Vancouver Delays Decision on Kogawa House Heritage Designation

City backtracks on inheritance application after abuse survivors come forward


The City of Vancouver has shelved plans to hear an application for heritage status for the Joy Kogawa House on West 64th Avenue after members of the Japanese Canadian community raised concerns that proper consultation had not taken place.

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The city confirmed today that the hearing had been postponed.

“It was withdrawn to further review the report and associated documents in order to address the concerns raised by the community and to ensure that the full history of the site and concerns about protecting its heritage as part of the site are fully understood and acknowledged. staff reporting to the Council. the city said in a statement.

Peter Wallace, representative of the Japanese-Canadian Task Force, said the house represents much more than Joy Kogawa’s literary legacy.

Joy Kogawa’s father, Gordon Goichi Nakayama, a former Anglican clergyman, molested some 300 children. According to survivors, Nakayama was actively abusing children while he was living in the Marpole household.

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Peter Wallace, representative of the Japanese-Canadian Task Force, said the house represents much more than Joy Kogawa's literary legacy.
Peter Wallace, representative of the Japanese-Canadian Task Force, said the house represents much more than Joy Kogawa’s literary legacy. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

In 1994, Nakayama confessed before the Anglican Church, excusing his crimes as “sexual misconduct.” Although the Anglican Church expelled him from the priesthood after his confession, the church did not report Nakayama’s crimes to the police.

No mention of Nakayama or his history of abuse was made in the Kogawa House application for estate status, and the survivors were not informed of the estate designation hearing.

When Postmedia covered the news of the app, there was deep anguish among survivors, Wallace said. “There was a lot of anger.”

Wallace said that after learning about the hearing, survivors and their families wrote letters and planned to attend.

After Postmedia reported the lack of inclusion of the house’s dark history, the Kogawa house issued a statement acknowledging Nakayama’s sexual abuse, but preceded that acknowledgment with a statement about Gordon Nakayama’s good deeds.

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“By submitting the statement saying that Nakayama did a lot of good things, Kogawa House is showing that they don’t understand the situation. That’s not how you approach sexual abuse. It’s very problematic that this group that represents the writers is the one running the house because they’ve proven time and time again that they can’t handle this story.”

Wallace said the Land Conservatory was not informed about the full history of the home when it purchased it in 2006, nor was this aspect of the home’s history revealed to the city when it purchased the home in 2016, and citizens were not informed about the abuse during public donation drives to save the house.

“That’s part of the pattern of ignoring and denying this history,” Wallace said. “I think Kogawa House will need to do some soul searching about what they stand for. And the city needs to talk to Japanese Canadians about what we need to fix this dark history,” Wallace said.

Anne Marie Metten, executive director of Joy Kogawa House, said she is glad the hearing has been postponed and that they plan to consult further with survivors and Japanese Canadians.

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