National Association of Japanese Canadians calls for community support for Kogawa House

National Association of Japanese Canadians calls for community support for Kogawa House


For Immediate Release


Winnipeg, MB  March  27, 2006: 

Joy Kogawa in one of her visits to Vancouver, recently `found’ her childhood home, which out of memory had been recorded in some detail in her books.  She had forgotten the address, but discovered it to be at 1450 West 64th Avenue, in the Marpole district of Vancouver.  Not only the house, but the cherry tree which she used to climb and hug as a child was still there, symbolically surviving the harsh wear and tear of life and times.  

This is the place Joy Kogawa had spent the first six years of her life when, in 1942, she, together with her family, and all Japanese Canadians in the West Coast of British Columbia, were relocated to internment sites in the interior of British Columbia. Like other homes owned by Japanese Canadians, the Government of Canada confiscated it and auctioned it off in their absence.  This is the place she returned to in her imagination and memories to write the book, Obasan, to record the events.
Today the Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC), in response to Joy’s plea to save the house, is spearheading a campaign to raise funds to buy it and to convert the heritage property into a writers-in-residence retreat.  There have been various public awareness and fundraising events held to date, and a sum close to $200,000 has been raised.  The total purchase price is $700,000.

Canada’s leading writers’ organizations are appealing to the federal government for an emergency grant of $350,000 (matching funds) to save the historic Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver.  Letters of support have been received from MPs from both the Liberal party and the NDP.  Ujjahl Dosanjh, PC, QC, MP, Vancouver South, has written to the Hon. Bev Oda, PC, MP, Department of Canadian Heritage, to support this request.

There is now great urgency to the fundraising and to achieving its goal. We believe the NAJC membership and Japanese Canadian communities, in particular, should be made aware of this important project so that they may have the opportunity to join with others to bring this project to a successful conclusion.  

Japanese Canadian community members have been very proud of the author, Joy Kogawa, and benefited largely from the book, Obasan, which poignantly relates `our’ story, studied by students internationally.  We are now celebrating with her the release by Penguin of her new book, Emily Kato, a re-writing of Itsuka.  Joy decided that Itsuka was not quite good enough, to be placed alongside Obasan, and chose to re-write it.  The Joy Kogawa House will be a place where such writings and re-writings by young and renowned writers may occur, and may be celebrated.   

We urge you to send in your donation, large or small.  Donations may be made online on the TLC's website
or by sending a cheque, payable to “The Land Conservancy”,
to The Land Conservancy, 5655 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5E 2T2
or by telephoning 604-733 2313.  Charitable receipts will be issued.

Thank you for your support.  .For further information, you may contact any of the following list of supporters.  

Save Joy Kogawa House Committee  
Anton Wagner, Secretary; (416) 863-1209; fax: 416-863-9973
201 Sherbourne St., Suite 2306, Toronto, ON M5A 3X2
Ann-Marie Metten, 604-263-6586
Todd Wong, 604-987-7124

The Land Conservancy of BC
Bill Turner, Executive Director; 250-479 8053; fax: 250-744 2251
Heather Skydt (604) 733-2313; fax: 604-299 5054
5655 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5E 2T2

National Association of Japanese Canadians
Claudia Earl, National Administrator

The Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival
Hal Wake, Artistic Director

The Writers Union of Canada
Brian Brett, Chair
Deborah Windsor, Executive Director

The Federation of BC Writers
Brian Busby, President
Fernanda Viveiros, Executive Director

The Playwrights Guild of Canada
Amela Simic, Executive Director

The League of Canadian Poets
Mary Ellen Csamer, President; maryellen.
Joanna Poblocka, Executive Director;

PEN Canada
Constance Rooke, President
Isobel Harry, Executive Director

The Writers’ Trust of Canada
Don Oravec, Executive Director

The Canadian Authors Association
Joan Eyolfson Cadham, National President
Bernice Lever, BC Regional Vice-President

The Professional Writers Association of Canada
Gordon Graham, President

The Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture
Heather Redfern, Executive Director

The Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers
Gillian Chan, President
Lena Coakley, CANSCAIP National Office

Asian Canadian Writers Workshop
Don Montgomery, President
Jim Wong-Chu, Executive Director

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