The Paueru Gai Dialogues #2

On Food & Culture for Community Building 

Date: February 27, 2021
Time: 1PM – 3PM PST / 4PM – 6PM EST
Free admission. Registration Required.

Link to register:

Guest host erica hiroko isomura will facilitate a discussion with panelists Carmel Tanaka, Kage, and Ingrid Mendez de Cruz as they share stories on how food and culture contribute to their experiences of building community in Japanese Canadian, DTES communities, and beyond.

Panelists will talk about how they use food to build relationships across differences, create inclusive food and garden spaces for community, and support agricultural migrant workers who grow the food that so many of us eat.

Participants will be invited into breakout groups to share their perspectives (and favourite recipes!) with one another. To wrap up the event, everyone will reconvene to offer questions and debrief together.

We are grateful to Hapa Collaborative, The Bulletin (JCCA), ElementIQ,  SFU David Lam Centres, The Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council and City of Vancouver for financial and in-kind support.

erica hiroko isomura is a yonsei Japanese and Chinese Canadian writer living on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh & səlilwətaɬ territories. erica hiroko edited Our Edible Roots: The Japanese Canadian Kitchen Garden with Tonari Gumi gardeners and organized ensoku, a food, art & culture event for Japanese Canadian and American youth, with members of Kikiai Collaborative. She has been involved with urban agriculture and food justice projects in Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver.

Carmel Tanaka (she/her) is a queer Jewpanese woman of colour from Vancouver, BC, Canada on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. Her mother is Ashkenazi Israeli, and her father (a sansei) is Japanese Canadian – both of whom taught her the importance of social justice and bringing people together through food. Carmel is a Community Engagement professional, who founded the Cross Cultural Walking Tours in Strathcona; JQT Vancouver, (pronounced “J-Cutie”) Vancouver’s Jewish Queer Trans* nonprofit; and Genocide Prevention BC. She also spearheads a monthly Zoom call for Jewpanese people and was recently named one of 7 LGBTQ+ Jews of Color you should know! Carmel is a past Human Rights Committee Chair and Board Member of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association, National Association for Japanese Canadians’ BC Redress Community Advisor, Kikiai Collaborative’s Sponsorship Co-Chair and currently serves as the Vancouver Asian Film Festival’s Elimin8hate Community Engagement Director.

Kage is primarily a taiko artist who is also active in land-based work. Since the 1980s they have co-founded several taiko/music groups touring internationally, collaborating with artists and creating new works that push the boundaries of the form. Over the last decade, they have been training and practicing in various land-based work such as learning about edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation, soil building, bioremediation, urban beekeeping, and Permaculture Design. They have been a part of the Tonari Gumi Garden Club for the last few years, particularly around the Red Shiso project. As a settler of Japanese ancestry, they are privileged to live, thrive and work on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh(Squamish) and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

Ingrid Mendez de Cruz is the executive director of Watari Counselling and Support Services Society. Before taking up the role in 2018, she served as Watari’s Latin American drug & alcohol counsellor for 20 years. A lifelong volunteer, she brought her commitment to inclusivity and social justice with her from Guatemala (Place of Many Trees) to Turtle Island in 1990. When she arrived in Vancouver, she saw the need for supportive networks between newcomers like herself and existing communities in her new home. She started building relationships that — over two decades later — remain integral to the supportive programming at Watari.