An Election is Coming…







Of course,  you already know this.

What you may not know is how to understand the complexity of the Canadian political landscape. How does the Canadian Government and Elections work? What are the current election issues? Why is it important to vote?

The North Shore Community Resources Society has put together a series of workshops to help newcomers and first time voters understand the Canadian political landscape.

Workshop 1: Civics 101: How our Government & Elections Work
What is government? Discuss the characteristics of the Canadian system of government and democracy. 

Workshop 2: Democratic Values and Experiences + Current Election Issues
Share your personal experiences and discuss current federal election issues. 

Workshop 3: Overcoming Voter Apathy + Public Life Beyond the Vote
How to encourage others to participate in public life. 

You can also join the conversation online with #NSDemocracyCafe to learn more.

An election is coming. Get the facts and vote!

North Vancouver City Library 120 West 14th Street
Saturday Mornings| 10:00am – 12:00pm
September 19, 26 & October 3
Register through the online calendar at

West Vancouver Memorial Library 1950 Marine Drive, West Vancouver
Evenings | 7:00pm – 9:00pm Mondays
September 21, 28 & Tuesday, October 6
Register through the online calendar at

Parkgate Community Centre 3625 Banff Court
Tuesday Evenings | 7:00pm – 9:00pm
September 22, 29 & October 6
Register at 604-983-63

North Vancouver District Public Library: Lynn Valley Library 1277 Lynn Valley Road
Wednesday Evenings | 7:00pm – 9:00pm
September 23, 30 & October 7
Register at 604-984-0286, ext. 8144

North Vancouver District Public Library: Capilano Library 3045 Highland Blvd
Thursday Evenings | 7:00pm – 9:00pm
September 24, October 1 & 8
Register at 604-987-4471, ext. 8175

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How Far Do Libraries Travel?









On a recent vacation, I happened across this pop-up library and laughed to see a book from the Burnaby Public Library sitting there; amazed at how far books travel. I wondered if I should return it, then realized from the marked out bar-code the book was no longer in circulation. I happily started digging through the titles within, exploring.

The first time I saw a pop up library, I remember feeling both curious and a little criminal. I delighted at the treasures others had left behind, while waiting for someone to catch me looking through their collection. This, of course, never happened. As pop-up libraries become more prevalent, I wonder, how many newcomers to Canada look at these with curiosity, but never dig inside for feeling this doesn’t belong to them.

For me, pop up libraries are more than a treasure trove. They inspire imagination.

With each book I picked up, I wondered its history. Where has this book been? Where has it travelled? Who has thumbed through its pages? This book from the Burnaby Library moved my thoughts to newcomers who use BC Libraries. Where have they come from? Where have they travelled?  How has their life been impacted by the services and treasures found within our libraries? How great was this impact? How did they discover their library?

There are 10 libraries throughout the lower mainland who are part of  the Urban Library Settlement Partnership (ULSP). Their goal is to partner together to build welcoming and diverse communities for newcomer immigrants. One such initiative is the Library Champions Project. Library Champions are newcomers to Canada who share their knowledge of BC libraries with other newcomers. In person, face to face, they educate others in their own, and other, cultures of the myriad of services available and how to obtain a library card. How many people would miss an opportunity to discover what lies within our libraries if our Champions hadn’t reached out?

There have been a total of 530 Library Champions trained since the inception of the Library Champions Project. These Champions have reached 39,900 newcomers.

Take a moment and think about these numbers.

I can only imagine at the numbers of people that our BC Libraries touch on a daily basis. Much like the book from the Burnaby Public Library that showed up in a remote pop-up library, I imagine how far our libraries have impacted people across this globe. With numbers like these, it’s easy to imagine that we’ve travelled far and wide.

If you’re a newcomer to Canada and would like to share your love of libraries with others, we’re looking for new Library Champions for the Surrey Public Library, Burnaby Library, Coquitlam Public Library, West Vancouver Memorial Library and Vancouver Public Library. Information sessions will be held in September. Find out more:


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Are You Really Too Busy?

PrioritiesTime is a funny thing.

Do you remember, growing up, the long stretches of summer; the long break between school ending and beginning again? A lifetime happened in those two months. If you imagined doing anything, it would magically happen somehow.

Fast-forward to life as an adult with children. Summer is somehow over before it even begins; mapped out and executed with precision, no room for deviation. Nothing happens magically. You blink and realize time has passed you by.

As life moves faster, it becomes harder to find time to change habits, find a new job, or be the person you imagined yourself to be.

Do you know what I find myself telling myself when I don’t do what I know I need to do? I tell myself “I don’t have time.” And then I came across this:

“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.”

This stopped me in my tracks.

No one ‘has’ time. Time passes at the same speed it always has. As we get older we fill our time with the busy-ness and everyday-ness of life. We make choices as to how we spend our time,  how we organize our days. What we determine our priorities are, without really giving it thought.

