A Thank You and a Welcome

HR-20160602-3695panoEleven library systems in thirteen communities across the Metro Vancouver area support NewToBC by raising awareness about project services by hosting cycles of the Library Champions project, and by participating as members of the NewToBC Steering Committee. Members of the Steering Committee bring their libraries’ perspectives as well as a wealth of experience, insight, creativity and passion to the planning of NewToBC activities and services. Over the years, the Steering Committee has guided the transformation of NewToBC from an idea into a pilot project and, now, into an expansive and successful library settlement initiative.

The NewToBC Steering Committee is made up of chief librarians, directors, coordinators and other administrators from each of the eleven public library systems. It is currently undergoing a period of renewal. A number of long term members of the committee are moving on due to retirement, to a change in their role or position, or to change in their employment. NewToBC is enormously grateful for the contributions of all of the members of the Steering Committee. We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation of the outgoing members. Without your input, support and insight, this project would not have attained its current success.

The following outgoing members have served as committed, engaged and generous advocates for, supporters of, and contributors to NewToBC:

  • Edel Toner-Rogala (Chief Librarian, Burnaby Public Library);
  • Silvana Harwood (Deputy Director, Coquitlam Public Library);
  • Gillian McLeod (Library Manager of Delta Libraries, Fraser Valley Regional Library);
  • Jane Watkins (Chief Librarian, North Vancouver City Library);
  • Barbara Kelly (Manager of Community Engagement, North Vancouver District Public Library);
  • Surinder Bhogal (Chief Librarian, Surrey Libraries); and
  • Shelagh Flaherty (Director of Library Experience, Vancouver Public Library).

As NewToBC continues to grow and to evolve, we will continue to call upon the members of the Steering Committee to provide input into and to serve as champions of the project. NewToBC would like to welcome the following new members to the Steering Committee.

  • Roberta Summersgill (Manager of Tommy Douglas Branch, Burnaby Public Library);
  • Anthea Goffe (Manager of Community Services, Coquitlam Public Library);
  • Heather Scoular (Director of Customer Service, Fraser Valley Regional Library)
  • Cara Pryor (Head of Community, Program and Service Development, North Vancouver City Librayr);
  • Alison Campbell (Manager of Community Connections, North Vancouver District Public Library);
  • Lynne Russell (Director of Library Services, Port Moody Public Library); and
  • Dawn Ibey (Acting Director of Library Experience, Vancouver Public Library).

We are excited to build on the foundation of the outgoing Steering Committee members adding new, fresh perspectives of the incoming members.

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Meet Charles, Library Champion

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I was a professional manager of inspection and certification in China before I immigrated to Canada. The livable environment and climate of Vancouver has always been attractive to my family and me. After we came to Canada in 2012, I was deeply impressed by the multiculturalism and the wealth of free resources from the public libraries.

I was looking forward to integrating socially in my new life here and started to volunteer as a Library Champion of NewToBC in 2013. I enjoyed the training courses and outreach of the program, which made me feel more fulfilled and confident. As a new immigrant, I helped other newcomers get used to a new society. Also, I felt proud for making contribution to this project.

The most important thing for newcomers to understand about their libraries is that they can use all the resources for free and participate in so many kinds of activities. My library, the Richmond Public Library (RPL), is a friendly and welcoming community gathering place that offers free access to books, DVDs, computers, events, study space and many other services.  The most surprising one to me was the 3D printing services. Richmond Public Library has 4 locations that are open 7 days a week: Brighouse (Main) Branch, Cambie Branch, Ironwood Branch and Steveston Branch.  The Newcomers section of the library is specifically designed to provide information about the library, settling in BC, improve English, and more.

While volunteering for the Library Champions Project, I enrolled in ESL classes. I was able to practice my English and public speaking skills with this project and this gave me the confidence I needed to apply for my new job as a legal assistant at a law firm.

I continue to volunteer for this project as a member of the Advisory Committee. I have been doing this for three years. As a group, we organize the Library Champions Project year-end celebration and provide feedback to help improve the NewToBC website. I’ve always been proud of being a member of the LCP and the Advisory Committee and will continue enthusiastically supporting this project in the future.

I love my new home. I love the fresh air and the beautiful scenery – Stanley Park is my favourite place to go. I love how multicultural my new home is. And, I love my library.


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Meet Irene, Library Champion

From Ukraine, Irene moved to the lower mainland in 2015. She volunteered as a Library Champion for the Vancouver Public Library Oakridge branch. When asked what the biggest difference between libraries here and libraries in Ukraine, Irene answered “comparison of Ukrainian libraries and Canadian libraries is not meaningful because the countries’ economies are nowhere near each other.”

