City supports Nikka Yuko’s plans for 2017 celebration

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City supports Nikka Yuko’s plans for 2017 celebration

With the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation less than a year away, City Council has put support behind Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden’s plans to host a local celebration by approving a Major Community Event Hosting Grant for $73,700.00.

July 2017 is significant not just for Canada 150 but also the 50th anniversary of Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens. Established during Canada’s Centennial in 1967, Nikka Yuko was built to recognize contributions made by citizens of Japanese ancestry to Lethbridge and as a symbol of international friendship.

“Nikka Yuko has some very exciting plans to recognize both their 50th anniversary and Canada 150,” says Mayor Chris Spearman. “Given the garden was originally established for Canada’s centennial, it’s only fitting that we use these upcoming milestones as an opportunity to re-affirm the bonds between Lethbridge and Japan.”

With the theme “Experience the Friendship” the celebration event planned for July 14-15, 2017 is striving to have significant Canadian and Japanese dignitaries visit Lethbridge. Some of the proposed activities include recognition ceremonies, a community banquet with entertainment, Japan and Canada sport presentations and ongoing programing at Nikka Yuko throughout the weekend.

“With invitations going out to the Imperial Agency of Japan and Prime Minister Trudeau, organizers really want to make this a big event in our city,” says Councillor Liz Iwaskiw. “We’re happy to put our support behind something that will celebrate our city, our country and our friendship with Japan in such a significant way.”

The total $73,700.00 grant includes both a cash donation and $44,300.00 of in-kind contributions from the City. The City of Lethbridge will also provide a letter of support for the Canada 150 grant application and future grant opportunities to support the celebration.

In February of this year, City Council voted in favour of working with the Lethbridge and District Japanese Garden Society to secure grant funding that would bring a new Nikka Yuko Winter Lights Festival to the city in late 2016. The City also committed to assisting with protocol and invitations to dignitaries for the 2017 celebration.

In 2015 the City of Lethbridge designated Nikka Yuko a municipal historic resource. The garden which expresses the merging of Japanese and Canadian culture captures the signature of the southern Alberta landscape while integrating traditional Japanese philosophy and symbols. Over 19,000 people from around the world visited the venue last year.

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