Bodwell hosted Joy Kogawa at its 23rd graduation ceremony in March. Kogawa, author of Obasan, a novel that chronicles the lives of Canadian Japanese citizens during World War II, gave her commencement address to 176 graduating students, their family and friends, and the Bodwell student body and faculty.
Kogawa spoke to students about how seemingly small things can and do change the world. She used analogies about the science behind atoms and the hummingbird’s role in nature to illustrate her points, which resonated with many Bodwell students, many of whom read Obasan in their classes. She made clear to her audience that individual actions should be made with regard to the larger scope of humanity, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Put into context with the concepts of love and truth, Kogawa encouraged and challenged her audience to seek out mutual understanding within their relationships, especially those that are difficult or strained. Her experiences with simple acts of kindness from unexpected places shaped her life philosophy and have made her the person that she is today.
Kogawa is a Vancouver native, a well-respected poet and novelist, and a member of the Order of Canada (1986) and British Columbia (2006). She is also a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun in Japan (2010) for her work in fostering understanding and tolerance and preserving Japanese Canadian history.