Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Let’s celebrate literacy in September

BY JANICE BEXSON

From the time we wake up and until we go to sleep, literacy plays an integral part in everything that we do.

Literacy Is Life logo

Image source: decoda.ca

Whether we are checking the weather forecast, reading the instructions on how to make a breakfast shake, knowing the number of the bus that will take us to our destination, reading and answering emails and texts, ordering lunch and paying the bill, driving to a new destination, buying groceries, helping a stranger or tourist read a map to find a specific Air BNB, checking a bank statement, reading a story book to a child before bedtime or setting the alarm for tomorrow, we need and use basic literacy skills in order to achieve these activities in our work and in our daily lives.

However, these literacy skills are not just about learning how to read and write. They also involve knowing how well we use our literacy skills so that we can participate more fully in our community. Using existing and gaining new literacy skills increases our self-confidence, encourages connection to others, and expands our health, social and economic opportunities.

In British Columbia (B.C.), Decoda Literacy Solutions (Decoda) has declared September “Literacy Month.” Decoda supports community organizations in B.C. (including Collingwood Neighbourhood House) with funding, training and resources for a variety of literacy initiatives. Decoda’s “Literacy Is Life” campaign raises awareness about literacy and hosts a variety of activities throughout September.

As the lazy days of summer gently ease into fall, children return to school and adults generally shift from leisure to work mode, so September is the perfect month to think about how we can continue to foster literacy.

How can I foster literacy?

Well, there are many ways to involve literacy learning in your busy lives during September. A few examples include:

  • Play board games that inspire spelling, mathematical and logical thinking, such as Scrabble, UpWords, Qwirkle and Rush Hour.
  • Read a book out aloud, instead of silently.
  • Instead of using your GPS (global positioning system) to help you find a new destination, try using a good old paper map (the most updated copy you can find).
  • Challenge yourself and discover what 20 abbreviations or acronyms mean (e.g. GPS, ASAP, etc.)

Fostering our literacy skills involves constantly challenging ourselves, so that we continue to maintain and strengthen those skills. “Practice makes perfect”’ as the saying goes or “practice makes better,” as I prefer to say.

So, go ahead – this month, find out what literacy initiatives exist in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood, and take some time to visit Decoda’s website (www.decoda.ca) and view the Literacy Is Life campaign. Have a good Literacy Month!

Janice Bexson is the literacy outreach coordinator at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Family Tree Tips: Begin at the beginning

Family-Tree

An example of a family tree. Also look online for examples of pedigree charts. Image courtesy of Margaret Houben

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The majority of us are the descendants of immigrants. Not too far in our distant past, either our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents relocated to this wonderful country of Canada, and somehow wound up in the Renfrew-Collingwood area.

While growing up here I was aware that my mother’s side of the family lived in Oregon and my father’s side of the family lived in the Lower Mainland. While researching my dad’s past in 2011, I became obsessed with the “hows and whys” of their move from the prairies where they previously lived.

My dad was born in Spalding, Saskatchewan, but his parents both came from Wales. His father came alone to Canada in 1910, and his mother arrived in 1927 as a young woman of 19, along with her parents and siblings.

Although my grandpa was born in North Wales, and my grandma in South Wales, they met on the prairies and eventually wound up here on the West Coast.

My mom’s family are German and moved to Texas, USA in 1910 to escape political and religious turmoil in the land of Russia. They got out just before the Russian Revolution and the First World War erupted close to their farm. Due to their farming expertise, they were able to save up money and purchase acreage in Amity, Oregon.

Through a series of events, my parents met and wound up in the city of Vancouver, far removed from their farm roots. It’s fascinating how the dots connect and if you know how to research you can connect them even further back and discover clues as to how and why your ancestors chose Canada or the USA to move to.

The word genealogy means “a record or account of the ancestry and descent of a person, family, group; the study of ancestries and histories; and the descent from an original form or progenitor; lineage; ancestry.” Everyone’s genealogy will of course be different and unique, which is why genealogy is now so popular, especially with the TV show series Who Do You Think You Are in Britain and the USA.

Thanks in large part to digitized documentation being uploaded to the internet by various organizations, a search into the past is now convenient and fairly easy, although when I began my journey of genealogy research I never knew how addictive it would become! If you have patience and your family information is intact, you will be rewarded as you search.

The first thing to be done is to fill in a family tree. Begin with yourself and your birth date and place of birth. Add your parent’s names and their birth dates and place of birth. If your parents are living, ask them for the names of their parents and dates/places of birth. Hopefully you will have this much to begin with.

