Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Leave a comment

13th Annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival this Saturday, September 26

Moon-Festival-September-26BY SILING ZHANG

Fall is officially upon us and so is this year’s Renfrew Ravine Harvest Moon Festival, scheduled for this Saturday, September 26 at both Slocan and Renfrew parks! For those of you who just can’t wait, Still Moon Arts has organized a series of activities leading up to the festivities. This is your opportunity to get involved!

Local artist Yoko Tomita will be teaching lantern workshops at the Slocan Field House from 4-8 pm on the following days:

• Bamboo and Wire Frame Lanterns: September 14-18
• Globe Lantern: September 21-23
• Glass Jar Lanterns on September 23-24

The cost of these workshops is between $10 and $25. No reservations are required. For more information, check out our website!

Due to the drought and dryness this year, we are also on the lookout for glass jar donations to minimize fire hazards within the ravine. We are looking for short jars, no longer than the length of your hand, with rims wide enough to fit a tea candle. If you have any such jars to spare, we would love to have them! Jars can be dropped off at the lantern workshops in Slocan Park Field House.

For the avid gardeners, don’t forget to bring your best vegetation to the Harvest Fair portion of the Moon Festival at Slocan Park. Categories include:
• Most sizeable sunflower
• Most bountiful flower bouquet
• Most gorgeous green bouquet
• Most creative fall display
• Tastiest homemade jam/jelly
• Most alluring Asian vegetable
• Most cumbersome cabbage
• Tubbiest tomato
• Heaviest zucchini
• Sexiest squash
• Beefiest bean
• Craziest carrot

Please visit the website at for regular updates, or find them on Facebook, where they’ll be posting up-to-date details on all their activities, including a series of free preview concerts featuring musicians from the Moon Festival line-up!

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

October 2014 issue of RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

RCCNews October 2014Get your October 2014 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • VIVO Media Arts Centre comes to Renfrew-Collingwood
  • Renfrew Park Community Centre still going strong at age 50
  • Windermere grads mark 50 years
  • Eating Out: Lotus Seed vegetarian restaurant
  • Job search tips for a successful interview

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email

The deadline for the November 2014 issue is October 14. From 300 to 400 words, with high resolution photos in a jpg at least 1 MB file size.

Leave a comment

Coming full circle at Nootka Elementary – Celebrate school’s 50th Golden Anniversary, Saturday, May 3, 10:00-3:00, 3375 Nootka St. & Renfrew


Lord Beaconsfield Annex before it expanded and became Nootka Elementary

Lord Beaconsfield Annex before it expanded and became Nootka Elementary. Photos courtesy of Susan Wong

The Nootka Rose, a rare native plant, can be found at Renfrew-Collingwood’s Still Creek just a few steps from the busy bustling sounds of Grandview Highway. A few blocks south you will also find another treasure in our community, Nootka Elementary.

This year Nootka will celebrate its 50th golden anniversary. Nootka is a small but vibrant school located on Renfrew and 17th Avenue, just north of the soft trees and tranquil ravine of the Renfrew Park Community Centre. Originally known as Lord Beaconsfield Annex in 1959, the school expanded and became Nootka Elementary a few years later.

Today the school is comprised of almost 500 students. Nootka is unique in that it holds three programs in one school: Thrive for students with special needs, the classic and the fine arts, programs that have attracted many families in the immediate area and from all corners of the city.

Student from first graduation class gives back
With more than 50 years of history, Nootka’s evolution has truly come full circle. Former student Randy Schisler was one of the original students of the first grade 7 graduation class in 1966. Randy is not only a Nootka alumni but also currently a dedicated volunteer for the school’s One to One literacy program! Most Wednesday and Thursday mornings you will find Randy in the school’s library reading books with the students.

Glenn Dennis and Randy Schisler

Glenn Dennis and Randy Schisler, two students from the first graduating class of 1966, remember the good ol’ days at Nootka Elementary. Above them is the war canoe carved by Mr. Krisky.

