MingPao: May Chiu blasts Bev Oda for the Heritage Department turning down request to help save Joy Kogawa's childhood home

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MingPao:  May Chiu blasts Bev Oda for the Heritage Department turning down request to help save Kogawa House

May Chiu
was the fiesty Chinese Canadian who ran against then Liberal Prime
Minister Paul Martin in the 2005 Federal Election.  May ran for
the Bloc Quebecois, and also on a committment for Chinese Canadian
redress for head tax / Exclusion Act.  She also had a baby 5 days
before the election.  The first polling result had Chiu in the
lead before Martin took over the path to re-election.

Cheuk Kwan is a film-maker and created the wonderful documentary series Chinese Restaurants which I wrote a review about.



Joy Kogawa is the author of Obasan
who wrote fictionalized accounts about the Japanese Canadian
internment, redress and other issues, in her books Obasan, Naomi's
Road, Itsuka / Emily Kato, and The Rain Ascends.  Information and
  donations about the
Save Kogawa House can be sent to The Land Conservancy.



The following article ran in MingPao – a chinese daily newspaper

MingPao March 10, 2006 Friday Page A3

 
May
Chiu blasts Harper saying Oda appointment was a mistake – says Oda is
the wrong candidate to negotiate Head Tax redress compensation
 
MingPao in Ottawa
– The Conservative Heritage Minister Bev Oda has made a decision
refusing 350 thousand dollars in funding to help a human rights and
cultural group to buy up and preserve the former residence of a well
known author of Japanese descent.  The reason given was “the lack of a
suitable item”.  Author Joy Kogawa’s 100 year old house is going to be
torn down at the end of this month.  Oda’s decision has brought attacks
from head tax redress groups from major cities all over
Canada.
 
In the book “Obasan” published in 1981, Kogawa described how 22 thousand Japanese-Canadians in Western Canada were labeled “citizens of an enemy country” and were confined during the 2nd World War and she wrote about the pain of separation of families.
 
In that book, she once again mentioned the former residence built with wood that she and her family had lived in.  
 
Kogawa
and her parents were all locked up in concentration camp.  Japanese
Canadian human rights groups went to the federal govt after the war
demanding apology and compensation.  The Oda family belonged to the
group which opposed redress.
 
Legal
counsel May Chiu representing the Montreal Head Tax Redress Alliance
said: “ Conservative’s Harper “has eyes but failed to see”, in
appointing someone as Heritage Minister who has no respect whatsoever
for the historical contribution made by different ethnic groups within
the country and what these groups did during nation building process in
Canada.  This person does not have a sense of social justice, and is
not a candidate to negotiate the Head Tax redress that we are asking
for. “
 
Cheuk Kwan, long time participant in Head Tax redress efforts in Toronto
pointed out that Oda is against individual compensation.  “Prospects
don’t look good in negotiating with her for an apology and redress”.
 Sid Tan agrees with this view.  Tan is a well known fighter/Head tax
activist in
Vancouver.
He
said:”Oda and her father together both were opposed to the Federal
Conservative Government's offer back in 1988 of an apology and
compensation made to the Japanese Canadians in the entire country.
 That she suggested only an acknowledgement but without individual
compensation comes as no surprise at all to me. “
 
King Wai Tse (editor's note: I think this is William Dere) of the Montreal Head Tax Alliance feels that Oda’s  refusal to acknowledge Kogawa’s contribution to the history of Canada was most unfortunate.”

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