Past President Pat Corbett-Labatt and Treasurer Mark Jones of the Port Hardy Twinning Society presented their annual report to District of Port Hardy Council April 14.
Leslie Driemel is the new president of the Society.
Corbett-Labatt explained the goal of the Society is to advance friendship between Port Hardy and its sister city of Numata, Japan.
The Town of Numata, a town with a population about 3,600, is located 100 kilometres north of Sapporo on Hokkaido Island.
“2014 was one of the busiest years we’ve had in a long time,” said Corbett-Labatt.
Highlights included a delegation from Port Hardy going to Numata in August, winning third place with their entry in the Filomi Days parade, a delegation coming here from Numata in October and the construction of a Torii gate in Carrot Park in recognition of the 20-year anniversary of the twinning.
A Torii is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred.
“The Twinning Society had a great year,” said Jones.
“We were fortunate to have the funding and support of the town of Port Hardy,” he said.
Jones said the Society currently has 14 families registered as members and $9,362 in the bank.
“We’re very we’ll situated for the coming year,” Jones said.
The twinning of Port Hardy and Numata started in 1993 with a letter written from Numata Mayor Hisao Shinoda suggesting the development of a twinning relationship between the two communities. Mayor Al Huddlestan wrote a follow-up letter inviting further exploration of the idea and through this exchange began the alliance that still exists today.
In September of 1993, a delegation of five, led by Shinoda arrived from Numata for a three-day visit. To commemorate twinning, Mayor Shinoda planted a Japanese cherry blossom tree and Mayor Huddlestan planted a BC Dogwood tree on the grounds of the Municipal Hall.
The District of Port Hardy and Numata became officially twinned in September 1994 when Mayor Russ Hellberg led a six-member delegation to Numata to sign the Twinning Agreement and to celebrate Numata’s 100th birthday.
In 2001, the council of the District of Port Hardy handed over the day-to-day aspects of twinning to a separate organization. The Port Hardy Twinning Society was formed from volunteers of the Port Hardy Twinning Committee.
Since the beginning, there have been visitors from Numata to Port Hardy of between 10-15 students and adults on a near annual basis.
Guests stay in private residences (home stays) and learn firsthand about Canadian and Port Hardy lifestyles. There have been fewer visits from Port Hardy to Numata, but the students and adults who have gone there have had the experiences of a lifetime.
They have also stayed in private homes, toured the surrounding areas, and visited schools, factories and farms.
Although an ocean apart, Port Hardy residents share many characteristics with those in their sister city.
They are both located in a rural location, they both have a growing tourism industry, they both have a resource-based economy that utilizes creative ways to reach its potential, they are both involved in an ongoing development of outdoor recreational and leisure facilities for citizens and visitors, and they are both a marketing centre for the region.
Since its inception in 1994, the Twinning Society has promoted the development of goodwill between the two communities and helped to further international goodwill between Canada and Japan, with the firm belief that it contributes towards world peace.
Over the years, the relationship has grown and developed into an exchange of culture, traditions and values that has exceeded the expectations of all those involved.
The Port Hardy Twinning Society is a provincially-registered, non-profit organization.