Randy, currently retired, picked Nootka as his first choice to spend his invaluable volunteer hours. How lucky for those at Nootka to have such a wonderful and caring volunteer and with such a real connection to Nootka’s history and the Renfrew-Collingwood community where he grew up.

As Randy takes a stroll down the halls of his childhood school, he arrives at the entrance of the teachers’ staff room which was the original part of Lord Beaconsfield Annex. He looks at the staffroom door and chuckles, “You see this room, I will never go in, even now. It’s totally off limits and I don’t care how old I am!”

Lord Beaconsfield Annex originally only taught grades 1 to 3. The school only consisted of the east-facing side of the school that runs along Nootka. The north wing wasn’t added until 1963/64, which is when it became Nootka Elementary. During the years while the addition was being built, students had to temporarily branch off to other schools in the area such as Lord Beaconsfield, Renfrew and Graham Bruce. Not until approximately 1999 was the south wing finally completed.

One of the first graduating classes at Nootka, 1966. Second row from the bottom, fourth student from the left is Glenn Dennis.

One of the first graduating classes at Nootka, 1966. Second row from the bottom, fourth student from the left is Glenn Dennis.

School to new generations
And speaking of coming full circle, Glenn Dennis, also a former classmate of Randy’s, is now residing in Renfrew-Collingwood where his daughter Jessica is also student at Nootka! Like Randy, Glenn is a student from the graduating class of 1966. Glenn sentimentally points out how his first classroom was also the same room Jessica began her journey at Nootka. It is the furthest classroom at the south end of the hallway just down from the office.

Although a relatively “young” school Nootka is rich in history and culture. A visually enticing mural welcomes you as you approach the school’s front entrance. The multi-coloured mural was a collaboration of the Nootka’s Fine Arts students with Langara College.

Inside, located to the right of the main entrance are the original display cases, which proudly showcase many of the students’ wonderful creations. Above the display cases you will find the Nootka War Canoe originally hand carved in 1966 by Mr. Krisky, a parent of one of the students graduating in 1966. The graduating class presented it at the graduation ceremony as a gift to the school and to honour the area’s native heritage.

Grade 1 class, 1959. Front row centre is Randy Schisler.

Grade 1 class, 1959. Front row centre is Randy Schisler.

As Randy and Glenn go over the many old school photos of fellow classmates and adored teachers, a rush of memories come back and for a second it really felt like it was just yesterday. Nostalgia was high as names, dates and events are reminisced and maybe even missed. And as life should have it, there were probably ups and downs but it seems like only the good memories resonated in the two gentlemen minds. All in all, sounds like they had lots of fun.

And just like the good ol’ days, there’s always something fun and interesting happening at Nootka. The school’s events are beautifully coordinated and planned. Parents, teachers, students and even secondary school volunteers all collaborate together to ensure a wonderful and successful experience for all.

Last year Nootka held their first Earth Day, where the all the students spent a full day in workshops and activities learning about sustainability and Mother Earth. In the fall and winter, the Fine Arts students display their wonderful creations at the Children’s Art Exhibition held at the Vandusen Botanical Garden. And to welcome the Lunar New Year a Lion Dance Celebration is held annually to wish Nootka a happy and healthy new year!

So as the students, teachers, parent advisory committee and families of Nootka Elementary roll up their sleeves again to plan and carry out their Spring Carnival, we invite you, your friends and family members to come join us Saturday, May 3, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at our beloved school, 3375 Nootka Street near Renfrew Street. Come celebrate and commemorate our 50th Golden Anniversary together. It will no doubt be fun, eventful, lively, creative, rich in history and all about community.

Copyright (c) 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

Leave a comment

Skytrain Rambler: Get fresh at farmers markets


Get kohlrabi and more fresh produce at your local farmers market

Julie Cheng’s purchases from a recent trip to Trout Lake Market include a crisp kohlrabi, which her kids love to eat raw.

