Though it was nearly two weeks after Christmas, “two wise women bearing gifts and a report” descended on city council Tuesday evening.
That was how Lesia Davis described herself and Mary Ashley who, after seeing a busy night for council at its last meeting on Dec. 17, decided to give council a break and move their presentation to this week’s meeting.
Davis and Ashley, who were a part of the celebration committee to mark the 30th anniversary of the sister city agreement between Campbell River and Ishikari, Japan, did indeed come bearing gifts and a slideshow of photos.
“In late September, 19 delegates travelled to Ishikari,” said Davis. “The delegates met with the mayor and other government officials to discuss economic opportunities and the success of our student and cultural exchange program.”
Chamber of Commerce representatives from both cities also got together and the delegates had the opportunity to tour Ishikari’s LNG plant which opened in December, 2012.
The Campbell River visitors also participated in Ishikari’s 50th annual Salmon Festival, an anniversary celebration banquet and a Sayonara Celebration.
They were sent back to Campbell River with gifts from Ishikari officials.
Ashley and Lesia presented Mayor Walter Jakeway with the gifts at Tuesday’s council meeting. First up was a framed silk print from Pengzhou, China – Ishikari’s third sister city which was established in 2000. Then came a doll from Vanino, Russia – which has been a sister city of Ishikari’s since 1993.
Lastly, Lesia and Davis presented Jakeway with the gifts from Ishikari – a wall clock to display the time in Campbell River; a lacquered stand with a clock on one side to display the time in Ishikari with two cranes flying over the rising sun painted on the other side; and a lacquered platter epitomizing the simplicity of Japanese art.
Campbell River’s gift to Ishikari was a beautiful First Nations mask, Salmon Man, which was carved by Bill Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.
The carving is symbolic of the common bond between the two cities – salmon, and it honours Ishikari’s annual Salmon Festival.
Ashley told council that the gifts from Ishikari are to be displayed proudly.
“These gifts are to be prominently displayed to remind us of the 30-year relationship that has resulted in the most successful cultural exchange program in Hokkaido and all of British Columbia,” Ashley said. “Seeing over 850 children visiting and studying between Ishikari and Campbell River, the relationship is founded on the strong ties that both communities have in common – the sea, and particularly salmon.”
Ashley encouraged council to begin putting money into the Ishikari exchange reserve in preparation for the 40th anniversary celebration in 2023 after a running into a few challenges for the 30th celebration.
“Council initially approved releasing $37,000 from the Ishikari anniversary reserve fund, which was established 20 years ago and it has not been added to since 2003,” Ashley said. “I think it just slipped by us and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Funding for the committee was tight so council then approved releasing an additional $7,500 which the anniversary committee used to send to Japan members of the Campbell River Pipe Band, who were requested by Ishikari for the Salmon Festival parade.
A total of $14,500 was spent to host the delegates from Ishikari who came to Campbell River in July and $29,350 was spent to send the delegates to Ishikari.
Ashley said there’s currently approximately $500 left in the Ishikari reserve fund.