The Rikubetsu Friendship Society welcomed a student delegation to Lacombe from Rikubetsu, Japan in 2019. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS)                                The Rikubetsu Friendship Society welcomed a student delegation to Lacombe from Rikubetsu, Japan in 2019. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS)

The Rikubetsu Friendship Society welcomed a student delegation to Lacombe from Rikubetsu, Japan in 2019. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS) The Rikubetsu Friendship Society welcomed a student delegation to Lacombe from Rikubetsu, Japan in 2019. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS)

Lacombe renews commitment to sister-city in Japan

Rikubetsu Friendship Society will also be given space on City of Lacombe website

The City of Lacombe has renewed their commitment to maintaining a relationship with it’s sister-city, Rikubetsu Japan.

The Rikubetsu Friendship Society recently requested direction from council, with the hopes of gaining more administrative support and space on the City of Lacombe website to promote the relationship — which typically brings in a group of Japanese exchange students every year.

“Members of the society were seeking support, that went to council and produced a review of what the society does for the city of Lacombe. What came out of that is that the City has pledged to support the society,” Councillor Cora Hoekstra said.

The pledge includes the continuation of the now 30-year-old agreement, along with a place on the website. Council, however, will no longer have an appointed position within the society.

“They are very happy to receive that support. They are saddened to hear there is no longer an appointed City councillor to the friendship society, but that does not mean that it will stop councillors from joining the society as a private citizen. That is something we can explore going forward,” Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra said she has loved being involved with the society, and mentioned that former appointed member Councillor Reuben Konnik and Mayor Grant Creasey — who has travelled to Japan — were both in support of the twinning agreement.

“We had a good conversation at council on how our community is culturally enriched by our friendship with Rikubetsu,” she said.

Due to the pandemic, the society will not be welcoming exchange students this year — but the society is exploring ways to maintain the relationship including former host families hand-written messages through the mail to their former students. Hoekstra added there will be a meeting in the fall discussing what else can be else can be done.

“That meaning will be about our plans going forward and how we can utilize supportive resources from the city including what our web page will look like. One key effort will be to involve new members and we are hoping the added commitment from the city will solicit new members,” she said.

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