Board of Directors
Roles and Terms
Tonari Gumi’s Board of Directors consists of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. The Board’s role is to oversee and manage the organization within the guidelines set out in its constitution and by-laws on issues such as organization policies, human resources and authorities given to staff to carry out day-to-day operations.
2021 Board of Directors
Second Year of Two Year Term
Born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, Makoto graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and worked as an interpreter at the Kyoto International Conference Centre prior to immigrating to Canada in 1981. In addition to her deep Kyoto roots and education are the life lessons learned as a small business owner; raising a bright, successful daughter; and, latterly, settling visiting Japanese language students into rewarding home stay placements. Now semi-retired, Makoto hopes to share those roots and life lessons with others, volunteering with organizations such as Tonari Gumi.
Completed Two Year Term and Re-Elected for 2021
Larry M. Okada
Larry has been a Professional Chartered Accountant in Canada and a Certified Public Accountant in the United States for 37 years. He was involved with mining companies during those 37 years as an auditor for 31 years, as a Chief Financial Officer for 5 years, and a director of public mining companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange for 10 years. The majority of companies he worked with during those 37 years had mineral properties located in North, Central and South America.
Kay is a practicing notary and a member of Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia. Prior to becoming a Notary Public, she honed her skills in marketing, particularly in the areas of social media, advertising and promotions in both private and public organizations such as Destination Canada and Government of Alberta Economic Development. A mother of two and a long-term North Shore resident, you may see her in the North Shore mountains – hiking, and skiing.
Fourth Year of Four Year Term
A Sansei, born and raised in Toronto, Martin has a professional background in transportation and urban planning and has participated in the Japanese Canadian community for many years. Martin is a graduate of the University of Toronto, and studied in Japan on a Mombusho scholarship. He worked as a transportation planner at Trans Link and BC Transit. Martin has been an active volunteer at Tonari Gumi, most recently in the Outreach and Lighthouse programs. In the community, he was involved in the Sansei identity movement in the 1970s and the Japanese Canadian redress campaign in the 1980s. Now retired, Martin is an avid musician, photographer, gardener and traveller.
Tamako was born in Matsue and grew up in Tokyo. She entered Keio University in 1954. While a student at Keio, she went to UBC in 1955-6 as the first Japanese exchange student on the World University Service of Canada scholarship and spent an extra year at the University of Toronto. She returned to Keio in 1957 and graduated in 1959 (psychology with interest in socio-linguistics). Graduate studies at Yale University followed and she received her MA in Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies in 1962. Tamako is married to Maurice Copithorne (international law and foreign affairs) of Vancouver and spent 23 years in Ottawa and various foreign capitals including, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Beijing.
Completed Four Year Term and Re-Elected for 2021
(2017/18, 2019/20, 2021-)
Patrick was born in Hong Kong but lived in Japan from the age of nine since his father owned a trading company in Kobe. In 1981, he emigrated to Vancouver and joined Mitsui Canada as a steel trader in their Vancouver Steel Department. Patrick’s wife, Tomoko, became involved with Tonari Gumi in 1982 and Patrick would assist whenever he could. Upon retiring from Mitsui in 2010, he agreed to join the TG Board. His hobbies include playing squash, swimming, roller blading, skiing, listening to music, photography, and travelling.
David B. Iwaasa
(2017/18, 2019/20, 2021-)
A third generation Japanese Canadian, David was born in Raymond, Alberta. His grandfather emigrated to Canada from Hiroshima-ken in 1898 and ancestors from his mother’s side come from Fukui-ken. He studied international economics at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Kyoto University in Japan and the University of British Columbia. David joined the Canadian federal government in 1975 and has worked in Ottawa, Washington DC, Paris, and Tokyo. He has served as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts, various community associations and for his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He and his wife served as volunteer missionaries for three years in Fukuoka, Japan. After returning to Canada in 2009, he worked as the Executive Director of Tonari Gumi from March 2010 to October 2014. Married to Jane Kadonaga, he has four children and ten grandchildren.
Thank you for your dedication and hard work as a board member.