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.