Canadian Conference on
Preventing Crimes Against Humanity:
Lessons from the Asia Pacific War (1931-1945)

March 21-22, 2003 University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
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Conference Speakers

Grandma AHN Jeom Soon
Arai Shin-Ichi
Michiko Midge Ayukawa
Rick Beardsley
Stephen Benedict
Greg Blue
Mordecai Briemberg
Gary Caroline
Iris Chang
Josephine Chiu-Duke
Roland David Chrisjohn
Tony Cowling
Gail Davidson
Elsie Dean
Stephen Endicott
Randy Enomoto
Michael J. Franzblau
Martin Furmanski
Bob George
Susan Gill
Diane Graves
Judy Hanazawa
Marwan Hassan
Tineke Hellwig
Paula van der Hijden
Nam-Lin Hur
Grandma HWANG Geum Joo
Rosalyn Ing
Tatsuo Kage
Mary Kitagawa
Kinuko Laskey
Herbert Lim
Thekla Lit
Madeleine MacIvor
Don MacPherson
Yoshiyuki Masaki
Tim Michel
Art Miki
David Morgan
Riadh Muslih
Marius Jan van Dijk van Nooten
Gerry Oleman
Maryka Omatsu
Erna Paris
Shane Pointe
John Price
Indai Lourdes Sajor
Bill Saunders
Sid Shniad
Mary-Woo Sims
Kamilla Singh
Jan Solecki
SUH Sung
Sunera Thobani
Grace Eiko Thomson
Anneke van Vliet
Richard Vedan
WANG Xuan
Joie Warnock
Alfred Lambremont Webre
Mike Whittingham
Paul Winn
Joseph Wong
Ellen Woodsworth
XU Jiaxie
Yang Dafang
Yoon Mee-Hyang


Click here for Speakers A-J
Click here for Speakers K-R

John Price
An associate professor of Japanese history at the University of Victoria, John Price is currently involved in a three-year SSHRC-sponsored research project examining "Canada and the Cold War in Asia (1945-1955)." As part of this project, Prof. Price has examined the Canadian role in the Occupation of Japan (1945-1952) and has unearthed new evidence relating to Canada’s biological warfare program and its complicity in the cover-up of Unit 731's biological warfare during the Asia-Pacific War.

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Indai Lourdes Sajor
Indai Lourdes Sajor is an internationally renowned human rights defender and educator in the field of women's human rights. She was regional director of Asian women's human rights institutions for the past decades bringing Asian women's participation in UN world conferences in Vienna, Cairo, Copenhagen and Beijing projecting their agenda into the international arena. She also documented the testimonies of Filipino comfort women, eventually filing a case against the Japanese government for their war time atrocities. From 1998 to 2001, Sajor served as co-convener of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, a landmark initiative to redress the Japanese military's sexual enslavement of women from nine Asian countries and recognize sexual slavery as a crime against humanity under international law and humanitarian law. In 2001, Sajor organized a conference in the Hague on Justice and Accountability: Obstacles and Strategies toward International Justice, Peace and Security after September 11. Much of her career has been devoted to articulating and training others to defend women's human rights throughout Asia and Africa and to documenting women's human rights violations in conflict situations. Sajor's publications include The Impact of Chemical Warfare into the Reproductive Rights of the Women and Men in Vietman (2000, co-edited with Le Thi Nham Tuyet) and Common Grounds: Violence Against Women in War and Armed Conflicts (1998).

Sajor has been named a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow for 2002-2003: Facing Global Capital, Finding Human Security: A Gendered Critique. As a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, she will address "Situations of War and Armed Conflict as a Human Security Issue." She plans to look at the role of NGOs in documenting and exposing sexual violations during times of armed conflict, and how documentation may be analyzed and deployed to ensure future peace, international justice, and an expanded definition of human security.

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Bill Saunders
Bill Saunders has been a life-long activist for social justice and labour rights – ever since his student activist days at the University of Windsor during the 1960s.

