Supporters of the Ming Sun Benevolent Society gathered on Sunday February 2nd, 2014 for a group photo in front of the heritage building at 439 Powell. In addition to taking a photo of the Ming Sun Benevolent Society elders and family members, the broader community was invited to participate in a very large group photo (pictured above). The photo event helped raise awareness of the threat of demolition that looms over the Society’s heritage building. The City of Vancouver almost demolished the building that dates from 1890 in December of 2013 (see our previous post: City boards up 439 Powell Street. Is the building still under threat of demolition?).
The Ming Sun Benevolent Society hopes to complete repairs and reopen the building. The Society is seeking financial support to help with their restoration work; more details and a petition are featured on the friends of 439 website. This building once provided housing for low-income residents, it included affordable artist space and it had educational and social services.
The Ming Sun building is located in Japantown, just across the street from Oppenheimer Park. Several short speeches were delivered shortly after 1pm. It was noted that this area has a history of displacement, first with colonialization of First Nations Lands and then with the forceful internment of Japanese Canadians in camps during the Second World War. Prior to 1942 the building had belonged to the Japanese Uchida family.
The Ming Sun Benevolent Society purchased the property at 439 Powell Street in 1971. A photo taken in 1975 during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Society proved to be the inspiration for the new group photo event in February 2, 2014 (full details and earlier photo here). There were people present today for the photo shoot who are also in the photograph taken 39 years ago. The retaking of a new group photo proved to be a truly inter-generational event.
We’ve included a number of additional photos below: