Volunteer Handbook

Find a pdf of our volunteer handbook at this link.

Volunteers will be given a copy of the volunteer handbook when you sign in at the festival. Go here to sign up to volunteer!


The Powell Street Festival Society’s (PSFS) mission is to cultivate Japanese Canadian arts and culture to connect communities. Our main activity is producing the Powell Street Festival (PSF) in Vancouver’s historic Japanese Canadian neighbourhood, Paueru Gai.


To build a society enriched and interconnected through Japanese Canadian arts and culture.


  • Community: We foster engagement, collaboration and accessibility.
  • Artistic Excellence: We cultivate and support artists and cultural producers.
  • Inclusivity & Diversity: We program events and activities that welcome a wide range of participants, striving towards barrier-free experiences.
  • Heritage: We honour the location of Paueru Gai and Japanese Canadian history. Through this, we acknowledge a larger narrative of displacement and colonization.
  • Resilience: We protect and maintain the financial and operational viability of the organization.

Volunteer Perks

  • Meet new friends.
  • Free lunch on Friday if you help set up.
  • Food vouchers if you volunteer during the Festival on Saturday or Sunday. 4 hours = $5 voucher to spend at festival food vendors.
  • Vouchers are like cash and vendors will provide change. You will receive your food voucher at the Volunteer Booth at the end of your shift.
  • Free snacks & hydration drink the Volunteer Chill Space.
  • Free tenugui towel (wet & tie around your neck to cool off)
  • Goody bag at the end of your shift at Festival, full of treats!
  • Free dinner if you stay for Sunday takedown until the end.
  • Powell Street Festival Hachimaki! (Headband)
  • Volunteer Appreciation Party on the Tuesday after Festival with awards, dinner, door prizes, and bingo! Volunteers Only. This is a dry event.
  • And More! Become a volunteer to find out!

Code of Conduct

Missing a Shift: Email or call the Volunteer Coordinator with 24 hours notice (their contact information is on the last page of this booklet). If you have a contagious illness, please stay home to protect the health of those with immune vulnerabilities.

Smoking on the Festival grounds is prohibited. This includes the park grounds and indoor venues during the Powell Street Festival.

Use of alcohol or illegal drugs/substances on the Festival grounds is prohibited. This includes the park and indoor venues. Intoxicated volunteers will be dismissed from their volunteer duties and will relinquish volunteer privileges.

Suggested Dress Code: During the festival dress comfortably and for the weather. Wear sunscreen, hats, and comfortable footwear. Wear close-toed shoes for Friday setup. Wear your Hachimaki (headband) during your shift.

Personal Belongings: Please do not bring valuables to the Festival. There is no designated storage space for your items. Powell Street Festival is not responsible for any lost or stolen items.

Hospitality & Security: Your security is important. Please do not try to de-escalate a situation on your own if your safety is at risk. Contact a Hospitality & Security Coordinator. They are wearing Orange Hachimaki (headbands). Hospitality & Security is available via radio; ask someone with a radio to contact them.


Missing Child: Priority One

  1. Remain calm, take parent/guardian to notify your supervising coordinator
  2. Take parents or guardians to Information Booth.
  3. Info Booth Coordinator will follow the necessary procedures.

Found Child: Priority Two

  1. Reassure child.
  2. Always find another volunteer immediately to help escort child to the Information booth.
  3. Info Booth Coordinator will follow the necessary procedures.

Medical Emergency

  1. Remain with the patient.
  2. Request nearby person with a radio to contact First Aid.
  3. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

Set up & Take Down: Certain Festival Staff & Coordinators who have First Aid certification are first responders during Festival set up and take-down.

Festival, Sat & Sun: Onsite paramedics are first responders.

Call 911 for life-threatening emergencies, including an overdose, and inform the first responder(s) that you have made the call.

Police/Fire Emergency

Report any incident immediately to a supervising coordinator, or anyone with a radio.2. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

Signs of heatstroke:

  • heavy sweating
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • rapid pulse
  • muscle cramps

Prevent heat exhaustion by drinking water or electrlyte rich drinks, wearing a hat, taking breaks, and applying sunscreen.


What to do?

  1. Tell your coordinator or a staff member.
  2. Seek shade.
  3. Drink electrolyte rich beverage.
  4. Access first aid.

Signs of an overdose:

  • blue lips or nails
  • dizziness & confusion
  • can’t be woken up
  • gurgling or snoring sounds
  • weak or no breathing
  • drowsiness or difficulty staying awake.

