Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Windermere students visit Ottawa with Don Davies, MP


MP Don Davies with Windermere students Gaelan Emo (left) and June Lam in the House of Commons. Photo by Alicia Tiffin

Two Windermere students, June Lam and Gaelan Emo, were the lucky recipients of an all-expense paid trip to Ottawa from May 28 to 30, hosted by Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kingsway. June and Gaelan won the opportunity to participate in Canada’s Parliament through the 2017 Create Your Canada contest.

Started by Don Davies in 2009, this annual contest is open to all Vancouver Kingsway students taking Grade 11 or 12 classes. Create Your Canada challenges students to propose ideas that they feel will make a better Canada, or a better world.

The winning idea is submitted by Davies to Parliament where it is drafted into federal legislation in the form of a Private Members Bill. Davies then flies the students to Ottawa to watch as he formally introduces their bill in the House of Commons.

June and Gaelan are both senior students in Windermere’s Leadership program and have been actively involved in their community. They were selected for their idea to create a tax incentive that will encourage food producers, suppliers and retailers to donate perishable food to charities.

“We both became interested in food security through Windermere’s Organic Garden, which produces food for our school cafeteria and the community,” said June.

“We discovered that 31 million pounds of food is wasted in Canada every year, but there are still many Canadians who don’t have enough to eat,” added Gaelan. “We wanted to find a way to solve both of those problems.”

The winners were treated to a jam-packed two-day tour of Parliament Hill where they visited the House of Commons, Senate, Peace Tower, Library of Parliament and Sir John A. MacDonald’s office, and attended Question Period. They also had time to tour the Supreme Court of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

“I think this is an engaging and fun introduction to Parliament and a great way for youth to share their vision for our country,” said Davies. “I am proud to bring the voice of youth to our debates.”

Honourable mentions for the 2017 Create Your Canada Contest go to:

  • Nika Asgari and Ana Brinkerhoff from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary for their idea to amend the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act.
  • Karen Caslib and Natasha Fahbod from Windermere Secondary for their idea to ban the production and use of plastic bags.

Davies personally funds the Create Your Canada program, and no taxpayer dollars are involved.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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June 2017 issue of RCC News is here

June 2017 RCC News

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community 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:

  • Happy 100th to John Harlow
  • Community rallies around Rob Allen after house fire
  • Windermere students shine
  • June is Italian Heritage Month
  • Food Security Institute: Join summer gatherings at local gardens
  • Thank you CNH volunteers
  • Family movie night at Gaston Park

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 July 2017 issue is June 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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Indigenous art project at Windermere high school: Reconciliation from the ground up



Aboriginal artist Jerry Whitehead demonstrates the art of spray painting. Photos taken and edited by Olivia Lee-Chun, Harkarn Kaler and Tiffany Tu

This spring, look for a new mural at Windermere Secondary School that brings together nature and Indigenous culture. Windermere has received a $20,000 grant from the Betty Wellborn Artistic Legacies Foundation for an art project that features local Indigenous artists running workshops and working with students to paint this mural.

Fine arts teacher Alyssa Reid’s project proposal was inspired from reading Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk, a memoir about reconciliation and healing between father and son that may ultimately spark conversation about Canada’s own reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Coincidentally, Windermere’s former vice-principal, Alison Ogden, had once posted outside her office a quote from the same book that Reid “really took to heart.”

The quote reads: “Reconciliation is not something realized on a grand level, something that happens when a prime minister and a national chief shake hands. It takes place at a much more individual level. Reconciliation is realized when two people come together and understand that what they share unites them and that what is different between them needs to be respected.”


Two students spray painting the stencil design they created.

Windermere’s aboriginal support teacher, Davita Marsden, suggested to Reid that local contemporary Indigenous artists Sharifah Marsden, Corey Bulpitt and Jerry Whitehead might be interested in working on the project.

“After speaking with the artists we decided on three workshops for staff and students that would give them some grounding and knowledge in Indigenous art that would lead to a large (1,000 square foot) mural on the front of the school,” Reid explains in an email.

“Our basis for the mural is a rooting in Mother Nature that links everyone to the earth and stresses the importance of nature and the earth to our Indigenous people done in the three very unique styles of each artist.”

The workshops started late April, with Sharifah Marsden teaching a beading workshop, Corey Bulpitt doing a stencilling and spray painting workshop, and Jerry Whitehead leading a design question/answer workshop. The painting begins in May.

Julie Cheng is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Windermere student-athlete to play for @SFUClan softball team

Kate Fergusson signs with SFU softball

Kate Fergusson has signed on to play for the SFU Clan softball team. Photo

Early 2017, the Simon Fraser University Clan softball team announced the signing of five recruits who will start playing in the 2018 season. Simon Fraser University (SFU) is Canada’s only NCAA softball team competing in the Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

All of these new SFU recruits currently play for the White Rock Renegades 99 team. Local residents might know one of these players: Kate Fergusson, a Grade 12 student at Windermere Secondary.