I keep my paper copies in binders, inserted into clear plastic sheets. I found some lovely binders at Daiso Dollar Store in Aberdeen Mall in Richmond, which already have the clear sheets inside. They are a reasonable cost of $2 each and have 40 pages. Also keep a copy of everything on your computer and remember to do weekly backups.

A home photocopier/scanner unit is a marvellous asset in your family tree hobby. A clear concise way of keeping track of the information you will be adding is a definite must in genealogy research. You need to make files and update them regularly. Each person has their own system.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Part of the hobby of genealogy is gathering information which is turned into charts but the fun part is the stories that come to light!

Here is a chart so you can begin as soon as possible. The best goal in your family tree research is not to put off to tomorrow what can be done today! And who knows, maybe you have someone famous or well known in the branches of that tree.

In the next installment, popular genealogy websites will be discussed, as well as a local British Columbia genealogical society who host free monthly meetings at the Vancouver library central branch.

Loretta Houben is deeply involved in researching the mysteries in her paternal family tree and has been quite successful in 2013.

First published in the September 2013 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

 


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Collingwood’s Family Place celebrates 30 years

Family Place CNH

Julie Cheng, the editor of the RCC News, fondly recalls the times she spent at Family Place with her kids, about 20 years ago now. “Family Place was a lifesaver for me. It was priceless to meet other new parents, talk to adults and see my kids have fun with lots of new stimulating activities. I looked forward to Family Place every week.” Photos courtesy of Collingwood Neighbourhood House

BY PAUL REID

Congratulations to this wonderful program that has been providing a warm and nurturing place for local families for the past 30 years. Open to parents and caregivers of children (newborn to six years old) Family Place at Collingwood Neighbourhood House has been the place to meet others while enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation. There are arts and crafts for the children plus story time, circle time, and many fun toys to play with.

Satinder Singh

Satinder Singh has been with CNH’s Family Place since its very beginning in 1990.

One cannot talk about Family Place and not first learn more about Satinder Singh, CNH’s family services coordinator. She has been with the program since its very beginning in 1990. Satinder loves to work with both children and their parents at Family Place. “I still have the same passion as when I first started just from seeing the excitement each day in the children’s faces.”

“Collingwood Neighbourhood House is a very special place. It is very holistic. You get to see the amazing cycle of life.” She has seen the young kids grow up and become active members of the community. “Children who I remember at five years old now volunteer as adults! And after all these years, she keep in touch with a great number of these families.”

Satinder came to Canada in 1990, from Manama City, Bahrain (close to Saudi Arabia), where she had lived for 10 years. She is from India, growing up in the city of Lucknow in the north. Satinder still returns to Lucknow frequently to visit her family there.

The city is known for its fine schools and universities. “They have famous and successful alumni all over the world.” Satinder grew up here in a school that was straight out of Harry Potter. “I remember my uniform with the knee-length socks. We were learning British English. If we spoke in anything other than English, we would get fined.”

After meeting her husband, who was an engineer working for the merchant navy, a job that enabled him to move around, Satinder and he moved to the beautiful city of Manama in Bahrain. Satinder had it very well there. She was a “woman of leisure” with nannies and housemaids.

After 10 years in Bahrain, her husband thought that it would be a good idea to move to Vancouver. This proved to be a very lucky move since the Gulf War of the 1990s was about to explode all around Bahrain.

Satinder wasn’t exactly thrilled in the beginning. Life was suddenly a bit of a struggle as her husband’s job, though eventually hugely successful, in the beginning had him earning less.

This was a massive change for Satinder; in addition to what must have been a huge culture shock, just from the highly different environment on its own, this woman of leisure now also found herself needing to find a job!

It was then, during the summer of 1990, that Satinder walked into Collingwood Neighbourhood House. At this time, it was just the little storefront on Kingsway. A woman named Laurie Winters asked Satinder if she would care to volunteer. Sure, she said.

By fall 1990, Satinder was sent to a training program and began working with the Nobody’s Perfect program and Family Place.

In the early years, these programs ran once or twice per week out of the basement of the old two room schoolhouse at Carleton Elementary (the one that would later catch fire and be taken over by Green Thumb Theatre). It was during this time that Satinder worked at CNH in the day and her early childhood education certificate at night.

It would be five years down in the basement before Family Place would move into its current cozy room at CNH, complete with couches and fireplace in CNH’s new home on Joyce street.

