The Powell Street Festival has announced it has designed a site map that won't displace the people who have erected tents and are living in Oppenheimer Park.
The location is traditionally the centre of activities for the 43rd annual Japanese Canadian celebration, scheduled to take place August 3 and 4. The neighbourhood, known as Paueru Gai, was a historic centre for this city's thriving Japanese community before their forced removal and internment in 1942, during the Second World War.
“We recognize that our activities take place on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations and acknowledge our own role in the history of settler colonialism and dispossession of the Indigenous people,” Powell Street Festival Society president Edward Takayanagi said in the press announcement today. “Our Festival Map has been designed to work with the current residents of the neighborhood.
“As a community that has experienced forced displacement, we refuse to continue this pattern of dispossession of vulnerable people in this area,” continued Takayanagi. “In respect for the current residents and the occupants of the park, they have designed their festival and program to ensure the people in the park are not displaced while providing a rich cultural experience for festival goers."
Oppenheimer Park was long a centre for Japanese Canadian activities, but over recent years has symbolized much of the homelessness and poverty on the Downtown Eastside. Before the Japanese Internment, it was home to the legendary Vancouver Asahi baseball team, which won many championships. The team disbanded as a result of the internment. Many feel that disruption of the community precipitated the Downtown Eastside's decades-long decline.
In 2014, the Powell Street Festival moved out of Oppenheimer Park in response to a tent city on the grounds. It centred its activities at Alexander Street and Jackson Avenue instead. By August 2015, however, crowds of festivalgoers were back in Oppenheimer Park eating sushi, listening to traditional and contemporary music, watching martial-arts displays, and checking out Japanese works of art.
This year's fest features Japanese piano star Yuni Mori and Teke::Teke, a seven-piece band from Montreal. Find out more details here.