The National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) has been advised that Joy Kogawa’s former home in Vancouver is in danger of losing its cultural and heritage significance unless the Vancouver City Council lists it as an “A” heritage designated building. We understand that repairs and changes to the house have been started by the new owners and that it is critical that action be taken immediately on this matter.
The NAJC represents fourteen member organizations across the country and successfully negotiated a redress settlement in 1988 for Japanese Canadians who suffered injustices during and after the Second World War. More than 21,000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry were stripped of the rights and labeled enemy aliens in their own country. Those who were affected lost their businesses and homes, were forcibly relocated and sent to internment camps in the interior of British Columbia. Racism was the motivating factor behind the actions taken by Governments.
The Kogawa homestead represents this important part of Canadian history. In her novel Obasan, Joy writes about her childhood memories in this house. She and her family were one of the Japanese Canadian families that were forcibly removed from their home. The house may be one of only a few that has survived intact, and represents an important chapter in Canadian history that must be preserved for future generations to learn from the experience, so it never happens again.
We urge you, the Vancouver City Council, to take immediate action to ensure that his house is preserved as a historic site for all Canadians.