Writing Associations across Canada support preservation of Kogawa House

Writing associations across Canada support preservation of Kogawa House


The Save Kogawa
House Committee believes it can preserve that heritage by purchasing
the property from its current owner and converting the home into a
writers-in-residence centre. Ten writers associations representing
several thousand writers have endorsed our proposal and would select
members from their organizations to reside in the house for a period of
approximately one month each.

This is their vision of the house as well:

Brian Brett, Chair of the Writers Union of Canada:

“The Writers’ Union of Canada, representing over 1,500 professional
writers,  supports the effort to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home
on 1450 West 64th Avenue in Vancouver from demolition, and would like
to encourage its conversion into a major writers centre for Canadian
and international writers.

Vancouver would greatly benefit by designating the Joy Kogawa House as
a literary landmark and establishing it as a writers-in-residence
centre in which Canadian writers and writers from abroad could write
first hand about our complex and evolving multi- and inter-cultural
society and how different values and traditions can peacefully
Brian Busby, President of the Federation of BC Writers:

“The house at 1450 West 64th Avenue which Joy Kogawa and her family
were forced to leave during the relocation of Japanese Canadians is the
central image of her famous novel Obasan, one of Canada’s best-loved
works of fiction. The many groups now coming together to save it
(whether at its present address or at another location) is one of the
strongest yet most diverse such alliances we have ever seen rally round
a cause. The emerging consensus favours employing the house as a new
cultural centre that would highlight the contributions of Vancouver
artists from all backgrounds—not as a shrine but rather as a working
place and as a place for work to be seen. This vision includes having
the facility in operation well before the 2010 Olympic Games.”

Amela Simic, Executive Director of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, representing over 500 members:

“Playwrights Guild of Canada members add their support to the Kogawa
Homestead Committee in their struggle to preserve the house and turn it
into a writers' centre. We think that it would be a grave mistake to
allow the demolition of Joy Kogawa's home, which is an important
landmark for Canadian culture and Canadian history in general. A
vibrant writers' centre would put Vancouver on the map along with other
cultural centres, like Mexico City with its beautiful Casa del Escritor
or Dublin with its Irish Writers' Centre.”

Rosemary Patterson, President of the Vancouver Branch of the Canadian Authors Association:

“The members of the Canadian Authors Association, Vancouver Branch,
would like to add their support to the Joy Kogawa House Committee in
their efforts to prevent the demolition of Joy Kogawa’s former family
home and save it for a writers’ centre as a permanent Olympics benefit
for Vancouver and all of Canada.”

Gordon Graham, President of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada:

“The Periodical Writers Association of Canada was founded in 1976 and
currently represents more than 550 freelance writers across
Canada.  (PWAC) would like to offer its support to the proposal to
develop Joy Kogawa’s home into a writers’ centre.  Writers’
centres and retreats, such as the Pierre Burton House in the Yukon,
have proved to be extremely valuable to writers, which directly
contributes to the further development of Canadian writing. This in
turn reinforces our national cultural resources and hence our ability
to promote ourselves internationally at events such as the Olympics.”

Mary Ellen Csamer, President of the League of Canadian Poets:

“The League of Canadian Poets, representing over 730 professional poets
across Canada, supports the effort to save Joy Kogawa's childhood home
on 1450 West 64th  Avenue in Vancouver from demolition, and would
like to encourage its conversion into a major writers centre for
Canadian and international writers.

Just as Emily Carr’s home in Victoria and Pierre Berton’s in the Yukon
provide a unique sense of the physical space that helped to define
those artists, so this building forms an important part of our
collective cultural imagination. To create a writers’ centre would be
an appropriate and timely action, which would draw national and
international writers to the West Coast for cultural stimulation and
peaceful retreat.”

