Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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March 2018 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News March 2018

Happy spring! This issue of the RCC News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest 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:

  • Small is beautiful! Neighbourhood Small Grants projects are back
  • Celebrating 20 years of RCC News: Cathy Folkard: The light shines on
  • Connections and Resilience Lab
  • Local youth Maggie Fong wins City of Vancouver Awards of Excellence
  • MLA Adrian Dix addresses resident concerns about homeless housing
  • Nutrition Month 2018 — Unlock the Potential of Food
  • Expert tips to get your lawn and garden going this spring

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 April 2018 issue is March 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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The girl who ran away to join the circus … And stayed

Tuedon Ariri’s amazing journey from Collingwood to École Nationale de Cirque


Tuedon Ariri practising contorsion straps

Tuedon Ariri practising contorsion straps at the Ecole. Photo by Mathieu Doyon

For most people, running away to join the circus is merely a pipe dream or an empty threat aimed at one’s parents. However, for one Collingwood resident, this fantasy has become a reality. Tuedon Ariri is currently attending École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal, one of the most prestigious circus schools in the world, where the 17 year old has just entered the first year of the Diploma of Collegial Studies in Circus Arts program.

Ariri got her start in gymnastics in the Collingwood area at a very young age. “When I was really young, about four or five [years old], my mom decided to put me in a [gymnastics] class in the Collingwood area just for fun,” Ariri recalls.

After a couple of years of participating on a recreational level with rhythmic gymnastics, Ariri was ready for a new challenge. In the years following her first competition at the age of seven, Ariri began dedicating herself to her new-found passion, training with former Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung.

“We would train 24 hours a week, every morning from six until 10, head to school and then occasionally train again after from four until eight at night,” explains Ariri. All of this hard work paid off as Ariri had success in tournaments on provincial, national and international levels all before her 16th birthday.

As part of her year-round training, Ariri would attend the École Nationale de Cirque summer camp in Montreal in the summers leading up to grades 8, 9 and 10. This is where Ariri’s life took a drastic turn.

“In my third year [the school] decided to hold auditions at the summer camp,” explains Ariri. “I decided to try out just for fun and to see what it was like in case I ever wanted to attend the school.” It turned out that Ariri passed the audition with flying colours and was offered an opportunity to finish the last three years of high school at the National Circus School on the opposite side of the country in Montreal.

With only four days to make a decision, Ariri faced a huge decision, on whether to give up rhythmic gymnastics and the life she knew in favour of joining the Circus. “It was a hard decision but in the end I decided to go because it was such a good opportunity and it’s also something that you could have a career in.”

Tuedon Ariri at the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal

Tuedon Ariri typically spends 12 hours a day training at the impressive facilities at the École Nationale de Cirque, including this three-storey gym seen in the background complete with cables and counterweights hanging from the ceiling and a trampoline built into the floor. Photo by Julie Cheng

Once enrolled at the school, Ariri’s high school experience became anything but normal. “It [consisted] of four hours of training a day, then five hours of regular school activities,” says Ariri.

After graduating from high school last spring, Ariri is now enrolled in the three-year post-graduate program offered by the school. She has chosen to specialize in contortion straps, where her gymnast background gives her a definite boost. Although her upper body strength is still improving, the creativity and freedom of it are what really drew Ariri to the contortion straps in the first place.

On a typical weekday, Ariri puts in about 12 hours of work. “On Wednesdays I start at 8:30 am but arrive around 8:00 to warm up and stretch, then an hour of hula-hoop class, an hour of straps which is my specialty, an hour of dance, an hour of acrobatics, after lunch I have an hour of juggling, then an hour of physical preparation (gym, weights ), two hours of acting, a break for dinner, and then two hours of English class,” Ariri explains.

Like most of the students, after graduation Ariri plans on pursuing a career in the circus. “There are many other circuses in Montreal that are very high quality and many over in Europe, but I would love to work for Cirque du Soleil personally.”

It is fair to say that Tuedon Ariri is not living your typical teenage life. While it may be a lot of long days full of hard work, Ariri is achieving a long-lost fantasy for many people, running off to join the circus, and loving every moment of it.

Soren Elsay is a second year student at the University of B.C. and an aspiring journalist.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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October 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

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

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News October 2013

Read RCC News October 2013

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

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Medical marijuana coalition fights repeal
  • Your family tree – Tips for free research
  • My life in art by Janet Lee
  • The value of heritage: A vintage photo comes to life
  • Nasib Singh: A cup of chai on rainy days
  • Introducing intercultural connectors to get the community moving
  • The girl who ran away to the circus – And stayed: Tuedon Ariri’s journey from Collingwood to a famed circus school

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 issue is October 10, 2013.


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Former BC Lions running back recalls his journey from the Deep South to north of the border


You may know him as the quiet, soft-spoken guy helping you behind the counter at Renfrew Park Community Centre, but John Henry White was once a punishing force as a running back for the BC Lions.

Before he played over 120 games and racked up over 8,000 yards in the Canadian Football League as #20 for the Lions, John Henry White very nearly remained in the United States. After starring for Louisiana Tech University, the diminutive White, who stands at 5’9”, had an outside chance of playing in the National Football League. Originally drafted in the eighth and final round of the 1978 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, White nearly made the Chiefs’ opening day roster.

“I was the final player released by the Chiefs that year,” explains White. “I could have easily stayed [in the NFL], but I would have been on the inactive roster and [the inactive roster] wasn’t nearly the same as it is today.”