What to do?

  1. Call 911.
  2. Call First Aid via radio.
  3. Administer naloxone (a.k.a. narcon) if you have a kit. Obtain a kit at www.naloxonetraining.com

Large-Scale Emergency

  • Remain Calm.
  • Listen for emergency announcement.
  • Start moving:
    • To muster area (the open area in the middle of the park).
    • OR Meet up with your family and neighbours.
    • OR In the event of an evacuation, exit Oppenheimer Park via the four corners.
  • Be responsive to those that need assistance.
  • Wait for the arrival of key personnel to direct the next steps.

Key info / FAQ

As there is limited street parking around the Festival location, we recommend taking the bus, riding your bike (we have free bike valet service), or walking.

Go the Volunteer Booth 15 minutes before your first shift. The Volunteer Coordinator will give you a name tag and a Hachimaki headband. They will tell you where to meet your supervising coordinator and give you cheat sheets with instructions for your shift.

Do I have to go to the orientation?

The orientation is mandatory for new volunteers and there are three possible dates for you to attend. You will be contacted by the Volunteer Coordinator and asked to RSVP to one of the three dates. Return volunteers are welcome to attend for a refresher or to learn any new information, but it is not mandatory.

Can I bring my child, friend, or spouse to my volunteer shift?

No, the volunteer shift requires your full attention.

Can I request to be scheduled with a friend?

No. Shifts are assigned based on your online preference and shift availability.

Can minors volunteer?

Children under the age of 16 are not permitted to volunteer. Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 are permitted to volunteer; however, they require their parents/guardians written consent. Parents/guardians must sign a waiver before or at the festival.

Can you provide a reference letter?

If you require a letter of verification for service hours please email your request to the Volunteer Coordinator AFTER the festival, but before August 15 of the year.

Are there opportunities to volunteer outside of the festival?

Outside of the Festival, we offer volunteer opportunities including office administration, events, graphic design, programming committee, advocacy committee, fundraising committee.

Email admin@powellstreetfestival.com if you are interested.

We also are always looking for knowledge philanthropists and board members.

Email emiko@powellstreetfestival.com if you are interested.


All volunteers shall treat and be treated by other volunteers, performers, vendors, staff and the public with respect, and kindness. If you experience or witness any issues, resolution should be deferred to a coordinator, board member, or staff member. All volunteers also deserve to be treated with respect. Unwelcome remarks, jokes, or critiques about a person’s race, culture, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, minority gender status, physical or mental ability, marital status, economic status, age, ancestry, appearance, or place of origin, etc. will not be tolerated.

Cultural Context

Powell Street Festival has an incredibly a diverse audience of nearly 23,000 festival goers. We welcome and strive to be inclusive to all people. Please consider the following context when volunteering.

  • Our Festival has contemporary and historical significance to Japanese Canadians, Asian Canadians, Indigenous Peoples and People of Colour in Vancouver and beyond, and welcomes a multicultural, multiracial audience.
  • Our Festival takes place in a low-income neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside (DTES), with high rates of homelessness, mental health issues, and addiction issues. This neighbourhood is also a site of contemporary and historical activism. Powell Street Festival Society stands in solidarity with the communities of the DTES through our Advocacy and Outreach Committee efforts. Oppenheimer Park, the site of our festival, has been dubbed the “Backyard” of the DTES.
  • The DTES has a large Indigenous population. Oppenheimer Park, the site of our festival, is of historical significance to the Coast Salish communities in this territory: the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil- Waututh First Nations. Powell Street Festival Society recognizes the ongoing colonization of Indigenous peoples and stands in solidarity with decolonization efforts.
  • Our Festival takes place on the same weekend as the Vancouver Pride Parade and Vancouver Dyke March as well as dozens of other queer celebrations. We stand in solidarity with the queer and trans (LGBTQAI2S) communities, and every year look forward to their presence at the festival.

Discrimination against these groups, and all people, is not tolerated. If you need assistance determining if your language and or behaviour could be interpreted as discriminatory, please ask us.

We strive to be accessible, through our free programming, resources, actions, and artistic presentations.

Thank you for respecting our values of diversity and inclusivity.

Site Map

Go here to learn more about our festival site and to see the map…

Go here for accessibility information about our festival site…

Go here for information about on our festival events…


Contact the Volunteer Coordinator

Email volunteer@powellstreetfestival.com

Call 604-808-0054 during festival, set up, and take down (wed through wed).

After the festival contact us…