Recently three students and their teacher from Kushiro Meiki High School in Japan visited Burnaby for a week. Activities included meeting up with their buddy students at Moscrop Secondary and attending classes. They also visited Cascade Heights Elementary where the three students showed the younger elementary children how to make origami and play games popular in Japan.
Burnaby got its first sister city back in 1965. Back then, sister city relationships were not as common as they are now. Since then, Burnaby (and Kushiro) have other sister cities as well. Burnaby’s sister cities now include Mesa, Arizona, USA, Hwaseong, South Korea, and Zhongshan City, China.
What is a Sister City and What Happens with this Relationship?
A sister or twin city is a special relationship forged at the municipal level in order to promote cultural and economic benefits between two cities. In 1965, mayor Alan Emmott reached out to the municipal government of Kushiro – partially because Kushiro was located on the same line of latitude as Burnaby, and the two cities were roughly the same size. Since the special agreement was established in 1965, there have been many delegations travelling back and forth between the two cities.
Burnaby’s Beautiful Kamui Mintara (Playground of the Gods) Sculpture Atop Burnaby Mountain is a Testament to the Sister City Relationship
Did you know that the amazing totem sculptures in Kushiro Park atop Burnaby Mountain are a result of the Burnaby-Kushiro sister city relationship? The installation of the sculptures commemorated 25 successful years of economic and cultural exchange between the two Pacific coastal cities.Did You Know? The totems in Kushiro Park, atop Burnaby Mountain, are a result of the Burnaby-Kushiro sister city relationship. 🇨🇦🇯🇵 Click To Tweet
The Sculptor of the Kamui Mintara Was Not Only from Kushiro but was Indigenous to that Region
Like Canada, Japan has indigenous peoples and minority groups. One of them are the Ainu who are indigenous to Hokkaido – the northern Japanese island that the city of Kushiro is located on. The famous sculptor and artist Nuburi Toko was of Ainu heritage. Toko and his son Shusei carved the Kamui Mintara out of logs in Burnaby.
Kushiro: A City Home to Extensive Wetlands and the Iconic Red-Crowned Crane
When one thinks of Japanese wildlife, the red-crowned crane comes to mind. Kushiro is near the famous Kushiro wetland, which is home to many of these revered creatures – which are actually known as “natural monuments” of Japan.
The Student Exchange from Kushiro Meiki High School Follows in the Tradition of Mutual Respect and Understanding
Spending time with buddy classes that the students have corresponded with, and sharing cultural traditions with young elementary students is another way of promoting cross-cultural understanding – something Burnaby has been doing for decades. The mayor reaching out to Kushiro in 1965 was a bold move that has made a huge impact. As a result of such policies, Burnaby is one of the most culturally diverse cities in Canada – and its students recognize that diversity is strength, and reaching out to other cultures makes the world a better place for all.