Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Art Institute of Vancouver Multicultural Carnival

Many people enjoyed the Multicultural Carnival at the Art Institute of Vancouver. Photos by Luxi Lin

Many people enjoyed Multicultural Carnival at the Art Institute of Vancouver held late Nov. 2016. Photos by Luxi Lin


The Art Institute of Vancouver, a post-secondary institution located in close proximity to the Renfrew SkyTrain station, hosted a Multicultural Carnival on the evening of November 22, 2016. In recognition of the diverse cultures represented at the Art Institute of Vancouver, the event recognized this diversity by sharing what different cultures have to offer.

Each of the venues set up represented a different country and its respective culture. Countries that were represented include Mexico, Philippine, Ukraine, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Japan, Brazil, Afghanistan and Indonesia.

Art Institute of Vancouver staff and the Student Association get ready for the Multicultural Carnival.

Art Institute of Vancouver staff and the Student Association get ready for the Multicultural Carnival.

In order for attendees to gain a sense of these different cultures, each venue had a variety of games, food, activities and memorabilia derived directly from their country and culture. As such, attendees gained a first-hand experience of what each country and culture was like.

A show by the band The Noumenon and DJ performance by DJ 909 & Kennix provided live music, increasing the vibe of the event.

Making a special appearance was singer and songwriter Wanting Qu, who also happens to be an alumni of the Art Institute of Vancouver.

Attendees were enthusiastic about taking in what other cultures had to offer. They all enjoyed the abundance of activities that were available. It was a night filled with laughter and enjoyment, regardless of whether it is the people sharing the culture or those experiencing it.

Copyright (c) 2017 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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Still Moon Arts takes youth on a caravan along the Fraser


The Still Moon Arts team started off at Mount Robson, the headwaters of the Fraser River. Photo courtesy of Still Moon Arts



Youth from the Still Moon Arts Society spent a week in June travelling along the Fraser River watershed in the 2nd annual Wild Salmon Caravan!

The Wild Salmon Caravan, taking place from June 6 to 11, was a journey from Mount Robson to Vancouver celebrating the spirit of the wild salmon through indigenous communities in Chase, Adams Lake, Kamloops, Lillooet, Lytton, Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

“The journey was really about celebrating, recognizing and honouring the spirit of the wild salmon, and how it is interconnected with First Nations culture as well as the rest of the environment,” said Henry Lau, one of the youth from the Still Moon Arts Youth Team.

The spirit of the salmon is something that influences across cultures and communities, representing more than just the ecological health of the land or water but also the relationships communities have with nature and each other.


It was an honour to take part in the Lytton ceremony. Photo by Chitha Manoranjan

Groups from across British Columbia joined the Wild Salmon Caravan in this travelling collective of culture, art, drumming, music and storytelling. It sought to connect with people and express the significance of salmon to the well-being of our cultures, communities, food systems and nature from an indigenous perspective.

“What I witnessed reminds me about how food is important to me in my neighborhood of Renfrew-Collingwood and how that is connected to the ways that First Nations groups access culturally relevant food in their own indigenous landscape,” said Crecien Bencio, who also participated in the journey.

The Wild Salmon Caravan also stressed the importance of building strong relationships with indigenous communities and conducting meaningful reconciliation processes. Threats of development and climate change endanger the well-being of the wild salmon that are so intricately linked with the land and its people. The Wild Salmon Caravan carried the wishes and hopes for what relationships with wild salmon was in the past, what it is in the present, and what will be in the future.

Still Moon’s previous youth engagement coordinator Chitha Manoranjan expressed, “I’m proud that we were able to take a small team of youth from this community up on this journey to share stories of our community’s successful efforts at bringing chum salmon back to Still Creek and bring some of Still Moon Arts’ creative energy. More importantly, it was an honour to be so warmly welcomed to different indigenous communities and be witness to the rich cultures and experiences that these communities have.“

The journey was part of Still Moon Arts’ Youth Engagement Project funded by the BC Arts Council. The youth team was made up of two Grade 9 students from the Leadership 9 Ecology class who have been working in the Renfrew Ravine this past year, and two long-time youth volunteers (and dedicated board members).

