Two Nations, Two Leaders, Two Kanekos

L to R: Wellness Center Directors Kristin and Tanner Smith, Canvasback Executive Vice President Jacque Spence, and Minister of Health Kalani Kaneko.

L to R: Wellness Center Directors Kristin and Tanner Smith, Canvasback Executive Vice President Jacque Spence, and Minister of Health Kalani Kaneko.

We work side by side with the Marshall Islands Ministry of Health. This is key to coordinating our surgery teams, health and wellness work, and other upcoming programs. Naturally, our Executive Vice President Jacque Spence met with the nation's new Minister of Health, Kalani Kaneko, on Majuro in March.

Minister Kaneko was recently featured in a glowing front-page article of the Marshall Islands Journal. He has decades of experience in the US military, and he brings that attention to detail, timeliness, and order to the Ministry of Health and hospitals. We're excited to work with him.

Minister Kaneko's brother, Junior, lives a couple thousand miles away in Sacramento, California—not too far from Canvasback's Benicia office. Like his brother, he's a natural leader. In fact, he's the Sacramento Marshallese Community President, in charge of organizing large group celebrations and caring for the people.

Only weeks after meeting Minister Kalani Kaneko, Spence met with Junior Kaneko at the Sacramento Marshallese community's Ebon Liberation Day celebration. There, he hosted and fed us well, in true Marshallese fashion.

These islands are quite far away, but the Marshallese community remains tight. If you're Marshallese, your family remains family, and your culture travels with you. Connections like these are common. You get to know people. You feel the same familiarity in a park in Sacramento as at the beach on Majuro.

The Kaneko brothers are one of many bridges linking Sacramento with the Marshalls. They are a good example of the ties that bind, of the family and community connections that breach borders and create a firm sense of unity across the empty ocean dividing them.

We are blessed to work with the smaller nations of Micronesia, especially since they value family and caring for their neighbors. We look forward to fostering a new relationship with our Sacramento neighbors, even as we continue an old one with the Marshall Islands.

L to R: Sacramento Community President Junior Kaneko, Jacque Spence, and Junior's wife Kina Domnic.

L to R: Sacramento Community President Junior Kaneko, Jacque Spence, and Junior's wife Kina Domnic.