Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Read On! page returns for ESL learners – Introducing Tony Wanless

BY TONY WANLESS

Have you been wondering why you have not seen the Read On! column in the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News recently?

That is because we have changed writers. The column has been written for some time by Cari Chan, but she had to stop last year because she was too busy with other work.

But now, a new writer – Tony Wanless – has agreed to replace her and write the column in future. This column is his introduction to regular readers.

Tony has been a journalist and writer for 30 years. He has worked for several Canadian newspapers across Canada, including the Province newspaper in Vancouver. At different times, he has been a crime reporter, an art writer, a photographer, an editor, and chief of a group of “re-writers” – journalists who refine other journalist’s articles.

He has also written many books for businesses. For several years, he was a “ghost-writer” – a secret writer-for-hire, for authors of articles and books. Most of those were about business. He has also worked as a consultant on marketing for many technology businesses.

Although Tony is now officially retired, he continues to write a column every month for the business section of the National Post.

Tony has lived in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood for almost 15 years. He has been involved in Collingwood Neighbourhood House’s senior’s Tai Chi program for several years.

He has some background with English as a second language and often replaces CNH’s usual teacher of English-as-a-second-language program when that person is away.

Last year, Tony offered a training session to help seniors who do not have English as their first language tell their stories about coming to Canada.

Although Tony is new to the RCC News column, there will be no changes for now. There could be in future, however, if readers suggest them.

In that sense, we are always willing to listen to suggestions about how we can make the column more helpful to newcomers to the area who are trying to better their English language skills.

If you have any ideas, then don’t be shy. We’d like to hear them so we can make the RCC News better serve the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood. Please email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

Without the fertilization of new ideas, nothing can grow.


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Windermere students visit Ottawa with Don Davies, MP

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MP Don Davies with Windermere students Gaelan Emo (left) and June Lam in the House of Commons. Photo by Alicia Tiffin

Two Windermere students, June Lam and Gaelan Emo, were the lucky recipients of an all-expense paid trip to Ottawa from May 28 to 30, hosted by Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kingsway. June and Gaelan won the opportunity to participate in Canada’s Parliament through the 2017 Create Your Canada contest.

Started by Don Davies in 2009, this annual contest is open to all Vancouver Kingsway students taking Grade 11 or 12 classes. Create Your Canada challenges students to propose ideas that they feel will make a better Canada, or a better world.

The winning idea is submitted by Davies to Parliament where it is drafted into federal legislation in the form of a Private Members Bill. Davies then flies the students to Ottawa to watch as he formally introduces their bill in the House of Commons.

June and Gaelan are both senior students in Windermere’s Leadership program and have been actively involved in their community. They were selected for their idea to create a tax incentive that will encourage food producers, suppliers and retailers to donate perishable food to charities.

“We both became interested in food security through Windermere’s Organic Garden, which produces food for our school cafeteria and the community,” said June.

“We discovered that 31 million pounds of food is wasted in Canada every year, but there are still many Canadians who don’t have enough to eat,” added Gaelan. “We wanted to find a way to solve both of those problems.”

The winners were treated to a jam-packed two-day tour of Parliament Hill where they visited the House of Commons, Senate, Peace Tower, Library of Parliament and Sir John A. MacDonald’s office, and attended Question Period. They also had time to tour the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

“I think this is an engaging and fun introduction to Parliament and a great way for youth to share their vision for our country,” said Davies. “I am proud to bring the voice of youth to our debates.”

Honourable mentions for the 2017 Create Your Canada Contest go to:

  • Nika Asgari and Ana Brinkerhoff from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary for their idea to amend the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.
  • Karen Caslib and Natasha Fahbod from Windermere Secondary for their idea to ban the production and use of plastic bags.

Davies personally funds the Create Your Canada program, and no taxpayer dollars are involved.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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MOSAIC moves to Collingwood

MOSAIC moves to Collingwood

MOSAIC staff provide programs that address the needs of immigrants and refugees. Photo courtesy of MOSAIC

Julie had arrived from South Korea and was in Canada for a few years before connecting with MOSAIC.

