Promote and enhance the sister city relationship through the celebration of culture
For the past thirty years, the Kelowna-Kasugai Sister City Association has fostered the relationship with Kasugai, located in Aichi, Japan. We have facilitated communications, visits, and student exchange programs with the goal of learning more about the areas of culture, education, commerce, athletics, civic affairs, and our two environments.
Four sister schools from the region participate in student exchange programs to and from Kasugai, those schools are Kelowna Secondary School, Mt. Boucherie Secondary School, Rutland Middle School, Glenrosa Middle School. From the recommendation of the KKSCA, the British Columbia curriculum now includes accredited Japanese courses and Japanese cultural presentations. The KKSCA also coordinates presentations to schools, which started as a volunteer program and it continues upon request of the schools. There is also an annual delegation of 8-15 Kasugai middle school students that come to Kelowna to learn more about us and our North American culture.
When a sister city relationship is formed, it isn't just a commitment between the citizens of each city; it is also the commitment between both municipal governments to build ties between each other. Both Kelowna and Kasugai have worked hard to create ways to share ideas that would benefit each other's city, positively impacting the people of each city. Since the conception of the KKSCA there have been five mayoral changes in Kelowna and three in Kasugai, Japan. Each and every single mayor has embraced the sister city relationship and felt connected to it. Any city councilor who visited Kasugai has also confirmed or changed his/her idea of what the sister city represents. In combination with Kasugai businesses, he KKSCA sponsors Lady of the Lake candidates and has offered trips to Kasugai for those youth ambassadors to internationally represent Kelowna.
Art, Culture & Entertainment
Forty years in Kelowna, it was almost unheard of to eat sushi because it was “raw fish.” Most would not likely attend a taiko concert or know how to participate in a tea ceremony. There are many events that the KKSCA has supported over the years including Snowfest, Winefest, and the Kelowna Regatta. Events like the Festival Japan helps bring awareness of Japanese culture in Kelowna, along with Taste of Japan which is an annual fundraiser that includes a Japanese dinner and entertainment. Representatives from Kasugai have come to Kelowna numerous times to have a presence at Folkfest, which introduced many people to different Japanese traditional arts like Taiko drumming groups and Ikebana, which is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Student school bands have travelled to Kasugai, and Kelowna schools have received traditional Japanese instruments. Thanks to the efforts of the KKSCA, people not only have an understanding of Japanese culture, but also an appreciation of it and an interest in it.
In 2001, former Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray signed an agreement with former Kasugai Mayor Ukai to commit to initiatives that focus on improving, conserving, protecting and restoring the earth. Since then, there have been numerous initiatives on both sides that work toward this goal for both cities. This agreement has also encouraged schools and their students to increase their environmental awareness and encourage more city to city initiatives through existing programs. Sponsorships and shared challenges between the two cities encourages businesses within both cities to participate.
The ultimate sign of a successful sister city relationship is being able to apply that to commerce and trade. There have been some successes in past, but the initiatives are still young and the two cities are continually establishing each other’s economic strengths for mutually beneficial trades. Products like ice wine and fruit leather have contributed to facilitate awareness of the Okanagan region and what it can produce. Different industries such as Tourism Kelowna, UBCO, Okanagan College, and various chefs, artists, musicians, animators, wineries of Kelowna all ultimately benefit from the sharing of these goods. The KKSCA works with the Economic Development Commission, educational institutions and environmental organizations to maintain the healthy commerce relationship between the two cities.
Learning the rules of engagement for various sports and then participating and playing them contributes to the learning of the cultures of both cities. Soccer matches have been held, along with Judo demonstrations with the Kelowna Judo Club so those participating can learn more about each city and its people. Kendo, Karate, Aikido, and other Japanese traditional sports clubs have had interactions with their counterparts from Kasugai. There has also been participation with Kasugai in golf, soccer, and some school sport exchanges. We hope other sports clubs will become involved as it is one of the most universal ice breakers between different cultures.
1977It all began in 1977 when a visiting BC Minister of Tourism was asked “Which BC municipality would you recommend as a sister city?” The suggestion of Kelowna was made and the partnership was further discussed.
1981A Sister City agreement was signed.
1983Visits between schools started and the relationship between the two cities was strengthened.
1985The first sister school agreement was established between Kelowna Secondary School and Haruhigaoka High School.
1987The first Japanese language course started through the KKSCA. The Kasugai Garden was opened, and a reciprocating gesture was made when they named a boulevard after Kelowna in the Kasugai city.
2001The former Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray signed an agreement with former Kasugai Mayor Ukai to commit to initiatives that focus on improving, conserving, protecting and restoring the earth.
The Kasugai garden opened in 1987 and has since grown to be one of Kelowna’s landmarks of beauty and tranquility. Kelowna citizens and tourists alike can enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the garden, the Koi pond and waterfall combined with the mature foliage has turned the garden into a favourite spot for many.