SFU softball coach Mike Renney first saw Kate Fergusson a few years ago. “I watched her continue to develop into the premier first baseman in her age category,” he said.

“As a lead-off batter of one of the top teams in Canada, she is a triple threat with the ability to slap, drag or hit for average.”

Kate Fergusson Trout Lake

Windermere student Kate Fergusson first learned the game playing baseball at Trout Lake Little League. Photo by Ken Shymka

Fergusson started playing baseball at age 6 with Trout Lake Little League in Vancouver, where she played on the all-star team three years in a row and won a bronze in the district championships. At age 10, she moved over to the Richmond Islanders to play girls softball. In 2012, playing for the Richmond Islanders 98 team, she won bronze at the Canadian National Championships. She moved to the White Rock Renegades for the 2013 season.

As part of White Rock Renegades 99, Fergusson was named a tournament all-star en route to winning a silver medal at the 2016 Canadian National softball championships held in Charlottetown, PEI. She was also named an all-star at the 2014 Nationals and was a key part of the team that won gold at the 2015 National and Provincial championships.

Aside from her softball accomplishments, the multi-sport star represented Windermere Secondary in cross country, basketball and volleyball. She also played soccer in the BC Soccer Premier League.

In addition to Fergusson, SFU signed her Renegades teammates Megan Smith, Alex Ogg, Maria Seminario and Hannah Boulanger.

“I am excited about the talent and winning attitude each of our new recruits will be bringing to our program,” said Renney.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Windermere Organic Garden Team grows fruit, veggies and community

Windermere Organic Garden market stall

The Windermere Garden Organic Team had just put out their produce when a cook from Collingwood Neighbourhood House offered up herbs. Photo by Jenny Lu


The Leadership program in Windermere Secondary has transformed an empty weed-filled area in the school’s grass field into a beautiful, edible food garden. There are now two parts to the garden at the school: the courtyard located at the heart of Windermere and the orchard located on the upper right of the Windermere field.

A team of devoted youth arrive every day after school to keep the garden in top condition. The students range from Grades 8 to 12 and make up the Windermere Organic Garden Team (WOGT). This year, the garden leaders are Gaelan Emo and Kobie Gingras-Fox, and included in the team is a student from the University of B.C. Fresh Roots, Jenny Lu.

Summer market

During summer 2016, the Windermere Organic Garden Team held a market stand for seven weeks every Tuesday outside the Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), at Joyce and Euclid. All the profit has gone back to help improve the Windermere garden.

The day before or on the day of the market, students would hand pick and wash the organically grown fruits and vegetables before transporting them to Collingwood Neighbourhood House by bicycle.

The crops included varieties of cucumbers, apples, kale, squash, cabbages and tomatoes. Every week, new and previous customers came to the stand, and whether they bought some produce or not, they all left with encouraging words that continue to push the students to keep up their work in the garden.

Windermere Garden market stall

Just a few of Windermere’s fruits and vegetables of the week. Photo by Jenny Lu

Growing community

Along with the summer market, the WOGT plans to work on greater projects involving the garden and members of the community. One such project is a giant mural located on a side wall in the orchard.

In collaboration with Collingwood Neighbourhood House, WOGT hopes to bring in students, such as students in the Windermere Athena Arts program, as well as youth from the community to all work on it.

Right now, one of the garden leaders is working with Crecien Bencio, a youth from CNH, to plan the mural. Watch for a swarm of students to start on it as soon as warmer weather returns.

Janette and Cindy Chen are Grade 10 and 11 students in of the Leadership program at Windermere Secondary. Both are involved in the community through various programs and organizations. They have been regular members of the Windermere Organic Garden Team since Grade 8 and 9.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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BC annual food gathering 2016: Working for safe and sustainable food


Youth share their stories at the 2016 BC Food Systems Network Gathering. Photo by Stephanie Lim

Youth share their stories at the 2016 BC Food Systems Network Gathering. Photo by Stephanie Lim

The BC Food Systems Network Gathering is held every year in different parts of B.C. to bring together speakers, activists and people who are generally interested in the food movement. This is a crucial gathering because it is a chance to address all of the injustices that should be talked about but are not.

It’s a great time for people to come together and share ideas, experiences and suggestions to make the food system more sustainable and safe for us and the future generations. People involved in events and organizations regarding food and food systems come together, greet old friends, meet new ones and all in all have a good time.

Youth take a break at the campsite. Photo by Kaitlyn Fung

Youth take a break at the campsite. Photo by Kaitlyn Fung

The gathering was held in Penticton (Syilx territories) this summer, at the En’owkin Centre, which provides schooling for indigenous children and youth to learn and connect with their history and keep their traditions and language alive.

