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Port Coquitlam shirts aid Japanese relief effort

James Morris at Stiffy’s Boardshop in PoCo, which is selling shirts he designed to raise money for Japanese earthquake relief. - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
James Morris at Stiffy’s Boardshop in PoCo, which is selling shirts he designed to raise money for Japanese earthquake relief.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

A year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, scenes of destruction and carnage still shock the world.

But for Port Coquitlam resident James Morris, the images of the disaster broadcast on his television hit closer to home.

The 34-year-old father of three grew up in Fukushima, a town ravaged by radiation after a nuclear reactor melted down following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and 30-foot tsunami.

Even after Morris moved to Port Coquitlam when he was 10, he kept up his connection with Japan, visiting his homeland every summer.

Now, he fears for relatives’ safety in Fukushima and wonders if he will ever feel comfortable bringing his wife and kids to a city he calls his second home.

“Now that I am older, I try and get back as much as I can,” he said. “This is the longest gap since I haven’t been back to Japan.”

But Morris has turned his fear into something productive, designing t-shirts he is selling to raise money for the Red Cross relief effort in Japan.

The design shows a sun that has been stitched together after being torn in half. So far, the shirts have been popular and Morris is hoping that with the one-year anniversary since the quake, he can increase sales.

More than 150 have been sold, raising more than $3,000 for the Japanese relief effort. While the money is helpful, Morris believes the shirts are an important way of raising awareness and keeping the tragedy fresh in people’s minds.

“It just makes me feel good and I hope it makes the Japanese people feel good,” he said. “Even if I gave the shirts away, at least it is getting out there and raising awareness.”

• Those who are interested in buying a shirt can go to www.japan311.ca to see the designs. People who are not comfortable buying things on the internet or are looking for more information can email support@japan311.ca.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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