Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Graham Bruce Spring Carnival, May 27

PAC fundraises to bring back stage use

Graham Bruce Spring Carnival

Graham Bruce Spring Carnival

Graham Bruce Elementary is having their 4th Spring Carnival on Friday, May 27 from 4 to 8 pm at 3633 Tanner Street.

Over the past three years these carnivals have been a great place to gather neighbours to enjoy some time together while helping the school. The funds raised last year was around $6,000 and with the moneys raised in the previous years gave the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) enough to build the new playground for the primary area.

The Vancouver School Board is facing a budget deficit of $25 million dollars – the worst deficit in over two decades. The proposed cuts will affect every family and the effects of the cuts will be felt for years to come.

This is why the Graham Bruce PAC holds its carnivals, to make up for what the students/teachers need yet don’t have access to. Many students in band will no longer be able to afford to do something they love. Graham Bruce has a stage in the gym that has not been opened in so many years most the teachers at the school didn’t even know it opened.

“I went to this school as a child and the stage was opened for all assemblies, plays and sporting events held at the school,” says parent Dave Lambert. “Now for it to be opened the school board must send a “crew” to open it, and charge the school $800 per time. We can’t afford that!”

The PAC would like to raise the money required to have a sliding door installed on the stage so it may be opened and used the way it was designed to be used. Donations are always welcomed and may be sent to the PAC email or just write them if you went to Graham Bruce.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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New Il Museo exhibit by Shelley Stefan traces family lines and lesbian family heraldry

Shelley Stefan's bronze family crest. Photos courtesy of Il Museo

Shelley Stefan’s bronze family crest. Photos courtesy of Il Museo

On April 12, a new exhibition opened at the Italian Cultural Centre Museum and it will run until June 30, 2016. This exhibition by Shelley Stefan examines the history of family identity through heraldry and seeks to incorporate same sex-marriages into this traditional iconography.

Artist Shelley Stefan’s work has always referenced the past. However, her perspective is split into polarities and her historical lens possesses two filters. One filter acknowledges that historians are guilty of sins of omission, the other sees the past as it should be.

Stefan, in her new exhibit Family Lines: Lesbian Family Heraldry, An Achievement of Arms, sees aspects of the past that have been edited out of the public consciousness, a history often dictated by the dominant mainstream perspective.

Shelley Stefan's family heirloom belt buckles with the image of the armadillo.

Shelley Stefan’s family heirloom belt buckles with the image of the armadillo.

But history can also be defined by the experiences of the dispossessed, who reside in the margins of the dominant, subsisting under the social radar, yet finding ways to survive, thrive and find fulfilment.

Il Museo itself is divided into two parts to represent Stefan’s dispossessed. First, the medieval part of the gallery, focusing on heraldry and the achievement of arms of the Stefan household, rectifies history’s sins of omissions regarding queer history and same-sex families. Second, the other half of the gallery demonstrates how queer culture has thrived and has been able to celebrate itself despite the necessity of concealment and subversion.

The medieval arms area of the gallery evokes medieval knights, battle armour and family arms—the world of the fortress or castle where the military triumphs, medieval banquets and family identity become one and the same. Here also medieval knights embarked on dangerous quests to preserve social order against threatening influences, guided by the Christian virtues of the court and kingdom. Their function was to save their kingdom from the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride.

Stefan’s female warriors, or effigies, are destroyers of an alternate set of vices that threaten to destabilize the harmony of her kingdom. In Stefan’s estimation there are six, not seven, vices: despotism, greed, malevolence, infantile behaviour, monoheroism and entitlement. According to Stefan, the true vices corrupting humanity are acts of injustice against our fellow human beings.

In Stefan’s view a courtly society must devote itself first to harmony between ourselves, our world and the rights of our neighbours. To achieve this we must first cultivate respect for others within our own homes. It is home and family that must stalwartly preserve these core values.

Stefan imparts these values in the motto she imprints on her family crest: Perfect love, Perfect trust. She chooses the armadillo as a personal emblem to connote that, for all families, especially non-traditional ones, this state of harmony requires an unusually thick skin, an armour to protect against the dissenting opinions of those who carelessly hurl insults, leaving the family unit under siege.