What do you not have time for?

  • Are you looking for a new job? It may be a priority to check in with one of these organizations to ask one question this week.
  • Are you wanting to be a better communicator in English? You may want to look to the EAL resources in your area.
  • Do you want to know more about adjusting to life in Canada? You may want to see the plentitude of options available for you (and there are A LOT of options!).

Whatever the question is, whatever it is that you tell yourself you don’t have time for, try changing “I don’t have time” to “it’s not a priority” and see how it feels. I’ll tell you this: I made it to the gym each and every time I tried this phrase and felt like I didn’t have time. I decided it was a priority; I was happier for it, as were those around me.

Do you have a similar way to make sure you keep yourself in check? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Canadian Summer = Camping!

There are over 830 Provincial Parks in BC. In 2012-2013, there were 477,789 people in the West Coast region who camped in these parks. Just a wild guess: newcomers didn’t register high on the user count.

One of the many things that attract people to British Columbia is the beauty it has to offer. Mountains to the north, ocean to the west, and lakes and parks scattered within a 30-minute drive from anywhere. For many newcomers, the furthest thing from their mind is to go out of doors and sleep in a tent to enjoy it to its fullest, amongst the wildlife and the bugs, with no modern conveniences nearby.

There has been increased media attention towards something called ‘nature deficit disorder,’ – children spending less time outdoors are experiencing behavioural problems, as a result of increased alienation from their natural world. Camping offers a perfect antidote.

We need to appreciate our affinity to mother earth. We need to remind ourselves of the magnificence of the landscape that surrounds us, something larger than ourselves. Being in nature increases pleasant feelings and reduces anger, fear, and stress. There is a freedom in being away from the busyness of our daily lives and breathing in the greenery and the ocean (or lake) smells that surrounds us

For many immigrant families, camping, hiking and fishing are such novelties, they can’t even imagine themselves taking part. Where do they even start? The Learn to Camp program, through Parks Canada and Mountain Equipment Co-op, offers newcomers a chance to learn about camping: what you need to bring to ensure a pleasurable experience, what to know about the area and the wildlife, what to cook, and where to camp.

CampingAt the end of this interactive experience, you’ll be excited to go to the middle of a forest, pitch a tent and rough it in this place we call home. You’ll be astounded at the number of stars that cover a night sky when light pollution is removed. You’ll be able to hear the birds clearly singing their tune. Traffic will be a noise left to kids on bikes. Can it get any better?


The next session is September 12-13 in Fort Langley, BC at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Let me know how it goes.

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Summer Reading Club 2015

Build It!The end of the school year is near. You know what this means? Summer Reading Club! A great way to keep your kids reading over the summer months, this reading club is full of incentives and all around good fun.

This year’s theme is Build It. Build it indeed. Build that imagination. Build on reading, spelling and vocabulary. Build on the foundation that has been set this past school year.

The BC Summer Reading Club is available at most libraries in the Lower Mainland. Kids who sign up are given a Reading Record and calendar so they can record the title and author of every book they read. They are encouraged to read and record 15 minutes of reading every day. If they read for 7 days, they get to choose a sticker for their reading record (there are 7 stickers to be collected). If they read for 49 days, they get a medal. They also get to feel an accomplishment of completing such a challenge.

The BC Summer Reading Club is sponsored by the British Columbia Library Association and your local library. The Province of British Columbia, through Libraries Branch, the Ministry of Education and the RBC Foundation support this initiative. In order to continue support for this in future, the BC Summer Reading Club asks you to ‘consider sending thank you notes to your local RBC branch, the Minister of Education, and your library board’ to show your appreciation.

I think I’m more excited than my kids! I took them to the Fraser Valley Regional Library to get signed up. My eldest is just learning to read on her own and is taking this challenge very seriously. My youngest was a wee bit jealous that she was not given the same challenge as her sister – she requires me to read to her. I am pretty sure this is exactly as it should be and I’m looking forward to watching them progress.

To find the reading program near you, I’ve linked the information here:

Burnaby Public Libraries, Fraser Valley Regional Library, New Westminster Public LibraryNorth Vancouver City Library,North Vancouver District Public LibraryRichmond Public Library, Surrey Libraries, Vancouver Public Libraries, and West Vancouver Memorial Library.

If you want your child to write a letter of appreciation, they can be directed to:

Minister’s Office
Honourable Peter Fassbender
PO Box 9045 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9E2

Or your local RBC branch or library.

Happy reading everyone!

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Three Souls Author Comes to Burnaby Public Library

Three soulsI enjoy learning about history through storytelling. If the writer is good, I am able to imagine how lives were shaped and lived through a particular era. I can read the mannerisms of people and the fashion of a particular time period. I am able to better understand why decisions were made in the context of time and place. I am a better learner through novels than historical textbooks. I am more open to ‘other world’ ideas.

