Joy Kogawa was a featured reader at the Japanese Canadian cultural fair
at the Vancouver Public Library on Saturday, August 6th – which also
marked the 60th Anniversary of Hiroshima.
We had a lovely quick catch up chat, and Joy shared with me her concern
about the Japanese Chinese national tensions and wondered what we could
do. We reply is to emphasize that we are Canadians first while we
embrace and recognize our Japanese or Chinese heritage. Many of
my friends are of mixed Chinese and Japanese heritage – and we all
emphasize being Canadian or American. Maybe it's time for an
anthology of Asian Canadian writing exploring the similar experiences
and issues of Japanese Canadian and Chinese Canadian writers.
Along the peace theme…. Joy introduced me to her friend Ellen Hayakawa
who is a real peace advocate. She has come to my Church groups to
speak about her mission, and a few years ago organized a peace forum
and conference in Vancouver.
There were many displays from the Japanese Canadian Heritage Museum, a
demonstration of Ikebana, volunteers from Japanese volunteer society
Tonari-Gumi, Vancouver Opera had a display for their upcoming
production of Naomi's Road….
But what really caught my attention was a display by Jeff Chiba Stearns,
who has created a short animated feature called “What Are You
Anyways?” This is so cool! Jeff explores his cultural
backgrounds growing up a mix of Japanese and Caucasion in a small
white-bred Canadian city (Kelowna). Jeff created the character
“Super Nip” to deal with the racism he experienced growing up, and has
an epic showdown against the monster truck drivin' redneck crew.
Included is his discovery of his girlfriend who is also half-Japanese,
as they embrace their Hapa-ness hapiness.
“What Are You Anyways” will be shown on CBC TV August 12th, Friday, 7pm.
It was a real pleasure to meet both Jeff and his real-life girlfriend
Jenni Kato. They were both excited to hear about my experience of the
Gung Haggis Fat Choy CBC TV performance special. Hopefully we can
have them as guests/presenters for the next GHFC dinner in 2006.
Michael Tora Spier is a visual artist with a grand vision. He
created “Hapa Board” – a gigantic skate board that features pull-out
boxes with address different aspects of being Hapa. Hapa being…
the Hawaiian word for mixed race. Michael believes that we are
ALL Hapa in some form or another, and invited me to make a Gung Haggis
Fat Choy contribution to the Hapa Board. Definitely exciting and
eye-catching, Hapa Board got lots of attention from passer bys,
especially children, and a wedding party!
Pictures to follow soon!