20 Reasons to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home from impending demolition.
The house is on 64th Avenue in Vancouver, just East of Granville St. The family was removed from the house in February 1942 due to the War Measures Act. “National security” was the reason given for the internment of Japanese-Canadians, and the government of Canada sold their property and possessions without the owner’s permission.
Joy Kogawa is a novelist born and raised in Vancouver that has received the Order of Canada in 1986. Obasan is widely considered to be one of Canada’s most important and influential works ever created.
I present to you 20 reasons for saving the childhood home of one of Canada’s most influential writers.
1. “The destruction of the Kogawa Home would be a great loss of cultural heritage for Vancouver, for British Columbia, and for Canada. Although Canada scored high on the recent all-nations report card, it scored low on culture, history and heritage. Why destroy more of this precious asset?” – Margaret Atwood, Oct 13, 2005.
2. “Obasan, a novel that I believe is the most important literary work of the past 30 years for understanding Canadian history.” – Roy Miki – SFU University Professor and 2003 Governor General’s Award Winner for Poetry.
3. The only literary landmark in Vancouver, named for a Canadian author is the Pauline Johnson memorial in Stanley Park according to BC Bookworld publisher Alan Twigg. Johnson died in 1913.
4. Joy named Order of Canada in 1986
5. Vancouver born and raised author, up until age 5 – when the family was removed by the Canadian Government and put Japanese-Canadian families in internment camps during WW2.
6. Kogawa House is one of the few houses left in in Vancouver, that is identified as having been confiscated by the Canadian Government and sold without permission by the owners. It is the only such house with cultural and literary value, because of Kogawa’s literary works.
7. Kogawa House would be considered Heritage classification A, because of its cultural value. This is a new heritage designation in the city of Vancouver.
8. Writing and literary associations across Canada are joining in support of Kogawa House. This includes: Canadian Authors Association, Writers Union of Canada, BC Federation of Writers, Asian Canadian Writers Workshop
9. Obasan is studied in universities and colleges – It is this important that literary critiques about the book itself are published.
10. Vancouver Opera commissioned a touring production of “Naomi’s Road” – that premiered September 30, 2005, with composer Ramona Leungen and librettist Ann Hodges.
11. New edition of Naomi’s Road is re-published and expanded in May 2005. This followed the translation and expanding of the story in Japanese.
12. Movement to save the Kogawa Homestead is nationl. http://kogawa.homestead.com/
13. Book is historically relevant as it helped to support the Japanese redress movement, with redress resulting in 1988.
14. Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop awarded Joy Kogawa on September 24th.005 with the ACWW Community Builder’s Award.
15. Obasan was named 11th most influential novel by Quill & Quire.
16. Obasan was the 2005 choice for One Book One Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library’s award winning program that encourages everybody to read the same book, and makes the book come alive with programming.
17. People are already making pilgrimages to Kogawa House… just like Anne of Green Gables cottage in P.E.I.
18. Vancouver City Council voted to plant a cherry tree graft from Kogawa House on City Hall grounds – planting will take place on November 1st, 2005 designated “Obasan Cherry Tree Day.”
19. “Reparations to Japanese-Canadians was an important action in an attempt to undo some of the grevious wrong that Canadians had carried out against a fellow group of citizens. As important as reparations were, however, there is a need for a more permanent symbol of the regret that all Canadians feel and share over denying a group of fellow Canadians their civil rights. The Kogawa House would magnificently represent that symbol.”
– Richard Hopkins, Professor, University of British Columbia.
20. Because it is just the “Right Thing” to do….