Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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The girl who ran away to join the circus … And stayed

Tuedon Ariri’s amazing journey from Collingwood to École Nationale de Cirque


Tuedon Ariri practising contorsion straps

Tuedon Ariri practising contorsion straps at the Ecole. Photo by Mathieu Doyon

For most people, running away to join the circus is merely a pipe dream or an empty threat aimed at one’s parents. However, for one Collingwood resident, this fantasy has become a reality. Tuedon Ariri is currently attending École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, one of the most prestigious circus schools in the world, where the 17 year old has just entered the first year of the Diploma of Collegial Studies in Circus Arts program.

Ariri got her start in gymnastics in the Collingwood area at a very young age. “When I was really young, about four or five [years old], my mom decided to put me in a [gymnastics] class in the Collingwood area just for fun,” Ariri recalls.

After a couple of years of participating on a recreational level with rhythmic gymnastics, Ariri was ready for a new challenge. In the years following her first competition at the age of seven, Ariri began dedicating herself to her new-found passion, training with former Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung.

“We would train 24 hours a week, every morning from six until 10, head to school and then occasionally train again after from four until eight at night,” explains Ariri. All of this hard work paid off as Ariri had success in tournaments on provincial, national and international levels all before her 16th birthday.

As part of her year-round training, Ariri would attend the École Nationale de Cirque summer camp in Montreal in the summers leading up to grades 8, 9 and 10. This is where Ariri’s life took a drastic turn.

“In my third year [the school] decided to hold auditions at the summer camp,” explains Ariri. “I decided to try out just for fun and to see what it was like in case I ever wanted to attend the school.” It turned out that Ariri passed the audition with flying colours and was offered an opportunity to finish the last three years of high school at the National Circus School on the opposite side of the country in Montreal.

With only four days to make a decision, Ariri faced a huge decision, on whether to give up rhythmic gymnastics and the life she knew in favour of joining the Circus. “It was a hard decision but in the end I decided to go because it was such a good opportunity and it’s also something that you could have a career in.”

Tuedon Ariri at the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal

Tuedon Ariri typically spends 12 hours a day training at the impressive facilities at the École Nationale de Cirque, including this three-storey gym seen in the background complete with cables and counterweights hanging from the ceiling and a trampoline built into the floor. Photo by Julie Cheng

Once enrolled at the school, Ariri’s high school experience became anything but normal. “It [consisted] of four hours of training a day, then five hours of regular school activities,” says Ariri.

After graduating from high school last spring, Ariri is now enrolled in the three-year post-graduate program offered by the school. She has chosen to specialize in contortion straps, where her gymnast background gives her a definite boost. Although her upper body strength is still improving, the creativity and freedom of it are what really drew Ariri to the contortion straps in the first place.

On a typical weekday, Ariri puts in about 12 hours of work. “On Wednesdays I start at 8:30 am but arrive around 8:00 to warm up and stretch, then an hour of hula-hoop class, an hour of straps which is my specialty, an hour of dance, an hour of acrobatics, after lunch I have an hour of juggling, then an hour of physical preparation (gym, weights ), two hours of acting, a break for dinner, and then two hours of English class,” Ariri explains.

Like most of the students, after graduation Ariri plans on pursuing a career in the circus. “There are many other circuses in Montreal that are very high quality and many over in Europe, but I would love to work for Cirque du Soleil personally.”

It is fair to say that Tuedon Ariri is not living your typical teenage life. While it may be a lot of long days full of hard work, Ariri is achieving a long-lost fantasy for many people, running off to join the circus, and loving every moment of it.

Soren Elsay is a second year student at the University of B.C. and an aspiring journalist.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Fun and tasty lunch and snack ideas for all ages

As the school year wears on, the job of packing lunches need not become a chore


Need inspiration for school lunches? You can keep lunches fun and tasty by including foods that allow family members to personalize their choices. Use reusable containers and let family members choose the items they want to pack in their lunch. Children will be more likely to eat the lunches they have packed for themselves.

  •  Salsa and Chips – try the recipes shown below for Fresh Tomato Salsa with Tortilla Chips
  • Build Your Own Tacos – soft whole wheat tortillas, shredded cooked chicken or refried beans, thinly sliced red or yellow pepper, salsa
  • Rolling Wraps – whole wheat tortilla, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, chopped roasted vegetables, hummus or cooked meat or cooked chicken, mustard or mayonnaise
  • Pita Pockets – cut whole wheat pita pockets in half and offer a variety of fillings
  • Tomato and Pasta Salad – halved cherry tomatoes, cooked pasta, cubes of cheese, canned tuna or salmon and your favourite dressing
  • Salad Rolls – Dip rice paper wrappers in warm water to soften and fill with rice noodles, grated carrot, chopped cucumber, cooked meat or poultry or shrimp, and chopped basil or cilantro
  • Granola, Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits – pack granola, chopped fruit and yogurt in separate containers and combine just before eating
  • Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip – variety of chopped fruits, e.g., melon balls, grapes (cut in half for small children to prevent choking), berries
  • Veggie Dippers – sliced, raw vegetables or pita for with hummus for dipping

Tips to keep lunches and snacks safe to eat

  • Wash your hands before preparing or eating food
  • Prepare foods on a clean surface with clean utensils
  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot
  • Keep cold foods in the fridge until you leave home
  • Use an insulated lunch bag with a small ice pack or frozen container of water for foods that need to stay cold
  • Pack hot foods in a thermos, fill with boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes before filling
  • Do not reuse foods that can cause food illness (e.g., meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk products) that are not eaten from a packed lunch

Fresh Tomato Salsa

3 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 roasted red pepper, skinned and chopped
75 ml (1/3 cup) finely chopped, red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
60 ml (1/4 cup) chopped, fresh cilantro
10 ml (2 tsp) lime or lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced

In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, roasted pepper, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, salt, and lime or lemon juice. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator before serving to let the flavours combine.

Tortilla Chips

10 25-cm (10-inch) tortilla
Canola oil or melted butter
Seasoning to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Brush one side of each tortilla with canola oil or melted butter. Sprinkle tortillas with your favourite seasoning e.g., chipotle chilli pepper. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes.

Kathy Romses is a registered dietitian at Evergreen Community Health Centre.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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October 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News October 2013

Read RCC News October 2013

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

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Medical marijuana coalition fights repeal
  • Your family tree – Tips for free research
  • My life in art by Janet Lee
  • The value of heritage: A vintage photo comes to life
  • Nasib Singh: A cup of chai on rainy days
  • Introducing intercultural connectors to get the community moving
  • The girl who ran away to the circus – And stayed: Tuedon Ariri’s journey from Collingwood to a famed circus school

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email The deadline for the November issue is October 10, 2013.