All this time, she has been growing with CNH and the Family Place program. She recognizes and is thankful for the help of dedicated volunteers, staff and the families that take part. “It’s a communal effort.” In 30 years, Satinder has had only three assistants – something she attributes to their outstanding dedication.

In the beginning, Satinder was mentored by CNH director Oscar Allueva. “Together we developed the program and he taught me many things,” says Satinder. “I have also been working all these years with Sharon Gregson, CNH director of the early years. She has always inspired me. Paula Carr was another huge inspiration, taking us from the small storefront to our current location.”

This is Satinder’s second home in which, through her own experiences as an immigrant, she was able to create a loving, welcoming environment for people looking for help.

“When I came to Canada, I remember feeling lonely for quite awhile, not knowing anyone. It took years to find friends that I could relate to. So I know those feelings of loneliness and isolation for those who are new here.” A large percentage of the Family Place participants have come to Canada as new immigrants.

Satinder is thankful that she can be one of the few who truly loves their work. “I don’t think I ever want to retire. I want to work here up to the time I die.”

And although things started out rough for her in Vancouver, Satinder has long since felt that she is fulfilling her destiny here in Collingwood and Family Place. “I went full circle – from a life of exclusion, to one of inclusion.”

The program runs four days per week, from 10 am to 12 noon, Monday to Friday (excluding Thursday). It is open to everyone. There is no wait list.

“Everyone is welcome to join. It’s a great place to start and make new friends in a warm and nurturing environment. The children learn social skills in addition to music and dance. The parents learn too and everyone has fun participating. People bring their relatives, people get to know each other. It’s real community development.”

Let us end by congratulating Satinder and Family Place for recently winning an award of excellence. Well done and happy 30th anniversary!

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Youth Celebrate Canada Day 2018

Family fun for everyone – Sunday, July 1, Renfrew Park Community Centre

Young and old alike took part in a community dance at Youth Celebrate Canada Day last July 1st. Photo by Vincent Wu

Young and old alike took part in a community dance at Youth Celebrate Canada Day last July 1st. Photo by Vincent Wu

BY GABRIELLE PARMAN AND ANGUS HO

Are you seeking something fun to take part in on July 1st? Youth Celebrate Canada Day (YCCD) is back for its 22nd year to bring yet another festive, fun-filled event to the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood.

YCCD is an annual festival organized by youth from Windermere Secondary School to celebrate Canada Day at Renfrew Park. This is a family-friendly festival that brings the Renfrew-Collingwood community together in a day of joyous celebration. The event consists of stage performances and entertainment, carnival games, food concession, arts and crafts activities, and community organization booths.

This year’s entertainment will include acts such as vocal and instrumental performances, cultural dances and other displays of talent like martial arts. In our entertainment sector, we have made a commitment to promote cultural diversity and a greater sense of connectedness in our community. At YCCD, you will see the talent of community groups from a variety of different cultures.

This year, we are also incorporating interactive dances, food-eating contests and other festivities into our stage acts. By giving you fun and exciting ways to participate in the event, we hope to create a strong, lasting sense of community during and after the festival!

Children will have a superb time at the festival – whether participating in the carnival-style games to win prizes, getting their faces painted or jumping up and down on the bouncy castle.

While you are at the festival, why not check out some of our community booths? This year, YCCD has invited a number of different organizations within the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood and beyond, in order to showcase the excellent work that is done in our community.

Finally, don’t forget about the food! Make your experience at YCCD complete by swinging by the concession stand for a quick bite, a cold drink or a tasty treat.

Youth Celebrate Canada Day is planned and organized by a group of youth from Windermere Secondary School. The YCCD Core Committee is excited to bring this festival to you once again this year. We hope that you are just as excited to attend this joyous event. Through this year’s festivities, Youth Celebrate Canada Day aims to reflect the cultural diversity of our community and connect community members of all generations by creating positive, lasting memories for you all. We hope to see you at Renfrew Park on July 1st!

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Expert tips to save your lawn from the chafer beetle

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

Give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

If there is one thing that homeowners love as much as their home, it’s their lawn. It’s often the most noticeable part of someone’s landscape and often functions as a convenient spot for mini soccer matches or picnics.

Lawns are also under attack in Vancouver. Thanks to the notorious chafer beetle, people across the Lower Mmainland are seeing their beloved grass shredded, seemingly overnight. While it may seem inevitable, there are a few tactics that you can take to reduce the chances that your lawn faces the same fate that so many others have fallen to.