Constance Rooke, President of PEN Canada:

“PEN Canada supports with immense enthusiasm the idea of turning Kogawa
House into a writers’ centre, and of making this venture a central
piece of legacy of the [Olympic] games. Certainly, we would make
extensive use of this resource. We would use it, for PEN Canada’s
allotted time, to house writers-in-exile, brave men and women who have
fled oppression in their own countries and sought refuge in Canada. We
work very hard to find short-term positions for these writers in
universities and libraries and so on, all across Canada, in order to
help them find their feet in a new country, and accommodation is always
a big part of the challenge we face. You have an opportunity here to do
something of historical importance: a chance to turn threatened
destruction into a very public gesture of preservation, reparation, and
new life.”

Jim Wong-Chu, Executive Director of the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop:

“Joy Kogawa is a pioneer for Asian Canadian literature, and we
recognized her with the 2005 ACWW Community Builders Award. Joy’s works
and legacy brings us closer together as Canadians, learning to overcome
our challenges and diversity. It is important to save Kogawa House as
both a literary and historical landmark. Asian Canadian Writers’
Workshop supports the preservation of Kogawa House, and the creation of
a writing centre.”     

Alma Lee, Founding Artistic Director, and Hal Wake, Incoming Artistic
Director, of the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival:

“We understand the historical and cultural significance of this
house as part of Vancouver’s literary heritage and believe that all
efforts should be made to save it from the wrecker’s ball.”

Sylvia McNicoll, President of the Canadian Society of Children’s
Authors, Illustrators and Performers:

On behalf of the members
of CANSCAIP I would like to offer our recommendation and support that
Joy Kogawa’s house be saved from demolition and be converted to a
writer’s retreat.”

Joan Andersen, Chair of the Vancouver Public Library Board:

VPL was honoured to declare Obasan as this year’s One Book One
Vancouver. The community’s positive response to both the book and Joy
has been most gratifying. Joy has spoken of the importance for her of
her first Vancouver home in public meetings and in the media throughout
the summer. The VPL Board understands the symbolic importance of this
modest house in the history of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada
as well as its significance in Canada’s literary heritage. The
Vancouver Public Library Board supports in principle the campaign to
delay the demolition of the house with the hope of saving it and
converting it to a public use.”

James Wright, General Director, Vancouver Opera:

“Please accept this letter as support in principle from Vancouver Opera
to help exercise a ‘stay of demolition’ of Joy Kogawa’s childhood home
in Vancouver. We were honoured and delighted to receive Joy’s
permission to adapt Naomi’s Road into an opera for young people, which
is currently touring in schools across the province.  In its
premiere four-performance run at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, before
audiences composed mostly of adults, it was a huge hit. We at Vancouver
Opera appreciate the historical and cultural significance of this house
and believe that all efforts should be made to save it from the
wrecker’s ball.”

Tamsin Baker, Lower Mainland Regional Manager of The Land Conservancy:

“TLC would like to express our support towards the efforts to secure
the site and building in perpetuity.  TLC is a provincial land
trust working to protect BC's places of natural and cultural
heritage.  There are many benefits for the community that come
from the conservation and long-term management of important heritage
places. TLC would be willing to possibly provide support to the
community in securing the Kogawa home if the extension to delay the
demolition of the house is granted.”

Henry Kojima, President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians:

“The National Association of Japanese Canadians strongly supports the
retention of the Kogawa House.  The proposed international
writer-in-residence centre in Kogawa House would, indeed, be an
appropriate acknowledgement of our nation’s past, as well as be a
fitting tribute to the importance of Canada’s multi-cultural society
today. We respectfully urge Council to order a temporary protection of
the property for 120 days in order that sources of funding can be
pursued to purchase the home.”

Fred Yada, President of the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre:

“To the Japanese Canadian community and to Canada, Joy's stories have
captured an important aspect of Canadian history, her contribution has
enriched Canadian literature, and she has told a story of many of our
people with dignity and grace. Most importantly, through her, Canadians
have gained awareness and
appreciation for harmony, acceptance, understanding and cultural
exchange. We believe that her work, and that a centre dedicated for
writing, will be a legacy for all Canadians, today and for the future.”

The Save Kogawa
House Committee thanks the current owner of the 1450 West 64th Avenue
property for giving us the opportunity to mobilize this extensive local
and Canada-wide support to raise the funds and purchase the house as a
writers centre.

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