We Should Know Each Other A conversation series

We Should Know Each Other is proud to present our 2019 conversation series.

The series is designed to create a space for conversations with Japanese Canadians and the broader JC community, encouraging dialogue, reconnecting over common interests, priorities, and opening doors to create a vibrant inter-generational community. This idea was inspired and guided by Joy Kogawa who's wish that "We Should Know Each Other", encourages us to build bridges across generations and to open new dialogues about the Japanese Canadian experience then and now.

Our focus this year is on the vibrant and varied cultural life of Japanese Canadians in Toronto. As a community, we feel it is important to recognize and share our lessons and experiences of the past and to show how these experiences are translated into the way we express ourselves as a community now.

This year our conversations will be held on:

  • February 6, 2019 featuring Lillian Blakey
  • April 10, 2019 featuring Nobuo Kubota
  • June 5, 2019 featuring Khaled Iwamura
  • Sept 11, 2019 featuring Bruce Tatemichi and his band

There will be one other event with a date TBA, the teachers of the Sakura Kai dance group of the JCCC.

Our events are held at Anglican Church of St. David, Donlands & St. Andrew, Japanese Congregation on the date listed, from 7pm to 9pm.

All are welcome, this is a free event with a request that your "Pay what you can for the band" on September 11 ONLY.

49 Donlands Avenue

Toronto, Ontario M4J 3N5

Our Guests for 2019

Our bios come from the Japanese Canadian Artists directory when not provided by the artist.

Wednesday February 6, 2019

Lillian Michiko Blakey

Lillian Michiko Blakey

Lillian Michiko Blakey was born in Coaldale Alberta in 1945, at the end of WWII. She is an artist and a writer. She was formerly a teacher and consultant for Equity in the Curriculum with the North York Board of Education and is currently a member and past president of the Ontario Society of Artists, Canada’s longest continuing art society since 1872.

She has explored her family’s story of forced relocation during WWII through her art for the last twenty years and has shared the journey in many exhibitions at both mainstream galleries and at galleries for Japanese Canadian audiences. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Government of Ontario Art Collection and in the Nikkei National Museum.

Thursday April 10, 2019

Nobuo Kobuta

Inspired by Joy Kogawa, this conversation series is designed to create a space for conversations with Japanese Canadians and the broader JC community. St. Andrew's Japanese Congregation and St. David's Anglican Church in Toronto are pleased to host a Japanese Canadian community-building project of public conversations called "We Should Know Each Other".

Join us for our next conversation on Wednesday February 6, featuring:

Artist Nobuo Kubota

Nobuo Kubota was born on June 27, 1932 in Vancouver BC. He has a degree in architecture from the University of Toronto. Nobuo Kubota has been contributing to Canadian art for over 40 years as musician, sculptor and performer. An early member of the Artists Jazz Band and the CCMC (Canadian Creative Music Collective), he is known for his extended vocal techniques and sound poetry. (National Gallery of Canada)

In 1970 he spent a year in Japan, living with a Zen master, which led him to investigate artistic influences from the East (Japanese art, opera and architecture) and West (jazz, improvisation). His work is included in the collections of Canada's major art institutions and has shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and performances across Canada and abroad. (National Gallery of Canada)

He has been awarded the Allied Arts Award from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada; the Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award from The Canada Council for the Arts; The Governor General’s Award and the Doctor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Arts & Design.

Wednesday June 5, 2019

Khaled Iwamura

Khaled Iwamura is half Japanese, half Egyptian, born in Montreal and has been a proud resident of Mississauga for 30 years. He is the founder and Editor-in-chief of QuickBite News, a media company comprised of insauga.com, inbrampton.com and inhalton.com.

Khaled is a TEDx Speaker, Tokyo Tourism Spokesperson, MC of Japan Festival of Canada (the largest Japanese Festival in North America), TV host/producer, and part-time pro wrestler. He sits on the Board of Directors of The Living Arts Centre, Legends Row and Japan Festival Canada.

Khaled hosts a self produced TV show–which airs on Facebook Live–at Celebration Square every Thursday night over the summer. Over the last two seasons it has garnered 250,000 live views!

He was also a drummer for Yakudo taiko group for 15 years! He performed at clubs and cultural events from Toronto to Hong Kong.