The chafer beetle is not in fact the animal responsible for tearing up your lawn; rather, the chafer beetle is the catalyst for the destruction of people’s green pride and joy.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

Crows and raccoons dig up your lawn to get at the delicious little white grubs.

The beetle lays its larva roughly two to four inches under the grass, unnoticeable to the naked eye. What is noticeable is when the local wildlife comes searching for the delicious little white grubs, and your lawn is the only thing standing in their way. Mostly through crows, which shred lawns small chunk by small chunk, and racoons, which peel back the grass in large patches, this wildlife is virtually unstoppable once they decide that your lawn in the source of their next meal.

If you are looking for a way to ensure your lawn stays flawless then artificial turf is the only sure bet in this day and age. For those who want to keep the natural look but don’t want to go down without a fight, there are a couple of things that can be done to mitigate the chance of the chafer beetle battle playing out in your yard.

Keep your lawn healthy

The best protective measures are the preemptive ones, which is to say, give your lawn its best chance to repel the chafer beetle before they become a problem.

This means maintaining a healthy lawn and keeping your grass slightly longer than you normally would. Healthy, thick, longish grass is the best defence against the beetle getting into the soil, as the healthier and longer the grass, the heartier the root system and the harder it is for the beetle to penetrate the outer layer.

Proper aeration and topsoil applied early in the season, as well as continued watering and fertilization are factors that can lead to a thick, healthy lawn. While many people love the golf-green-style short grass, I would recommend keeping your grass at least three inches long. It may not offer the crisp look of super-short grass, but it beats witnessing the slow destruction of your lawn.

Superbugs to the rescue

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

Nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of chafer beetles.

If your lawn does fall victim to the local wildlife, not all hope is lost. Nematodes are microscopic living organisms that feed on other living organisms (like the chafer beetle larva) and are easily applied. Available at most large lawn and garden care centres, nematodes are a non-toxic, organic way to rid your lawn of pests.

Applied by mixing into water that gets sprayed evenly across the lawn, nematodes are biological warfare at its most basic level. It is important to note that once applied, nematodes require constant watering, often more than summer water restrictions allow. A City of Vancouver permit will allow you to get an exemption from these bylaws.

Soren Elsay has worked as a professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Turning 50 with Chatty Cathy

Loretta Houben's Chatty Cathy collection. Photo submitted

Loretta Houben’s Chatty Cathy collection. Photo submitted

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

September 2010 introduced RCC News readers to Chatty Cathy and Loretta Houben’s memories of receiving this doll. Loretta’s article is
utterly charming and took us back to a simpler time — when you could pull a string to get a doll to talk.
Loretta would go on to write many more entertaining and informative articles, notably on genealogy (Family Tree Tips) and history, and she currently coordinates our seniors page. Thank you, Loretta, for your many contributions to the RCC News over the years.
− Julie Cheng, editor

1960 was a great year in more ways than one.

In 1960, I came into the world, and Chatty Cathy made her first appearance. I wonder how many of you remember Mattel’s talking doll. She said 11 different phrases such as “Will you play with me?” “Please comb my hair!” and “I love you!”

I received my first Chatty Cathy doll when I was four years old. I’ll never forget opening her box and seeing the top of her pretty blonde head. I pulled the string on her back, heard her speak and squealed with delight!

My mom had to put my doll on her Simpson Sears charge account as she was $11.95―an expensive toy in 1964! Mom took a few months to pay off the bill, as my younger sister also got a Chatty Baby doll at the same time.

The Dee & Cee Toy Company in Canada was taken over by Mattel in 1962, and produced the Chatty Cathy dolls until 1964. To this day they are sought after by doll collectors because of their superior facial colouring and peachy coloured vinyl limbs.

Dee & Cee contracted local housewives to sew the clothes for Chatty Cathy. A pale blue dress with a white eyelet pinafore can fetch up to $100 today on the eBay auction site, and the seams are unfinished! That may be hard to believe, but there’s no understanding the mind of a collector who is hunting to add to a valuable collection.

Loretta Houben received her first Chatty Cathy at age four.

Loretta Houben received her first Chatty Cathy at age four.

Chatty Cathy was first produced in Canada with short blonde hair, freckles, blue decal eyes and a blue dress with a white eyelet apron. She had a variety of clothes to choose from, including PJs, fancy party dresses, a red velvet hat and coat, and play outfits.

I became interested in Chatty Cathy in 2002 while browsing eBay. I discovered that Mattel had made a re-issue of Chatty Cathy in 1998, sold only in the JC Penny stores in the USA, so I bought one, and the rest is history.