The team returns to the community with deeper knowledge, experiences and stories that are necessary to continue to act as stewards of the salmon and inspire the community to create their own intercultural experiences around food.

To find out more about Still Moon Arts Society’s journey on the Wild Salmon Caravan, visit or find out more about the Wild Salmon Caravan at

Lucas Chan is a summer student with Still Moon Arts Society.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Celebrate Canada’s 149th birthday at Youth Celebrate Canada Day – July 1!


Youth Celebrate Canada Day at Renfrew Park, July 1

On Friday, July 1, 2016, at Renfrew Park Community Centre, Youth Celebrate Canada Day will once again host a spectacular celebration to commemorate Canada’s birthday.

This youth-organized event features fabulous performers of all cultures. There will be many exciting activities to do at the event, so bring your family and friends for a fun and lively time filled with entertainment! From arts and craft to food stands to games, there are many ways for people from all ages to participate in the event.

The fun festivities will start at 1:00 pm and will continue throughout the afternoon at Renfrew Park (at East 22nd Avenue and Renfrew), so come join along with everyone to celebrate Canada Day!

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Picnic, popcorn and movie at Gaston Park, June 17

Family fun on June 17, 7 pm, at Gaston Park


Picnic and Movie at Gaston Park

Bring the family out to the picnic and movie at Gaston Park. Photo courtesy of Collingwood CommunityPolicing Centre

Food, fun and a free movie – what a dynamic combination to kick off summer!

On Friday, June 17 starting around 7 pm all are invited to gather at Gaston Park (Euclid Avenue near Joyce Street) and bring a picnic for yourself, your friend or your family and meet your neighbours. Dinner will be followed by games for the kids and then, once the sun sets, a free movie complete with free popcorn.

The event was sparked in part by Victor Toh, who is the chair of the Collingwood Neighbourhood School Parent Advisory Council. He wants his son to go to school in the kind of a neighbourhood where people stop to talk to each other.

At a recent idea jam, Victor Toh, Collingwood Neighbourhood School vice-principal Joel Levine and Collingwood Neighbourhood House executive director Jennifer Gray-Grant were discussing ways to increase community connectedness. The idea of a picnic in the park evolved into a picnic, games and movie night, which they hoped would draw even more people to take part.

“We’re pulling our school’s annual movie night from the school into the park,” Toh said. That way, they can help build connections between different facets of the community such as parents and students, community members and organizations, and the school and the wider community.

The Collingwood Community Policing Centre (CCPC) joined the group to offer one of its movie-in-a-park nights to coincide with the picnic. Collingwood Housing Co-op joined as a partner and then the Collingwood Branch of the Vancouver Public Library offered to do a pop-up library at the event.

Toh and a friend received a Neighbourhood Small Grant to cover the cost of posters to advertise the event, water bottles for attendees and prizes for the games for the children. The CCPC will provide the free popcorn. Toh and a friend have also organized music while Renfrew-Collingwood INTERactive will run the games.

Toh said they have made new community connections. “It’s about helping kids and families.” Toh would like the neighbourhood where his son goes to school to be seen as a place beyond just a series of houses and apartments. “I want people to know they’re in a neighbourhood where everyone helps support each other and is a part of something.”

There are other benefits as well, according to CCPC’s Partap Sahota. “The stronger the community and the more people that get involved, the less crime there is. Getting to know your neighbours is the best form of crime prevention.”

The CCPC looks beyond the stereotypes of the role of police, to the role of friendly neighbours in building safe communities. When neighbours know each other, they will look out for each other, for example, by checking up on their houses when they are away.

