CANN Founders:

David Anitok
Lyoid Henion
Kianna Angelo
Jesper Angelo
Chris Ogo
Joe Enlet

Compact of Free Association

“COFA” is an acronym for Compact of Free Association, a reciprocal treaty established between The Republic of Palau (ROP), The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the United States (US). The treaty took effect in the 1980’s and allows the United States to operate armed forces in our states, demand land for operating military bases, and grant or withhold permission to other countries’ militaries to operate on our lands. 

It also created a unique immigration status for people from COFA nations: we can travel to, live, and work in the United States without visas or green cards. While the Marshallese and Palauan citizens may possess dual citizenships with the United States, FSM citizens cannot.

Many of us proudly serve in the United States military, and do so at a higher rate per capita than Americans. And originally, the treaty allowed those of us who were income-eligible to access federal assistance programs such as Medicaid. Yet, 1996 federal welfare reform law deemed us ineligible for Medicaid and federal assistance programs, creating waves of barriers to health and opportunity.

History of CANN

CANN was formed in 2014 by Chris OgoKianna and Jesper AngeloLoyd Henion, and David Anitok, to meet the need to put a spotlight the social and economic injustices that were being borne by the people of the three Pacific Island countries living in the United States.

All founders had all been associated, in one way or another, with existing organizations that were representing Asian and Pacific Islanders living in Oregon, but none of these were specifically organized around COFA.

Earlier, in 2013, CANN’s founding members had already begun the work of restoring social and economic justice to Oregon’s COFA residents. The passage of HB 2517 reversed the one year only Driver’s License limit on Oregon’s COFA residents. Enactment of the bill meant that Oregon’s COFA residents could live here more freely, as a vital impediment to everyday life was removed.

The need for to remove the Driver’s License and Health Care inequities for the COFA people was seen to be so urgent that the CANN founders saw that a 501c4 was preferred, as intentional, directed lobbying was needed in order to get reform laws passed. The goal was to concentrate efforts in Oregon before launching a national campaign.

As a new organization, CANN understood that it was critical to work in unity with the other well-established organizations serving the Asian and Pacific Islanders. Working together with other organizations CANN was successful in garnering passage of the HB 4071 in 2016 (COFA Premium Healthcare Assistance program).

CANN is proud to co-sponsor the “Ultimate Sacrifice: Advocating for Health Justice for COFA Residents”.  The video highlights the history and current health impact of a nuclear legacy in the Marshall Islands, much of Micronesia and the Pacific Islands.  These stories share insights into the collective struggles of all the Pacific Island communities experiencing systemic inequities resulting in generational health disparities.We honor and express our heartfelt appreciation to Erine Peter-Jitiam, Dr. Sheldon Riklon, and RMI Consul General Eldon Alik for sharing their stories.  Special thanks to David Anitok, CANN’s Co-founder &Community Organizer, Lilly Adams, Consultant for Union of Concerned Scientists, and Brian Cowden, Director & Founder of Cross Roads 2020 film for making sure that this work elevates the voices of our the communities.  Additional “Thank You” to Dr. Holly Barker, Dr. Barbara Johnson, Ambassador Gerald Zackios, and most importantly the Enewetak community in the Big Islands.