Joy Kogawa signs a book for an event guest at the Ricepaper 10th Anniversary Celebration – photo Meena Wong
Ricepaper 10th Anniversary Celebrations: featuring Joy Kogawa, Scott McIntyre & Gim Wong
Ricepaper staffers greet guests at the door – photo Meena Wong
It was a love-fest as former editors and writers, + many featured
authors and performers + our favourite city councillors and community
organizers, all attended the celebration. The Buzz about the Rice Paper Magazine 10th Anniversary Party,
organized by Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, picked up speed late in
the week. Numbers confirmed on Thursday night practically doubled
by Saturday night, as attendees “borrowed” extra chairs and tables from
the Tinseltown Food Court.
Writers Fiona Lam and
Lydia Kwa sat at a table next to Faye Leung, Vancouver Librarian Ross
Bliss stated “I want to meet writers!” and was quickly introduced to
lots. UBC professor Glenn Deere and wife Faye sat at the Joy
Kogawa table. Writer and Artist Janice Wong, along with Capilano
College instructor and writer Crawford Killian joined friends at Scott
McIntyre's table. Citizenship Court Judge (and former City Councillor)
Sandra Wilking sat nearby Opera singer Grace Chan, and across from
writer SKY Lee. City councillor Ellen Woodsworth chatted with SFU
writer-in-residence Daphne Marlatt. City Councillor Anne Roberts
brought her mother Barbara. Kelly Ip chatted with Lt. Col. Howe
Lee. Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre
producer Joy Lam hung out with CBC writer Charlie Cho, and scripting
partner Grace Chin.
Elwin Xie (ACWW Director) and Joyce Lam (VACT producer) share a smile and long friendship – photo Meena Wong
Joy Kogawa signs a book for one of the many event guests – photo Meena Wong
Whoops of joy were heard as it was announced that Vancouver city
councillor Sam Sullivan had secured his mayoralty bid to represent the
NPA party, as he made a surprise appearance fresh from the NPA
counting. Even COPE city councillors Anne Roberts and Ellen
Woodsworth rushed to give him heartfelt congratulations.
And in the middle of this sat our featured guests: Joy Kogawa, Scott
McIntyre and Gim Wong. Host and ACWW Vice President Don
Montgomery introduced each starting with Kogawa. Joy said that
this year started off with the surprise of having Obasan selected for
the Vancouver Public Library's One Book One Vancouver program, and
described how wonderful the republishing of new versions of Emily Kato
(Itsutka) and Naomi's Road have been plus the delight of seeing Emily's
Road transformed into an opera by the Vancouver Opera.
Joy Kogawa holds
her ACWW Community Builders Award while Todd Wong (ACWW vice-president)
speaks about efforts to save the Kogawa Homestead – Event host Don
Mongomery (ACWW vice-president) looks on – photo Meena Wong
Joy called on me to speak about the developments of the previous 60
hours, as she had learned about the planned demolition of the Kogawa
Homestead and the efforts mobilized to save it. I described the
seemingly impossible contradiction that while this week when Joy is
being celebrated at the Rice Paper Anniversary Dinner, Word On The
Street, Vancouver Public Library and Vancouver Opera… the proposed
demolition represents polar opposites that create a dynamic tension,
giving even greater emphasis on both positive and negative
aspects. But it is because of her being celebrated, that reaction
to the proposed demolition, is even more sharply responded to – witness
the way that the Globe & Mail picked up on the story, that it was
announced and spoken about at the Vancouver Arts Awards by both Mayor
Larry Campbell and city councillor Jim Green. And by the evening,
Scott McIntyre was volunteering his influence and suggestions to help
save the house. “One Million Dollars should be easy to raise,” he told
tells the audience about the pionneering nature of the books by Paul
Yee, SKY Lee and Jim Wong-Chu that he has published – photo Meena Wong
Scott McIntyre was jovial in his speech. He spoke about the
achivements of Douglas McIntyre Publishing, in putting out Salt water
City by Paul Yee, Disappearing Moon Cafe by SKY Lee, and Many Mouthed
Birds edited by by Jim Wong-Chu and Bennett Lee – each the first of
their genres, pioneers in Asian Canadian literature. Then Scott
said, “We haven't done enough.” He talked about the fact that we
are all one family – no longer separated by clan or race
distinctions. Chinese-Canadian literature and Japanese-Canadian
literature is all Canadian literature – We are all the same family, as
he spoke about how his own daughter-in-law is Asian, and they are all
one family. I was so moved by his talk, that at the end of the
evening, I invited him to speak the same words for the 2006 Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner in January. “I'd be delighted,” was his reply.
