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Honouring Kuniko Uyeno

By Cyndia Cole, Vancouver

Presentation by Val Innes and Cyndia Cole Presentation by Val Innes and Cyndia Cole

On October 15, Val Innes and Cyndia Cole presented their slideshow that honours the life of pioneer SGI Canada member Kuniko Uyeno at Vancouver's Holy Family Residence. As part of “Spiritual Care Week: Celebrating Diversity,” there was a showing attended by Kuniko’s doctor and 22 rehab therapists and a second showing enjoyed by 50 long-term care residents along with 15 staff and volunteers. 

On a journey to SGI activities in 1966, Kuniko was in a car accident that left her quadriplegic. Kuniko became an accomplished painter, an advocate for people with disabilities and a source of encouraging wisdom for friends, neighbours and practitioners. For 51 years afterward, Kuniko received countless encouraging words and gifts from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. He spoke with her during his visits to Canada in 1981 and 1993 and wrote about her in his 2003 essay "Canada, A Caring Place." 

In the months before her passing, Kuniko introduced a fellow resident who is blind and 88 years old and now an SGI practitioner. On July 27, 2018 her story was included in a front page article in Japan's Seikyo Shinbum. President Ikeda told her, “I’m so proud of you. You have fought so hard! You’re an inspiration to everyone.” 

Kuniko’s roommate said her kindness would be greatly missed. Another resident, who was 95, spoke of surviving the Japanese-Canadian internment camps during the Second World War. A volunteer was excited to see the Hikara Maru ship. Although they immigrated in different years, both she and Kuniko had sailed on this famous vessel from Japan to Canada. All the Holy Family residents have limited mobility and were inspired by Kuniko’s triumphant life lived in a wheelchair guided by her unshakable faith in the Mystic Law.