This is the second year that youth working with Collingwood Neighbourhood House and the Food Security Institute attended the gathering. This year, students from Windermere Secondary and Vancouver Technical as well as older youth (neighbourhood house staff and volunteers) who are dedicated, passionate and willing to learn more about food systems began meeting about four months prior to the food gathering to prepare for our youth panel.

We were sharing personal stories on this panel. These stories were all in relation to food and how we personally felt connected it. Some shared stories about garden clubs, the difference of how they thought of food when they were younger versus their relationship with it now, funny food stories, and even about family members and their habits.

The stories ranged from humorous, sad and joyful experiences we had encountered  with or around food. The cool thing about this presentation was that it started off with the youngest person in the group (14 years old) and ended with the oldest (32 years old). This organization really showed the growth of intelligence, knowledge and passion of each individual.

The conference was filled with joyous moments and memories that will stay with all of us youth for a long time.  This experience was one of the best things I participated in this summer because of all the people I met and all the knowledge I learned.

Food systems are an important aspect of our day-to-day lives and with the advocates, activists and the supporters who want to make our food “secure,” we can achieve a better food system in our communities.

Julie To is a gardener, book lover and youth dedicated to food security. She will be entering Grade 10 at Vancouver Technical in the fall, where she is co-president of the garden club. She has spent her summer working with the Fresh Roots Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL) program.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Windermere Leadership students lead Earth Day Parade 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016



Earth Day

Windermere student organizers, community youth and cycling dinosaurs march for environmental justice in celebration of Earth Day. Photo courtesy of Y4CJN

For five years now, Vancouverites have been marching down Commercial Drive to the tune of The Carnival Band in celebration of our planet and Earth Day (which falls this year on April 22). Spirits are always high as youth and community members parade down the streets engulfed in a sea of banners and picket signs.

The marchers are accompanied by a giant windmill made from pop cans strewn together with chicken wire and a trio of fossil-fuel-loathing dinosaurs who are just as eager as the rest of the participants to express their environmental concerns.

Business operators and cafe goers drift away from their duties and conversations to gaze at the over 200-strong group of marchers headed towards Grandview park where speakers and entertainers await.

For the past few months, a new group of Grade 11 students from Windermere high school have been hard at work organizing the 6th annual Earth Day Parade and Celebration. The event is organized entirely by these students, together known as Youth 4 Climate Justice Now, along with guidance from their teacher Vagner Castilho. One student organizer, Gabriele Liessi, has been busy filling out event permits.

“I’ve been attending for the past three years and it’s always something I look forward to. I think the event is a great way for youth like me to get involved with climate-related issues and to show adults just how important having a sustainable future is to our generation,” Gabriele says.

The high school organizers aim to attract students from all over Vancouver out to the march and parade to educate and stand with each other in the battle for a greener future. Of course, people of all ages — young and old — who are concerned for the planet are encouraged to show up. In the past more than 1,000 people have attended the celebration and amazing environmentalists such as David Suzuki have even been guest speakers.

This year, the parade and celebration will be happening on Sunday, April 24. Bring your family, friends, signs, banners and spirit! Costumes are encouraged as well so don’t be afraid to dress up. For more information, please visit


Windermere Leadership program wins Earth Day Canada award

November 2015, the Leadership program at Windermere Secondary School won the Group Hometown Heroes Award from Earth Day Canada for their environmental work. The prestigious award comes with a $10,000 cash prize to support their work.

Over the last 10 years, the Windermere Secondary Leadership Program (WSLP) has spearheaded a number of large-scale and far-reaching environmental initiatives and events.

WSLP’s most notable environmental accomplishment is the education and empowerment of students across Vancouver through three major community events: the annual Climate Change Conference (C3), that brings over 300 students from across Vancouver together for a day of presentations, workshops and hands-on action; the annual Earth Day Parade and Celebration, a community event that has attracted up to 1,000 people and shut down Commercial Drive; and a film screening of two environmental films, Directly Affected and Spoil, with a special panel to address students and educate.

In addition, WSLP’s accomplishments include a garden with 25 large garden beds, 30 fruit trees, 20 perennial berry bushes, greenhouse, aquaponics system and a composter that can hold up to two tons of food waste; a grassroots program where leadership students present sustainability lessons and mentor Grade 6 and 7 students; car free day; a bike program with a fleet of 30 bikes for physical education classes to use; and a successful campaign and fundraising initiative that reduced the number of plastic water bottles going to landfill by over 50,000 to date, through the purchase of three special water fountains.

The Leadership program also had 50 students attend the Global Climate Race in Stanley Park last year and raised $1,000 for solar panels for the Stanley Park nature house.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News