20th Anniversary of Japanese-Canadian redress: “Friendship Tree” plaque installed at Vancouver City Hall for the “Kogawa House cherry tree graft”

Kogawa House cherry tree at Vancouver city hall is given a plaque on the 20th anniversary of the Japanese-Canadian redress.

Cellphone photo of plaque in place at Vancouver City Hall, Sunday, September 21, 2008

“Friendship Tree” plaque at Vancouver City Hall for the “Kogawa House cherry tree” graft – photo Ann-Marie Metten.

Sixty-six years ago, in 1942, Japanese-Canadians were “evacuated” from Canada's Pacific coast and sent to internment camps for the duration of WW2.

in 1981, Joy Kogawa wrote her first novel Obasan, the first novel to address the issue of the Japanese-Canadian internment.  Joy Kogawa would receive the Order of Canada in 1986 for her literary acheivement, what Roy Miki called
“a novel that I believe is the most important literary work of the past 30 years for understanding Canadian history.”

2005 was a busy year for Joy Kogawa.  Obasan was the “One Book One Vancouver” selection for the Vancouver Public Library.  “Naomi's Road”, a mini-opera based on her children's novel debuted by the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble.   And the childhood home of Joy Kogawa, which she had always hoped her family could return to after the war, was threatened with demolition.

And on November 1st,at Vancouver City Hall, there was the Joy Kogawa Cherry Tree Planting”.
Then city councilor Jim Green accompanied Joy Kogawa in turning the sod.  Jim had helped Joy take the original grafts from the tree a year before.  They were accompanied by Vancouver chief librarian Paul Whitney, and Vancouver Opera managing director James Wright.

On November 3rd, a presentation was made to Vancouver City Council to do whatever they could to stop or delay the proposed demolition of Joy Kogawa's childhood home.  An unprecedented motion was passed to delay the processing of the demolition permit by 3 months.  read
Kogawa House: Vancouver Council votes unaminously to create 120 day delay to demolition application


Now there is a plaque to officially recognize and commemorate the significance of this young cherry tree.  It is grafted from the original cherry tree from Joy Kogawa's childhood home.


Joy Kogawa with City Librarian Paul Whitney, Opera Managing Director James Wright, and City Councillor Jim Green – photo Deb Martin

On
November 3rd, a presentation was made to Vancouver City Council to do
whatever they could to stop or delay the proposed demolition of Joy
Kogawa's childhood home.  An unprecedented motion was passed to delay
the processing of the demolition permit by 3 months.  read Kogawa House: Vancouver Council votes unaminously to create 120 day delay to demolition application.

In May of 2006, The Land Conservancy of BC purchased the house at 1450 West 64th Ave, to help preserve the childhood home of author Joy Kogawa.

In April 2008, Joy released a children's picture book titled Naomi's Tree.  It encompasses the stories of the WW2 internment, and also the saving of her childhood home, while reflecting on the friendship of a young child and cherry try as they both age and meet again.  This book tells the story of the “Friendship Tree,”  Joy Kogawa reads “Naomi's Tree” at Vancouver Kidsbooks for the Vancouver book launch.

It seems very fitting that a plaque at Vancouver City Hall be placed at the baby cherry tree on the 20th anniversary of the Japanese-Canadian redress settlement.

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