Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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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

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Meet Diana! An INTERactive connector


Diana, an INTERactive connector

INTERactive connector Diana. Photo by Brenda Zeimer

Through my own volunteer work with INTERactive, I’ve met some inspirational, dedicated individuals in the Renfrew-Collingwood community—people who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

Fortunately, I was able to meet with Di (Diana) Dyck: A lady who puts a tonne of effort into her volunteer work, despite challenges she faces due to a disability. But that doesn’t stop her. What caught my attention was the fact that Di was even able to communicate with another person who does not speak her language.

Di has lived in Renfrew-Collingwood for several years and has been an INTERactive connector for over a year, dedicating her spare time to helping Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH). She was originally referred to INTERactive by Sterling James, a member of the INTERactive Community Partners Circle who describes her as a “social butterfly.”

“What I like about the community is that it is safe and full of friendly people,” Di says. She reaches out by talking with new people, and starting conversations about opportunities through CNH and other agencies and community groups. From approaching businesses to providing information pamphlets, Di truly values the importance of getting to know and build a connection with other community members.

In her spare time, Di also enjoys baking cookies and going for walks around the neighbourhood. She has met many new friends, and has increased self-confidence through her volunteer experience. Di has built upon new skills which she’ll carry with her, throughout life.

Annie Lai is a grade 12 student currently enrolled in the Leadership Mini School Program at Windermere Secondary and is involved with INTERactive as a connector. Her passions include volunteering and planning events in the community, working with social media and watching documentaries.

Copyright (c) 2015 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Intercultural Physical Activity Guide gets neighbours moving and learning from each other


A team of professionals from Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), Renfrew Park Community Centre, Windermere Family of Schools, University of British Columbia (UBC) and Action Schools! BC is developing an Intercultural Physical Activity Guide, which aims to increase intercultural understanding using physical activity as a tool.

Dance walking is one of the many non-competitive and fun activities that a group can do to learn about others.

Dance walking is one of the many non-competitive and fun activities that a group can do to learn about others.

The activities in this guide will be pilot-tested through community organizations in Renfrew-Collingwood this fall, and provincial-wide promotions of the published guide is scheduled to begin next year. This guide is one of the several projects launched through Renfrew-Collingwood INTERactive, a community initiative that encourages local residents to connect with neighbours through physical activities.

At 43-pages, the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide is a launching pad for any group to explore interculturalism or physical activity. It’s geared toward individuals in leadership capacities, but the activities, though originally planned for school-aged children, can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age.

The guide includes over seven categories of activities ranging from handball to skipping and jumping, and within each category are often cultural variations of activities. In Target and Accuracy Games, for instance, there are games from Sierra Leone, First Nations groups (Sahtu and Chipewyan), Greece and Ethiopia. There’s even a category teaching readers how they or their participants can create their own activities. Each category has a series of intercultural discussion questions, activity co-creating suggestions and physical activity outcomes.

“We focused on the three themes: relationship building, learning from each other and sharing, and co-creating,” said Vive Wong, CNH’s prevention education coordinator, who also stressed that the games were not focused on competition, but fun-filled participant engagement.

Wong and UBC graduate student Donna Lee researched and drafted the document from February to September. Both women are experienced in planning activities and have studied with Dr. Wendy Frisby, a co-founder of RC INTERactive and former UBC School of Kinesiology professor. They gathered suggestions from RC INTERactive community partners and Dr. Frisby’s UBC undergraduate students, and evaluated resources from Action Schools! BC and the UBC Library, as well as materials provided by Michael McLenaghen, the director of community services at CNH.

“We had to research the history of the activity, consider how we were going to include physical literacy (or skills the activities develop), think of how can we use the activity to promote interculturalism, and how participants would interact with each other,” said Wong. “These couldn’t be activities you did yourself.”

The result blew the organizing committee away. “Most of the activities, I’ve never heard about.“ said Dr. Frisby. “Vive and Donna did a great job researching, [and] exploring possibilities.”

Gavin Clark, the community schools coordinator for the Windermere Family of Schools, is excited about the guide, too, saying, “It may prompt dialogue and hopefully, [prompt] people to develop new ways of thinking and being within an intercultural context.”

The idea for the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide came about during discussions between UBC kinesiology students and teachers and principals from the Windermere Family of Schools. The students discovered that the educators were enthusiastic about the idea of interculturalism, but neither have the time nor resources to effectively create and implement intercultural physical activities in classrooms.

Paula Carr, an RC INTERactive co-founder and intercultural specialist, and Nancy Reynolds, a facilitator for RC INTERactive, responded by gathering a team from RC INTERactive to develop a guide. Action Schools! BC was later brought on because of their extensive experience creating and distributing physical activity resources across elementary schools.

Now that the draft is completed, the Intercultural Physical Activity Guide moves toward the next phase: testing. Supported by a Healthy Living grant from Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, RC INTERactive will coordinate Train the Trainer workshops this fall and winter in the Renfrew-Collingwood area for recreation practitioners, teachers, student leaders, parents and any other interested individuals. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, contact Paula Carr at Once finalized, the guide will be available for free download from and distributed to the roughly 1,600 elementary and middle schools in BC through Action Schools! BC workshops.

The Intercultural Physical Activity Guide is an example of how a project started in Renfrew-Collingwood can make a significant contribution to a wider community to further prevent social isolation and promote health. “This is a concrete tool for a variety of groups to use,” says Carr, who adds, “and we hope it will get people more active, aware of diversity and willing to ‘create something new with someone not like you.’ ”

Copyright (c) 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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New health and physical activity project moves residents


Renfrew-Collingwood community organizations and the University of B.C. Kinesiology Department partnered earlier this year to launch the Renfrew-Collingwood Interculturalism, Health and Physical Activity Initiative. The goal of this project is to promote interculturalism, defined as curiosity about people different from ourselves and a willingness to connect, through physical activity to increase social-connectedness, health and well-being in the community.

Residents of the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood are encouraged to participate in events associated with this initiative and are invited to share their learning experiences. This initiative is expected to continue indefinitely, but is also expected to launch and support other related projects and programs in the neighbourhood.

To support the project, diverse teams made up of Renfrew-Collingwood community leaders have been or are in the process of being established. The steering circle, responsible for giving direction to this initiative, consists of representatives from Collingwood Community Policing, Vancouver Coastal Health, Windermere Family of Schools, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, Renfrew Park Community Centre, UBC and Collingwood Business Improvement Association. The Intercultural Communicators Circle disseminates stories and information, and the Intercultural Connectors Circle, once formed, will reach out to groups that are identified as low-participatory groups.

UBC faculty, staff and students will be working alongside the three circles as well as Renfrew-Collingwood residents or groups who are or will be involved in intercultural physical activities. Led by Dr. Wendy Frisby, the UBC group will act as an academic resource to the community and assist the community in documenting the project. Their aim is to build capacity around the neighbourhood and, in the process, gain insight into real-life community development.

Between now and December 2013, all three circles and UBC representatives will work together to identify existing skills and to learn new skills, create a regularly updated map of intercultural physical activities in the community, promote and communicate about the initiative and document and review the project process.

Residents of the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood should contact Paula Carr at if they have questions or are able to contribute to the map or organize events and programs that promote community and intercultural physical activity. The Intercultural Communications Circle is also actively looking for motivational stories from community members that give insight into stories about community-based physical health initiatives.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News