From: Priscilla Galloway
To: Jim Green ;
Cc: ; Joy Kogawa ; Margaret Steffler ; The Writers' Union of Canada
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2003 12:31 AM
Subject: Kogawa home in Marpole

Councillor Jim Green
Vancouver City Hall
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C.
V5Y 1V4
Dear Jim Green:

I strongly support the action urged by Professor Margaret Steffler of Trent University and others: that you and the city of Vancouver act quickly and decisively to purchase and preserve the Marpole area home lived in by Joy Kogawa, the author of Obasan, and her family prior to their internment during World War II.

Joy worked with her brother Tim Nakayama for the memoir she wrote for my book, Too Young to Fight: Memories from our Youth During World War II. I hope you'll read her chapter (the book, a world-wide prize-winner in 2000, is easy to obtain); however, I'd also like to quote a brief section from Joy Kogawa's part of it:

. . . We were living in our comfortable house in a pleasant area of Vancouver called Marpole, between Granville and Oak on 64th Avenue, not far from David Lloyd George School. . . .

Our life in Marpole Vancouver before World War II was an ordinary Canadian story. We played hide-and-seek with the Steeves boys next door, we ran down to the corner store to buy a loaf of bread for a nickel, we attended the Gospel Hall nearby as well as our Anglican Church of the Ascension, a streetcar ride away in Kitsilano. But after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, life for Canadians of Japanese descent was never the same again.

The day before Pearl Harbor was Saturday, December 6, 1941. Tim was visiting a classmate's home that morning with a couple of friends and the father gave each boy some milk in the kitchen. Then on Monday morning, December 8, he was coming into the soccer field at the corner of the schoolyard, and his classmate came over to him and sneered, "You dirty yellow Jap." It stopped him cold. Tiny Tim, finally healthy enough to play soccer, 'got it' immediately and felt sick in the pit of his stomach. Friendship on Saturday and a dirty yellow Jap on Monday. And in between was Sunday, December 7. Pearl Harbor.
Everything was still the same for Tim that Sunday before we got to church in Kitsilano - our beautiful church with the smooth light oak everywhere. People loved the place. We'd built it completely on our own without a penny of outside help. That church at Third and Pine, our other church on Cordova further downtown, our house in Marpole, the hospital, stores, rooming houses, farms, fishing villages - all our visible heritage disappeared forever in the bureaucratic whirlwind that followed Pearl Harbor.

The precious church was seized, sold and eventually demolished, with no compensation to the community that had built and owned it. When so much injustice happened, it would be a powerful and very appropriate symbolic action, a healing action, to preserve the Kogawa home and eventually, as suggested, to open it to the public as a memorial or museum, and/or as a writers' retreat.

Many Canadians would applaud the politicians of the city of Vancouver for purchasing and preserving the Kogawa home. I hope you will further demonstrate the vision that has made Vancouver such an exciting city, and will add this site to your many attractions.

(Dr.) Priscilla Galloway

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