September is an especially good time to take advantage of the summer harvest. For great taste and nutrition, there’s nothing better than just-picked fruits and veggies from the farm. In Renfrew-Collingwood, we’re lucky we can hop on the Skytrain and find ourselves at a local farmers market within 15 minutes on various days of the week.

My kids love it when I pick up a fresh kohlrabi from the market. They eat it raw, sliced thin. For them it’s a refreshing, yummy treat; for me it’s a good source of vitamin C (which helps your body absorb iron) and B vitamins (good for the nerves and brain), potassium and calcium.

Let’s hop aboard and meet at the market!

Skytrain stop: Nanaimo
Zone 1; 5 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

Strawberry planter in community garden

On the way to Trout Lake Market, check out this innovative space-saving strawberry planter at the community garden. Photo by Julie Cheng

From Joyce-Collingwood or 29th Avenue stations, take the Expo or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station.

Exit Nanaimo station. Cross Nanaimo Street heading east and walk down the Skytrain path, stopping by the community gardens along the way.

Head north (towards the mountains) til you reach Trout Lake, also known as John Hendry Park.

If leaving from Rupert station, stop at Renfrew station and walk east along Grandview Highway (12th Avenue) for about 10 minutes. You’ll hit the north end of Trout Lake.

Head to the far north parking lot.

Andy and Dad entertain shoppers at Trout Lake Market

Andy and Dad entertain shoppers at Trout Lake Market. Photo by Julie Cheng

Trout Lake Market (every Saturday until October 19 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm). One of the longest-running and most popular markets in Vancouver, Trout Lake Market is always jam-packed. There are often lineups for the food trucks such as Vij’s Railway Express.

It’s not all about food. The scene is colourful and festive with musicians playing and face-painting for kids and kids at heart. In addition to the fresh produce, from apples and peaches to beets and turnips, you can pick up fresh-baked bread and pies, meat and cheese, salmon and oysters, and lots more. If it’s organic, even better!

Skytrain stop: Main Street
Zone 1; 10 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

Take the Expo or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station. Stop at Main Street station. The market is located at Main and Terminal, at Thornton Park and across from the VIA Rail Station.

Main Street Market (every Wednesday until October 2nd from 3:00 to 7:00 pm). This market is perfect for commuters heading home. Why not stop and pick up some dinner here? While here, check out the beaux-arts style VIA Rail Station, which was completed in 1919.

Skytrain stop: Yaletown-Roundhouse
Zone 1; 15 minutes from Renfrew-Collingwood stations

Take the Expo or Millennium line, heading to Waterfront station. Stop at Granville Station and transfer to the Canada Line heading to Richmond. Stop at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station.

Yaletown Market (every Thursday until September 26 from 2:00 to 6:00 pm). Located in historic Yaletown just outside the Yaletown-Roundhouse Skytrain station, this is a new market for 2013. It’s on Mainland Street between Helmcken and Davie. Stay awhile to browse the neighbourhood boutiques afterwards or stop for a coffee or ice cream in a nearby café.

Find more info on the above farmers markets at

New urban farm at Van Tech high school

(R to L) Fresh Roots’ Marc Schutzbank, intern Damaris Galvez, Van Tech grade 12 student Karen Wasdeb and customer Sara Ross. Photo by Julie Cheng

Skytrain stop: Renfrew
There’s a new urban farm in our neighbourhood, and it’s run by local students with the help of the Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society.

Zone 1. From the Renfrew station, walk east to Slocan Street and up the hill. The farm is sandwiched between the soccer field and the tennis courts.

VanTech Schoolyard Market (every Wednesday until November from 3:30 to 6:30 pm and every second and fourth Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm). Stop by for some of the best prices in town for fresh, local produce. This is Fresh Roots’ first season growing at Vancouver Technical Secondary. It is a first-of-its-kind schoolyard market garden where the food is grown and sold back to the community and to the Van Tech café starting September.

