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Memorial marks Jim Green's work to benefit Downtown Eastside

A freshly painted portrait of Jim Green on a wall in Vancouver's Pigeon Park by spray paint artist Milan Basic, March 12, 2012.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Hundreds of people gathered Saturday at Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre to pay tribute to anti-poverty activist Jim Green.

He died in February of cancer at age 68.

Mr. Green was remembered as someone whose tireless efforts benefited people in the city's Downtown Eastside. A familiar figure in the country's poorest neighbourhood for more than three decades, Mr. Green went from a protestor in the offices of politicians to becoming an elected official himself. He was also known for his work with developers in rehabilitating dilapidated buildings and for the part he played in the development of the site of the former Woodward's department store.

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"I'd rather house one person than please a thousand critics," he said in an interview just five days before his death.

Born into a military family in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Green came to Canada to avoid the Vietnam War draft. He became a Canadian citizen five years later in 1973.

Mr. Green studied anthropology at the Sorbonne in Paris before settling in Vancouver, where he eventually took a job as community organizer for the Downtown Eastside Residents Association. He soon became a regular figure in the news for his criticisms of Vancouver and provincial governments.

He lost a campaign for mayor in 1990 to Gordon Campbell and lost to him again six years later in a race for a seat in the provincial legislature. He was elected to city council in 2002 and made a second run for mayor in 2005, losing to Sam Sullivan.

The Canadian Press and staff

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