Castlegar has a Japanese Sister City – EMBETSU
Over 30 years have passed since Castlegar twined with the Town of Embetsu on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. This relationship started shortly after Selkirk College established a sister college relationship with Aoyama Technical College of Japan in 1986.
This year Mr. Misuo Shikano, the founder of Aoyama Technical College, visited Castlegar and he found many similarities between Castlegar and his hometown, Embetsu. His foresight and passion brought the two communities together to be sister cities. The sister city signing ceremony took place in Embetsu in 1989 attended by both Castlegar and Embetsu officials. There have been a number of active exchanges between two communities since then.
The Castlegar-Embetsu Educational Exchange Committee (CEEEC) was founded in 1997 to operate youth exchange programs for the students in Castlegar City and area. The CEEEC is facilitated by grants from a fund started by Mr. Shikano which partially pays students’ travel expenses.
- This sister city exchange program provides an opportunity for the youth from both Castlegar and Embetsu to learn about the culture, customs and people of the other.
- The exchange started to promote friendship and goodwill between our sister cities. The preparation of the first exchange began in 1997, when Japanese businessman philanthropist and Embetsu native Mr. Mitsuo Shikano provided the Castlegar-Embetsu Educational Exchange Committee a loan from which the interest could be used to subsidize the cost of these exchange trips.
- There were reciprocating exchanges from 1998 to 2008 however the 2009 Embetsu delegation’s visit to Castlegar was postponed to 2010 due to the Swine Flu concerns. The 7th Castlegar delegation to Embetsu in 2011 was cancelled due to the earthquake and tsunami disaster hit in Northern Japan on March 11th. Instead, Castlegar welcomed an Embetsu student delegation of five during August 2011. The 7th Castlegar youth delegation with five students and two leaders visited Embetsu in July 2012. In the year of 2013 the Embetsu delegation with four students and two leaders visited Castlegar and the 8th Castlegar delegation visited Embetsu in July 2014 to reunite with their friends.
- The Embetsu Student Delegation visited Castlegar in August 2015. In the year of 2016 the 9th reciprocating delegation of eight Castlegar area students and two group leaders represented our community in Embetsu between July 11th and July 25th.
2018 Delegation – the 10th in the exchange history:
- The students were selected from over 20 Grade 6, 7 and 8 student applicants from local areas following a written application and both an oral and practical role-play interviews.
- The selected students met the Embetsu students in the summer of 2017 when the Embetsu Student Delegation visited our city. The delegation safely arrived in Castlegar in spite of the smoke issues from forest fires throughout BC. The Castlegar students and their families enjoyed cultural exchanges by hosting the Japanese friends at their homes.
- All the selected students completed seven weeks of orientation sessions to prepare themselves to become ambassadors to represent their city and country. The students also studied Japanese through the orientation and 5 intensive extra sessions with the Japanese ESL students from Selkirk College.
- The students and leaders also visited a City Council meeting in June to introduce the 2018 student delegation and presented their plans and expectations of the trip to Japan.
- The Castlegar Student delegation also has presented highlights of their journey of a lifetime to the City Council during their October Council meeting. A gift from the Town of Embetsu to the City was presented to Mayor Chernoff and the Council.
- From August 6 to 11, 2019, the 11th exchange took place in Castlegar. Five Embetsu students and two leaders visited Castlegar and met with their exchange buddies. Our guests experienced the firsthand Canadian life and culture with their buddies and families while touring in Castlegar and area during their stay. The host students of Castlegar are Jake Carew, Jasper Jennings, Ethan Marshall, Trevor Price, Danika Butler-Hale, Sophie Drew, Ember Jennings, Ana Salekin.
- On August 9, 2019, the Embetsu Mayor and his delegation arrived in Castlegar to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship. The tour the City of Castlegar offered to the delegation in Castlegar included Selkirk College, Celgar, Millennium Park, etc.
- The 30th anniversary was celebrated during the Farewell banquet on August 10th.
- The Castlegar Student Delegation’s visit in Embetsu was scheduled in July 2020. However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced to postpone the trip to Embetsu to 2021 and again to the summer of 2022.
- In December 2021, the student delegation’s scheduled visit to Embetsu in the summer of 2022 was officially cancelled due to the unsettled Covid-19 situation.
Highlights of the Student Delegation’s trip to Embetsu include:
- Homestay with their Embetsu host families to experience the Japanese lifestyle
- One full day visit at Embetsu Jr. High School
- One day tour of the town including Town Hall, Fire Hall, Embetsu Elementary School, daycare center, senior center and the Embetsu History Museum.
- Embetsu Summer Festival’s ”Mikoshi” Float Parade and celebrations
- A reception dinner party, a Japanese BBQ dinner, a special tea ceremony session, a commemorative tree planting and a one-day bus trip to Cape Soya, the most northern tip of Japan and Wakkanai City with host buddies
- Upon travelling from Embetsu, the delegation visits Sapporo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Yokohama/Kamakura and Tokyo
- During this educational trip in Japan, students learn various facts about Japan and international travelling firsthand and gain some life skills in a most interactive way
HISTORY OF SISTER CITY RELATIONSHIP TIMELINE
|TOTAL PASSENGERS USING CASTLEGAR AIRPORT: 362|
|*postponed due to swine flu|
|**postponed due to tsunami disaster|
|***postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic|
|****cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic|
|June 21, 1989: Sister city agreement signed|
|June 21, 1999: Sister City 10th Anniversary|
|June 21, 2009: Sister City 20th Anniversary|
|June 21, 2019: Sister City 30th Anniversary|