Fresh Roots is working to make the urban farm sustainable. “Healthy, local food should be accessible, and it should work,” says Marc Schutzbank of Fresh Roots. More info and photos at and

Skytrain stop: 29th Avenue
Harvest Fair (Saturday, September 21, 4:00 to 7:00 pm). For a change of pace, stop by the Harvest Fair held annually at Slocan Park as part of the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival. Here neighbours showcase their summer harvest, from beefiest bean to largest sunflower to tubbiest tomato.

Walk with the lantern parade that starts at 7:00 pm along the ravine down to the Renfrew Park Community Centre, where more entertainment awaits alongside the magical lantern-lit stream.

If you’re feeling hungry, stop for a slice of pizza from Ragazzi’s, at 22nd Avenue and Nootka (across from Renfrew Library). Don’t miss their Caprese Salad, made with tomatoes and baby bocconcini cheese—so simple yet so delicious.

Julie Cheng loves to eat healthy but is a bad cook, so she appreciates simple recipes. She is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Marc’s Market Salad

While at Van Tech I purchased ingredients—picked just that morning—for a colourful, flavourful salad. It included purslane, which Marc Schutzbank of Fresh Roots says is a source of the hard-to-find omega-3 essential fatty acid that’s such good brain food. Purslane adds a robust taste and crisp crunch to the salad. I did indeed serve this with salmon and the meal was amazing. Thanks Marc!

Fresh salad ingredients from the Van Tech urban farmschool

Fresh salad ingredients from the Van Tech urban farmschool. Photo by Julie Cheng

For salad:
Van Tech salad mix
Purslane leaves
Bunch onion tops, sliced thin
Nasturtium flowers

For dressing:
Place 2 parts olive oil, 1 part white wine vinegar, 1 tsp good mustard in a jar and shake it all up.

To serve:
Place salad veggies in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing. Optional: add a half cup of sesame seeds for crunch and carmelized leeks for sweetness.

Serve with grilled salmon. Enjoy!


Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

Leave a comment

Zumba fever hits Renfrew-Collingwood

Symptoms include getting fit, making new friends, releasing stress and smiling



Janet Abatayo flings her pony tail in the air as she performs an energetic dance move during a Zumba class at Collingwood Neighbourhood House. Photo by Patrick Painter

If you’ve noticed a friend, relative or co-worker smiling more lately, that person might be one of the many Renfrew-Collingwood residents who are loving life because they’re doing Zumba – an intercultural dance-fitness program that brings people from different cultures together for a fitness workout that feels more like a dance party.

Why do people love Zumba so much?
There are many reasons. “Zumba takes my stress out,” said Maya Nand, who does Zumba as much as possible. Menchie Pabiloma also sees Zumba as a stress-reliever: “When I get stressed out at work, coming to Zumba at Collingwood Neighbourhood House is a way of letting go.”

Connecting with people is another benefit. “Through Zumba, you can meet a lot of new friends,” said Pabiloma, a sentiment echoed by instructor Josie Nicks: “If you’re a shy person, doing Zumba at CNH gives you a comfortable space to express yourself. It’s a great way to meet people.”

Zumba also offers an enjoyable way to keep fit: “I stay fit, active and healthy by enjoying myself through dancing,” said Arianne Copada. Susan Borean agreed: “It’s about having fun and keeping fit, and it’s for both young and old.”

The music, which is mostly based on Latin rhythms, is another attraction: “I’m from Brazil,” said Ivani, “and I can’t stop dancing to the music.” Nelly Yep also digs the grooves. “It’s the music I love most. I was born in South America and I love Latin music.”

“It makes me feel sexy!” Laura Montes declared; the music makes her feel “like an exotic fruit.” Janet Abatayo noted the music’s spirtitual power: “When I do Zumba, I feel like I’m in heaven.”

But it takes more than great music to create the joy you’ll experience at a Zumba class. It takes a fantastic instructor and a welcoming space. Thanks to Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Renfrew Park Community Centre, as well as the talented instructors they’ve attracted, Renfrew-Collingwood residents have all their Zumba needs covered.

