Current and historical events in Japan reconnect Sakura Award Honouree Dr. David Suzuki to his roots

TORONTO, April 13 /CNW/ - During his key note speech at the 3rd Annual Sakura Ball held on Saturday April 9, 2011 at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Dr. David Suzuki reflected about his childhood and parents' influence on his life.  He spoke passionately about his father's love of nature and his guidance to make complex things simple to understand.

Dr. Suzuki's message to 400 attendees associated with the Japanese-Canadian community was to "never forget" the historical and current events in Japan, Canada and in the world.  He encouraged everyone to think about the legacy to be left behind, built around learning of the shared experience such as the Earthquake and Tsunami disaster, Hiroshima bombing and Japanese Canadian settlement.  He urged the Japanese-Canadian community not to take what we have in Canada for granted such as the right to vote because many people fought hard for this right.  With current inter-marriage trends of Japanese-Canadians, appreciating the heritage is critical.  Themes of appreciation are centred on trust, tolerance, understanding and acceptance.

"I was moved by Dr Suzuki's reflection of his roots and principles.  The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre's mission is to educate and maintain the legacy of the Japanese Culture in Canada.  The way we conduct ourselves is with Friendship through Culture." JCCC President, Gary Kawaguchi

Reflecting on his personal life, Dr. David Suzuki shared how the discrimination he experienced during his youth as a Canadian of Japanese descent drove him outdoors and led him to experience and appreciate the beauty of our natural environment.  

He sighted how we have built cities and created unnatural environments that have separated us from nature.  Dr. Suzuki is concerned about the human interaction with technology, leading to new psychological and behavioural stress.  In order to reconnect with nature and our environment, Dr. Suzuki gave a simple message, urging parents to take their children outdoors.  Today's youth have spent more time indoors than any generation that has come before them.  By letting children experience the wonder of nature for themselves, we will begin to see ourselves as a part of nature and work towards creating sustainable ways to live.

On behalf of the Japanese Canadian community, Dr. Suzuki was presented with the prestigious Sakura Award, recognizing his exceptional contributions to the promotion and exchange of Japanese culture and enhancing awareness of Japanese Canadian heritage within Canada and abroad.  Fittingly, he was also presented with the art of Shodo (Japanese calligraphy) depicting the characters 'shi-zen' meaning 'nature'.  The varying brush strokes used in the drawing illustrated that nature can be quiet and beautiful, but it can also be strong and powerful.

The Sakura Ball is the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre's major capital campaign to retire some debt, however this year the priority switched to support the relief and rebuilding effort in Japan. Through the generosity of ball attendees and sponsors $200,000 was contributed to the JCCC Foundation "Japan Earthquake Relief Fund" - double the initial commitment.

About the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre:
With over 4,400 members and 200,000 annual visitors, the 114,000 square foot Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) is one of the largest Japanese cultural centres in the world. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre offers the best in martial arts, traditional and contemporary arts and performances, a busy cinema program including the annual Shinsedai Film Festival for independent Japanese movies and documentaries. The JCCC and the JCCC Foundation's registered charity - No. 884054404RR0001. For more information visit or call 416-441-2345.

About the Sakura Ball:
Bringing together the best of Canadian and Japanese entertainment, cuisine, culture, and style, the Sakura Ball is an elegant and social evening and the largest annual fundraising event the Japanese Canadian community.  One of the event's highlights is the presentation of the Sakura Award.   Awarded once a year by the JCCC, the Sakura Award recognizes exceptional contributions made by individuals to the promotion and exchange of Japanese culture and enhancing awareness of Nikkei heritage within Canada and abroad.

The first recipient of the Sakura Award was the Right Honourable Martin Brian Mulroney, the eighteenth Prime Minister of Canada, recognized for his participation in the Japanese Canadian Redress settlement on September 22, 1988.  In 2010, Japanese Canadian architect, Raymond Moriyama received the award.  His stories of being interned during the Second World War because of his Japanese heritage and his rise to become one of Canada's most respected architects continue to inspire the community.

2011 Sakura Ball Sponsors:
Presenting Sponsor: TD Bank
Sponsors: Frank Hori Foundation, Shiseido (Canada) Ltd., Honda Canada, Sony of Canada Ltd., CBC, Toronto Star, Nelson Arthur Hyland Foundation.

SOURCE Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

For further information:

James Heron, Executive Director, 416-441-2345x224,

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Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

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