The Powell Street Festival exists to celebrate Japanese Canadian art and culture, in the historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood in which Oppenheimer Park is central.
The Powell Street Festival organizers have assured all that the festival this year will continue on August 1 to 3, 2014. However, they acknowledge and respect the concerns of the homeless and community residents in the Oppenheimer Park area, located on unceded Coast Salish territory. For this reason, the Powell Street Festival Society will not use the area of Oppenheimer Park where the protest is taking place as they do not support the removal order or the threat of removal of residents in the park in any way.
The Japanese Canadian community has significant ties to Oppenheimer Park – once home to the legendary Asahi baseball team and the centre of a vibrant pre WWII Japanese Canadian community. During WWII the community experienced the confiscation of their homes and businesses, detention, relocation and internment.
As such the Powell Street Festival Society has empathy for the current situation. While they had hoped to find a compromise that respects all park users, this does not appear to be achievable in the time available. They understand that while we have celebrated the Japanese Canadian community in the historically significant location of Oppenheimer Park for the last 37 years, there are many other issues at stake that create challenges for a timely resolution.
Organizers are currently in talks with the City of Vancouver to help find nearby viable alternatives including the use of Powell Street and other streets. The alternatives will impact programming. However, they will move forward with the celebration, the longest running community-based arts and culture festival in the lower mainland and largest Japanese Canadian event in the country, now in their 38th year.
A proud Vancouver institution, everyone is welcome to come savour the Powell Street Festival as the go-to place to discover emerging contemporary Japanese Canadian artists, eat amazing Japanese food, experience taiko drumming, participate in our Sumo competition, and so much more!
Please check their website for up to date information.
Featured Image: Powell Street Festival Society