A total of 12 one-hour classes are offered each week and no matter which class or venue you choose, you’ll feel welcomed, just as instructor Alicia Meek felt when she first entered Collingwood Neighbourhood House. “The people here at CNH are incredibly welcoming,” Meek said. “After only through months, I felt I was a part of the community. It feels great to hear people say hello to me by name when I walk down the street.”

Zumba participants had only good things to say about the instructors. “Alicia is awesome!” Kitty Fong exclaimed. “She is so patient. She shows us all the steps, and always with a smile.” Alicia also teaches Zumba at Renfrew Park Community Centre. About instructor Josie Nicks, who teaches at CNH, Alison Ku said: “Josie always smiles and she puts her heart into every class.” Jasmine Meger listed some of the virtues of another CNH instructor, Adriana Contreras, saying: “Adriana is so inspiring. She’s always smiling and she is so genuine. Her dancing is so artful!”

Is Zumba difficult?
“Not at all,” Josie Nicks assures us. “Anybody at any level can do Zumba. There are just a few basic moves. It’s the music that adds the variety and keeps things interesting.” Nicks says that for most people, it takes only three or four classes to get the hang of the steps.

So should you give Zumba a try? Zumba enthusiast Elaine Boschman thinks so because “after doing Zumba, you’ll feel like you can take on the world!”

Collingwood Neigbourhood House and Renfrew Park Community Centre offer basic Zumba classes as well as specialized Zumba classes for children and seniors and for body toning. To find out more about local Zumba classes, please visit or Low-income earners should contact CNH (604) 435-0323 or RPCC at 604-257-8388 to inquire about discounts.

Patrick Painter is a member of Renfrew-Collingwood’s Interculturalism, Health and Physical Activity Initiative. Interculturalism is about embracing diversity, fostering awareness and connecting people. “Create something new with someone who’s not like you.”

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

1 Comment

Renfrew Ravine and Renfrew Park Master Plan moves forward

Update from third open house

by Deanna Cheng

Most residents are satisfied with the City of Vancouver’s master plan to improve Renfrew Community Park but with the Renfrew Ravine, many of them do not want extra paths going into the ravine itself.

That’s what the two dozen or so people who showed up on May 13 to the Slocan Park field house learned. They came to this third open house to review the updated plans and fill out feedback forms. A couple of them had ridden their bicycles through the light drizzle.

According to Ben Mulhall, landscape architect for Catherine Berris Associates, some people at the second open house held early March were against a path on the west side in fear of break-ins and the invasion of privacy. “It was about 50-50, for and against,” he said. “To compromise, we made the pathway only halfway through, ending it at 25th Avenue.”

Local resident Harvey Dueck said, “It’s great that they want to work on the park and restore natural areas in the park.” When he first moved here, he remembered oil floating on the stream (part of Still Creek that runs into Burnaby), possibly from the decommissioned gas station at 22nd and Renfrew.

“The ravine is relatively wild and a refuge in the city, especially for the birds,” Dueck noted. “A path along the stream would disrupt that.”

Michelle Baudais, another resident, agrees with him. “Increasing access to the ravine park is not compatible with the vision to preserve wildlife and restore habitat.” She points to the number-one objective listed on the vision plan. “Protect, enhance and restore habitats and the ecosystem resilience of the creek and forest,” meaning to maintain and encourage the living trees, plants and animals in the area.

Further access to the ravine may lead to pollution and more coyote encounters with the public. Another proposed change will create deeper ponds and put in culverts, channels or conduits for the drain crossing underneath the roads.

Mulhall said, “The fish and salmon can’t travel but with the local pools, small fish can live there. It will give greater diversity to the wildlife nearby. The insects, newts and salamanders.”

For Renfrew Community Park, one third of the parking lot off Renfrew Street will be converted to an off-leash dog park. The wading pool will be converted into a water spray park with a small platform facing the sloped grass eating area.

On the south side of Renfrew Park Community Centre and Renfrew Branch library, there will be community garden plots.

For additional changes or more details, visit

Deanna Cheng is a journalism student at Langara college.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News