Wednesday September 11, 2019

Bruce Tatemichi and his Band

Bruce Tatemichi

Bruce was born in Montreal in 1953, and began piano lessons at five years old. In high school he first studied the clarinet, and soon after the saxophone. Along the way, he taught himself how to play the drums, bass and the flute.

Bruce is a jazz musician, but he plays many styles including classical, blues, country, rock, bluegrass and big band music. He believes that every genre of music at its very best, can talk directly to the soul of the listener.

Our Past Speakers

Our Speakers

This series will be hosted by St David's Anglican Church

49 Donlands Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 3N5

Across from the Donlands Subway Station

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on the dates listed below

Inspired by an idea from Joy Kogawa, this series is designed to create a space for conversations with these Japanese Canadians and the broader JC community. Encouraging dialogue, reconnecting over common interests and priorities, and opening doors to creating a virbrant intergenerational community is our goal.

Hosted and Sponsored by

  • St. Andrew’s Japanese Congregation - Host
  • St. David’s Anglican Church - Host
  • Nikkei Voice
  • The Toronto Chapter of the NAJC
  • Japanese Canadian Young Leaders of Toronto
  • The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Heritage Committee


Michael Mori

Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera

Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera, Naomi's Road

Michael Mori is the youngest and first Japanese Canadian artistic director of Tapestry Opera, a Toronto-based contemporary opera company. He is a stage director, singer, arts administrator and recording artist. Mori made his performance debut in New York City at the age of 11 with the Dicapo Opera, and as a child performer toured the U.S. and Europe. After completing a master’s degree in opera performance at the University of British Columbia, he obtained diplomas from Die Wiener Meisterkurse, Vienna, and Die Universität Mozarteum Sommerakademie, Salzburg.

In 2015, Michael was named one of ten Torontonians to watch by the Toronto Star for his ambitious new direction at Tapestry Opera, and his community leadership with Indie Opera T.O. Mori is currently directing the children's opera performance of Joy Kogawa's Naomi's Road for Tapestry Opera.

Our Speakers

Raymond Moriyama

November 3

Raymond Moriyama is an internationally renowned Canadian architect. His well-regarded work includes the Canadian War Museum (2005) in Ottawa, the Canadian Embassy (1991) in Tokyo and the National Museum of Saudi Arabia (1999) in Riyadh after winning a national award. He has designed several buildings at Brock University in the 1970s through to the latest campus expansion, also serving as the university's chancellor. Partnering with Ted Teshima in 1970, Moriyama + Teshima architects designed the Scarborough Civic Centre (1973), Metro Toronto Reference Library (1977) and the Bata Shoe Museum (1995) in Toronto.

Moriyama has received numerous awards for his work, including the Order of Ontario, Order of Canada, Order of the Rising Sun (Japan) and the Governor General award for architecture. Being of Japanese descent, Moriyama and his family were evacuated from their home in Vancouver and confined to an internment camp during the Second World War. He has said that these years have particularly formed his later architectural career.

Dr. Pam Sugiman

December 8

Pam Sugiman is the newly appointed Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University. She is the former president of the Canadian Sociological Association, and former director on the national executive board of the National Association of Japanese Canadians. Before becoming dean at Ryerson, Sugiman was a tenured professor at McMaster University for 15 years. Her expertise on oral history, gender and race includes an SSHRC Standard Research Grant on Japanese Canadian internment. On the basis of this grant, she published eight scholarly articles and chapters, one of which won the Marion Dewar Prize in history.

Being appointed dean of arts at Ryerson University, Sugiman has taken an important role for students, allowing them to see an Asian-Canadian woman in a leadership role.

Dr. Mona Oikawa

December 8

Professor Mona Oikawa teaches and researches in the areas of critical race studies, gender, and cultural studies at York University in Toronto. She is currently researching Japanese Canadians' relationship to colonialism in Canada, the historical construction of relational racial formations in Canada, and coalition building between racialized communities in Canada.

Mona also conducts research on Japanese Canadian internment. Mona has published a book focusing on Japanese Canadian women interned, called Cartographies of violence: Japanese Canadian women, memory and subjects of internment.

Dr. Izumi Sakamoto

December 8

Izumi Sakamoto is associate professor of social work at the University of Toronto, whose research, training and education span over Canada, U.S. and Japan. A former Fulbright Scholar, she received MSW, MS (social psychology) and Ph.D. (social work & psychology) from University of Michigan and BA and MA from Sophia University, Japan.