IreneI think this is why the Library Champions Project resonates so much with newcomers. Libraries are welcome centres providing information, referrals and services ranging from employment workshops, access to resources, to books and newspapers in multiple languages -something for everyone. I caught up with Irene to get her thoughts on the Library Champions volunteer opportunity.

What was your most memorable moment for this project?

I loved all the pot-lucks that our group had. Our group was very diverse, and I enjoyed exposure to national cuisine of different parts of the world.

What surprised you most about this opportunity?

I was pleasantly surprised by the vast amount of services and perks offered by the local libraries! Collection of materials in foreign languages is truly impressive. Even the locals did not known the range of services libraries here have to offer!

In what ways did this open up new opportunities for you?

I was able to explore my organizing and public speaking skills. I think practicing public speaking is important for developing self-confidence and leadership skills, and a great opportunity to practice language! Not to mention how many great people I’ve met. I had opportunities to meet librarians and learn from them about their profession. Anyone considering this career will find the Library Champions project valuable.

What recommendations do you have for people considering this opportunity?

Don’t hesitate!

What surprised you most about what you could do / find at your library?

The Inspiration Lab (complete with free training!) and the 3D-printer.

What do you think is the most useful resource available at your library?

For me personally, the most valuable is the ability to access quiet space with Internet access as well as the amount of books and magazines. Also very valuable is the various job search related workshops and the Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre.

What is your favourite place to go here?

Buntzen lake and trails around it.

What would you tell others who are considering a move to Canada?

Most importantly, try to stay open, positive and optimistic!

What has been your biggest success since moving here?

I’m not sure if that’s a success, but something I’m mostly grateful for is all the kind and wonderful people I’ve met.

What is your favourite food dish?

Dark and rich coffee with a maple doughnut!

We’re currently looking for Library Champions in Port Moody, Surrey, Vancouver, Richmond, Abbotsford and Coquitlam. If this is something you’d like to consider, please sign up for our information sessions.

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Meetup – Build Your Own Community

I stumbled across Meetup when I became a mother in 2008. New to my community, I was researching different activities that I could do with my baby and meet other new moms. I wanted to connect with people who had similar interests and to share experiences. A ‘Mom and Me’ Meetup group popped up in my search. It included a calendar of events and activities to do with other new mothers including coffee shop gatherings, library story time activities and hiking with babies. I nervously signed up for my first hike when my child was 5 months old.

I vividly remember showing up for this hike, with my baby in a carrier, and awkwardly introducing myself to the two other women who signed up that day. We started walking and talking and before I knew it, the hike was over. A success.

Fast forward 8 years – our family has a solid network of friends that grew from this first hike. We built our own community. Our children go to different schools, we live on different sides of the city, but we regularly plan events and activities that bring us together. I love the support and the connection, and I love that my children have this one constant network that has been there since the beginning.

“Meetup helps people find and create communities based around the ideas and activities that matter to them. Meetups can be formed around a common interest or cause, and they are sustained through regular, face-to-face gatherings.”

As a newcomer to the Lower Mainland, there are a number of MeetUps that may be of interest to you as well. You can search according to cultural affinity, job searching techniques, improving a skill-set, or a fun activity or outing.

If you click on the search box field, you can see the various categories, ranging from Arts & Culture to Sports & Recreation. You’ll also see groups specific to Language and Ethnic Identity:

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Another MeetUp, Job Search for New Immigrants in Greater Vancouver, offers support for new immigrants interested in understanding the Canadian labor market, networking, interviewing, social media and existing programs and resources in the community (they look like a welcoming bunch).


Whatever your interest, if you’re looking to expand your networks, share ideas, or find activities, Meetup might be the place to get you connected to the people who will become your community.

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Get your (Board) Game on!

What was your favourite game to play growing up?

I loved Risk. I would spend hours with my brothers and sister strategizing and contemplating how I would take over the world. On rare occasions, when I won, I would bask in the glory of sibling domination until crushed in the next game.

Board games are back. Many cafes and restaurants now furnish a variety of games on their shelves for patrons to play and connect while enjoying their stay. Board game stores are popping up to sell their wares. And, of course, libraries are offering game nights and game making activities.

Yut_sticksThe Burnaby Public Libraries is hosting a Game Crafters night in which participants will make their own board games that were invented in Asia. Each family will be able to take one or two games home with them after
construction and lessons (registration is encouraged).

The Vancouver Public Library regularly posts times for participants to play Board Games. You can drop in and play the variety of games available at the library.

Richmond Public Library offers a Family Board Game Extravaganza in which you can bring your own games, play featured games or choose another game. Your family, or your friends are welcome to join.

