Celebrating Inspiring People at the 2018 Thomas Shoyama Sakura Gala

Nikkei Place Foundation proudly held our Thomas Shoyama Sakura Gala spring fundraiser on Sunday, March 11th, at Tojo’s restaurant. Proceeds raised support the Foundation in planning for the future of the Nikkei community in building a strong and vibrant community for all. The Gala was hosted by Global News BC’s Jennifer Palma, and began with a heartfelt video about Nikkei Place, our community, and the people we serve.

Inspiring words, and personal anecdotes and experiences were shared throughout the evening from Santa Ono, Joy Kogawa, Perry Ellis, Frank Gigliotti, and Paul Kariya.

It was an evening about connection, recognition, and celebration. Those present had the opportunity of witnessing Professor Santa Ono present esteemed author Joy Kogawa with the 2018 Thomas Shoyama Lifetime Achievement Award – an honour for which she felt incredibly moved by. We recognize Joy for her dedication in raising public awareness of the Japanese Canadian internment experience, and for her many contributions to the Japanese Canadian community. We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to Joy for her artistic contributions.


Nikkei Place Foundation’s Executive Director Naomi Kawamura also recognized young Nikkei student and competitive judoka Dante St. Prix with the 2017-18 Nikkei Youth Athletics Bursary, in support of his athletic and academic pursuits. Chef Hidekazu Tojo was also recognized this evening in celebration of his acclaimed restaurant’s 30th anniversary.

The evening wound down with a special performance by country musician Derral Moriyama, who played in tribute to his father “The Cariboo Kid”, who never got to realize his dream of becoming a country and western singer with the outbreak of WWII.

We would like to extend our gratitude to all our Gala attendees, sponsors, donors, volunteers, and businesses for their generosity! We could not accomplish all our community work without you. Thank you for your continued support!

Check out the full gallery of photos from the evening here

Posted in In the Community, NPF Updates, Photo Galleries.