Advocacy and Outreach Committee

Mandate – to promote the profile of the organization to the cultural, social, political and mainstream communities; and participate in Downtown Eastside community-building efforts.


  • Liaises with other arts and community organizations to foster awareness and partnerships
  • Liaises with local and national Japanese Canadian cultural and social organizations
  • Meets with community leaders
  • Identifies issues around location (specific concerns of the Downtown Eastside)
  • Works cooperatively with other neighbourhood organizations (such as Oppenheimer Park Committee, DTES Community Arts Network, Heart of the City Festival) to promote change and support to renew the area

Explore Advocacy and Outreach events: DTES Community Programs

Committee Members

Kathy Shimizu is a sansei, graphic and web designer, artist, and community organizer. She has worked for the Powell Street Festival Society in various roles since 1991, is a co-founder, collective member, and administrator of WePress, serves on the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association Human Rights Committee, and is a member of Sawagi Taiko. She works to use the importance of history, and the power and joy of arts and culture, to build community, fight for social justice and change, and help create space for the voices of communities and individuals marginalized by our existing systems.

Originally from Alberta, Edward Takayanagi attended university in Japan on the Monbusho Scholarship and lived in Kyoto for 4 years studying archaeology. He moved to Vancouver upon returning to Canada and attended Law School at UBC. After working for a Japanese plastics company for a number of years and practicing law in Vancouver, he is currently working Coast Mental Health Foundation. Edward has also been the president of the Vancouver Mokuyokai Society, is on the board of the Tomoe Arts Society and volunteers frequently with other community organizations.

Nicole Yakashiro is a PhD student at the University of British Columbia in the Department of History, studying under the supervision of Dr. Laura Ishiguro. Her Masters’ thesis explored the dispossession of Nikkei daffodil farmers in the 1940s within the longer context of settler colonialism in the Fraser Valley. Her current research continues to examine settler colonialism by interrogating how the histories of non-Indigenous people of colour relate to the historical and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous communities in Canada. Nicole has worked as a research assistant for the Landscapes of Injustice project where she received the Hide Hyodo Shimizu Scholarship in 2016. She continues to work as a researcher for Dr. Laura Madokoro (Carleton University), Cited Podcast (UBC), and other projects at UBC. As a yonsei settler, she grew up on the unceded and occupied territory of the Stó:lō and currently resides on the unceded and occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

Haruho Kubota attended the Powell Street Festival for the first time in 2018 after moving to BC to pursue an MA in Educational Studies at UBC. Shortly after volunteering for the festival in 2020, she joined the AOC. For her MA thesis, Haruho learned about the history of people of Japanese descent through the lives of eleven Japanese Canadian women who pursued the teaching profession in the first half of the twentieth century in British Columbia. Haruho is interested in learning how making sense of the past can help make sense of the present.

Angela May is a community activist, writer, and scholar. Her activism has changed over the years, originally more focussed on the Japanese Canadian community itself, and now more focussed on the relationship between the Japanese Canadian and Downtown Eastside communities, particularly as they overlap in history, place, and politics. Her written work has been published across creative and academic publications, including Nikkei Images, The Volcano, and Canadian Literature, as well as emerge20, an anthology from Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio program, which Angela completed from 2019-2020. Angela also holds a BA in English (University of Victoria), an MA in Socio-Cultural Studies of Health (Queen’s University), and is currently completing her PhD in English at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Amber Dean. Alongside her doctoral studies, Angela is working on her next book project, a collection of linked short stories inspired by her master’s fieldwork in the Downtown Eastside.

Eli Sheiner is a gosei settler who came to the unceded and occupied territories of the  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations in the middle of the 2020 pandemic and promptly joined the Powell Street Festival Society’s Advocacy and Outreach Committee. As both an activist and a researcher completing a PhD in medical anthropology, Eli is interested in the moral and political economy of addiction in the Downtown Eastside, and the ways that racialized histories of dispossession shape life in the neighborhood today. Outside of activism and research, Eli is committed to an irreverent experimentation with the traditional Japanese practices of pottery and kendo.

Mika Embury (she/they) is a mixed yonsei who grew up on the unceded Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories. In 2020, she received her Honours Bachelor of Arts in French Language from the University of Toronto. She currently works as the Community Programming Coordinator at the Vancouver Japanese Language School-Japanese Hallwhere she develops programs and events to promote Japanese language and culture.  

Caleb Nakasaki is a community support worker to seniors in the DTES neighborhood, and is passionate about opening up cultural access and sharing between our local communities. As a yonsei Japanese from Honolulu, he came to Vancouver in 2015 and in the summer of 2021 he connected with the Powell Street Festival through the PSF Dialogues.

Emiko Morita became the Executive Director of Powell Street Festival Society in 2015, 25 years after she first worked as an intern for the festival in 1990. In between, she was Marketing Director at Douglas & McIntyre Publishers, Export and Special Sales Manager at Raincoast Books and Marketing Manager at Polestar Press. She co-founded the Access Copyright Foundation and served as a board member there as well as the Association of Book Publishers of BC, Asian Canadian Writers Workshop and Modern Baroque Opera Society. 

Samantha Marsh is a mixed race yonsei who has worked in the culture and heritage sector for over 7 years. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Samantha first came to Vancouver to complete her BA in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Since then, she has fallen in love with the land, the people, and all that Vancouver has to offer. Samantha completed her Msc in Museum Studies at the University of Glasgow where she focused on cultural revitalisation of postindustrial cities through the utilisation of festivals, heritage sites, and museums. She is passionate about making art and culture engaging, relevant, and accessible for underrepresented communities.

Please contact emiko [at] if you are interested in joining any of this committee.