Castlegar-Embetsu Educational Exchange Committee

The Castlegar-Embetsu Educational Exchange Committee (CEEEC) is an organization with dedicated volunteers who are facilitating the exchange of young people from Embetsu, Japan and Castlegar, BC, Canada.

The Town of Embetsu is located on the northern tip of the island of Hokkaido, Japan and has a population of 4,000 citizens. Fishing and Agriculture, two of the township’s key industries, have allowed Embetsu to prosper.

In 1989, representatives of the City of Castlegar and Selkirk College visited Embetsu to sign a Sister City agreement. Since then there have been continuing exchanges between the two cities.   The Student Exchange Program between Castlegar and its sister city Embetsu, Japan has been operating with great success since 1998.  A number of groups of Castlegar students have visited Embetsu and other parts of Japan while Embetsu students have come to Castlegar and visited other parts of B.C.

The Student Exchange was facilitated by a grant from the Shikano Fund provided and established in 1998 by Mr. Mitsuo Shikano, a Japanese businessman who was born in Embetsu. Each Castlegar student’s travel expenses are partially subsidized from the interest raised on the Shikano Fund.  The Shikano Fund was administered by the Selkiek College Foundation from 1998 to 2010.

Mr. Shikano’s wish was to reinforce the relationship of goodwill and understanding between young people of Castlegar and Embetsu.  Students act as ambassadors for the City of Castlegar and Canada.  This exchange provides an opportunity for the youth of each community to learn about the culture and customs of the other.

This annual program has continued to be very successful.  In 2006, Mayor Lawrence Chernoff joined the delegation to Embetsu to represent the City of Castlegar.  In 2007, Embetsu sent a delegation of two adults and five students to Castlegar.  In 2008, eight Castlegar students and two adult leaders visited Embetsu.

In August of 2008, the city of Castlegar invited Embetsu officials to attend the grand opening of the new City Hall.  The City was very pleased to have the Embetsu delegation of seven which included the Mayor Shigeyuki Kawashima for the celebration.

Sadly, Mr. Mitsuo Shikano, founder of the Student Exchange Program between the City of Castlegar and its sister city Embetsu, Japan, passed away on June 2, 2009 at the age of 81.  The Castlegar-Embetsu Educational Exchange continues as his legacy.

The 2009 exchange was postponed due to swine flu concerns.  In 2010, an Embetsu delegation of seven, two leaders and five students, visited Castlegar in the summer.

In 2011, the Shikano Fund was transferred to the City of Castlegar.  The City of Castlegar now administers the fund and is responsible in ensuring the exchange program continues.

The 2011 the delegation from Castlegar was cancelled due to the earthquake and tsunami disaster hit Northern Japan on March 11.  Instead, the Town of Embetsu sent its seventh student delegation of five to Castlegar in August.

July 2012  The Castlegar student delegation will visited Embetsu.  The members were Victoria Apostoliuk, Kyra Gedig, Dante Enewold-Deary, Cody Sloot, and Kyle Stetsko-Kallin and their leaders are Maria Burton and Yuri Kutschera.

August 2013  Four Embetsu students visited Castlegar Tsuzuru Kunibe, Yuki Sato, Towa Ito, Saya Yoshida along with their tour leaders Junko Koyama and Stanley Yeh.

July 2014 Youth Delegation Members: A.J. Roberts, Andrew Voykin, Chloe Ahlefeld, Christina Maida-Cook, Gemma Van Doesburg, April Gariepy, Alexia Kardash and Andrea Smithies along with Tour Leaders Maria Burton and Yuri Kutschera

August 2019 was the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship. Five Embetsu students (Motoki Hieda, Yū Tokairin, Nonoka Mitamura, Shione Tōmi, Fūka Saito) and three leaders from Embetsu (Masato Yohida, Masahito Kunibe, Chikako Tomino) came to visit Castlegar. There were eight students from Castlegar (Jake Carew, Ethan Marshall, Jasper Jennings, Trevor Price, Danika Butler-Hale, Sophie Drew, Ember Jennings, Ana Salekin). Mayor Sasakawa and Mr. Hieda from the Town of Embetsu joined the students and celebrated the anniversary with the City of Castlegar.

The 2020 exchange to Embetsu was postponed twice before it was cancelled in 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For more information please contact Curt Kutschera or Yuri Kutschera, CEEEC Members at 250-365-7785.