Gim Wong recalls
the sacrifices he made and the discrimination that he faced by choosing
to enter Canada's armed forces in WW2 – photo Meena Wong
Gim Wong, stood up shakily, his 82 years betraying his youthful heart
and still innocent demeanor. Honest in his gratitude, and
eloquent in his politeness, Gim talked about how proud he is to be a
Canadian, and how he came to enlist and train in the Canadian armed
forces, when nobody wanted Chinese in the army, airforce or navy.
“We couldn't even vote,” he exclaimed. He described his unselfish
attitude, willing to make the supreme sacrifice for the country of his
birth, and how he has continued to sacrifice his time unselfishly to
champion for redress, for the Chinese head tax. “They told me it
couldn't be done,” he said of his motorcyle “Ride for Redress” from
Victoria's Mile 0, to Ottawa and Montreal. His bravado had
revealed itself when he had threatened to ride his Harley up the steps
of Parliament to confront Prime Minister Paul Martin. His son
Jefferey had accompanied him on the ride, and looked after him.
This week, the Georgia Straight's “Best of Vancouver” selected Gim Wong
for the “Gutsiest Ride against Racism.” I had talked with Gim
many times throughout the evening, and knew that he was both humbled
and tired by the evening's celebration. The applause touched him
Great appreciation to all the ACWW directors, Rice Paper staff and
volunteers for putting on such a grand event. Special thanks to
organizers Jim Wong-Chu, Don Montgomery, Michelle Sui, and Jenny Uechi.
BCIT broadcast journalism students covered the Port Coquitlam
“Hometown” Terry Fox Run on Sept 18, attended by 13,000 people.
One of those students was camera person Alex Rawnsley.
Alex and his reporter partner interviewed me in my role as a Terry's
Team Member – cancer survivors who demonstrate that cancer research
does make a difference.
Their story about the Terry Fox Run is the lead story, and part of the interview with me, made the final cut – Yippee!!!
Watch the SHAW tv on Sunday 1:30pm.
My name is Alex Rawnsley, I was the shooter at the Terry Fox Run and also the commentator at the Taiwanese Dragon Boat Festival.
BCIT Magazine will air Sunday at 1.30pm on Shaw TV. It may be
repeated, however I don't know when. The story made the show and is
actually the lead story which is fantastic. Part of your interview made
the final cut.
Thanks for stopping and I hope the rest of the run went well for you
Joy Kogawa creates a presence at the Vancouver Arts Awards...
and she's not even nominated or attending...
I attended the 2005 Vancouver Arts Awards Friday night, and the ripples
of Joy Kogawa were felt throughout the evening.
I spoke to both Councillor Jim Green and Mayor Larry Campbell, and
told them about the demolition for application of the Kogawa homestead.
A house acknowledged with heritage designation. They were both surprised
and concerned, saying "Council had just passed resolution to save the
cherry trees on Tuesday".
I spoke with City Librarian Paul Whitney, and briefly discussed the idea
of creating a purpose for the Kogawa Homestead, as a residence/office
for the Writer in Residence Program for the Vancouver Public Library
- of course we would have to develop this idea, and have the aggreement
of VPL to proceed, which currently we do not. But certainly an idea to
propose the Homestead as a writers' retreat in general has been previously
discussed in the media, and by the Homestead Committee 2 years ago.
(I just love the idea of saying... Obasan was the One Book One Vancouver
book for 2005 - the City of Vancouver loved the book so much - they bought
Mayor Larry Campbell told the audience that council on Tuesday passed
the motion to preserve the cherry trees from the Kogawa Homestead
and that a one year old graft from the tree would be planted at City Hall
in October, in recognition of the the novel Obasan, and the significance
of the Japanese Canadian internments.
Bill Richardson, MC for the evening, told the audience that he talked
with Joy Kogawa earlier this week with regards to One Book One Vancouver
and Naomi's Road opera, and then introduced Ramona Luengen, who
wrote the music for Naomi's Road opera. Ramona is the recipient of the
2004 Emerging Artist Grant from last year's Vancouver Art Awards. The
Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble performed a duet from Naomi's Road.
Councillor Jim Green told the audience, prior to his introducing an award,
that the Kogawa Homestead was in danger. He talked about the significance
of the One Book One Vancouver program, Naomi's Road, and of Obasan...
and the importance of recognizing the Japananese Canadian experience
And a little bird - who said to me "I didn't tell you this" told me that we could
propose to buy the house for $1, and have it moved, off the Marpole property.
