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Onagawa fundraisers exceed expectations

Fundraising efforts in Nelson for tsunami-stricken Onagawa, Japan have topped $10,000 following several events over the weekend.
Students from Trafalgar Middle School teamed up with the Nelson Fire Service to raise funds for Onagawa

Fundraising efforts in Nelson for tsunami-stricken Onagawa, Japan have topped $10,000 following several events over the weekend.

Sunday’s To Japan With Love community gathering at the Prestige Lakeside Resort raised $6,500, while Nelson firefighters brought in $2,130 on Saturday by collecting donations for origami cranes folded by Trafalgar Middle School students. Sales of crane pins have reached $1,740, and will continue as long as there is a demand.

A nearly sold-out benefit concert Friday by local musician Jude Davison made an estimated $3,000 after costs.

Combined with the city’s promise to match up to $10,000, the overall total will be at least $23,370. Exactly how the money will be spent has yet to be determined.

Sunday’s event “exceeded our expectations,” says organizer Kim Osika. “We had a wonderful turnout and people had a really great time. They said there was a really good feeling in the room.”

The centerpiece was a wall of hope, comprised of newspaper clippings about the earthquake and tsunami, as well as information on local efforts.

“We had pictures of students who have come here over the years and a flock of paper cranes migrating along the wall,” Osika says.

She adds they are going to condense the display and exhibit it at Touchstones in the coming weeks.

• Nelson’s John Craig has arrived in the city of Yanagawa, where he met with the mayor and other officials, and presented them with Nelson pins. Yanagawa has raised about $300,000 for disaster relief generally and is making 30 temporary housing units available to Onagawa residents.

Craig gave a talk to about 100 people, with proceeds further earmarked for Onagawa. Yanagawa’s mayor also signed Craig’s book of hope.

Craig is chronicling his progress and has posted several videos at

In his last diary entry on Saturday, he was preparing to head up country by motorcycle. He’s determined to reach Onagawa to deliver his book, and is offering assistance as an interpreter for relief efforts.

Craig has lived most of his life in Japan, where he is an author and something of a media celebrity.

• The search for students who visited Nelson from Onagawa in 2009 is ongoing but slow, says homestay coordinator Wendy Lacroix.

It’s becoming more difficult as people move. They are collecting pictures of the students and chaperons to post online, which should speed things up and help prevent confusion over people with similar names.

All of the students who came here last October survived, although many lost family.

• Michael Luzia, the Abbotsford man who taught in Onagawa, has returned to B.C. following a two-week process to get home after losing his passport in the tsunami.

He’s been speaking to school groups, and wants to raise funds to aid children, including his own students, who were orphaned by the disaster.

His girlfriend, Hui Wen, has returned to China. The two will reunite in one of their home countries, depending on whose travel documents come through first. They hope to return to Japan before the end of April.

Luzia taught the students who came to Nelson last year and was the first to relay news about their survival.

Onagawa fundraisers

  • Jude Davison concert (Friday): $3,000
  • Nelson firefighters (Saturday): $2,130
  • To Japan With Love (Sunday): $6,500
  • Other sales of origami cranes and pins: $1,741
  • Subtotal: $13,371
  • City to match: $10,000
  • Grand total to date: $23,371