NewToBC? Head to Your Local Library!

If I moved to a new country, the first place I would go is to the local library. In British Columbia, the library is the hub: the community; the information centre. Just walk into a library in BC and you’ll notice flyers advertising workshops and information referrals to a wide array of services from computer assistance, to language learning, employment services, housing, counselling, etc. This is just at the front door! Never mind the information you will find within! The moment I walk into a library, I feel like I’m overwhelmed with helping hands waiting to guide me. It gets better!

The Libraries decided to join forces. NewToBC was created to support Libraries in Metro Vancouver help people who are new to BC. Instead of one library promoting their services, this service aimed at jointly promoting programs, services, community events and resources available to newcomers. The goal was to improve each libraries’ ability to help build welcoming and diverse communities. United, libraries are be able to meet the diverse needs of new Canadians based on location, language and resources.

Folks who are new to BC live in a large geographical area.It is to their advantage to choose a location near them and orient themselves to their new neighbourhood.  Library booksThey can head into their nearest library to discover the possiblities, simply by asking at the information desk. Folks looking for literature in their own language will be happy to know that some libraries specialize in specific language selections AND their local library is able to request materials to be delivered to their own branch! There are various service providers who are closely connected to BC Libraries who assist with learning languages, gaining employment, finding services for early childhood, youth, seniors, refugees, and settlement.

To top this off, NewToBC created the Library Champions project: newcomers to Canada vReading Buddiesolunteer in their local libraries to share the vast resources available to other newcomers in BC: services listed above, events happening in communities, inside tips, connections, friendship, community. The best part? You, too, can become a Champion and a part of your library community. Training is provided and gives you invaluable information about libraries and services in BC. Newcomers have found it useful in finding services, employment, books and new friendships. Information sessions are scheduled at various libraries in October – December.

Don’t take my word for it:

“It helped me first to know more about the library and to improve my communication skills. It helped me to feel that I belong to Canada. I made new friends and meet new people with different backgrounds who helped me to learn more about their culture. The best thing was helping the newcomers and others to learn about the library.” – Ola Sheiy

“As a newcomer, I felt welcomed by Canada, and got to know about Canadian life through the Library Champions Project. This project opens a door for me for my new life in Canada. Thank you!” – Melissa Xu

“The program is a benefit for the new immigrants to increase their confidence and to integrate more into the community, also learn more about the library facilities.” –Sawsan Al. Ramadhan

As an insider, I wish all new Canadians were given the opportunity to know where to start in their pursuit of unbiased, honest and useful information. If you were to respond, in kind, with what your country hast to offer for newcomers, what would you recommend?

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Culture Days – Create, Participate, Celebrate


September 26, 27 & 28 will have Culture Days sweeping across BC and the Lower Mainland. There’s really no better way to introduce you to the arts and cultural life of communities in BC. This event is designed for us to participate through hands-on, interactive activities; to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators and designers at work in their community. It cannot be successful if we do not attend. We cannot enhance our community if we choose to not participate.

Information about this event can be found through the Culture Days Website. They have provided the ability to search by community, by organizer and by date. You will find that your BC Public Libraries are also on hand to participate.

A popular activity for libraries is, of course, story-time activities. There is nothing more joyful than sitting in a room with an enthusiastic librarian reading to children. What better way to infuse culture than to introduce children to the love of books and language? Children five years and younger, along with their parents and caregivers, will enjoy stories, songs, rhymes and puppets.

In addition to stories, many libraries offer something in addition related to arts and culture. To list a few, I have added the link to workshops taking place at various libraries. Click on each Library’s name for more detailed information from the Culture Days website:

The Burnaby Public Library

  • Game Face – Boardgames for teens
  • Papercraft Lab
  • Oral Storytelling Circle

The Fraser Valley Regional Library

  • A celebration of Art in Fibre
  • Pom Pom making
  • Multicultural Tea and Treats

The North Vancouver City Library & the North Vancouver District Public Library

  • Culture Cram at the Library

The Richmond Public Library

  • Writer-in-Residence Launch: Meet Mark Leiren-Young
  • Word of Mouth: Local Writers Read

The Surrey Libraries

  • Family Lego Club
  • Scrabble Club
  • Bookslam: Find your next “buzzer beater” read!