Joel Levine of Collingwood Community School hopes that events like this one will connect his students to their neighbourhood so that they take more ownership and initiative towards improving it. He’s also glad to have an opportunity to plan a fun, family event.

All are invited to join the fun at Gaston Park on Friday, June 17 starting at 7 pm. Just bring a picnic, a blanket or chairs and a something to keep you warm as the sun goes down and the family-oriented movie starts.

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Il Museo kicks off Italian Heritage Month with Romeo e Giuletta, June 3 and 4

Experience Shakespeare’s beloved play in Italian


Romeo and Giulietta at Il Museo, Italian Cultural Centre

Romeo and Giulietta plays at Il Museo, Italian Cultural Centre, June 3 and 4

June is Italian Heritage month and Il Cento has a full month of scheduled events in honour of the Italian contribution to the cultural life of Vancouver. These events include wine tastings, jazz and opera concerts, soccer with the Whitecaps, Il Mercato (the Italian market), and Italian movies in the park.

One new addition to this annual event is a bilingual production of Romeo e Giulietta produced and performed by the Cultural Centre’s new theatre group the Il Centro Players.

The artistic director in charge of production is Nicole Riglietti. Riglietti comes to Il Centro with extensive experience in theatre, film and television. While she plays the title role of Giulietta in this performance, her artistic goals have always been in the area of theatre production. in future theatrical performances, she aims to devote herself entirely to directing.

Riglietti, who herself is of Italian heritage, believed that any theatre organization associated with Il Centro should produce a bilingual (Italian and English) productions. She felt that it was fitting for the very romantic and well-known Romeo e Giulietta by Shakespeare to be their first production since it has always been one of her favourite plays from childhood. It is also Shakespeare’s most famous Italian play and most Vancouver audiences are already familiar with the story.

During a recent trip to Italy Riglietti discovered an excellent Italian translation of this play, and this confirmed her decision to make this production a bilingual one.

In addition, after immersing herself in the Italian text, she found that the Italian dialogue could be seamlessly introduced into the staging without losing context and continuity in the plot. There is nothing that will be lost in translation for audiences when half the play is spoken in Italian.

The bilingualism of the text works well and is culturally significant on many levels. First, Romeo e Giulietta is Shakespeare’s best-known Italian play. There are 13 plays that Shakespeare located in Italy. In fact, scholars have argued that Shakespeare himself had an in-depth knowledge of Italian history and culture. So many social and historical realities found within his Italian plays are entirely accurate. Therefore, it has been argued that Shakespeare must have had a first-hand knowledge of Italian historical events and geography.

The most significant of Shakespeare’s insights found in Romeo e Giulietta is the role of Friar Lawrence as peacekeeper between the warring families. In Renaissance Italy monks in the Franciscan Order tried desperately to maintain the peace in the politically fractured city states of Northern Italy. As well, the original story of Romeo e Giulietta was written in Italian in 1531 by the Venetian author Luigi Da Porto. Shakespeare must have had a familiarity with Da Porto’s work.

The other decision to make the production bilingual resides in the nature of the play’s cast. Everyone who contributes to the Il Centro players has an immigrant background. Many troupe members, like Nicole herself, are second- and third-generation Italian Canadians, in other words the children and grandchildren of Italian immigrants. Each one of them grew up speaking Italian or a dialect of it in their homes.

For these young people Italian is often spoken interchangeably with English in their daily lives. Therefore, a bilingual theatre matches the cultural reality of the actors participating in it and the larger community it serves.

As Nicole Riglietti describes it, “being Italian-Canadian means to be both Italian and Canadian.”

It is our hope in future productions to continue to acknowledge this cultural duality. Shakespeare’s Romeo e Giulietta, is the perfect introduction to this concept, while it might be an English play fundamentally, it still represents a deep, rich and longstanding Italian tradition.

This perfectly represents the cultural life at Il Centro, all of us live in contemporary Vancouver, but within each one of us there resides a significant Italian historic tradition informing and shaping our cultural expression.

