Due to the COVID19 health crisis, the 44th Annual Powell Street Festival pivoted from its traditional in-person celebration to an online Telethon. It was a great success, raising $64,389.
“We are overjoyed with the outpouring of support we received during the Telethon. We look forward to redoubling our efforts to foster and strengthen the resilience, vitality and health of the neighborhood,” says Edward Takayanagi, President of Powell Street Festival Society (PSFS).
Reflecting upon the Telethon format, Takayanagi says, “It was important that we broadcast from the neighborhood as the Telethon was a celebration of Japanese Canadian cultural identity and our engagement and connection to this historic place.”
“As the health of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) is directly linked to the health of the Festival, we are deeply committed to the wellbeing of the neighborhood and its current residents.” He continues, “During the Telethon weekend we were able to connect with our friends from the neighborhood, community partners and residents, and affirm our reciprocal relationship.”
Over decades, the lack of decent, stable housing and adequate basic income for all have created a poverty trap and additional trauma that creates misery for thousands of people in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) every day. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues and shone a light on the need to ensure everyone has their basic needs met. Powell Street Festival Society has been growing our capacity to support low-income people and be a true part of the DTES community.
Powell Street Festival Society’s DTES Community Care Program is a suite of social justice programs including: PowellStFest Community Kitchen, Hanami Cherry Blossom Picnic, Minori Harvest, the Giving Ceremony, and the Asahi Tribute game. These programs aims to raise awareness of Japanese Canadian history and culture, while creating inclusive, capacity-building experiences that foster economic and social equity for everyone.
These programs provide meaningful and sustainable connection to the historic location of the early Japanese settlers prior to their forced removal during the Second World War. Through our practice of social justice through art and culture we honour this heritage while seeking to be accountable as settler-colonizers and acknowledging the larger narrative of displacement on these unceded territories of the Tsleil– Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam peoples.
"The health of the DTES is directly linked to the health of the Powell Street Festival."
"I have such respect for the work of the Powell Street Festival, and was moved by the organization’s decision to launch the Community Kitchen."
"This is a historic opportunity for historically marginalized groups to come together and work side-by-side as allies, creating nourishing meals that will feed body and spirit."
"PSF represents the JC community to me, traditional and innovative arts, different generations involved in all aspects (as vendors, performers, audience, etc.). The mix is important."
Celebrate Japanese Canadian culture while giving back to your community! Join us for our LIVE online Telethon August 1, 2020 from 2pm to 7pm. Hosts Tetsuro Shigematsu and Yurie Hoyoyon will take us on a fun and heart-warming journey, presenting live performances, messages from festival vendors and friends, and opportunities to express your support for Powell Street Festival in its 44th year. Drop in and stay for a while! Tune in to our website with your family and friends to experience the spirit of the festival right from your home!
The program features taiko drumming from the rooftop of the Vancouver Japanese Language School, a Giving Ceremony to honour our connection to the Powell Street neighbourhood, a physical-distance-respecting Paueru Mashup dance, and performances from several local Japanese Canadian artists. Interspersed throughout the day, we’re bringing the festival’s sounds, excitement, and sumo to you through “Spirit of Nihonmachi”, a 35th Powell Street Festival anniversary film by Greg Masuda. Visit our website for schedule and artist details.
Yurie is a voice actress, her biggest role includes the Mobile legend character voice, which is a 75 million downloaded game. She has been a MC for poetry events for the poet Soramaru Takayama & Joy Kogawa, Nikkei Matsuri, Nikkei Talent Search, and Cherry Blossom festival. She also does MC for Japanese company or community events such as MUJI and Okinawa taiko group show Chijinshu Wakatiida.
Described by The Georgia Straight “one of the city’s best artists,” Tetsuro Shigematsu tells stories across an array of media. He is an author, playwright, broadcaster, and filmmaker. A former writer for CBC Television’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, in 2004, he became the first person-of-colour to host a daily national radio program in Canada when he took over The Roundup on CBC Radio.
His solo-work, Empire of the Son, has played in 18 cities to over 20,000 people, and was described by Colin Thomas as, “one of the best shows ever to come out of Vancouver. Ever.” His most recent work, 1 Hour Photo, published by Talonbooks, won a Jesse Award for Significant Artistic Achievement, and was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. Tetsuro recently signed a book deal with Penguin Random House to write his memoirs.
PowellStFest Kid’s Camp 2020 – Activities at Home FREE Program
As a Pre-Telethon offering, we are releasing an at-home Japanese-themed summer camp plan with bilingual resources for kids, ages 5-7, K-Grade 1. Minimal parent supervision required!
Get into the Matsuri spirit and immerse yourself in Japanese cultural activities during the 5-day lead up to the Telethon, July 27 to July 31.
Register by July 24, and you’ll receive a PDF Activity Kit, with daily themes and supporting video links, book recommendations, and suggested print material. These resources are structured like a 5-day summer camp but can also be done at your own pace!
The 44th Powell Street Festival brings a new celebratory community dance, Paueru Mashup. Learn it from your own home, then join the final digital performance! Onibana Taiko and Lisa Gelley (Company 605) have integrated classic Powell Street Festival sounds and gestures, namely borrowing from the traditional Tanko Bushi dance and Radio Taiso morning exercises, to create a fun and accessible collective line dance. This 3.5 minute piece will suit participants of all ages and experiences.
On Saturday, July 18th we held a Zoom talk in tribute to photographer Tamio Wakayama!
In the 1960’s Ed Nakawatase and Tamio Wakayama volunteered with the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) during the American civil rights movement in the deep south. Bearing witness to the social justice movement that unfolded before their eyes; the events shaped the identities of both these men and impacted their activist work in the future.
In honor of photographer Tamio Wakayama, special guest Ed Nakawatase will spoke about his memories and experiences with Wakayama and making connections to this present moment in relationship to building alliances and the ongoing social justice work with Black, Indigenous and POC communities.
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