Honoured guests, colleagues and friends,
I am absolutely delighted to be here, along with my colleagues on the Board and staff of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
We join you in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement – a precedential document that acknowledged historical and horrendous injustice against Japanese Canadians, wherein the Government of Canada at the time, "condemned the excesses of the past, reaffirmed the principles of justice and equality for all in Canada", and undertook "to establish a race relations foundation" – our Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
More importantly, we pay tribute to the process – a process which mobilized communities and individuals who engaged in a noble mission – to secure that which was right, fair and just. In so doing, they committed themselves, and our governments, to rid Canada of all forms of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, and hate.
One such individual, the stalwart behind the Redress Agreement, is Art Miki. How fortunate we are to have him so closely affiliated with our Foundation to this day. His vision, encouragement and wise counsel help us to light the path towards the kind of Canada in which we all want to live. He is our historical and institutional memory, our goad and our friend.
Art's extraordinary achievements are legion, as is his humility and generosity of spirit, which reminds us that our work is all of humanity's shared responsibility toward healing in the world in our quest for social justice and harmony.
It is the tie that binds, and the focal point supporting our collective efforts. We are all responsible, one for the other. Thank you Art, for all that you do, and for all that you are.
We can assure the NAJC – our progenitor in deed and in spirit -- that your efforts were indeed fruitful. You can be proud of what we have done.
The Foundation is ferociously committed to building a future that treats all Canadians equitably and fairly. The promotion of human rights, harmonious race relations and social justice has been our guiding principle. We have enjoyed considerable success. And we are vigilant to the challenges presented by a more globalized, interconnected world.
Whether it be through our biennial Award of Excellence & Symposium; Roundtable discussions and the Canada Lecture; our Clearing-house and Knowledge Base, Library and Resource Centre; our youth engagement through the Volunteer and Intern Recruitment, Retention and Development programme; our Education and Training Centre; our current focal initiative that facilitates bridge building between and among faith communities; our Capturing the Pulse of the Nation programme; our extensive Outreach, Communications and Media Relations... we reach out to communities, NGOs, funders and media to ensure that our work is known, supported and utilized.
But don't take our word for it. Last December, the all-party Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee conducted a hearing on the Auditor General's Special Examination Report on the Foundation – a first for us. The Committee members were effusive in their praise of the Foundation for the amount of work that's been done "with so few resources," stating that "Your efforts affect important aspects of the development of our society," and, "We want to ensure that you have the capacity to do what's right for society." And ultimately, the Committee Chair's comment: "...this is something you should be very proud of. No one has ever... received a report like that. That speaks an awful lot to the commitment of the people that are running that organization, the staff and volunteers..."
Ladies and gentlemen, that is only the beginning. We do a remarkable amount of work with a remarkable staff. Their small size makes their accomplishments all the more remarkable. They do it, and they do it well, because they share a passion for nurturing a peaceful and thriving Canada.
We at the Foundation have taken a page from your efforts 25 years ago, and recognize, as you did, that you cannot change what you will not confront. And we are not afraid to confront injustice wherever and whenever it occurs.
We share the same goals. We at the Foundation are committed to fulfilling them. We recognize that continued success is only attainable when we unite behind a common vision, and pursue it relentlessly through sheer determination and hard work.
We look forward to working with you – all of you – because only through our combined efforts can we overcome the challenges of our time. We thank you for your support.
We wish to thank the Hon. Gerry Weiner for his role at the time, working with the NAJC that led to the creation of the Foundation. We also wish to thank the Hon. Jason Kenney for his efforts on our behalf. He is the current Minister of Multiculturalism. But more importantly, he is a fan and a friend of social cohesion and harmony, a cause that we all work so hard together to pursue.
Congratulations once again, on this 25th anniversary milestone. May this evening be the beginning of many more successes to come!
Award for Lifetime Achievement – Arthur Miki – March 2, 2014
Redress 25 Years Later – Presented by Art Miki (2013)
The History Behind the Establishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation – by Art Miki (1997)