Two cities separated by land and sea have joined in on an official friendship agreement.
The cities of Regina, Saskatchewan and Fujioka, Japan signed the agreement after 27 years of having a successful educational exchange program between the two municipalities.
A formal ceremony took place early Saturday afternoon at Hotel Saskatchewan where Regina mayor Michael Fougere and Fujioka mayor Masahiro Arai put pen to paper to make the partnership official, a first for the Queen City.
Speeches delivered by the mayors and officials were accompanied by a couple songs from the Regina Habiki Taiko drumming group, along with a video that was played showing a drum performance from Japan.
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Mayor Arai and other dignitaries from Fujioka travelled to the Queen City for the event. They are spending three days in the provincial capital to meet citizens and take in tours and experiences.
Fougere explained how it’s a chance to strengthen and promote aspects of both cities while creating potential opportunities for the future.
“I thought it was time that we sort of formalized it and talked about what we can do in the future to bind us even more,” he said. “Given a lot of changes in the world, it could be economic trade that we talk about or engineering exchanges, for example.”
Strength was a topic that surrounded many of the speeches on Saturday. Fougere said their longstanding relationship with the Fujioka from the exchange program has been growing the connection between the cities for many years, and it was a driving force to propose the friendship agreement.
The agreement does not include formal protocols or mandatory travel or spending. These items are often involved in other types of agreements such as twinning agreements.
However this bond between Regina and Fujioka will allow officials to share information, knowledge and other ideas in areas such as recreation, arts, infrastructure and cultural activities.
Regina’s mayor discussed how there’s many ways the cities could exchange ideas when it comes to infrastructure.
“It’s about how do you build a city or a community, what are the streets like, how do they deal with traffic, a whole bunch of issues that we can learn from and they can learn from us too.”
Masahiro Arai was thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this historic day when speaking to the audience on hand for the ceremony. He even went as far as to say he’s glad to be in the best city in Canada, which followed with a loud applause from those attending.
Fujioka has about the same population as Medicine Hat, Alberta.