Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Windermere Organic Garden Team grows fruit, veggies and community

Windermere Organic Garden market stall

The Windermere Garden Organic Team had just put out their produce when a cook from Collingwood Neighbourhood House offered up herbs. Photo by Jenny Lu


The Leadership program in Windermere Secondary has transformed an empty weed-filled area in the school’s grass field into a beautiful, edible food garden. There are now two parts to the garden at the school: the courtyard located at the heart of Windermere and the orchard located on the upper right of the Windermere field.

A team of devoted youth arrive every day after school to keep the garden in top condition. The students range from Grades 8 to 12 and make up the Windermere Organic Garden Team (WOGT). This year, the garden leaders are Gaelan Emo and Kobie Gingras-Fox, and included in the team is a student from the University of B.C. Fresh Roots, Jenny Lu.

Summer market

During summer 2016, the Windermere Organic Garden Team held a market stand for seven weeks every Tuesday outside the Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), at Joyce and Euclid. All the profit has gone back to help improve the Windermere garden.

The day before or on the day of the market, students would hand pick and wash the organically grown fruits and vegetables before transporting them to Collingwood Neighbourhood House by bicycle.

The crops included varieties of cucumbers, apples, kale, squash, cabbages and tomatoes. Every week, new and previous customers came to the stand, and whether they bought some produce or not, they all left with encouraging words that continue to push the students to keep up their work in the garden.

Windermere Garden market stall

Just a few of Windermere’s fruits and vegetables of the week. Photo by Jenny Lu

Growing community

Along with the summer market, the WOGT plans to work on greater projects involving the garden and members of the community. One such project is a giant mural located on a side wall in the orchard.

In collaboration with Collingwood Neighbourhood House, WOGT hopes to bring in students, such as students in the Windermere Athena Arts program, as well as youth from the community to all work on it.

Right now, one of the garden leaders is working with Crecien Bencio, a youth from CNH, to plan the mural. Watch for a swarm of students to start on it as soon as warmer weather returns.

Janette and Cindy Chen are Grade 10 and 11 students in of the Leadership program at Windermere Secondary. Both are involved in the community through various programs and organizations. They have been regular members of the Windermere Organic Garden Team since Grade 8 and 9.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Remembering David Hanuse – A beloved elder

David Hanuse gives a traditional First Nations welcome

David Hanuse gives a traditional First Nations welcome at a gathering in 2008. Photo by Julie Cheng

Dave Hanuse, a former board member of Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), elder to CNH’s Aboriginal youth, volunteer with Families Branching Out and just a very sweet man, passed away October 17, 2016. He was 73.

Dave was somebody who always looked on the bright side of life, loved to joke and laugh in his gentle way and spoke warmly about finding a home among the staff and volunteers at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

He was generous in sharing his cultural knowledge and practices and often gave a blessing – singing and accompanying himself on the drum – before Families Branching Out dinners. He loved to join the youth in the Canoe Club and felt such peace and contentment canoeing with them. He last participated in the Canoe Club’s Pulling Together Journey about two or three years ago.

Dave’s health was failing over the last few years but he still made the effort to come to Families Branching Out, more recently accompanied by an aide. It obviously made a huge difference to him to be a part of Families Branching Out and of CNH.

Julie Cheng, editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, recalled the days when she and David sat on the CNH board. “We had a special bond because we were both ‘newbies’ on the board, as he called us,” said Julie. “He always gave me a warm hug whenever he saw me.”

“I will always remember Dave’s twinkly, sparkling eyes,” recalled Jennifer Gray-Grant, CNH executive director. “He was the kind of person who absolutely focused on you when he spoke to you. He always gave you the sense that the time you spent speaking to him mattered to him. I will miss his kindness, his caring and his gentle manner.”

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Reflecting on five years of salmon returning to Still Creek

Still Creek photo with salmon and ducks

Still Creek at Natal Street and Cornett Road where chum salmon have appeared for the past four years. Photo by Kaitlyn Fung


In the first week of November 2016, my neighbours and I are waiting. At Still Creek by Natal Street and Cornett Road, we step off the sidewalk and dodge the blackberry fronds. We are close enough that our fingers touch the water. Our eyes are alert for a flicker of a fin or a ripple.

For five years now this has been our ritual. This would be the fifth year salmon are to return to Still Creek in Vancouver. Still Creek is part of the Brunette River Watershed and is one of the major tributaries that feeds Burnaby Lake. The creek is partially hidden in culverts until it reaches Burnaby, where it flows above ground until it empties into Burnaby Lake. Chum salmon hadn’t made their way through these industrialized areas for 80 years until 2012.

I can feel the water seeping in through my shoes, but I am excited. This moment is part of the narrative our childhood – our environmental restoration efforts, the trees that we planted in the Renfrew Ravine now as big as we are, the silly garbage that we pulled out.

Personally, the salmon is a symbol of my own process of learning. This year, I have been more mindful of indigenous food sovereignty and the land that we are on. This journey has been confrontational and difficult. Through this, I learned how salmon is beyond species – it is linked to cultural knowledge systems, health, ecosystems, relationships and resiliency.

The salmon is a small wonder in my community. It surprises me how much I have learned from their returning presence. It surprises me how the many relationships I treasure revolve around their annual return. This year as I make my trek to the creek with friends I think, have the salmon heard our songs? Have they heard our dreams? For the past five years, this is where we have waited.

Still Moon Arts Society acknowledges that we are on the unceded, occupied, and traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sto’lo  nations, and for this we are thankful. Through creating art, restoring environment, and building community, Still Moon commits to  facilitating spaces for understanding and for knowledge sharing. This work will acknowledge and respect the contexts of the past and the present.

How can neighbours help the salmon and contribute to a thriving ecosystem in Renfrew-Ravine?

  • Do not use harmful chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Dispose of garbage, chemicals, paints and other liquids properly. Do not dump chemicals down the storm drain.
  • Wash your car without soap or with phosphate-free soap.
  • Participate in Evergreen’s Uncover Your Creeks program to take action to improve the health of Renfrew Ravine. For more information, visit

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News