Sakamoto's research and teaching focus on anti-oppression, empowerment, globalization, community organizing, qualitative research, and decolonization of dominant knowledge through community-based and arts-informed research. With six government grants (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) as the principal investigator, Sakamoto’s research has focused on equity, anti-oppression and social inclusion of immigrants as well as women/transwomen who have experienced homelessness. She has used photography and theatrical techniques to collaboratively create knowledge with research participants and the help of artists, which then led to various knowledge mobilization activities including readers theatre performances, art exhibits, and videos.

Kyo Maclear

January 12

Maclear is a novelist, essayist and children’s author. Maclear's first novel, The Letter Opener was a finalist for Books in Canada First Novel Award (Amazon.ca) in 2007 and lead to her receiving the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in literature. Her second novel, Stray Love received a starred review from Quill and Quire and an Amazon editor's pick.

Maclear holds an honors B.A. in fine arts and art history and an M.A. in cultural studies from the University of Toronto, and has several scholarly publications to her credit. She is a doctoral candidate at York University where she holds a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Lynne Kutsukake

January 12

A third-generation Japanese Canadian, Lynne Kutsukake worked for many years as a librarian at the University of Toronto, specializing in Japanese materials. Her short fiction has appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Grain, The Windsor Review, Ricepaper, and Prairie Fire.

Kutsukake's first novel, The Translation of Love was released in April 2016. It explores the relatively unreported experiences of Japanese Canadians who repatriated to Japan after internment, told through the eyes of a young girl. Her life intersects with a classmate looking for her older sister in the Ginza district and young Canadian man dealing with the loss of his older brother in the war.

Leslie Shimotakahara

January 12

A former English professor who returned to her childhood love of creative writing, Leslie Shimotakahara is the author of the memoir, The Reading List: Literature, Love and Back Again (2012). The Toronto-based author won the Canada Council for the Arts 2012 Canada-Japan Literary Prize and was short-listed for the Ontario Art Council's KM Hunter Artist Award for her memoir.

In The Reading List, Shimotakahara tackles her relationship with her father while they both faced crises in their lives. Shimotakahara is questioning her career choice as a professor in a small town and her father is dealing with his mother dying. Looking for a distraction from death, Shimotakahara's father asks her to put together a reading list of her favourite books. From this reading list a dialogue begins between father and daughter, and they see sides of each other they have never seen before. Shimotakahara is currently completing her first novel, After the Bloom.

Alexandra Shimo

January 12

Alexandra Shimo is an award-winning journalist and author based in Toronto. After completing a BA in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, she completed her master's of journalism at Columbia University. A former editor at Maclean’s and producer at CBC, Shimo is the author of several books. Co-author of Up Ghost River with Edmund Metatawabin, the memoir was awarded the CBC Bookie and Speaker's Book Awards. The memoir follows former a First Nations' Chief Metatawabin's journey to healing after surviving one of Canada's worst residential schools, St. Anne's.

Shimo's passion for social justice is clear with her work in economic empowerment, environmentalism, and native rights. She is on the executive board and the media consultant for Up With Women, a non-profit which helps homeless women and children rebuild their lives. She also volunteers with DreamCatcher Mentoring, which offers support and mentorship to First Nations youth.

Chris Hope

March 9

Chris Hope is a general business lawyer with significant experience in the practice of entertainment, intellectual property and media law. Hope often speaks as a guest lecturer on his self-funded film about the internment of Japanese Canadians, called Hatsumi. To date he has presented the film to over 10,000 educators and students. The film is meant to give a voice to those it was taken from during internment. The film provides generations of educators with an authentic voice to educate students on Japanese Canadian internment.

Hope is an active board member at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and is the first Canadian to be appointed to the Board of Governors of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The Wrecking Crew is Hope's latest film.

Mio Adilman

April 13

Mio Adilman is a comedy actor and writer. Alongside his brother, Nobu Adilman, he has written for the comedy series Trailer Park Boys and Yoga, Man (2003). With his brother, Adilman hosted the CBC game show SmartAsk! for two years. Adilman is the son of late Canadian Variety editor and Toronto Star arts journalist, Sid Adilman.

Currently Adilman is the producer of The Zoomer. He has produced and reported on a variety of CBC programming, including Q, As it Happens and Definitely not the Opera.

