From Gloria Sawai
(Governor General's Award, English Fiction, 2002)
What an extraordinary gift it would be to the people of Canada and to
visitors from around the world, to have the house that Joy Kogawa lived in
before her family was sent to the camps in World War II restored as an
historic site. School children could visit this site and learn more about
our country's history and the dark side of that history. Adults, too, who
may have forgotten what happened to the Japanese Canadians at this time, could hear the story again and be reminded of how vulnerable our freedom is, how easily
it can be taken away, how carefully, how tenaciously we need to care for it.
And all of us, including foreign visitors, could see first hand one of the
great strengths of our democracy -- in the fearless witness to the truth,
however dark that truth may be.
The house could also be used in a very practical way as a working place for
writers, a place where readings could be held, and workshops, where space
might be made available for writers to concentrate on a piece of work. This
would be particularly appropriate since Joy Kogawa herself, who was sent
away with her family, became a writer of the highest order in Canada, a
writer whose famous OBASAN is studied in high schools and universities
throughout the land and, in fact, around the world.
As a writer myself, I see the possibility of renewal and hope in
such a use for this house. And I vigorously support the efforts to preserve it.