Feb 14th – City Council passed the motion to award the Freedom of the
City award to Jim Green. Jim really was a renaissance man. He loved opera, taught humanities, was a university lecturer, a union shop steward, a community worker and advocate, he was a two time city councilor, and a two time mayoral candidate.
Jim Green and Larry Campbell, then councilor and mayor of Vancouver, pose for pictures with Chinese Canadian veterans of Pacific Unit 280, following a Remembrance Day ceremony November 11th, 2004. 2nd from Left is Alex Louie, who just passed away on February 18th. My Uncle Daniel Lee is 5th from left, between councilor Raymond Louie, and then mayor Larry Campbell – Uncle Dan passed away January 26th 2010. These Chinese Canadian veterans, joined the Canadian Armed Forces during WW2 when Canadian born citizens of Chinese ancestry were designated as “Resident Aliens” and unable to vote in the country of their birth. As a supporter of equality issues in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and a City Councilor, it was fitting that Jim Green, originally an American draft dodger, came to honour their contributions to Vancouver society and history.
Here is a story about Jim by my friend Tom Hawthorn, for the Globe & Mail.
Back in October 2005, I had bumped into Jim at the 2nd annual Mayors' Arts Awards. He had asked how things were going, and I told him that Joy Kogawa's childhood home was now threatened with a demolition application. He was shocked, asking if I knew that City Council had just passed a motion to plant a cherry tree at City Hall and proclaim “Obasan Cherry Tree Day”. He then took the opportunity to speak to the audience at the Arts Awards to tell them about the campaign to save Kogawa House, which I had just gotten involved in at at the last week of September. Later in November, our Save Kogawa House committee when before City Council to ask for help, and they passed a motion to invoke a rarely used bylaw to delay the processing of the demolition permit. Jim played an important role that day, and gave us lots of support. Today we are now planning our 4th writer-in-residence program for Historic Joy Kogawa House where I am chair, and also on the board of The Land Conservancy of BC, which owns and maintains Kogawa House.
Author Joy Kogawa, then Chief Librarian Paul Whitney, Vancouver Opera Manager James Wright, and then city councilor Jim Green, in November 2005. Joy and Jim performed the sod turning at Vancouver City Hall, for the planting of the “Obasan cherry tree” taken as a cutting from the cherry tree at Historic Joy Kogawa House.
Here is a lovely tribute by Margo Harper, News Director, CTV British Columbia
Here is a Feb 17th Globe & Mail story by another friend Hadani Ditmars written about a walk in the Viaduct area with Jim Green and former city planner Larry Beasley, talking about what could happen if the Viaducts came down :