Sachiko Murakami

April 13

Japanese Canadian history is a very real part of Sachiko Murakami's own family history and one she bravely shares in her poetry. She is the author of poetry collections, The Invisibility Exhibit (2008), Rebuild (2011) and Get Me Out of Here (2015)

Murakami's first collection of poems, The Invisibility Exhibit, was written during the time of missing women in downtown Vancouver, followed by the intense media coverage and conviction of notorious serial killer Robert Picton. Murakami explores the dichotomy of a marginalized and invisible community surrounded by sensational media coverage. The book was a finalist for the Governor General Literary Awards for Poetry.

Murakami currently sits on the Talonbooks editorial board and edits poetry for Insomniac Press.

Kelly Fleck

April 13

Kelly Fleck is the editor of the Nikkei Voice, a Japanese-Canadian national newspaper. As a recent graduate for Carleton University's journalism and communication program, she volunteered with the paper for four years before taking on the job. Working at Nikkei Voice, Fleck has her finger on the pulse of Japanese Canadian culture and community.

The Nikkei Voice is an important medium for Japanese Canadian expression and communication. The paper was founded in 1987 as a vehicle to inform the Nikkei about the Japanese Canadian redress movement. It has now evolved into a cornerstone for Japanese Canadian culture and community.

Kathleen Kajioka

May 11

Kathleen Kajioka is a classically-trained violist and violinist. She has a reputation as a musical multi-linguist, who can move between musical worlds with agility and uncompromising depth. Trained through the Royal Conservatory of Music at the Banff Centre for the Arts which lead to a scholarship at Eastman School of Music in New York.

Kathleen appears regularly as a baroque violist and violinist with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, as a modern violist with the critically acclaimed Via Salzburg Chamber Orchestra, and as an Arabic violinist with Maryem Tollar, Maza Mezé, and the Arabesque Orchestra, led by Bassam Bishara. Kathleen has delved in to the pop world as well, recording with Jesse Cook, Luke Doucet and K-os. She is also a television host and broadcaster, host of The Concert Series on MZ Media.

Jamie Parker

May 11

Jamie Parker is an accomplished, versatile and bright pianist who has two Juno awards under his belt and has played with every major Canadian orchestra. Jamie's achievements are both lengthy and impressive. His musical roots can be traced to the Vancouver Academy of Music and the University of British Columbia where he studied with classical pianist, Lee Kum-Sing. As well, and not to be overlooked, he learned from his mother and uncle who are piano teachers. He then went on to receive his master's of music and doctorate of musical arts at the Juilliard School of Music.

Jamie and his family are well-known in the Canadian classical music scene. His brother Jon Kimura Parker and cousin Ian Parker are also renowned Canadian pianists. Jamie has won more than 200 first place awards in music festivals. Jamie continues the teaching tradition as the Rupert E. Edwards chair in piano performance on the music faculty at the University of Toronto.

Ron Korb

May 11

Ron Korb is known for writing culturally diverse music and his mastery of a wide array of world music wind instruments. His work spans a range of genres including classical, jazz, Latin, Asian, Celtic music, and Middle Eastern. The concepts of his albums often come from his exploration of his multi-cultural ancestry and extensive travel experience.

Korb was classically-trained with the Royal Conservatory of Music where he won a scholarship to study music at the University of Toronto. Korb's authentic sound comes from his worldly travels to study music, including living in Japan where he studied Gagaku court music with flute master Akao Michiko. He has played for Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Takamado of Japan and Princess Bopha Devi of Cambodia among others. His latest album, Asia Beauty was nominated for a Grammy last year.

Mark Sakamoto

June 8

Mark Sakamoto, a lawyer by training, has enjoyed a rich and varied career. He began his professional career in live music, working with several international acts. He has worked at a national law firm, a national broadcaster and has served as a senior political advisor to a national party leader. He is an entrepreneur and investor in digital health, digital media and real estate. He sits on the Board of the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

Sakamoto is also the author of Forgiveness, A Gift From My Grandparents. In his memoir, Sakamoto pieces together interviews from his maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather during the Second World War. Recollections of his grandmother's life of racial tension leading to Japanese Canadian internment contrast his grandfather's experience as a Canadian soldier sent to Hong Kong where he was captured and sent to a POW camp.

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