Students raise money for Japanese relief effort

The impact of Japan's earthquake is still being felt by staff and students at the University of Calgary.

Japanese Community Association, restaurant also helping out

Narumi Matsuo and other Japanese students at the University of Calgary held a bake sale Monday to raise money for relief efforts back home. (CBC)

The impact of Japan's earthquake is still being felt by staff and students at the University of Calgary.

There are about 20 U of C students in Japan as part of international programs, and a university spokesman said the school has been reaching out to them.

"We have managed to confirm that all of them are OK and were not in any of the areas that were seriously impacted by the quake," said Grady Semmens.

The university has an international travel registry to keep track of students and faculty abroad — and it has been helpful in the aftermath of this disaster, he said.

There are about 20 Japanese students studying at the University of Calgary, and Semmens said they have access to support if they need it.

"We've reached out to those students to make it clear that the international centre is the place that they can go if they need any assistance of any kind in terms of help to contact any family members or relatives back home, if they need any financial assistance or even … special counseling," he said.

Calgarians' support heartening: Japanese group

Japanese exchange student Narumi Matsuo tried to call her family immediately after the earthquake, but couldn't get through.

"I couldn't sleep well, so I just kept watching news on the internet," said Matsuo. "I was so worried about everyone in Japan."

Fortunately for Matsuo, she heard from her loved ones within a day and they were all safe and sound in Japan.

But she and other Japanese students couldn't just sit back and watch. So they decided to hold a bake sale fundraiser.

Ryan Lo, a member of the University of Calgary's Japanese Student Association who spent a year in Japan as part of his studies, says it's such a beautiful country. (CBC)
Ryan Lo, a member of the University of Calgary Japanese Student Association, spent a month living in Japan as part of his studies.

"It's just hard seeing something like that go down," said Lo. "Such a beautiful country."

The students plan to continue the fundraising with a video game night this weekend and after-party, with the proceeds are going to the Canadian Red Cross.

The city's Japanese community says Calgarians are being very generous.

"We've been very heartened by all the expressions of sympathy, and the willingness to help us," said Calgary Japanese Community Association president Rocky Oishi.

The province has warned Albertans to donate carefully to legitimate charities, and the Calgary Japanese Community Association recommends donating directly to Red Cross.

Another way to donate is to give through the Japanese Community Association, which will be collecting for the Red Cross at a fundraiser on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Calgary Nikkei Cultural and Senior Centre.

'Tsunami roll' raises money for Japan

Another Japanese Calgarian, Amane Kanei, has found his own unique was of lending a helping hand.

Kanei, manager at Shikiji Japanese Noodles and Sushi in northeast Calgary, has family in the earthquake zone.

"I was able to speak with my mother," Kanei said. "And I am one of the lucky ones to be able to reach the family in Japan."

He's created a "tsunami roll" made of barbecue eel, salmon, tuna and seaweed salad. The roll sells for $8, one-quarter of which will go to the Red Cross.