In February of this year, Bill was elected full-time President and chief spokesperson of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, which represents 58,000 affiliated union members in Vancouver and its surrounding region. This followed many years of participation in the Labour Council during which time he held many positions.

Until November 2002, Bill served as full-time Secretary Treasurer of the Media Union of British Columbia, CEP Local 2000, for fifteen years, a position which he held while on a leave of absence from his full-time employment with Pacific Newspaper Group, publisher of the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers.

Bill was also elected to the Executive Council of the BC Federation of Labour at their most recent Convention in November.

Bill also serves on a number of community and NGO Boards including the United Way of the BC Lower Mainland, Co-Development Canada, and the Vancouver Civic Theatres Board.

Bill is a past member of the national Executive Board of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada and past national Secretary Treasurer of the Media Council of CEP.

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Sid Shniad
Sid Shniad has been the research director of a Vancouver-based trade union for more than twenty years. Active in the antiwar movement, he is a founding member of the Trade Union Committee for Justice in the Middle East and an early member of Jews for a Just Peace. He contributes articles to the magazine Canadian Jewish Outlook. A former public school teacher, he received his bachelor's degree in political theory at the University of California and his master's degree in economics at Simon Fraser University.

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Mary-Woo Sims
Mary-Woo was the former Chief Commissioner of the BC Human Rights Commission and has over 20 years experience working in human rights on behalf of management, unions and in the public service. She is a principal in the firm Ardent Consulting Canada which specializes in human rights investigations, mediation, adjudication, education and training.

Mary-Woo is a board member with West Coast LEAF. LEAF is a national organization which promotes equality for women through legal action and public education based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She is also a board member of and a volunteer broadcaster with Vancouver Co-op Radio 102.7 FM.

Internationally, Mary-Woo served as the Canadian representative on the Board of International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies and is the recipient of its 2002 International Award for her work on behalf of Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA) at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Mary-Woo is a former President of CASHRA.

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Kamilla Singh
Kamilla Singh has worked in the area of violence against women for over 12 years. She is an advocate and human rights activist for ethnocultural women and has extensive experience working with refugee women who have escaped male violence in their country of origin. She will be speaking about how to support women who have escaped violence as a result of war in their home countries.

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Jan Solecki
Jan J. Solecki was born in Miantukhe, Inner Mongolia and received an internationl education in Harbin, Hong Kong, London, Vancouver, and Seattle. From 1964 to 1984 he was an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia in Slavonic Studies.

Mr. Solecki served in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps 1941-1946 and was a Japanese Prisoner of War in Hong Kong (1941-1943) and in Japan (1943-1945). In 1998, he wrote Escape to Life, an account of the efforts of Chinese patriots to liberate inmates from a Japanese experimental medical camp in Northern China. Solecki also wrote a book of eleven short stories presenting his experiences as a fighter and prisoner of war in Hong Kong and Japan and other life experiences, entitled Bitter Cherries.

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SUH Sung
SUH Sung was the 1995 recipient of the Tada Yoko Human Rights Award and is the co-convener of the International Symposium on Human Rights and Peace in East Asia.

SUH graduated from Tokyo University of Eduction in 1968 and did graduate studies at Seoul National Univeristy where he became active in the early democracy movement. In the spring of 1971, the Korean military police abducted him and his brother and falsely charged him with being part of a "campus spy ring."

In 1973, the same year the Korean CIA abducted Kim Dae Jung (Korea's outgoing president) from a Tokyo hotel, Amnesty International designated SUH a prisoner of conscience. The overthrow of the repressive regime in Korea in the late 1980s finally led to SUH's release in 1990. His autobiography was published in English in 2001 (Suh Sung, Unbroken Spirits: Nineteen Years in South Korea's Gulag (Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).

Suh Song is currently a professor of comparative international law at Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo.

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Sunera Thobani
Prof. Sunera Thobani is an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy and a respected feminist and anti-racist scholar. Her research focuses on immigration, globalization and women. She teaches in the UBC Women's Studies program and is the past president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (1993-1996). She was the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Professor in Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University.

