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JETAA Canada NatCon: 2 Jun 2017

On June 2nd, 2017 JETAA Northern Alberta (JETAANA) welcomed delegates from across Canada and the US for the 17th Annual JETAA Canada National Conference.

The conference marked the first return to Edmonton after 16 years, where the very first JETAA Canada National Conference was held. The conference kicked off with the MOFA reception on Friday, June 2. In a nod to our first national conference we held the reception at the Varscona Hotel – the very same location that hosted in Edmonton 16 years ago!  35 delegates and honoured guests gathered for the MOFA reception.

The conference was held at the University of Alberta Telus Centre on Saturday and Sunday. 20 delegates from the US and Canada attended the conference, with a group of 4 volunteers, outside the executive from JETAANA working to ensure the event flowed smoothly.

Since its inception in 2001, the Canada JETAA National Conference has been a beneficial weekend for all chapters and delegates involved. Primarily a networking tool, the conference provides a forum for all chapter voices to speak and be heard. We were encouraged by our USA counterparts that inter-chapter opportunities exist and activities have already taken place between Canada and the USA. The sharing of ideas allows each chapter to learn about fun events, approaches to organization, and tips on how to maintain and involve membership. Membership is a common issue facing all the chapters, and each chapter brainstormed ideas on how to best address this. The JET maxim applies here, as all chapter’s issues are unique, while smaller chapters struggle to keep their community involved, even larger chapters have a difficult time recruiting new executive members.  Despite these struggles, the main benefit of the conference are the new ideas, perspectives and renewed zest the delegates receive from attending.

The conference schedule, while organized by JETAANA, is largely comprised of items that are recur during every conference. This includes:

  • JETAA Canada chapter updates

  • JETAA Canada report

  • JETAA USA updates

  • CLAIR presentation

  • GiA updates and review

In addition to these items, we included the following original sessions:

  • Return on Investment (ROI) of JETs and building bridges between your home town/prefecture – Presented by Mark Frey (USA Delegate)

  • JET 30th Anniversary Activity review

  • Keynote speech and Taiko Workshop by Carley Okamura and Kita no Taiko

  • General Q&A and Open Discussion

The feedback we received throughout the weekend was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. What was most encouraging was, despite our chapter’s small size, we could host a successful national conference. This should serve as encouragement and even as a challenge to small chapters everywhere to host such a large event. Everyone appreciated the large amount of work put in by the JETAANA volunteers to setup and run the conference. At its core, the conference is about building bridges and relationships between all JETAA chapters. It’s encouraging to know that if our chapters are encountering problems to try and communicate with other chapters to discover new and innovative solutions.


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