日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2021 No.409】Ainu Scholarships to Benefit from The United Church of Canada’s Support


Ainu Scholarships to Benefit from The United Church of Canada’s Support

by Miura Tadao, manager of Ainu Peoples Resource Center

Secretariat of Christian Cooperative Commission on Ainu Scholarships

The Christian Cooperative Commission on Ainu Scholarships has received precious, loving support from the United Church of Canada. It will be used for scholarships and also for the exchange program of children of Etekekampa Association to visit indigenous people in Canada.

The Tokachi Etekekampa Association was established in 1990 to support the education of elementary and junior high school students of Ainu descent and Ainu families with financial difficulties. The staff also visits homes and schools to lobby for the children with parents and teachers. There were vicious graffiti saying “Die, Ainu!” on classroom blackboards and on playground slides when the association started. Once, an elementary school principal said to the mother of a new student, “Please make sure to wash your child thoroughly because Ainu children smell bad.” Deeply rooted prejudice and discrimination against Ainu people result in serious problems within the schools, including bullying, violence, poverty, and even death. Likewise, such prejudice makes finding a job or finding a marriage partner difficult even today. We are trying to help children study and gain scholastic ability to overcome such prejudice and discrimination and to help them develop by giving them various new experiences.

Over ten years ago, we took some children to visit Heiltsuk, in British Columbia, Canada where indigenous people live. The encounter with Heiltsuk youth, who live with pride as First Nations people, inspired the children greatly and helped their development. We are planning a project to meet them again, preparing and waiting for the right time.

In April 2019, the Japanese Diet passed a bill entitled “The Act Promoting Measures to Achieve a Society in which the Pride of Ainu People is Respected.” The act recognized the Ainu people as an indigenous people of Japan for the first time. In 2020, The National Ainu Museum and Park, the first national Ainu museum, was opened in the town of Shiraoi, Hokkaido. Though they can be called landmarks in the modern history of the Ainu people, the act only promotes Ainu culture and includes nothing about indigenous rights, which they have been seeking for years. There are likewise no provisions for improving their lives or giving the educational support they need.

The Kyodan’s Hokkai District established the Ainu Peoples Resource Center in 1996 to remember the grievous mistakes of the past and walk together with Ainu people, and also started the Christian Cooperative Commission for Ainu Scholarships, an ecumenical commission, 30 years ago. Last year, we supported four students — one high school student and three college or post-graduate students. This year, we supported five students — two high school students and three college students. Although we previously supported them every year, we have had to limit the support only to a one-time scholarship as they began their programs due to the lack of resources, all of which comes from offerings. We would like to express our gratitude for the valuable support and prayers from all over Japan as we continue our efforts. (Tr. SK)








 2019年4月に国会にて「アイヌの人々の誇りが尊重される社会を実現するための施策の推進に関する法律」が可決されました。これによりアイヌ民族が先住民族であることを法律上初めて明記されました。また、昨年の2020年7月には北海道白老町(しらおいちょう)に「民族共生象徴空間(ウポポイ)」Nationao Ainu Museum and Parkが開館し、初のアイヌ民族に関する国立博物館が出来ました。これらのことは画期的なことと評価します。しかし、法律の内容は文化発展に留まり、アイヌ民族が長年求めている先住権に関しては一切触れられず、さらに、アイヌの皆さんが要望されていた生活の向上や教育の支援も含まれていません。


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