as they relate to the bridge we are building across the Pacific. Much in the way an ad hoc committee was convened with a trade agenda this last year, I’d like to ask for your support in convening an ad hoc group which might engage around an education agenda, with the first question being how the Society might be used as a catalyst to help individuals and institutions better achieve their bilateral goals.  

As with many resource-constrained organizations, there is much that could or should be done, and I regret to advise that we have not yet concluded the re-work of the Society's Constitution and By-Laws, with the purpose of undertaking revisions to bring the documents up-to-date and into line with our actual practices. I would like to again thank Robert Banno and Jay LeMoine for their efforts on this file, and have now set next year’s AGM as the target for completion of this assignment.  

Let me also note the continuing and important support we receive from our government partners – the Consulate General of Japan, Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation  

I am pleased to report that with the help of all of the members of your Executive committee and Executive Director, the Society’s business is functioning well. I’d like to thank Japanese Consul General Hideki Ito for his support in particular. I would also like to thank Angela Hollinger for her dedication and hard work, without which things would grind to a halt. Past President Russell Mark deserves kudos for his efforts in financial oversight, as does John Tak for his help with the membership files.  

Although we continue to be challenged with new and renewal memberships and in meeting the expectations of a diverse assembly, the record will show that as individuals or as corporate members of the Canada-Japan Society of British Columbia, you have lent your name and your good intentions in support of the continued building of Canada’s oldest Asian bilateral association.  

This is our past, and our hope for the future remains "to encourage and to increase the opportunities in British Columbia for the extension of friendship and understanding between the people of Canada and the people of Japan”.  

Thank you all very much for your support.

Steven J. Archer
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