The second part of the gallery conveys the secret history of queer life. On the picture walls of the gallery hang Stefan’s Masked series. This portion of the gallery depicts masked revelers, an iconographic reference to Venetian culture in Baroque Italy. In Venice masks enabled men and women to walk through the streets and conduct business in public without revealing their identity. As well, masks alluded to the subversion of the social order, especially during the celebrations of the carnival. A prince could assume the persona of a pauper and the pauper could dress in the guise of a king. Through the mask, the social order and established roles could be reversed.

For Shelley Stefan the mask conceals both her personal identity but also that of her family. While she celebrates with her family in a carnival-like atmosphere, she is also protecting their identity. Her revels must be contained within the safe walls of the castle.

The walls protect her family from the outside forces that can threaten the survival of her family in the guise of non-acceptance.

The final series in the Family Lines exhibition is the ephemeral and elusive Figurations. Depicted in black and white, the Figurations are an exact embodiment of chiaroscuro, shaded enough to be hidden, but light enough to be exposed for those who  care to look.

The Figurations are emblematic of the hidden history of queer life, fundamentally obscured from plain sight but able to be found by those who know what to look for.

Il Museo, the Italian Cultural Centre Museum, is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 to 6 pm.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Gift From Within Tour – A journey to save lives

Saving mom with love, guts and a kidney


I was born and raised in East Vancouver and moved to the Vancouver-Kingsway neighbourhood in my teen years. I have always been very closely connected to my community, no matter where I lived.

Currently I work for the Windermere Community Schools Program as a programmer and I help to run the after-school programs in our local elementary schools for students to have a safe place where they can learn and be supported during after school hours. I was always one that benefited from these programs as a child, as my family was not able to afford much.

Mom and Eileen fully recovered

Mom and Eileen fully recovered. Photos courtesy of Eileen Zheng

My mother was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is a genetically inherited disease. When I first envisioned helping my mother over eight years ago, she declined to take my kidney. She was uncertain of my future, the health risks and the changes that it may bring.

Today, a year after our transplant surgeries and doing extremely well, we realize the benefits of organ donation. It has not only improved our lives, but it has created an extraordinary bond between the two of us.

Now I am hoping to help people that are in need, but in a different sense. These are people that are waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

Being a living organ donor does not necessarily mean that your life stops and you have to change your lifestyle; it’s about saving or improving someone else’s life while you continue yours. It is the most meaningful gift you can give.

My goal is to share our story, increase awareness, increase organ donor registrants and fundraise for the Canadian Transplant Association for the literal lifesaving work that they do.

fundraising for the Canadian Transplant Assoc

Eileen is fundraising for the Canadian Transplant Association.

May 2016 I embark on an incredible journey across Canada on the Gift From Within Tour starting in Vancouver, B.C., and ending in St. John’s, Newfoundland. My fondest childhood memory was with my mother when she spent countless hours teaching me how to bike. Now I continue to bike for enjoyment, my health and the environment. I will cycle to events hosted by the Canadian Transplant Association across the country to tell our life-changing story.

I am asking for your contribution to my fundraiser at to begin the ride to help people in dire need of organ transplants. Every donation will make a difference regardless of the amount. Thank you in advance for your support.

You may follow my journey to save lives at

Eileen Zheng donated one of her kidneys to her mother in 2015.

Eileen’s kidney donation procedure

Eileen visits her mom after surgery

Eileen visits her mom after surgery.

Eileen was tested for everything health-wise the moment she went in to ask about donating a kidney to her mother.

It started with paperwork, blood work, physical exam, urine test, ultrasound, CT scans and genetics test.

She met the team (surgeon, nephrologist, anesthesiologist, social worker, psychiatrist) before the surgery; they were very thorough with making sure that she was 100% healthy and that she was not at risk of polycystic kidney disease herself in the future.

It takes four to eight weeks to recover, six months to recover fully.

Transplant donors can apply for reimbursements if you miss work, as well as for travel, living and parking costs.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News