Thomas Kunito (Tommy) Shoyama

Obituary
  • "A great Canadian who lived a deservedly good and long life...."
    - Mark Crawford
  • "Betty and I wish to extend our condolences to the family of..."
    - Lorne Calvert
  • "It is with great fondess and profound respect that I..."
    - Daniel Mah
  • "A truly great Canadian has left us. Despite the shameful..."
    - Donald D. Tansley
  • "Warmth. Wisdom. Compassion. Modesty. Dignity. Humour...."
    - Doug Tansley

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SHOYAMA, Thomas Kunito (Tommy) Died peacefully on December 22 in his 91st year, after several years of declining health. Predeceased by his cherished daughter, Kiyomi, sisters Fumi and Mitsu, and brothers Kuz, Art, and Masato, he will be deeply missed by his loving companion Hazel, nieces Naomi and Mitsu, great nephew Jamil, as well as friends and former colleagues across the country. Tom had a remarkable life. Born and raised in Kamloops, BC, he graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1938 with two degrees: a B.A. in Economics and a B.Comm. (Honours). From 1939-1945, Tom served as the editor of "The New Canadian," a weekly civil rights newspaper which was published first in Vancouver and then later in Kaslo, BC, where he was interned during the war. In this role, Tom became an eloquent spokesman for the rights of the Japanese Canadian community and an important community leader during the wartime evacuation and resettlement. Through 1945-1946, Tom served his country in the S-20 Intelligence Corps of the Canadian Army. Upon discharge, he was encouraged to go to work for the CCF government in Saskatchewan, initially as a research economist, and later as economic advisor to the Premier, serving in this capacity with both Premiers T.C.Douglas and W.S. Lloyd. In 1964, along with other prominent public servants, known fondly as the "Saskatchewan Mafia," Tom moved to Ottawa, first joining the Economic Council of Canada, then moving to the Finance Department in 1967. In 1968, he was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance, and by 1975, after a brief term as Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, he returned to the Finance Department as Deputy Minister, serving under three Ministers of Finance: John Turner, Donald Macdonald, and Jean Chretien. Among the many contributions Tom made to public policy initiatives during his long career in public service, he was personally most proud of the role he played in establishing hospital and medical care insurance in Canada, in instituting child tax credits, and in providing for the entry of foreign banks into the banking system. Retiring from the Finance Department in 1979, Tom served in the Privy Council Office, advising Prime Minister Trudeau on economic aspects of the Constitution. As well, he was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of Atomic Energy of Canada that year. In 1980, at the age of 64, Tom moved to Victoria to become a visiting professor at the University of Victoria, teaching in both the School of Public Administration and the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies. Ottawa's loss became Victoria's gain, as Tom enjoyed this new career so much that he continued working with students in one capacity or another for a further 15 years. Victoria also allowed Tom a chance to indulge in his true passion: gardening. While he enjoyed fishing, curling, travelling, golf, bridge, and poker, he was truly happiest when tending his roses or digging his vegetable bed for a new season. Tom's many contributions to public service, to his various communities, and to Canada, have been recognized through many national awards, including Officer of the Order of Canada (1978), Outstanding Achievement in the Public Service of Canada (1978), the Vanier Medal in Public Administration (1982), as well as several honourary degrees. In 1992, the government of Japan awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure (gold and silver star) in recognition of his contributions to the Japanese Canadian community. A remarkable man with a generous spirit, Tom was deeply loved and his loss will be felt by all who knew him. A memorial service will be held in Victoria in January (date, time and place to be announced). No flowers by request. If desired, donations may be made to the Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre in Burnaby, or to the University of Victoria Bursary Fund. "And every winter turns to spring". 326387
Published in The Times Colonist from Dec. 29 to Dec. 30, 2006
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