Because Julie had some local connections and strong work experience from her home country, and was conversationally fluent in English, she did not initially seek out assistance from any settlement agencies.

After a couple of years spent adapting to her new community and establishing Canadian work experience via her own network within the South Korean community, Julie began seeking work in the mainstream community. She found that her qualifications earned her many interviews, but none of these resulted in a job or even a follow-up interview. Julie had lost her confidence and, in her own words, was “a little bit depressed.”

At this point, she contacted MOSAIC. At one of its group workshops, she learned successful interview strategies and tips, practised her new-found techniques with the group and received constructive feedback.

Just one week after the workshop, Julie had an interview and applied what she’d learned. She was offered a job in her desired field.

Through MOSAIC, newcomers like Julie can seek out help to find work, learn English, navigate in their new communities, and learn about Canadian culture and other factors that assist with settlement and integration to Vancouver.

The organization’s vision is to empower newcomers to fully participate in Canadian society. Their dedicated staff work with clients, volunteers, community partners and funders to provide a wide variety of programs that address the needs of immigrants and refugees.

And it’s not just newcomers like Julie that MOSAIC can help with employment-related assistance – the organization also operates the Vancouver Northeast Employment Services Centre – the Work BC office for Renfrew-Collingwood – which serves all citizens in B.C. and not just newcomers.

And now MOSAIC’s headquarters has relocated to the Collingwood community, taking up residence in the amenity space at the Wall Centre – Central Park complex (near Kingsway and Boundary) that was granted by the City of Vancouver.

“It’s a beautiful space and we’re excited to be in Collingwood, a community that has great diversity and a wonderful, family-friendly vibe,” says Dianna Lee, MOSAIC’s manager of marketing and communications.

MOSAIC was founded in 1976 to help Vancouver’s many non-English-speaking immigrants navigate the challenges they found in the city.

Since then, the organization has grown to more than 350 staff and 400 volunteers at 28 different sites across Metro Vancouver. The organization also has a thriving social enterprise, MOSAIC Interpretations and Translations Services, which is one of Canada’s leading providers in this sector.

MOSAIC offers more than 40 programs that cover every area of life, including settlement, employment, counselling and language learning, with services available in more than 30 languages. Although many of the programs are directed towards newcomers, MOSAIC’s services include conversation circles, mother’s circles, youth clubs and seniors’ programs that immigrants or citizens can participate in.

MOSAIC also provides services for temporary foreign workers and the LGBT community.

“No matter where you’re from, how old you are or what language you speak, MOSAIC can help you find what you need to live, work and become part of the community here,” says Lee. “MOSAIC will help newcomers to find the support they need.”

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Reorganized Organ: A youth art project by VIVO

Youth invited to apply by Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reorganized-Organ-VIVO-youth-art-project

VIVO Media Arts Centre is seeking youth to take part in a new art project. Images courtesy of VIVO

BY PIETRO SAMMARCO

VIVO Media Arts Centre is one of Canada’s leading artist-run centres dedicated to the exploration, creation and dissemination of media arts. Since moving to Renfrew-Collingwood three years ago – at 2625 Kaslo street, between Van Tech high school and the Renfrew Skytrain station – VIVO has worked to become an integral part of this neighbourhood’s cultural community.

The centre strives to make media art a meaningful community experience through its exhibitions, its audiovideo production facilities and support, and its publicly accessible collection – the Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive – western Canada’s largest collection of media art and independently produced documentaries.

But did you know that VIVO also provides a variety of educational events in a friendly and supportive environment? This includes hands-on workshops, mentorships, study groups and public discussions.

Local artists offer the conceptual frameworks that enable you to apply technical knowledge in meaningful ways. They cover a variety of technologies and techniques, including video editing, sound design, projection mapping, media installation and computer programming.

Classes are kept small to ensure a quality learning experience for everyone. And VIVO is a diverse social place, too, where you collaborate with other creative people and are inspired by worldviews, perspectives and concerns that may be different than your own!

