I visited the Kogawa Homestead site on 64th Avenue tonight…
There are the tell tale signs that plans for development are
planned. There are paint markings on the sidewalk and street
marked “W” and “S”- I assume for Water and Sewer.
The house is quaint looking with a white picket fence on 64th
Ave. There are houses next to it and across the street that
are new. I am surprised that this little house is still standing,
when the many of the same era houses have long since been bulldozed in
favor of newer houses.
But, an application for demolition is expected soon. An inquiry
by an architectural firm to City Hall was made two weeks ago, prompting
the revitalization of the “Save the Kogawa Homestead” committee.
This simple house, is the only “publicly known” house that was
confiscated by the Canadian Government during WW2, after Canadian born
citizens of Japanese descent were sent to internment camps as “enemy
aliens.” Last week, I talked with Reiko at the Japanese Canadian National Museum,
and she said this was the only house that is identifed with known
cultural value. There are many houses that were confiscated and
sold at cheap prices as the “owners” were not expected to return.
But this house is special. Joy Kogawa wrote about it in her novel
Obasan, and subsequent children's version Naomi's Road. She
left the house at age 6, to be re-located at a camp in Slocan BC.
And forever after, the house represented a time of happiness, and the
best home she lived in, as the family was forced to live in chicken
coops, shacks, and other housing. Joy became an active part of
the Redress for Japanese-Canadian Internees. She recieved the
Order of Canada.
Obasan became one of the most celebrated Canadian novels, and was
ranked the 11th most influential Canadian novel by Quill and
Quire. Roy Miki calls it the most significant Canadian novel of
the last 20 years. The Vancouver Opera, commissioned a opera
based on Naomi's Road. Obasan was chosen as the 2005 selection
for Vancouver Public Library's award winning One Book One Vancouver