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Grace Eiko Thomson
Grace Eiko Thomson lived in Vancouver prior to being interned with her family at Minto Mines, BC, subsequently moving under the government's dispersal policy to rural Manitoba, then to the City of Winnipeg in 1949.

She did her graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, in Asian Art History, and at the University of Leeds, in Cultural Studies, obtaining a Masters in the Social History of Art. She is the former Director Curator of the Japanese Canadian National Museum (1999-2002), and currently works as a freelance curator, researching contemporary art and early Japanese Canadian photography studios.

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Richard Vedan
Dr. Richard Vedan is from the Neskonlith Band of the Secwepemc First Nations. Following high school, Richard spent 11 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force where he served as a navigator and later as Senior Social Work Officer for Air Command, retiring with the rank of Captain.

Richard received his BA at the University of Western Ontario and his MSW from UBC. In 2002 he completed a PhD at Simon Fraser University. His doctoral dissertation is "How Shall We Forgive Our Fathers: Angry/Violent First Nations/Aboriginal Men's Experiences with Social Workers".

Richard began his teaching career at Lakehead University in 1973 while still working as a military Social Worker. After returning to BC in 1977, he worked as Band Manager for Neskonlith, and later served as Director of Health and Social Development for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs in Vancouver. He then taught at Langara College for 16 years, also serving for 7 years as Division Chair/Dean of Instruction for Applied Arts and Community Services.

In 1995 he was appointed as Associate Professor at the UBC School of Social Work and since July 2001 has been Director of UBC's First Nations House of Learning.

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Anneke van Vliet
Anneke Van Vliet has worked as a counsellor in the Sexual Assault Service at BC Women's Hospital since 1991. She also has developed provincial policies and assisted communities across British Columbia with the development of sexual assault health services. Anneke trained health care providers in Japan and attended the Tokyo Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery.

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WANG Xuan
Born in Shanghai in 1952, Wang Xuan went to Japan in 1987 where she completed her master's degree in English at Tsukuba University. Since 1995 she has helped Japanese attorneys and scholars collect data regarding the tragic effects of the Japanese Imperial Army's biological warfare conducted against villagers in China, including Zhejiang Province where her family is from. She has acted as a representative and spokesperson for 180 plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government for damages caused by biological warfare in China during the Asia-Pacific war.

Due to her tireless grassroot activism in seeking redress for the Unit 731 victims, Wang has recently been awarded the 2002 Top Ten People of the Year and the 2002 Top Ten Most Influential Women in China.

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Joie Warnock
Joie Warnock is a Vancouver-based labour activist and a board member of Canada Asia Pacific Resource Network (CAPRN), an independent non-profit society which promotes regional solidarity among trade unions and NGOs in the Asia Pacific.

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Alfred Lambremont Webre
Alfred Lambremont Webre, JD, MEd is a former Fulbright Scholar and graduate of Yale University, Yale Law School, and the University of Texas Counseling Program. Webre was General Counsel to the NYC Environmental Protection Administration and environmental consultant to the Ford Foundation, futurist at Stanford Research Institute, and author. He has taught Economics at Yale University (Economics Department) and Civil Liberties at the University of Texas (Government Department).

Alfred Webre has been a delegate to the UNISPACE Outer Space Conference and NGO representative at the United Nations. He is an on-air host on Coop Radio, CFRO-FM in Vancouver, BC. Mr. Webre is a Director of the Institute for Cooperation in Space. He works with the No-Weapons-in-Space Campaign, a national coalition of Canadian peace groups, to prevent the weaponization of space.

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Mike Whittingham
Mike Whittingham has taught for 12 years and was a member of the project team for Internment and Redress: The Japanese Canadian Experience. He is also a member of TC2, the critical thinking consortium, and has written on immigration and other issues. He teaches social studies at Cambie Secondary School in Richmond and has helped to develop units on social justice.