The Fraser Valley Regional Library (George Mackie branch) adds pizza to their Teen Night Pizza and Games with games and snacks provided by Imperial Hobby.

The Surrey Libraries (Strawberry Hill branch) has Fab Fridays where participants are invited to make crafts, play board games or watch movies.

The Port Moody Library Books and Board Games invites families to come read with their children or play any of the games held in the library.

The Coquitlam Public Library is hosting an Imagination Fair where participants can build and play with a variety of games.

Plan the time to connect and play over strategies and moves – keep your eyes on the calendars at your libraries. Spend an afternoon or evening basking in timeless and ageless fun with your family and friends. All free of charge.



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Culture Access Pass – Explore Vancouver

Well this weather caught me by surprise. I have some friends coming from out of town and had hoped to take them hiking, biking and all things outdoors. Instead, I have to figure out what indoor activities we can do.

Lucky for me, I know about the Culture Access Pass:

Cultural-Access-PassA gift to each Canadian citizen during their first year of citizenship, the Cultural Access Pass provides complimentary admission to more than 1000 of Canada’s cultural treasures from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The Cultural Access Pass creates opportunities for Canada’s newest citizens to discover our rich cultural history, world-renowned artworks, historical figures and stunning parks.

It’s easy to obtain. Simply register yourself for your Culture Access Pass, then bring:

  1. Your Cultural Access Pass registration confirmation number (found on the registration confirmation page or the confirmation e-mail sent to you after you registered)
  2. A piece of photo ID with your birth date on it
  3. Your Citizenship Certificate (the letter sized certificate with your name and date of citizenship given to you at the citizenship ceremony)

to any of the following libraries: Vancouver Public Library, Burnaby Public Library, Coquitlam Public Library, Surrey Libraries, or the Richmond Public Library. You can view this handy map for the location nearest you.

You now have access to free admission for you and up to four (4) of your minor, dependent children (17 years of age or under) to a variety of locations in and around Canada. A few particular locations I’m fond of are:

There are so many other options to choose from spanning across this great country. Have a look at this interactive map if you’re planning on traveling this summer. Now you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors, and the cultural indoors – all for free.

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Summer Night Markets

School is out and summer is on. The weather forecast is perfect for the Summer Night Markets in and around the lower mainland. With markets in Surrey, North Vancouver, and Richmond, you’ll be able to get to one easily. These summer markets attract thousands of visitors per day and feature hundreds of food vendors, discount retailers and live entertainment. A great night out for you and the family.


Surrey Night Market:

The Surrey Night Market is an open-air market with a multicultural flair. There’s a wide variety of ethnic foods, goods and services available. As you walk through, you’ll enjoy performances by local bands, singers and dancers. With a number of rides and games for youth, this is a great place for the entire family to be entertained.
Location: Agriplex Complex within the Cloverdale Exhibition Grounds – 17726 62nd Avenue, Surrey, BC
Dates and Times: Fridays & Saturdays 6pm-11pm, Sundays 1:00pm-5:00pm

North Vancouver

North Vancouver’s Shipyards Night Market  offers a farmers-market atmosphere. There are food trucks, live music, a beer garden and local products from BC artisans, bakers and farmers. You can purchase items such as clothing, plants, produce, meet and jewelry.
Location: Shipyards Plaza 15 Wallace Mews, North Vancouver
Dates and Times: Fridays 5pm-10pm


Richmond offers two night markets:

Panda Night Market is known for its food, featuring traditional Japanese, Chinese and Korean food, such as freshly-grilled squid, pork sui mai, and Osaka balls, alongside Western fairground favourites such as sno-cones, and Belgian waffles. This market offers hundreds of vendors selling inexpensive goods alongside a line up of live entertainment
Location: 12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond, BC
Dates and Times: Fridays, Saturdays 7pm-12am & Sundays 7pm-11pm

Richmond Night Market is the Lower Mainland’s top spot for summer visitors. This market offers nightly performances throughout the summer, including singing, dancing and martial arts. This market has 80+ food vendors, 250+ retailers, and carnival rides.
Location: 8351 River Road, Richmond, BC
Dates and Times: Fridays, Saturdays 7pm-12am & Sundays 7pm-11pm

A few tips to ensure you have a good time:

  • Bring cash – vendors often accept cash only. ATMs may be on site, but they have an extra charge associated with your cash withdrawal.
  • Keep the kids close – these markets are busy. Have your kids hold hands, tell them where to meet you if you are separated, or provide them a phone to keep in touch.

Wishing you a happy start to your summer season. Let me know how you find the Summer Night Markets.

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