Vancouver Sun: Tribute like coming home, Kogawa says
(at Canadian Club “Order of Canada” luncheon)
Vancouver writer and poet Joy Kogawa told the Canadian Club
Wednesday she felt she had “come home” when the City of Vancouver chose
her book Obasan as the city's official book.
At the beginning of the Second World War Kogawa was removed from her Vancouver home to a Japanese internment camp in Slocan.
Addressing her remarks to the many students in the audience, Kogawa
said many children grow up feeling they don't belong in Canadian
“Some of us feel we don't belong and we're not as good as the rest
and it's a bit tough when you grow up feeling there is no home for
you,” she said.
“What I was so happy about Obasan being chosen for the one book for
this city was the tremendous sense of welcome from the city from which
I was exiled as a child. I have come home to my home,” she said.
Kogawa lived in a house at 1450 West 64th, and a national campaign
has been launched to raise $1.25 million to buy the property and save
the home from demolition.
The Land Conservancy, which is spearheading the campaign has until
March 30 to raise enough money to save the Kogawa house, pay for
restoration, and establish an endowment so that the house can be used
for a national writers-in-residence program.
Kogawa spoke of the sense of alienation she has experienced even in
1986 on the day she received her Order of Canada when another recipient
waiting with her to receive the award told her that he'd “been to your
She said: “I've been to yours too, I was born in it.”
“Perhaps things are different today. In the urban centres we're used
to seeing people of all kinds and cultures and we accept one another
more or less. But if you go into the countryside it might be
different,” she said.
Kogawa said she was in a small town when her son struck up a conversation with someone he met, and introduced her.
“Oh, does she speak English?” she said he was asked.
She told students that the time would come in their lives when they
would know suffering but to trust in their inner light to get through
it. “If you trust that light you are at peace and that passes all
understanding,” she said.
ORDER OF CANADA:
A luncheon Wednesday, with guest speaker Joy Kogawa, honoured recent B.C. appointments to the Order of Canada.