New youth project

VIVO has just announced a new youth mentorship project called The Reorganized Organ, set to run over 12 sessions in the fall. Creative people – whether you’re a musician, artist, designer, hacker or just generally curious – between ages 18 to 24 are invited to apply online to participate.

Reorganized-Organ-VIVO-artist-mentor

Artist-mentor Marc St. Pierre, on the left, helps to solder a circuit for an art project that designed and built an automated, intelligent and customizable system to water a garden.

With the help of mentor-artists George Rahi and Marc St. Pierre, participants will collaborate to take apart and repurpose a discarded electronic organ and other wasted electronics. Reorganizing the components found within, the team will invent and create an orchestra of experimental musical instruments and other sound-making devices.

The Reorganized Organ uses music and instrument design as a fun and inviting way to approach the extraordinarily complex subject of discarded electronic devices and technological obsolescence, both in media arts and in our everyday lives.

This project allows for unusual collaborative explorations that stimulate novel thoughts and initialize fresh discussions about our dependency on electronic technology and its environmental impacts when it is discarded (as “e-waste”). It aims to help grow a more thoughtful technological culture.

Participants receive an honorarium for their hard work, and an artist fee for the final performance that will take place at VIVO. The project partners up with MakerMobile, Vancouver New Music and Free Geek Vancouver (all of which do really great work of their own, so check them out!).

For more details and to apply, visit http://www.vivomediaarts.com/reorganized-organ-application. The deadline for applications is July 20, so don’t delay!

VIVO encourages applications from self-identified members of underserved communities as well as visible and invisible minority groups.

For info on all of VIVO’s programs, visit vivomediaarts.com. Want to know more about upcoming educational events? Email education@vivomediaarts.com.

Pietro Sammarco is the education coordinator at VIVO Media Arts Centre.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Study Buddy Mentors needed for Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland

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Big Sister Anna (right) attended Little Sister Olimpia’s high school graduation. The two were matched for four years and Olimpia credits her Big Sister for helping her attend post-secondary education. Photo courtesy of Big Sisters BCLM.

Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland (Big Sisters BCLM) is in need of Study Buddy volunteers throughout the Lower Mainland, especially in Burnaby and the Tri-Cities.

The Study Buddy program is a weekly one-to-one mentoring relationship that focuses on school work. Little Sisters in this program not only improve their academics but also report a higher level of self-esteem. Take for instance, Study Buddy Anna and Little Sister Olimpia, who were matched when Olimpia was in Grade 9 and was, as she describes it, a “rebellious teenager.”

“I dropped bombs on Anna, testing her to see if she would stick around,” said Olimpia about their first year as a match. Anna stayed by her side.

“At the end of the day, Olimpia had self-perceptions that weren’t true,” said Anna. “Olimpia’s teachers and some of the other adults in her life were not supportive, viewing Olimpia as a problem kid on her way to dropping out of high school. But as I got to know her, she began to see otherwise.”

Now, Olimpia is in her first year at Langara College and is hoping to complete her degree in psychology or social work at the University of British Columbia.

“Without Anna’s influence in my life, I probably wouldn’t be going to college,” said Olimpia.

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group supports Olimpia’s statement, showing that adults who had a mentor as a child are more likely to volunteer, donate, complete post-secondary education and feel confident.

“Mentoring has a powerful impact,” said Brenda Gershkovitch, executive director of Big Sisters BCLM. “Research shows that students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class. Plus, girls with a mentor are four times less likely than their peers to bully, fight, lie or lose their temper.”

In 2016, Big Sisters BCLM matched 775 girls in the Lower Mainland. There are currently 141 girls ready to be matched.

“We expect the number of Little Sister referrals to grow once school starts up in September,” said Gershkovitch. “Get your application in now, so we can give these girls positive mentors when they need it most.”

