Joy Kogawa attends AGM for Historic Joy Kogawa House Society.

CIMG0189 April 2008 – Joy Kogawa holds the Globe & Mail Story about the revealing of the $500,000 anonymous donor who helped save her childhood home from demolition, to become a literary and historic landmark and a writers-in-residence program – photo Todd Wong

It's always a special feeling walking into the Joy Kogawa House.  This is the house that a six year old future Order of Canada recipient was forced to leave when Japanese Canadians were interned during WW2.  This is the house that was saved from demolition when a dedicated few led a rally by thousands of supporters across Canada.

The first Annual General Meeting was held for the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society on Dec 11th, 2009.  It was a special meeting because writers Hiromi Goto and Caroline Addison were there to give their insight and share their experiences as the Writers in Residence for the Vancouver Public Library for 2007 and 2009.

It was more special because author Joy Kogawa was present, having just flown in from Toronto to spend time with family.

Executive director Ann-Marie Metten had brilliantly organized the evening, and it had a strong exciting buzz as wine and gourmet snacks were served.  Books by Kogawa, Goto and Addison were for sale.  Board members and guests mingled with authors and the representatives from The Land Conservancy of BC, the owners of the house.

The evening unfolded with a good in depth descriptions of what it was like to be a writer in residence for the Vancouver Public Library.  Hiromi Goto and Caroline Addison freely shared their experiences and their expectations as the Historic Joy Kogawa House now prepares for their first writer in residence program to be created with author Madeleine Thien, author of Simple Recipes and Certainty.  It is somehow fitting that it is Madeleine who is the first WIR author, as she returns to the city where she not only lived before and wrote about, but also the city where the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop first granted her the ACWW Emerging Writer's Award that was shopped to publishers and became the award winning “Simple Recipes” short story collection.  Currently I am president of Joy Kogawa House, and co-president of Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.

During the AGM part of the evening, Ann-Marie Metten gave an update of the grants applied for and recieved and how the WIR program will unfold with Madeleine. 

The Land Conservancy of BC was proud to report that Historic Joy Kogawa House has recieved a Heritage B category from the City of Vancouver, and we can now proceed with the next steps for re-zoning and re-conditioning the house.  We hope to restore the house to what it was like when the 6 year old Joy Kogawa, her 10 year old brother Timothy and their parents were living in the house before they were sent to the BC interior to spend the next 10 year living in delapidated buildings and beet farms.

I gave a President's report that recapped events in 2008 that involved Joy Kogawa in BC, and events at Joy Kogawa House.
Here is my report:

On Feb 3rd,
Sharon Butala attended the Vancouver opera production “Voices of the Pacific Rim” with members of the Joy Kogawa House Society, and was introduced to some of the singers who had performed  the Naomi's Road opera, based on the children's novel by Joy Kogawa

Sunday Feb 24
Author Sharon Butala mesmerized the packed audience at historic Joy Kogawa House on Friday night.  The Order of Canada author talked how she helped established a writer in residence program at Wallace Stegner's childhood home in Eastend, Saskatchewan.

March 2008 – Royal BC Museum
Joy Kogawa is guest of “THE PARTY”: 150 of BC’s most interesting people


 “The Party” exhibit with some of BC's “fascinating” citizens including: (front row) founding governor James Douglas, Betty Krawcyk, Joy Kogawa, Karen Magnusson, Herb Doman; (second row): Vikram Vij, Cindy Lee, Gordon Campbell, Gordon Shrum. – photo Todd Wong

April 10 Vancouver Kids Books reading and Naomi’s Tree book launch
It was a good event for the launch of  Naomi's Tree.  So good that all the books that had been delivered in advance to Kidsbooks sold out.  When Joy performed her reading, she told the audience of children and adults that she had fallen in love with a tree.  It was a special “Friendship Tree” – a cherry blossom tree.

April 25th Kogawa House cherry tree planting + recognition of Sen. Nancy Ruth
3pm press conference, introduction of formerly anomnynous $500,000 donor (Sen. Nancy Ruth) + baby cherry tree planting


At 3:40pm, we sat inside the living room of Historic Joy Kogawa House and listened to CBC Radio One's Arts Report by Paul Grant.  Paul had interviewed Sen. Nancy Ruth, Bill Turner and Joy Kogawa for his story on how the house was saved, and how Sen. Nancy Ruth's formerly anonymous gift of $500,000 was important.  In this picture Hon. Iona Campagnolo, Sen. Nancy Ruth and Joy Kogawa.- photo Todd Wong

8pm  Music and Poetry with Joy Kogawa and Friends,
Following the music, Joy was presented with the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award from BC Bookworld Publisher Alan Twigg, Vancouver Public Library Community Programs Director Janice Douglas, and historian Jean Barman.   

Joy Kogawa accepts the award


Alan Twigg speaks of Joy's accomplishments         Joy Kogawa accepts the George Woodcock lifetime achievement award

This morning Joy Kogawa sent this email out to our Historic Joy Kogawa House Society
Dear Friends,
For a day of unalloyed happiness —
I have had many many wonderful days in my life — but this one!  It was the happiest. If ever I've felt at home…. Or felt the love that underlies all…

My friend Heather Pawsey, soprano wrote:
Last night was one of the most beautiful and profound evenings of my musical life.  Heartfelt thanks to everyone behind Kogawa House.  May it continue to rise and spread its wings.

Photo Library - 2900

Where is Joy Kogawa in this picture? 

This is the interactive photo display in front of the Royal BC Museum, in Victoria BC,  for the “Free Spirit” exhibition celebrating the 150th Anniversary of British Columbia. 

Sep 22
Kogawa House cherry tree at Vancouver city hall is given a plaque on the 20th anniversary of the Japanese-Canadian redress.
“Friendship Tree” plaque at Vancouver City Hall for the “Kogawa House cherry tree” graft – photo
Ann-Marie Metten.

One thought on “Joy Kogawa attends AGM for Historic Joy Kogawa House Society.

  1. Anonymous

    A short message from Montreal:
    I would like to thank Dr Asfour who introduces me to Joy Kogawa’s books in one of his recent readings in Montreal. I had no knowledge of this writer and the story of the internment of the Japanese in Canada during the Second World War. I found it very hard to read Naomie’s tree after I started reading it in the book shop. I had to stop and could not control my tears. I tried to continue reading it in the métro, but again, I had to stop and did not want to attract attention to my plight. Now, I am Reading Obasan and I am very touched by the emotions and the ideas in that novel.
    A while ago, as I was teaching French to two young girls newly arrived in Quebec, I started telling them Peter and the wolf’s story with my flute and my clarinet, but they were not interested. I tried again to tell them the story of the cat in the hat from Dr Seuss, but, they were not listening. One day, the older girl saw Obasan in my bag and asked me to read the story, I said to her that I have Naomie’s tree at home and I will tell them the story of that little girl. I had all their attention while reading the story and I could see the connection they made with the girl in the story. They asked me many questions and love the picture specially the house of Joy Kogawa. I told them that story is a real one and Naomie is Joy Kogawa herself. She changed the name of the character and called her Naomie. The older of the two girls started to write a story and called the character Cinderella. After reading that story, I think she knows how to tell her own story of exile which is really dramatic.
    Thank you again to Dr Asfour for introducing me to stories like that of Joy Kogawa’. And thank you to Joy Kogawa herself who is a fine writer and who told us a story that others did not want to be told.
    Truly touched
    Lucie Quevillon


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