The city has property all over town, we could ask to store it there or on a
private lot, until the time is right to do something with the house. Which
could be to find a private or city property to set it up on, or to integrate it
into a city park or other feature.
This latest suggestion is very timely as the City of Vancouver is planning
a park in the Marpole area as a dedication and tribute to the remembrance
of the Japanese-Canadian Internment saga of Vancouver's history. The cherry
tree graft from the Kogawa homestead WILL be planted there. Imagine that
the Kogawa Homestead will be planted there too... What a wonderful home for
a storied house - featured in the books Obasan, and Naomi's Road.
This proposal is so wonderfully simple - it could be a win-win-win situation
for all involved.
1 - The home and property owner gets rid of the house, and builds a new
single home on the property.
2 - The Committe gets to save the home, and create a new role for it for the
Arts community, on a new park complete with cherry trees.
3 - The city of Vancouver, gets to preserve one of its historic and cultural
treasure and pay tribute and rememberance to a historically significant
time of its history.
So an important question is this... what is more important, keeping the house
on the property... or finding a way to have the house safe, but on a different
piece of property where iw would be safer.
Please sign the petition to preserve the Kogawa Homestead.
Click on the white banner - this will forward you to an on-line petition.
Donations can be made in care of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Gim Wong: Gutsiest Ride Against Facism – in the Best of Vancouver
Our Rice Paper Magazine 10th Anniversary Dinner is HOT!
Gim Wong makes this week's Georgia Straight “Best of Vancouver.”
Joy Kogawa was interviewed today by Alexandra Gill for the Globe & Mail
Can we pick'em or what?
Vancouver – Georgia Straight, September 22,
ride against racism
In a city
saturated with bubble-tea houses and conversations in Cantonese, it’s easy to
overlook the fact that this country once employed legislated discrimination
against Asians. But what’s even more surprising is the lack of resolution to
the Chinese head-tax issue. It’s particularly unjust for a country that invited
more than 10,000 Chinese immigrants to help build the Canadian Pacific
railroad, and then, when the project was completed, turned around and slapped a
$50 head tax on all Chinese Canadians. The tax was subsequently raised to $100
in 1900, then $500 in 1903. As if that wasn’t enough, the Chinese Immigration
(Exclusion) Act came into effect from 1923 to 1947. The act restricted the flow
of Chinese immigrants, thereby stifling the growth of Chinese Canadian
communities, fracturing families, and creating economic and emotional hardships.
Chinese Canadian National Council has fought for redress for more than 20 years
and garnered support from the likes of Pierre Burton and United Nations special
rapporteur on racism and xenophobia Doudou Diene. Yet while Japanese Canadians
interned during the Second World War received redress in 1988 and even
Ukrainian Canadians interned during the First World War received theirs on
August 24 of this year, Chinese Canadian head-tax payers, of which only a
handful are still living, remain uncompensated.
83-year-old Vancouverite Gim Wong, a Second World War Air Force veteran and
Canadian-born son of two Chinese head-tax payers. Last year on July 1, Wong did
a trial run on his motorcycle to Craigellachie, B.C. This year, he left Mile 0
at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria in June on a cross-country ride to raise
awareness, promote support, and take a petition asking Ottawa to compensate
Chinese-Canadians for the $23 million collected from head-tax payers by paying
$21,000 to each survivor and by starting a compensation negotiation process for
descendents. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Paul Martin has not responded to
requests from the CCNC to discuss the issue. Nevertheless, the tenacious Wong
did complete his long journey in Montreal on July 5, and will be honoured at
the tenth anniversary party for Asian Canadian magazine Rice Paper here in
Vancouver on September 24.
Kogawa Homestead threatened by Demolition Permit Application- same week as Joy Kogawa is celebrated throughout Vancouver
This week, notice was received that an inquiry for application for demolition was made to Vancouver City Hall by the owner of the Kogawa homestead. It is a house celebrated by the award winning novel Obasan, and the childhood home of famed writer Joy Kogawa, who describes the house in both the novel Obasan and the children's story Naomi's Road.
Kogawa's reaction has been of shock and dispair, as she knew that efforts were being made to save the beloved cherry tree in the back yard which figures prominently in the novel. COPE mayoral candidate Jim Green is a founding member of the “Save the Kogawa Homestead” committee.
This is a weekend when Joy Kogawa is being celebrated all across Vancouver… at the Vancouver Public Library for One Book One Vancouver, at the ACWW Sep 24th dinnner for Rice Paper Magazine's 10th Anniversary Celebration, on Sunday for the Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair, and next week for the Vancouver Opera Premiere for “Naomi's Road.”