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Paul Winn
Born in Toronto, Paul A. Winn has worked in the fields of Broadcasting, Multiculturalism, and Public Administration before obtaining a law degree from the University of BC. In 1983/84 he wrote and hosted "The Canadians", a CBC weekly television program profiling multicultural communities in Canada. He worked for various Federal Government offices including the Anti-Discrimination Directorate, Office of Services For Visible Minority Groups, Multiculturalism Secretariat and National Literacy Secretariat. In 1997-2002 he served as a member of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal adjudicating Human Rights complaints.

Paul A. Winn is presently a practicing lawyer in British Columbia. He is a Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, President of the B.C. Festival of the Arts Society and Past President of the Black Historical and Cultural Society of British Columbia.

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Joseph Wong
Dr. Joseph Wong co-founded Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WW II in Asia), working with some 40 other groups globally to promote the Asian Holocaust Education and justice for victims of crimes against humanity during WW II in Asia.

Dr. Wong has many community involvement including the founding chairman of Yee Hong Centre For Geriatric Care and the National Movement for Harmony in Canada. He served as Chairman of the Board of the United Way of Greater Toronto from 1990 to 1992 and honorary chair since 1994. In 1986 he received the City of Toronto's highest honour, the Award of Merits and the Toronto Star named Dr. Wong its Man of the Year. Dr. Wong was awarded the Order of Canada in 1993, the Humanitarian Award, Beth Shalom Brotherhood in 1996 and the Korean Canadian Heritage Award in 1998.

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Ellen Woodsworth
Councillor Ellen Woodsworth was elected to Vancouver City Council in 2002. Ellen Woodsworth's record of social action is lengthy. She has fought long and hard for the rights of women, for the gay and lesbian community and for seniors. Among her achievements in this area is a successful campaign for the inclusion of questions about women's unpaid work on the 1996 census making Canada the first country to do so. She chaired the BC Action Canada Network educating people to concerns about the free trade agreements. She led in the formation of Breaking the Silence, a group effort to mobilize a number of Downtown Eastside agencies to work together to stop violence against women. For five years she was chairperson of Bridge Housing Society for Women which provides permanent housing, transition housing and a home for the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre.

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Xu Jiaxie
Xu Jiaxie is now 75 years old. He was 14 in 1942 when his family tried to flee from the Japanese Imperial Army invading Quzhou in the Zhejiang Province of China. . Xu witnessed many atrocities committed by the Japanese military. He, his grandfather, mother and baby sister were all victims of Japanese biological warfare. His grandfather and baby sister died shortly after infection in September 1942. He survived and has endured for 61 years the physical and psychological trauma of his "rotten legs", the aftermath of his anthrax infection.

Xu was victim of the Japanese biological warfare program developed by Unit 731. Pathogens like typhoid, bubonic plague, anthrax, cholera were released over many Chinese cities, including Quzhou by the invading Japanese military and caused extensive epidemic.

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Yang Dafang
Yang Dafang was born in 1932 in Quzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. This region was among one of the many regions subjected to Japanese germ warfare. Unit 731, the Japanese biological warfare unit developed biological weapons using pathogens like typhoid, bubonic plague, anthrax, cholera. Yang's father, aged 39 and his uncle died of plague in 1941. According to Sanitation And Epidemic Prevention Department, over 300,000 were infected and 50,000 killed by epidemic in the Quzhou area within the period 1940-48.

Yang is a victims' representative in the lawsuit against the Japanese government demanding compensation and apology. In August 2002 the Tokyo District Court ruled that the Japanese Imperial Army used germ warfare in China during WWII, but at the same time, it threw out the compensation claim. Yang and other plaintiffs vowed to continue the struggle for justice.

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Yoon Mee-Hyang
Yoon Mee-Hyang Yoon Mee-Hyang is the General Secretary of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. Korean Council aims at support the redress for the former Korean military sex slaves, to document history of these women and to network with other organizations that support the redress for “comfort women”.

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Contact Information

Asia Pacific Lessons Conference
c/o International House
1783 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Tel: 604-822-4904
Fax: 604-822-5099
Email: bcalpha@shaw.ca