Currently I belong to two Chatty Cathy groups online, and have made many friends. I’ve added to my collection and I own over 20 Chatty Cathy dolls, including Chatty Cathy Baby and Tiny Baby dolls, Baby Brother, Singing Chatty and Charmin Chatty, which were added by Mattel in later years.

Thanks to the internet I’ve had a chance to learn more about one of my favourite dolls. I also purchased Chatty Cathy’s vintage clothing patterns made by Simplicity and McCall’s. I’ve sewn quite a few dresses for her and have a sewing boutique online, which has added to the pleasure of meeting more friends, as every Chatty Cathy needs a new outfit from time to time!

Turning 50 together is an exciting adventure. I wanted to share some of the joy of doll collecting with you, especially such a cute doll as Chatty Cathy! I’d be interested in hearing if any of you have a Chatty Cathy from the 1960s.

First published in the September 2010 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

 


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Celebrating our 15th annual Collingwood Days with playfulness

Collingwood-Days-2018

This year’s Collingwood Days invites community members to join in on all sorts of play and games, sports and arts alike, that are being held throughout the community. Image source: collingwooddays.com

BY ANDREA BERNECKAS

In May 2003, the first official Collingwood Days celebration took place at the Safeway parking lot at Tyne and Kingsway. Before then, a group of creative community-minded residents had been putting together yearly events to bring people together in shared experiences.

In 2000, there was Faces of Our Neighbourhood, an initiative that led residents on a parade from Collingwood Neighbourhood House to Slocan Park for a community celebration. Mosaic Madness followed in 2001; and in 2002, residents gathered to celebrate the installation of the Renfrew Totem Pole through Nature Meets Art.

The interest and need for regular community celebrations and gatherings brought about both Collingwood Days Festival and the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, which began September 2003.
After a couple of years at the Safeway location, Collingwood Days Festival moved to the Sir Guy Carleton Elementary school site, where it remained until 2016. After the closure of the school, the festival made the move to its new location at Gaston Park.

Throughout the years, the festival has highlighted the unique stories of Renfrew-Collingwood residents, and over time we have based our festival themes on these stories. We have discovered and showcased the histories of individual community members, the natural environment, artists and performers, local businesses and even our dogs!

What’s new for 2018

This year, we have a particularly fun theme, that of Play and Playfulness – “The quality of being light-hearted or full of fun” – and we invite community members to join in on all sorts of play and games, sports and arts alike, that are being held throughout the community.

Throughout the world there is play. There are schoolyard games, board games, sports and word games. Music, performance and making art can be playful. While we often think of play as something that is only for the young, play is critical to the physical and social well-being of everyone, no matter their age. This wide-ranging theme allows us the space to celebrate ways of playing from around the world.

This year, the festival week begins after the Victoria Day long weekend, on Tuesday, May 22; but you can jump-start playing by joining Family Board Games at Renfrew Library on Sunday, May 20 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

Among the many different things happening throughout the community are:

  • Lego Block Party at the Renfrew VPL (May 23, 3:30–4:30 pm)
  • Games Night at the Bamboo Café (May 23, 5–7 pm)
  • Mahjong at Renfrew Park Community Centre (May 24, 11 am–1 pm)
  • Open Mic Night and Board Games at First Lutheran (May 25, 5:30-9 pm)
  • Annual Graham Bruce Carnival (May 25, 4–8 pm)
  • Exhibition of art on the theme of play by the students of Dr. George Weir at Collingwood Branch library
  • Last but not least, Madam Beespeaker, the artist-in-residence at Renfrew Park Community Centre will be holding a Sketch-a-Palooza at Renfrew Community Centre on Sunday, May 27, 1–3:30 pm

Festival day

On Saturday, May 26, Gaston Park will be the site of playful activities ranging from live musical performances such as the Wooly Bears Square Dancing, Balkan Shmalkan and Vietnamese Fan Dancers; roving performers such as Lola Loops, Birds on Parade, and Ariel Amara; art and craft making with Still Moon Arts Society and local artists; as well as games led by InterACTIVE volunteers, Tin Can Studio, and other groups.

This is your chance to try out handball, bocce, backgammon, hoops, and juggling; make paper airplanes in the Artisan Village; and enjoy a variety of multicultural foods. We hope you join in the spirit of play!

Please check the festival insert in the May issue of the RCC News for further details, or visit www.collingwooddays.com