Instead, White entertained the idea of migrating north. Although the BC Lions coach at the time, Vic Rapp, had been in contact with him during his college career, White knew very little about the CFL.

“I hadn’t really looked at the CFL much, I’m from the deep south of Louisiana, and I knew certain things about the CFL but not a lot,” recalls White. “The first team that [approached] me was Saskatchewan … I had never even heard of that name!”

After signing with BC, White was forced to adjust to the many differences between the Canadian and American version football, such as a wider field, one fewer down and the ability for multiple players to be in motion before the ball is snapped. Although he gained much of his knowledge through team classroom sessions and one-on-one talks with teammates, White still had to personally alter his game.

“[In college] you would look to go wide, get to the sideline and then go [upfield],” explains White, “but in the CFL, [the field] was so wide that you could just keep going east and west and end up going nowhere. That was a big transition.”

“The biggest thing was the motion, though. In college you could only have one guy in motion [before the snap] at once, up here you would sometimes have five guys moving at once; it was crazy.”

Once he had gotten a handle on the new game, White became a steady contributor for the Lions with 35 touchdowns over the course of 10 seasons in the league from 1978 to1987. Among his fondest memories of his time in the CFL are winning the 1985 Grey Cup and an 84-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Hamilton during the ’79 season.

Following the end of his football career, John Henry White chose to stay permanently in the city of Vancouver.

“It’s a beautiful city, but it’s actually the people that made me want to stay, ever since I first came here I’ve felt at home.”

John Henry White is currently a staff member at the Renfrew Park Community Centre and once coached the local junior football team, the Trojans.

Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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May 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

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

RCC News May 2013Get your May 2013 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Collingwood Days, Saturday, May 25 and Talent Show
  • Former BC Lions running back John Henry White – where is he now?
  • Slow-grilled lamb souvla – traditional recipe for Greek Orthodox Easter, by Rania Hatzioannou
  • Hoops for Hope at St. Mary’s a huge success
  • Van Tech music teacher receives award from Canadian star Shania Twain
  • She prays and I cook, Marino and Librada, a Collingwood couple

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 June issue is May 10, 2013.


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March issue of the RCC News is here

Get your March 2013 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery story, library and community centre.

RCC News March 2013

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Albert Battistoni Celebration of Life
  • Changes to park board model under fire by Paul Reid
  • International Women’s Day: On women’s rights and their safety by Robert F. Edwards
  • Voting is as simple as A-B-C!
  • Lots going on with the Reflecting Still Creek project
  • History: Vancouver Vagabonds Club

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Quick Mind, Quick Feet: Claire Fergusson works toward her softball dreams


For grade 11 Windermere student Claire Fergusson, a love affair with the game that started at age five has now turned into a personal mission to play softball at the college level in the United States. After getting her start playing baseball in the Trout Lake Little League program, Fergusson switched over to softball at age nine and has been playing ever since.

This past fall Fergusson made the prestigious Synergy travel team in Maple Ridge, which focuses on providing young players exposure to college scouts.

“The Synergy team travelled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Houston, in October and November, to showcase local talents whose teams don’t usually travel as much,” explains Fergusson.

Most of the year, however, Fergusson can be found playing for the White Rock Renegades, training year-round, practising up to three days a week. On top of team practices, Fergusson works out once a week on a strength-and-conditioning program (set up by fitness trainer and former college softball player Jill Munro) with the aspiration to one day receive a scholarship to play in the United States.

Like most young athletes, one of Fergusson’s main priorities is to get stronger.

“I’d like to work on upper-body strength mostly,” says Fergusson. “I’m currently working on getting more power hitting right-handed and throwing.”

On top of that, Fergusson is currently perfecting the art of switch hitting, meaning being able to bat both left handed and right handed when called upon. More specifically, she is working on becoming a left-handed “slapper.”

“A left-handed slapper usually just tries to put the ball in play and then beat the throw [to first base] because you can run to first quicker [rather than the right-handed side of the plate],” Fergusson explains. “A lot of the time it screws up the defensive players because they have to always be guessing where [the batter] is going to put the ball.”

This would only add to the repertoire of an already versatile player who can play shortstop, centre field, pitcher and, because of her quickness, usually bats leadoff.

But the physical side of the game is not even her greatest strength, according to Fergusson.

“I think well on my feet, so when I am put in a situation I can make that snap, tenth-of-a-second decision and just go with it,” she says.
This sharpness of the mind is not only confined to the diamond. Claire is currently taking a full academic course load with the intentions of studying kinesiology and physiotherapy while at university. When asked about how she handles this enormous workload to go along with her training, Fergusson claims self-discipline is key.

“Just being able to lay a schedule out and follow it is the biggest thing,” Fergusson says.

Quite the humble athlete, Fergusson points out that she would not be in the position that she is without the support of those around her, particularly her parents and coaches.

With her natural athleticism and smarts to go along with an uncommon work ethic, Fergusson is primed to achieve anything she puts her mind to. Her current mindset is following her dream: attend college in the U.S. while playing the game she loves.

Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

Let’s Play Ball!
Spring is just around the corner. Time to start thinking about signing up your kids to play baseball or softball.

Vancouver Minor Softball Association. Girls softball.

Trout Lake Little League. Baseball for boys and girls.

Vancouver Minor Baseball. Plays out of Nanaimo Park. February tryout dates.

Burnaby Minor Softball Association. Girls softball.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News