Stony Plain adult delegation heads to Japan to participate in Town twinning program
An eleven-member adult delegation from Stony Plain will be in Shikaoi, Japan from May 23 to May 29 as part of the two communities’ twinning program.
“I am thrilled that we can send citizens of Stony Plain to Shikaoi to continue to build on the strong friendship that already exists between these two communities,” says William Choy, mayor of Stony Plain. “Both towns benefit from this important international friendship. We have gained a better understanding of the world; we take pride in our communities; and we embrace the mutual exchange of ideas.”
This year’s adult delegation was comprised of newly elected Coun. Bruce Lloy, and his wife Patricia; Rudy Zacharias, the Town’s communications coordinator, and his wife Michelle; and seven citizens-at-large.
The Towns of Stony Plain and Shikaoi have been sister communities since 1985, thanks to the vision of past Stony Plain mayors Reg Kotch and Donna Cowan and mayors Sawatari and Yoshida of Shikaoi. Throughout the past 27 years, more than 1,000 citizens have traveled to each other’s communities. These visits have nurtured the friendship that has blossomed throughout the past more-than-quarter-decade. The two towns share much in common: both are proud of their strong agricultural roots; both celebrate their culture and heritage through annual festivals and events; and both cherish their past while embracing their future.
Members of the visiting delegation will stay with local families, often cited by past participants as the best part of the experience. The group will embark on several tours of various community amenities in Shikaoi and the surrounding region, including the:
- Town Office;
- Kanda Art Museum;
- local hospital;
- Fukuhara Art Musem;
- community health and fitness centre;
- elementary and high schools;
- public swimming pool;
- nursing home;
- religious temple;
- Bio Gas Plant;
- Town hall;
- Recycling Centre; and the
- Chamber of Commerce.
The delegation will also experience traditional Japanese culture through various activities, events and meetings planned by the Town of Shikaoi and the host families. Lloy, Zacharias and Cowan will also meet privately with Mayor Yoshida for a short business meeting.
The international exchange component of the twinning program has been running for 16 years; however, the relationship cannot be measured in years alone. Those who have participated in the program have gained experiences that have forever enriched their lives. Each delegate returns home with new knowledge, increased tolerance, deeper understanding of cultures and diversity, new international friendships and memories that last his or her lifetime.
In July, a youth delegation from Stony Plain will head to Shikaoi for two weeks, and in October, the Town of Stony Plain will welcome another contingent of Grade 10 high school students from Shikaoi.
The exchange program was cancelled in 2011, because of an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which triggered a deadly tsunami that struck off the northeast coast of Honshu, causing massive destruction and leaving hundreds of people dead, injured or missing. Fortunately, Shikaoi was not directly hit by the tsunami.
Couns. Robert Twerdoclib and Dwight Ganske travelled to Japan in November to attend the Alberta-Twinned Municipalities Association’s annual conference (Stony Plain hosted this conference in 2010). 2012 marks 32 years of the Alberta-Hokkaido twinning program.
About the Town of Shikaoi
Shikaoi is a located on the northern island of Hokkaido in the Kato District of Japan. In 2008, the community’s population was approximately 5,723 (Source: Town of Shikaoi website).