ABSTRACT. The depiction of the relationship between Japanese Canadians and First Nations people in relation to Christianity occupies a significant place in the novels of the Japanese Canadian author Joy Kogawa (1935–). Both of these ethnic minority groups in Canada share a victimized past that includes invasions by various European settlers on the land of the Native residents and the internment experience of Japanese Canadians during World War II. In her novels entitled Obasan (1981) and Itsuka (1992), Kogawa provides Christian faith to the main characters: Naomi, a Japanese Canadian woman; and Father Cedric, an Anglican priest from the First Nations community. The current article has as a main purpose to point out similarities between the physical appearance and behaviors of Japanese Canadians and First Nations people that Kogawa intentionally describes in her novels; it also tries to clarify the role of spiritualism – we include in the analysis both Christianity and First Nations religion – which symbolically unites the two ethnic groups. By scattering hints about the connection between the two minorities that were reinforced through their Christian faith, Kogawa seems to offer her sympathy and empathy for both groups that had to experience persecution and discrimination. pp 277–289

Keywords: Christianity; spiritualism; the First Nations people; Japanese Canadian; ethnic minorities; persecution; empathy

How to cite: Furukawa T (2019) Interethnic solidarity in Joy Kogawa’s novels: the faith of Japanese Canadians and First Nations people. Creativity 2(1): 277–289. doi:10.22381/C2120195

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Graduate School of Humanities,
Kobe University, Kobe, Japan

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