For more information on how to become a Study Buddy volunteer, visit www.bigsister.bc.ca/study-buddy.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Common Voices: The Cultural Legacy of Italian and Cantonese Opera in Vancouver

Exhibit at Italian Cultural Centre’s Il Museo runs until July 15

Chinese-Opera-Common-Voices

Rosa Cheng, Vancouver Cantonese Opera, 2016. Photos courtesy of the Italian Cultural Centre

BY ANGELA CLARKE

Spanning May and June, which are Asian and Italian heritage months, the Italian Cultural Centre mounted an exhibition on the history of Cantonese and Italian opera in Vancouver. While these two art forms evolved independently from two diverse musical traditions, they share significant commonalities as major performance genres spanning the cultural history of the Chinese and Italian communities in Vancouver.

Both art forms have been practised in Vancouver since the beginning of immigration to this area, around 1885. They are known for their elaborate costuming and make-up, as well as the immense skill required of the artists who devote their lives to interpreting these musical genres.

While both musical forms are viewed as an acquired taste, often requiring some knowledge of the music and its history before they can be appreciated, historically, they have contributed significantly over the last century to the cultural landscape of Vancouver. Both genres have enabled both the Chinese and Italian communities to remain connected with their cultures of origin as they have negotiated their way in their new home of Canada.

Art, opera and cultural discrimination

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Vancouver Opera, Norma, starring Joan Sutherland, 1963.

The story of Italian and Cantonese opera also tells the story of discrimination and isolation. For both Italian and Cantonese communities in Vancouver these musical genres were often performed as a means to create community and connection in times of duress.

The exhibition tells the story of the Italian men interned in the work camps of Kananaskis in Alberta and Petawawa in Ontario, who created a camp choir of internees. These men, surrounded by armed guards, travelled around the countryside performing scheduled appearances. Despite being under heavy surveillance they were in demand among the civilian communities around Petawawa. There was even a professional opera singer, Piero Orsatti, among them.

For the Cantonese-speaking men living in Vancouver’s Chinatown, Cantonese opera and its performance was a means to create a haven for men who could not speak English, and due to the laws of exclusion, where banned from bringing family to Canada. Cantonese opera was a means of creating a foundation of familiarity in an unfamiliar and hostile environment.

For the Chinese men who immigrated to Vancouver for work on the railway, Cantonese opera was compelling not only because of the language but also for the many female performers who travelled from China in theatrical troupes. Certainly the story of Cantonese opera in Vancouver is an important and unique vignette offering scholars important insight into the history of women in Vancouver performance history. Women performers drew large audiences in Vancouver in the 1920s and ’30s, a full decade before women were even allowed to perform in their native China. As well, despite the traditionalism of the art form, these female artists, performing along the West Coast of the United States and Canada, became renowned for their alluring sense of style and the adoption of North American silver-screen aesthetics.

Currently Cantonese opera in Vancouver still continues to be relevant largely due to the female performers. In the Chinese community, women train as interpreters of this genre later in life, desiring to reconnect with their culture in retirement. Women train to interpret both the male and female roles.

Today Italian opera continues to emerge from its Eurocentric origins, finding contemporary relevance in plot lines located in post-colonial environments. As part of the repertoire for the Push Festival in 2017, Third World Bunfight produced a modern retelling of Verdi’s opera Macbeth. This full-length opera relocated the traditional plotline from medieval Scotland and placed it into the current political realities of the Congo in territories governed by military dictatorships. This production was supported by Vancouver Opera and the Italian Cultural Centre.

This exhibition on the history of Cantonese and Italian opera in Vancouver features historic costuming and interactive video to animate this story. The exhibition runs until Saturday, July 15, 2017.

Angela Clarke is the museum director and curator at the Italian Cultural Centre Museum. The Common Voices exhibit has been supported by Canada Heritage, the Museum of Migration and the Italian Cultural Centre.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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July 2017 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News July 2017

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • New Il Museo exhibit illuminates the cultural legacy of Italian and Cantonese opera in Vancouver
  • Big Sisters seeks Study Buddy mentors
  • Make it a learning summer in Renfrew-Collingwood
  • MOSAIC moves to Collingwood
  • Reorganized Organ youth art project
  • Windermere students visit Ottawa with Don Davies, MP
  • Art for your heart: New book by local artist Ricardo Arturo Cerna Rivas
  • Have a Still Moon summer!

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the August 2017 issue is July 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.