The Vancouver Public Library

  • Animate it!
  • Kits House Story Sharing Circle
  • Painting and Photo Exhibition

The West Vancouver Memorial Library

  • Book Some Time for the Crime

Of course, there’s so much more to offer than what’s listed above. Many other organizations are participating. Have a look. Explore. Attend. Be a part of your community. When you’ve finished participating, be sure to share your experience by leaving a comment below! Have a great weekend!

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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

Have you ever had an interest in taking a course at university, but didn’t want to pay the price required to enroll? Not only is there the cost of tuition, there’s the additional cost of the application fee, the required textbook and additional student fees. Post-secondary education offers a chance to improve your knowledge in a particular subject or work-related area, but it comes with a very high price tag. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to try the course without the financial cost, to see if you liked it before embarking on the path to a post-secondary education? You can.

West Vancouver Memorial Library will be hosting an information session, to provide insight into a way that you can take university courses, through accredited and recognized universities, for minimal, or no, cost. MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses, are a recent development in distance education that allows access to online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web[1]. The courses are typically non-credit, but there are often options for receiving recognition for having taken them, and opportunities for receiving credit (which does come with a cost)[2].


MOOC courses have many things in common: video based lectures, interactivity through online quizzes, the ability to participate in online discussions, and frequent feedback so you can monitor your own progress. To find out if you’re interested in participating, it’s as simple as looking through the West Vancouver Memorial Library’s list of MOOC institutions and going from there. The library offers these tips to help you decide if a MOOC is right for you:

  • Watch the instructor’s introductory video
  • Check the course outline for prerequisites and the level at which the course will be taught
  • Look at the instructor’s college webpage and search the web for course reviews[3].

If you’re interested in finding out more, head to the West Vancouver Memorial Library on Tuesday, September 23, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. Give yourself the gift of learning without the financial strings attached.

[1] Wikipedia
[2] West Vancouver Memorial Library
[3] West Vancouver Memorial Library

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Learning Mango Language Style

If you’re looking for that extra help in learning a new language, look no further. Your BC Public Libraries offer a solution that makes it easy to learn when convenient for you. Search for Mango Languages on your Library webpage and follow these easy steps to getting started:

Step 1: Create your Mango Languages account. You will need your Library Card to access this service, and you will require an email and be asked to create a password.


Step 2: Pick your language. I found this hard with so many choices available. In the end, I closed my eyes and pointed to the screen. I landed on French. I jest; I actually want to learn French to support my daughter in her French Immersion Education and my French skills are limited to say the least. I imagine us, 10 years from now, going on a trip to France together and being able to converse our way around with ease. It’s a long term goal, but one to work towards.


Step 3: Load the program. It doesn’t take too long. Remember the days of dial-up-internet and rejoice that technology has come so far.


Step 4: Start your program by clicking on the appropriate starting point. I’m starting with the basics because my French is so limited. Some of this will be review, but most of it will be new to me.


I have made it through Lesson 1. My daughter likes to laugh at the progress I’ve made so far and corrects me often, but it has been a fun experience for the both of us. Her ability to teach me only reinforces her learning so far and gives her the added confidence of being smarter than her mother. Nothing wrong with that….for now.

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School alternatives

For me, the start of the school year is like a new beginning. Summer draws to a close, ending the frenzy of activities that are brought forth by warm days and late sunsets. School returns as does routine and normalcy. The calm of the season slows me down enough to set new goals; look for ways to expand myself in some way. Except this year.

The teachers’ strike has prolonged this transition. My normalcy is not returning. I am scrambling: instead of setting new goals, I am researching what I can do with my children to keep them on track in their learning and keep their minds busy. I am fortunate enough to have daycare lined up for them, but I worry about their minds not being stretched to new heights.

