Regina Japanese Canadian Club Inc.

The Sodan-Kai

A poster for a community meeting in Toronto, on May 15, 1983, organized by the Soan-Kai.

The Sodan-Kai (translated “study group”) was formed in Toronto by a group of sansei and nisei in late 1982 to promote awareness of redress. Concerned that the issue was in danger of being resolved without grass-roots community participation, they were to organize a number of large public meetings where information was disseminated and various points of view were heard.
The Sodan-Kai saw themselves as community facilitators, so they did not advocate a position on redress.

They wished to contribute to the democratic process through open discussion, community meetings, educational activities, writing, and listening, hoping this process would lead to consensus and unity before any proposal was put to the Canadian government.
The group gained prominence in the Toronto area in 1983 because of their resistance to George Imai, then Chair of the NAJC’s National Redress Committee, who wanted to resolve the issue quickly through a community fund without meaningful debate and discussion on what form redress should take.

They organized three influential community meetings in 1983, on May 15, July 23, and October 23. It was through their efforts that Japanese Canadians in the Toronto area were able to express their views in favour of individual compensation, a position Imai opposed.   At the October community meeting, a vote on forms of compensation was taken, and of the 94 who voted, 50 favoured individual compensation, 20 favoured group compensation, and 24 favoured a combination of individual and group compensation. This breakdown was later found comparable to the results of the NAJC’s Redress Questionnaire distributed in the spring of 1986.

The Sodan-Kai was also responsible for the short-lives but valuable publication RedressNews, beginning in October 1983.
At the time, while the two community papers, the New Canadian and the Canada Times, were publishing hostile and misinformed articles on the NAJC, this newsletter was an important vehicle for publishing up-to-date redress news and for involving Toronto Japanese Canadians in the movement.

- Justice in Our Time: The Japanese Canadian Redress Settlement. (1991). p. 66.

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