President : Michio Hirai
Michio Hirai is half-Japanese half-Canadian, born and raised in Montreal. He attended the Hoshuukou (Japanese school) every Saturday during his childhood, which is why he is now fluent in Japanese, French and English. His background is in Mechanical Engineering, with a masters in space studies. Michio’s involvement with the JCCCM started thanks to Arashi Daiko (Japanese Drumming group of Montreal). Arashi Daiko always gets their students involved in the volunteering during large events at the JCCCM to show their appreciation to the culture center and the community. When he joined the group in 2001, he got involved in multiple JCCCM events. His volunteering at the JCCCM allowed him to get in touch with the Japanese Canadian community in Montreal and it helped him learn the history and heritage that is imbedded in the community.
Vice President : Jason Tsunokawa
Jason Tsunokawa is currently the Vice President of the JCCCM council, and has been a member of the council since 2011. He has been a long time volunteer at various JCCCM events such as Matsuri, Mochitsuki, bazaars, etc. He has been studying and playing Taiko since 2008 and have since started building his own taiko drums. He works as a service representative for an industry leading supplier of analytical instruments.
Secretary : Jennifer Sakai
Before participating on the JCCCM council, Jennifer volunteered as treasurer and then vice president for Kappa Japanese Youth Club, which was created by Ken Futamura and then taken over by his brother, the late Shigeru Futamura. Although the club is no longer active, they accomplished a few successful events such as Expo Nippon, which was held with the Japanese Awareness Club of McGill and took place at the McGill Shatner Building. They forged new friendships with other student associations such as the Concordia South East Asian Student Association and AISEC from the Université de Montréal. Kappa also helped form Isshin along with Arashi Daiko. Isshin has been racing at the Montreal Dragon Boat Race Festival since 1998 and, growing strong, has entered once again for its 12th season. In 2009, Jennifer was fortunate to be one of the first candidates to be selected for the Invitation Program to Japan. The Consulate General of Japan at Montreal selected her to represent Montreal. Many may know Jennifer for her association with Matsuri Japon as its president.
Past President : Junji Nishihata
Treasurer & Program Director: Susan ShojiLevesque
Susan Shoji Levesque has been a fixture at the JCCCM since August 1992. Having worked at the South Shore Protestant School Board, overseeing volunteer tutors, training and grant applications, Susan was familiar with the scope of her duties as JCCCM Program Director, which includes coordinating the classes and activities that take place at the Centre; applying for the annual grants; preparing the JCCCM page for the Bulletin, Annual Report and fielding various requests for information. Susan is also Treasurer of the JCCCM, maintaining the Centre’s bookkeeping, payables, payroll, year-end governmental reports, preparing for the annual audit and purchasing.
Council Member: Alan Itakura
Alan Itakura became a member of the JCCCM council in 2009 and served as its president from June 2011 to May 2013. He has also been a volunteer for the Montreal Bulletin since 2007. Alan was a member of the Quebec Chapter of the NAJC during the Redress Movement and marched on Parliament Hill in 1988. As a member of the Montreal Nikkei Artists Network, he participated in a 1995 exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He was born in an internment camp in Kaslo, BC but grew up in Hamilton, Ontario where his family moved when he was a few months old. He attended McMaster University (BSc mathematics) where he participated in varsity rowing and judo. After graduation Alan spent three years in Tokyo where he trained at the Kodokan Judo Institute and studied fine art printmaking. He returned to Canada to study photography at Sheridan College and later obtained a BFA (Art History & Studio Art) from Concordia University. He was a long-time member of Atelier Graphia 3710, a cooperative printmaking studio situated on the Main. In addition to his artistic interests, Alan was a senior executive in the advertising world. For over twenty years, he headed up the media strategy and buying divisions of several national and multinational advertising agencies. During the past decade, he has specialized in the online loyalty marketing field.
Council Member : Irene Kerist
Irène Kérisit was born and raised in south of France, but moved to England in her late teens to begin a career in the high-end wine and silver service industry , in some of tops restaurants. She immigrated to Canada in the 1990’s and after few years studied fashion design where she won numerous awards. Unfortunately she lost most of her sight due to detached retinas making it impossible to work in her chosen field. She did however, participate in an art exhibition of Canadian artists at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo in 2013 to show support for the people of Fukushima. Her first introduction to the JCCCM was in 2003 as a visitor to the Spring Bazaar, Matsuri Japan, Motchi Tsuki, and other cultural events. She felt a strong affinity to Japanese culture and spontaneously began giving a hand from time to time. After many years as a visitor, she joined both the JCCCM council and the Montreal Bulletin team in 2013. For her it was a way to give back to the community that had fed her spirit for the previous decade. She began participating in the Minyo courses given by Terry Yasunaka and Shigin sessions under the guidance of Kano and Seigo Futamura. Being part of both groups has been most helpful and a great privilege. She was also a board member of the Canada – Japan Society from 2010 to 2015.
Council Member : Sunny Lam
Born and raised in Montreal, and involved with the JCCCM for almost 20 years, Sunny lam’s first involvement with the JCCCM was with volunteering for the JCCCM’s annual bazaar. He completed his undergraduate degree at Concordia University in Management in Information Systems, with a minor in Finance. During his studies, he worked in the event organizing industry, and now owns and operates his own company in Florida.
Council Member : Tinh Tan Nguyen
Graduated from HEC Montreal Business School, Tinh Tan Nguyen has been on the organizing committee of the Matsuri Japon Festival since 2009. Growing up in intercultural communities between East and West, he’s especially interested in bridging cultures and cross-generational initiatives.