The BC Public Libraries are my first point of contact. In their everyday normal operations are set up to expand the minds of its users. If my children gain delight from story-time at the library, I am happy. If my children get lost in books, even better. If they play on the computer, I know the programs are friendly for them and will teach them something. If I find a program for them to participate in, I know their minds will benefit. The libraries have not changed because of the teachers’ strike. They just continue being awesome by doing what they do.

I also want to review the BC Teaching Curriculum to see what the learning outcomes are. Somehow, I am going to keep my children up to speed with their learning. This is a bit more difficult as I am limited with the amount of time I have to do this. I do not have the hours per day that my children would normally have to learn a curriculum set forth, but every bit of effort will pay off.

Finally, I look around at the various clubs and organizations to see what types of day camps are available. There are a multitude of services being offered through activity and community centres: gymnastics, taekwando, canoeing, etc., that are at a discount rate to give these kids a chance at socializing with their peers while learning a new skill.

Somehow or another, this strike will end. The kids will be back in school expanding their minds. I will go back to setting my own goals and expanding myself in some way. In the meantime, I have to work at creating an interim routine to bridge the gap.






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Voices of the Invisible

I don’t’ like it here, she says
I don’t speak the language.

But there are many places you could go, I said,
To make friends with others like you.

Please don’t laugh at me,
I don’t even know how to take the bus.
I can’t read the names of the stops,
And I don’t know when to pull the bell.

When I go somewhere,
I have to count the number of stops.
But buses here are strange,
They don’t stop at every stop.
When I miscount,
I get off at the wrong place,
And get lost.

And oh, how I dread the long winters here,
When it rains day in and day out.
I stay home,
Staring out the window,
Listening to raindrops beating on the roof,
And talking to raccoons.
Yeah, I learned to talk to myself.
People ask me, “How come you keep talking to yourself?”
“Well, l learned to do this in Canada,
Because this is the only thing I can do.”

I don’t like it here,
I wish I could run away.
I am too old to learn the language,
People laugh at me when I try,
Now I am a prisoner of my mother tongue.

What am I supposed to do,
An old woman like me?
Scared, ashamed, desperate,
More than ever in my life.
What shall I do? What could I do?
I can’t go back,
And yet I don’t belong here.
Tell me please,
Is there a place in between?

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Wouldn’t it be nice to take a Career for a Test Drive?

What do you want to do? For many, it’s a struggle to answer.  The Fraser Valley Regional Library has added Career Cruising to their list of available services to help with this question. Career Cruising is a web-based career exploration and planning tool to explore career and educational options.

What you’ll need to begin:

Your Library Card and your PIN (Personal Identification Number)
Your email address

What you’ll do here:

Explore your interests

Explore intersts

Learning style inventories are available for you. Discover how you learn and retain information and find tips on how to improve your study habits to suit your learning style.

Learn about careers

Search by alphabetical index, by school subject, by focus areas or by clusters of occupations. You’ll get the earnings range (how much money can be made), the level of education required, personal attributes of the workers, and an understanding of what the job looks like on a day to day basis.

Explore educational options

Search Colleges and Universities, or programs in BC and Canada. Find out what the admission requirements, program requirements and tuition costs are before you embark on this career option.

Find jobs

Enter the location you would like to find a job, or the type of job you wish to find.

What you should keep in mind while you’re exploring this website:

  1. Think about where you’d like to be in 5 years. You may not end up here, but it’s a starting point and gives you a direction to move towards.
  2. Write a personal manifesto, or mission statement. If you Google this term, you will see many examples of manifestos; such as this Holstee Manifesto:The-Holstee-Manifesto
  3. Volunteer in a position that interests you and allows you to gain the skills required. There are not only skills to be learned, but connections to be made. It also gives you a chance to share your life.
  4. Be curious. Try new things.
  5. Remember; not everyone knows what they want to do. Keep an open mind and see where it takes you.
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