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May 17, 2018

I am a third-generation Japanese Canadian living in southern Alberta among the third-largest concentration of Japanese in Canada; the other two concentrations of population are in Vancouver and Toronto. In my city of Lethbridge, no one questions our presence here, because people have grown up with us in their midst.

During the Second World War, the Japanese were deemed to be “enemy aliens” and were forcibly removed from the West Coast of Canada to exile in relocation camps in the Interior of BC. Others came to do the hard labour of sugar beet farming in southern Alberta. Both of my...

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May 2, 2018

To be candid, when I received an invitation to create a worship service and Bible study for Asian Heritage Month 2018, I hesitated at first. I am grateful for this opportunity to share why I accepted.

Why me? I wondered, when I was asked. Is it because I am “Asian?” There is nothing politically incorrect or derogatory about calling me that, but still, this identification is never easy to accept. Judith Butler writes, in Vulnerability in Resistance, that names, categories, and descriptions are applied to us before...

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March 28, 2018

Kenji Marui travelled to Australia as part of the Moderator’s Dialogue on Reconciliation to consult and build relationship with the Uniting Church in Australia, the Uniting Aboriginal Islander Christian Congress, and Indigenous groups in Australia. He shares some of his experience here. For more perspectives from the Dialogue on Reconciliaiton, see "Practicing Good Relations" and...

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March 20, 2018

I am black and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Ke’dar, like the curtains of Solomon. Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has gazed on me. My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! – Song of Solomon 1:5–6

When I read the Song of Solomon, my senses come alive. What an incredible kaleidoscope of rich and evocative imagery. In this passage, I love the reference to ebony colouring and the beauty of dark skin. Given the part of the world that they lived in, it only...

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March 2, 2018
It was a rare privilege to travel to Zambia in February 2018 for a Mission & Service–sponsored partners’ meeting dubbed “the Indaba” (Zulu for consultation or gathering). For the first time, the Indaba brought together 15 African partners and one Asian partner who have each related to The United Church of Canada, but who did not necessarily have relationships with each other. 
The gathering offered a safe space for partners in the region to meet their neighbours. The group used stories, group activities and conversations, and case studies and presentations...
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February 26, 2018

Why did I write a worship service and sermon for Black History Month? It’s a difficult question to answer. I was filled with excitement and dread at the prospect. I was excited because the topic of race and identity is volatile at the moment (well, really, when hasn’t it been?) and the opportunity to speak the truth as I understand it to groups of spiritually open Christians seemed to hold a great deal of potential. The dread comes from the responses of fear, anger, and miseducation that can shut me down so easily. But I believe deeply that White people need to take ownership of racism and...

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February 8, 2018

Sankofa is a symbol which comes to us from West Africa. The symbol is usually seen in the form a bird with its head turned backwards carrying an egg in its mouth. The symbol speaks about the need to reach back into the past to get that which is important for life today. It has also been associated with the proverb which says that it is not wrong to go back for what you have forgotten. Today the Sankofa bird is a symbol for African heritage and a reminder of the rich legacy the peoples of Africa offer to the world.

Each February, we in North America acknowledge and celebrate the...

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March 16, 2018

These are my blessings: seven adopted First Nations children that have chosen me as their mom. Our family has included many children, including White, Asian, transgender, Two Spirit, and more. As a family we choose to celebrate our differences and learn from each other. Sadly, we have seen many who do not share our beliefs that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I have learned much from my diverse family. From my birth children who chose to share...