Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Former BC Lions running back recalls his journey from the Deep South to north of the border


You may know him as the quiet, soft-spoken guy helping you behind the counter at Renfrew Park Community Centre, but John Henry White was once a punishing force as a running back for the BC Lions.

Before he played over 120 games and racked up over 8,000 yards in the Canadian Football League as #20 for the Lions, John Henry White very nearly remained in the United States. After starring for Louisiana Tech University, the diminutive White, who stands at 5’9”, had an outside chance of playing in the National Football League. Originally drafted in the eighth and final round of the 1978 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, White nearly made the Chiefs’ opening day roster.

“I was the final player released by the Chiefs that year,” explains White. “I could have easily stayed [in the NFL], but I would have been on the inactive roster and [the inactive roster] wasn’t nearly the same as it is today.”

Instead, White entertained the idea of migrating north. Although the BC Lions coach at the time, Vic Rapp, had been in contact with him during his college career, White knew very little about the CFL.

“I hadn’t really looked at the CFL much, I’m from the deep south of Louisiana, and I knew certain things about the CFL but not a lot,” recalls White. “The first team that [approached] me was Saskatchewan … I had never even heard of that name!”

After signing with BC, White was forced to adjust to the many differences between the Canadian and American version football, such as a wider field, one fewer down and the ability for multiple players to be in motion before the ball is snapped. Although he gained much of his knowledge through team classroom sessions and one-on-one talks with teammates, White still had to personally alter his game.

“[In college] you would look to go wide, get to the sideline and then go [upfield],” explains White, “but in the CFL, [the field] was so wide that you could just keep going east and west and end up going nowhere. That was a big transition.”

“The biggest thing was the motion, though. In college you could only have one guy in motion [before the snap] at once, up here you would sometimes have five guys moving at once; it was crazy.”

Once he had gotten a handle on the new game, White became a steady contributor for the Lions with 35 touchdowns over the course of 10 seasons in the league from 1978 to1987. Among his fondest memories of his time in the CFL are winning the 1985 Grey Cup and an 84-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Hamilton during the ’79 season.

Following the end of his football career, John Henry White chose to stay permanently in the city of Vancouver.

“It’s a beautiful city, but it’s actually the people that made me want to stay, ever since I first came here I’ve felt at home.”

John Henry White is currently a staff member at the Renfrew Park Community Centre and once coached the local junior football team, the Trojans.

Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Lamb souvla, traditional recipe for Greek Orthodox Easter


This year, the Greek Orthodox Easter is celebrated on Sunday, May 5th.

If you have never witnessed the service, take a walk down to St. Nicholas and Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church on Boundary and East 29th in Vancouver on Friday, May 3rd or Saturday 4th to see for yourself the ritual that is two thousand years in the making.

The highlight of the Epitaphios (lamentation icon) services on Good Friday is the Lament of the Tomb. It is carried outside the church as the congregation follows the procession and the chanting is hauntingly melodic. This service begins shortly after 7:00 pm, is outdoors, and lasts just over an hour.

On Saturday night, the services are also primarily outside to accommodate the mass crowd that attends. It begins late in the evening. As the service approaches its climax (midnight), the congregation arrives with new candles. The priest calls for the congregation to take light, and one by one they go to the priest for the lighting of the candles. This spreading of light across the darkness is a spectacular sight.

If you wish to witness this, arrive around 11:00 pm. At midnight, the Resurrection hymn can be heard, all of this is outdoors. In Greece and Cyprus, the hymn is barely heard as fireworks explode and church bells ring. The celebration begins and everyone cries out, “Χριστός ανέστη!” (Christ is risen!)

Easter Sunday is a full day of feasting following the 40-day Lent.

Greeks gather with their families and feast. Cypriots also gather with their families and extended families and a day of feasting begins.

The process of cooking is as important as the meal itself.

The main dish is usually souvla.

How to make lamb souvla

This is a lamb dish slow-grilled on a spit.

The fire is started hours before the meat is prepared. It is best to use charcoal or ash/twigs from grapevine branches.

The recipe itself is simple:

Use prime tender lamb. Cut it into chunks about the size of a rubik’s cube. Season the meat with oregano, salt and pepper. Skewer the meat, brush with olive oil, and slow-heat it over several hours on a souvla spit.

Cypriots enjoy souvla as the main course on Easter Sunday, as well as at most other holidays throughout the year.

Souvla is a simple, yet delicious main dish. Traditionally the men sit around the spit to monitor the heat levels. The women prepare the side dishes such as horiatiki salad*, and lemon potatoes. When the souvla is ready, it is served with lemon wedges, salad, potatoes and yogurt.

*Horiatiki salad

Horiatiki salad is a traditional Cypriot recipe for a classic salad made from a blend of tomatoes, onion, cucumber, with feta cheese in a dressing made of olive oil, coriander and flat-leaf parsley. Add olives just before serving.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News