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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Employment Dialogue

The Employment Dialogue Series at the SFU Surrey Campus obviously struck a chord within the community. SFU created a space for employers, service providers and young job seekers to come together and share best practices and opportunities for both employers and job seekers. The event was well attended and most tables and chairs were full by the start of the presentation.

Each panelist had something to offer. With words of advice, information about services, and tips for employment, there was something for everyone who attended.

On finding employment:

Jennifer Zakaib from the Work BC Newton Office introduced services available at WorkBC, including information on how to write you resumes, cover letters, finding employment, learning how to network and more. Services are free. She also invited participants to stop by and talk to her directly about her own embarrassing interview stories – you have to stop by the office for those!

Judy Crooks from the PCRS Barista Program talked about her organizations partnership with Starbucks that gives participants hands-on training while assisting in all other necessary job preparation: resumes, cover letters, interview skills, etc. Upon completion of the program, participants have a clear understanding of what it’s like to work in Starbucks, and are prepared to find work. If you are interested in applying for this program, the application deadline is June 7th for a July 6th start.

Shannon Leisz of Starbucks outlined the benefits available to employers who work there. If Baristas are able to secure 24 hours per week, they have access to health, medical, dental, free coffee and tuition. She also spoke about the PCRS Barista program: “As we participate in playing a larger role for the Barista’s program, we found it not only helps youth find employment, but also helps develop the leadership of the barista team. It’s a huge win for everyone.”

On Trades and Co-op:

Dal Dhatt and Lisa Ayton from the Industry Trades Authority introduce the variety of options available to prospective tradespersons. With over 100 trades in BC, ITA works with government and overseas training and certification. Apprentices get paid to learn (10 months per year) and go to school (2 months per year). Students can start a trade while in high school. They’re projecting a strong shortage of tradespersons by 2022. If you have questions about this, you are encouraged to get in touch with an advisor to answer questions you have about this industry.

Harriet Chicoine from SFU Co-operative Education started with a simple question to the adults in the room: “How many of you ended up in the Career that you envisioned for yourself?” One person in the room had their hand raised. A telling moment. Harriet continued “as you grow and try new things, it adds to your skill set and gives you a chance to find out what you really like. Everything will lead you to the path that you have your passion for, if you try. All experience that you have along the way: “HUGE!” From the employer’s perspective, someone has hired you. You’ve been trained. They want to see volunteer work. They want to see students are involved in their community. They want to see that they’re working in their community. Every step you take will help you out, but you need to take a step.”

On Motivation:

Jennifer Swanson, author of What They See had the group participating in an activity.

Each person was required down “3 things you do (or know you should do) every single day.”

She then instructed “with a partner, share your list, choose one item and answer these 5 questions:

  1. Why is this an important activity? What are the immediate results of this activity? What are the long term results?
  2. How much time do you spend every day on this activity?
  3. What time of day do you do this activity?
  4. Why should you do this activity everyday? What would happen if you skipped a day? Can you do this once a week? Can you do it occasionally?
  5. How can you ensure that this activity becomes an automatic part of your daily routine?”

Not one person wrote down that they should be managing their career.

Her message was loud and clear: “If you do something every day, it becomes a habit!” So you need to ask yourself: “What can you do daily to manage your career/worklife? Write down one thing that you will do this week that will take you to the next level and then stick it on the bathroom mirror so you can look at it every day.”

On volunteering

Two student volunteers for the City of Surrey spoke about how volunteering helped them get to where they were.

“Volunteering. Gave me a new family. We would hang out and do something awesome. We got to develop our skills – like public speaking, for example.” They also advised: volunteer with something you’re actually passionate about. Find a mentor – find someone you can ask a ridiculous amount of questions to. This may lead you to interesting areas. You are going to shape the them, and they are going to shape you.”

This was a two hour event. It provided insight. It provided motivation. It provided hope. If you can, I would encourage you to attend events such as these to learn, to keep that motivation going, to be inspired. I’ll keep you posted on our social media channels as events come up.

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Champions Among Us

Our Library Champion Project is really the heart of NewToBC. Newcomers volunteer their time to educate other newcomers about the amazing things that BC Libraries have to offer. They reach out to people in their communities sharing information about obtaining library cards, attending workshops, discovering books in native languages, or any of the other myriad of service that are available. They are trained by facilitators who provide them with information on how to reach out to others, as well as  inform them of just how diverse libraries in Canada are. By the end of the training, the Champions forge a community with other newcomers from various parts of the world, united by their love of libraries.


Angel was one such Library Champion. She arrived in Canada in September 2013. She became a Library Champion and shared her experiences, her thoughts and her hopes with us.

What has been your most memorable moment so far?
I went on a tour to the central library. I was amazed when many in my group had library memberships for more than 15 years and still learned of so many services that are available in the library.

What do you wish you knew before you moved here?
I was an art teacher and researcher. I wish I was able to find a job. I want to be helpful.

What was the biggest surprise to you?
I was wondering how the Library Champion’s Project would help me to connect to newcomers and how I would be able to help to other people. It was surprised how, before I finished the 4th training session, I had too many people to schedule in.

Tell me about your experience as a Library Champion?
I had so many presentations: at my LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) classes and community centre. It was interesting when students were curious about options at the libraries: eBooks, online newspapers and free classes.

How did you find out about the Library Champion program?
I registered for volunteer work at ISSofBC and the staff there sent me email about the Library Champions Project.

What is the biggest difference between libraries here and libraries where you’re from?
The libraries here are open and welcome to everyone. Immigrants can join the Library Champions Project and help other newcomers and themselves.

What do you feel is the most important aspect of libraries in BC?
Public Libraries are open and offer something interesting for everyone. They are very accessible.

What was the biggest learning moment about your library after you became a library Champion?
Libraries aren’t just about borrowing books, CDs and DVDs. It’s also about finding and learning about so many other things that you need. It has helped me become motivated to go to out into the community again.

What is your favourite place to go to in Vancouver?
My favourite indoor place is the Central Library, and my favourite outdoor place is Stanley Park.

What is the thing you love most about your new city?
Freedom, the nice and natural areas, and the friendly people.

Is there anything that you wished I had asked you about?
I’m volunteering at YMCA in events. I hope I can find a job in my position again so I can continue helping others.

What would you like others to know about you and your journey?
I wanted to live in city where I feel calm, comfort and peace. I think I found my city. It’s Vancouver.

Do you have any words of advice for other newcomers?
Don’t be shy. Connect with a community center. Find new friends. Join in events. You will find all of these in the Library Champion project.


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