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Programming Committee

Mandate – To research and identify artists, curators, art forms, and art organizations that give voice to the Japanese Canadian community and/or represent Japanese heritage.

Actions – In consultation with the Program Coordinator:

  • Research, review and recommend long-term program plans.

  • Participate in recommendation process for annual Festival theme and assists in selection of invited Festival performers and artists.

  • Participate in the selection and evaluation process for Festival applicants (professional and community artists).

  • Present ideas for possible programming.

  • Program, curate or coordinate special projects (optional).

  • Liaise with local organizations in order to identify and implement specific programs (ie. Sponsor Japanese film in other film festivals, co-present a Japanese artist, etc.) and assist in the development of co-operative events and programs

  • Identify specific social issues in contemporary art practice.

Committee Members

Fourth generation Chinese Japanese Canadian, Kevin Takahide Lee descends from a family who experienced the head tax and the Japanese Canadian Internment of WWII. Growing up in BC’s Lower Mainland he witnessed the challenges his family and immigrants faced regarding accessibility to services and preservation of their culture. This led him to work in the performing arts and advocacy. He is a seasoned performer with the Surrey ReEnactors and has performed with Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, Carousel Theatre, Vancouver Opera and various TV shows. For the past decade he has taught music at City of Burnaby recreation facilities. As a firm believer that the arts must be interwoven with social needs he created and directed the Newcomers’ Choir as a way to bridge divides between immigrants and established Canadi-ans. He has participated in panels and conferences in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ot-tawa concerning Truth and Reconciliation, disability and youth, as well as exhibited at the Cana-dian Museum of Human Rights. Currently, he continues to working in the advocacy field as an employee of PLAN. For the past eight years he has been a member of the Powell Street Festi-val Programming Committee. When not working or playing music Kevin enjoys going for long walks, hitting the gym and re-searching the vastness that is Canadian history.

Mike Okada works in the marketing industry, where he specializes in copywriting and brand consulting, and he is excited to be bringing his skills to continue building upon the successes of festivals past. Born and raised in BC, Mike is a fourth generation Japanese Canadian who has been coming to the Powell Street Festival since he was young. As a member of the board, he looks forward to working with an amazing team, getting back in touch with his roots, and helping the next generation make their own lasting memories of the festival in the years to come.

Emily Wu is currently an Internal Coach and a Program Lead at University of British Columbia. Her current work involves developing, delivering, and managing innovative educational programs for adult professionals. As a first generation Taiwanese Canadian living and blending in multiple cultures, Emily finds stimulation in language, culture, and diversity. Emily has volunteered with Powell Street Festival since 2007. She loves the spirit of PSF, in particular connecting with community groups, celebrating arts and culture, and working with like-minded individuals that believe in the Society’s mission and values.

Mike Shin’Ichi Hillman is a second generation Japanese originally from Hamilton, Ontario. Though, since moving West almost a decade ago, Vancouver is now his home. Working at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in local technical television news production, Mike embraces community and heritage as being the pillars which bring people together. Since his daughter was born, Mike has strived to engage more in the Japanese Canadian community so that she may learn, understand and connect more with her ancestral heritage.


Samantha Marsh is a hapa-yonsei who has worked in the culture and heritage sector for over 6 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.

Emiko Morita became the Executive Director of Powell Street Festival in Vancouver 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.

If you would like to join this committee, please email the Program Coordinator, Samantha Marsh at samantha[at]powellstreetfestival.com.