See Romeo e Giulietta at Il Centro June 3 and 4, 2016, at 7 pm.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Performigrations: Exhibit of immigration stories continues at Il Museo Italian Cultural Centre til Oct. 30

The joys and sorrows of immigration as an important source for artistic creativity


Performigrations Exhibit at Il Museo

The artists who took the stage at the Italian Cultural Centre were Performigrators (or immigrant performers) in the truest sense of the word. Photo by Mark Evans

The Italian Cultural Centre and Collingwood Neighbourhood House closed the Vancouver leg of the European Union Project called Performigrations with a concert at the Italian Cultural Centre on September 13, 2015.

Through dance, spoken-work performance and originally composed Latin-themed music, the concert brought clarity to the theme of a three-week long project, entitled Performigrations: The People Are the Territory, that was initiated by the University of Bologna and its eight partner cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Lisbon, Valletta, Klagenfurt, Athens and Bologna itself).

The exhibit of the same name continues at the Italian Cultural Centre’s Il Museo until October 30, 2015.

This international project looked at each immigrant as fundamentally a performer or creator, for, like an artist, each immigrant must confront a blank page or canvas when they come to a new country.

From the void of the unknown their lives must be recreated. This process of creation merges their past experiences and knowledge from the old country with new ideas and concepts derived from enforced adaptation to the new. Necessity breeds invention and the need of leaving the old country, oftentimes for financial or political reasons, forces the immigrant to create a new life from the unknown.

During the concert, the five artists who took the stage at the Italian Cultural Centre were Performigrators (or immigrant performers) in the truest sense of the word. Each artist applied their artistic knowledge from their old country to their creative process that they continue to undertake in their new home.

The concert itself reflected the spirit of contemporary immigration and cultural diversity in a unique and interesting way. Not only did performers from diverse cultural backgrounds and artistic mediums take the same stage during the two-hour long concert in a seamless flow, but it was a significant demonstration of the way immigration can lead to important artist collaborations.

Events such as this demonstrate that multicultural artists are not working in isolation, creating art and music for their own immigrant groups. Rather, these contemporary immigrant artists embrace, accept and welcome the artistic input of those outside their cultural perimeters. For example, the Afro-Cuban drummer Israel Berriel played for both Nigerian dancer Maobong Oku and Nicaraguan musician Ramon Flores.

In the case of the Japanese artist Yoko Tomita and spoken word artist Jillian Christmas, their collective experiences brought up important questions about immigration and familial memory, especially with regard to its monumental impact on personal identity.

Jillian’s work grapples with the powerful ability ancestry stories have to shape the memories of the young. To hear a story, she tells us, is to create a memory. When we hear someone’s story we absorb the teller’s experiences and the traumatic emotions encoded within it.

Yoko Tomita confirmed this but also added that, in some cases, such as her father’s experiences during the bombing of Hiroshima, very little needed to be told. Rather, it was her father’s reluctance to tell his story that formed her own traumatic relationship to the destroyed city.

Finally, Babette Santos closed the event with an uplifting thought. Immigrations stories, she reminded the audience, often contain great romantic gestures. To begin with the process of immigration is an adventure as one enters a new life, with new opportunities. Often these stories attest to the strong emotional bonds between husbands and wives who immigrate together or young couples who write compelling letters of great affection during periods of geographic separation. It is these stories, Babette notes, which will be the inspiration for her future work.

The five performers offered insight into the joys and sorrows of immigration and why it is such an important source for artistic creativity.

The Italian Cultural Centre would like to thank Andrea Berneckas, Yoko Tomita and January Wolodarsky for their generous collaboration.

Angela Clarke, PhD, is the curator at Il Museo, the museum at the Italian Cultural Centre, located at 3075 Slocan Street on Grandview Highway.

Performigrations, the exhibit, continues at Il Museo until October 30, 2015.

Copyright (c) 2015 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News