Joy Kogawa is one of British Columbia’s most celebrated and inspirational authors, whose work has been instrumental in raising Canadian consciousness about wartime injustices. Ms. Kogawa’s award-winning first novel, Obasan, is an illuminating portrayal of the internment of Japanese-Canadians in Canada during World War II. Obasan is now considered one of the most important novels ever published in Canada, and is required curriculum for Canadian high schools and universities.
Ms. Kogawa has been active in social justice movements across Canada, in the areas of poverty and human rights. She is a powerful advocate for victims of wrong, and her work continues to inspire citizens throughout the nation. Through Ms. Kogawa’s solid, steady efforts, the issues of internment of Canadians of Japanese descent were brought to the attention of the Federal Government, and led to the Japanese-Canadian Redress Agreement in 1988.
Ms. Kogawa was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986. She has received honourary doctorates from seven Canadian universities, and is a Fellow of Ryerson Polytechnical University. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Asian American Studies, and the NAJC National Award from the National Association of Japanese Canadians.
The Literary Review of Canada has listed Obasan as one of Canada’s 100 most important books. In 2005, the Vancouver Public Library chose Obasan for the One Book One Vancouver program.