Sister city bond strengthens

Both communities searching for ways to promote, support the other

Mission Mayor Ted Adlem helped plant the Canadian maple tree in Oyama on Mission Street.

Mission’s sister city relationship with Oyama, Japan continues to be strong after Mission Mayor Ted Adlem’s recent visit.

In addition to cultural exchanges, both communities are working on strategies to support commerce, existing products and services between the two cities, and promote each other as a tourist destination.

There are challenges in the relationship too, such as communication (not many Mission residents speak Japanese, and not many Oyama residents speak English), economic (Oyama is struggling with its economy too), and political (both cities have new mayors and it takes time to get up to speed).

Cory Cassel, one of three delegates to accompany Adlem on his two-week trip last month, gave a short presentation Monday night at a council meeting. He also noted Oyama picked up the bill for the mayor’s trip, while the others paid their own way, with some help from Oyama’s committee.

The visit was to commemorate Oyama’s 100th anniversary and during the visit, a Canadian maple tree was planted in the mayor’s honour, explained Cassel.

Each city is still committed to sending a delegation once every four years, and there is a student exchange program through Mission Public Schools. Two Oyama students who win the speech contest also visit Mission each year.

The next group from Oyama is expected to arrive next year and will be a part of the Canada Day celebrations at Fraser River Heritage Park. In order to welcome the delegation, Mission International Culture Association (MICA) was created to take over the financial responsibilities.

MICA is holding a fundraiser on Sept. 20 at Cedarbrooke Chateau called Dress and Dine for Diversity. The mayor’s second annual golf tournament next year will also benefit the group. MICA hopes to raise $10,000 for the visit. Cassel encouraged residents to get involved by attending the fundraiser and volunteering to host a delegate.

Mission and Oyama have been sister cities since 1996. Mission has sent delegates to Japan in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2009 and now 2012.

The district has hosted visitors from Oyama in 1995, 1999, 2002, and 2006.

In 2009 Mission Arts Council gifted a house post, and  that year’s delegation from Mission helped unveil it in Japan. Oyama is sending over a friendship bell in 2013.

Tickets to the Sept. 20 fundraiser are $50 and can be purchased at Mission Community Services Society, District of Mission municipal hall, Murdoch’s Book Shoppe, or by calling Cory Cassel at 604-832-3130. For more information or to join MICA, e-mail info@missionica.com.