A movement to buy the house, and to apply for heritage designation was aborted 2 years ago because of high costs to buy the house and resistance from the new owner to sell. The owner at the time said that she liked the house and did not intend to demolish it.
Now more than ever, it is important to preserve this house for the cultural heritage of Vancouver. There is not another house in Vancouver that is recognized for being confiscated during a dark time in Canada's history.
No other house in Vancouver could be turned into a bright spot on our cultural landscape as a writer's retreat, celebrating the work of a writer which has been called the most influential Canadian novel of the past 20 years. There is no other writer whose work helped fuel the Japanese-Canadian Redress movement, and has also received the Order of Canada.
In May, the Vancouver Public Library selected Obasan as the book chosen for all Vancouverites to read, as part of their award winning “city wide book club.” Earlier this summer, during One Book One Vancouver events Joy Kogawa held up a graft of the cherry tree that held such a revered place in the novel Obasan – studied by so many Canadians in high schools and universities across Canada. Both the novel and the homestead have a proven place in Vancouver’s literary history.
Here's a wonderful evening soiree that everyone will enjoy.
Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop
publishes Rice Paper Magazine, and works hard to promote Asian Canadian
writers and developing writers. I am a vice-president and helped
to found our Community Builder's Dinners.
Joy Kogawa, Scott McIntyre and Gim Wong will be featured guests for
Rice Paper Magazine's 10th Anniversary Celebrations as part of the
continuing Asian Canadian Writer's Workshop Community Builder dinners.
Wild Ginger Restaurant (at Tinseltown)
Lots of good prizes including lots of books +
2 tickets to "Naomi's Road" opera premiere - donated by Vancouver Opera
2 tickets to "Turandot" opera - donated by Vancouver Opera
2 tickets to "Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year Dinner - donated by Todd Wong
"Chow: From China to Canada" - recipes and family stories
- donated by White Caps books
+ lots lots more
of course, is the writer of Obasan – this year's choice for the award
winning One Book One Vancouver program by the Vancouver Public
Library. Her children's novel “Naomi's Road ” has been turned
into a touring opera by Vancouver Opera, and premieres in
October. She is a member of the Order of Canada, as her work
highlighted the internment ordeal faced by Japanese Canadians during
Joy is a wonderful person, very concerned with peace and compassion for
all. Her books have inspired many asian canadian writers, and
gave incredible support to the Redress for Japanese Canadian
Internment camp survivors.
83 years old, rode his motorcycle to Ottawa and Montreal this summer to
draw attention for Chinese Head Tax Redress, and to try to meet with
Prime Minister Paul Martin. While the PM's office did not respond, Gim
did meet with NDP leader Jack Layton, and with Head Tax survivors and
descendents across the country. Last year, Wong rode his motor
bike to Craigalllachie, site of the Last Spike for the Trans-Canada
rail road. Gim has been part of the head tax redress campaign
since its 1983 inception. He is a WW2 vet, enlisting in the
Canadian armed forces when Canadian born citizens of Chinese descent
weren't able to vote in the country of their birth.
Gim is a warm sweetheart of a man. Compassionate about social
issues, and community. He always has a big smile when I see
him. Two years ago he was featured in the National Film Board
movie, “In the Shadow of Gold Mountain,” directed by Karen Cho.
SCOTT McINTYRE, co-found the Douglas & McIntyre
Publishing Group where is he current President and CEO.
Douglas & McIntyre has had a long-standing and continuing
commitment to publishing the voices of Asian Canadian
writers. In 1988, the company published Saltwater City: An
Illustrated History of the Chinese in Vancouver, by Paul Yee
and followed up in 1991 with the first novel by a Chinese
Canadian in English, Disappearing Moon Cafe, by S.K.Y. Lee.
Douglas & McIntyre also published the first anthology of Chinese
-Canadian writing, fiction and poetry titled Many-mouthed Birds:
Contemporary Writing by Chinese Canadians, co-edited Jim
Wong-Chu. This was followed by The Jade Peony, by Wayson
Choy. It was the co-winner (with Margaret Atwood) of the Trillium
Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award. In 2002,
The Jade Peony was chosen as the inaugural title for the Vancouver
Public Library's "One Book, One Vancouver" reading program.
To get tickets - call me at 604-987-7124 or e-mail me at gunghaggis
or drop by the Rice Paper Magazine office or the ExplorAsian office.
For more information check www.asiancanadianwritersworkshop.com