Janie Chang is an historical novelist. She draws upon her own family history for her writing. Growing up, she heard stories about her ancestors and their encounters with “dragons, ghosts, and immortals, and about life in a small Chinese town in the years before the Second World War.” She is coming to the Burnaby Public Library for an author visit and I can’t help feel that you, who are new to BC, would benefit from this visit.

Chang is experienced in moving to new places and making a new life. She was born in Taiwan, but has lived in the Phillipines, Iran, Thailand, New Zealand and now lives in Vancouver, BC where she graduated from the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University.

She will be presenting her first novel, ‘Three Souls,’ on June 9th from 7-8 pm.

“Three Souls by Janie Chang is a captivating tale of romance and revolution set in China in 1935.  The Ghost of a young woman named Leiyin watches her own funeral from above, distressed that she has been denied entry to the afterlife.  Beside her are three souls: the rational yang, the impulsive yin, and the wise hun who tell her that to enter the afterlife she must make amends. Leiyin revisits her life in a desperate bid to make amends, and to understand herself and what she was willing to sacrifice for love and freedom.

If you’re interested in meeting Chang, you’ll need to sign up. It’s a sure sell-out!

Phone 604-436-5410 to register.




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Human Library Returns to Surrey Libraries

Human Library

Sometimes, a simple conversation can change your life.

The Human Libraries Project returns to the Surrey Library this year. Rather than check out a book, you can go to the library and meet your storyteller face to face. Each human ‘book’ offers insight to their spiritual beliefs. By sharing their insights and experiences with you, they promote dialogue, reduce prejudice and encourage understanding.

I had the pleasure of attending this event last year. I was literally swept away by the passion that each ‘book’ had to offer about their beliefs. It offered me a glimpse into an unknown world that I always wondered about, but never took the time to research. What I loved most about it, was how quickly I was able to grasp each individual’s concept of their belief, as well as see how clearly moved they were by their beliefs. I felt so comfortable I was able to ask the questions that I felt afraid to ask in any other context.

I left wanting more.

The Surrey Libraries (Central Branch) has a fabulous line up. You’ll want to sign up. You’ll want to show up.

Date: May 30th

Line up of ‘books’ and topic:

Buddhism: Priscilla

Priscilla is of Chinese heritage, from Hong Kong. She is an Educational Advisor and a Buddhist Nun. She is a Pure Land Buddhist; Pure Land Buddhism is one of China and Japan’s most widely-practiced forms of Buddhism. Priscilla is passionate about her faith as it gives her a clear direction in her life and she loves to share this with anyone who is interested in Pure Land Buddhism. Her other interests are sports, music, and personal growth.

First Nations Spirituality: Troy

Troy is First Nations, from Gitxsan Nation, BC. He is a Surrey RCMP police office, a fully certified chef, a skateboarder, and he is also interested in vintage cars, music and the arts. Troy will talk about First Nations spirituality as a “way of life ingrained in a culture that has been around far longer than any other.”

Hinduism: Acharya

Acharya is a scholar, poet, writer, and peace activist. He has been recognized globally by government, literary, and faith organizations for his dedication to interfaith dialogue and was appointed Ambassador of Peace by the Parliament of World Religions. Acharya looks forward to sharing the principles of Hinduism and how it has contributed to his wide-ranging experiences.

Interfaith Couple: Carl & Seema

Carl is a Sicangu Lakota Indigenous man, born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, USA. Carl’s people do not have a religion but rather a spiritual way of life. They believe that the Sacred Pipe is at the heart of the Lakota spiritual path. As a ceremonialist, Carl regularly returns to S. Dakota for his traditional work.

Seema is a Sikh woman, born in Delhi, India, and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada. She is an instructor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The principle of social justice, inherent in Sikhism, is extremely important to Seema.

Both Carl and Seema believe that understanding, sharing, respecting, and celebrating diverse spiritual paths are key factors in shaping the next chapter of the human experience.

Judaism: Jeff

Jeff has lived and worked or studied in Canada, USA, UK, Nepal, and Japan. He is passionate about the time-tested wisdom of Judaism and of all faiths that focus on peace, inclusiveness, and compassion. Jeff believes that in order to move beyond fear, communicating with the aim of understanding is essential.

Secular Humanist: Kathy

Kathy recently retired after working for 30 years in the financial industry while her husband was a stay-at-home dad. She has been a foster mother and currently volunteers at a women’s shelter. Kathy realized in her teens that she did not believe in God and came to Secular Humanism about 15 years ago. She finds this belief system, which tries to follow principles based on universal human experience, consistent with her world views.

Skeptic: Marina

Marina is a second-generation Canadian whose grandparents were of seven ethnicities. She is a lawyer, a half-marathoner and a member of Surrey/Langley Skeptics in the Pub. Although a Jehovah’s Witness until age 14, Marina is now an Agnostic Atheist. Marina values communication in which anything can be asked and everyone brings goodwill to discussions without judgment or offens

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