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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Mind your time

Do you ever find that you have a desire to change something in your life, but you can’t seem to find the time or energy to do so? Whether it’s looking at changing careers, trying a new sport, or going on that trip you’ve always wanted to go on, it seems to be out of reach. What is it that holds us back and has us stuck in a rut?

Life is busy. We spend time getting meals ready, folding laundry, and driving kids to activities. We commute to work, plan weekend activities and rush around to complete the tasks that we have set out. In our busyness, we lose our connection with the present moment.

A quote I love says:


The reality is, we never have enough time for ourselves. We love saying, “I don’t have time,” or “there’s never enough time.” The reality is, there is time. Time is now. We have to choose how we’re going to use it with intention. We have to evaluate our lives and see how we can carve out some time for ourselves to make the changes we need to make and move in a direction we desire.

Mindfulness is a practice that can help sort through the clutter of our daily lives by purposely focusing attention on the present moment and accepting, without judgment, what is. It is currently gaining attention from the scientific community on its benefits and has been found to be a key element in happiness. People who are more mindful are more intentioned and able to make positive changes in their lives.

The North Vancouver District Public Library offers an ‘Insight Through Meditation Mindfulness’ workshop. The next introductory workshop begins May 5th. Meditation teacher Sayar Myat will lead you to mindfulness through a series of classes. The classes are free and just need your ability to carve the time for yourself. Call 604-987-4471 local 8175 to register. It could be the best gift you give yourself.

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Heroes among us

Do you ever wish you were a hero? What would that look like? What choices would you make that would make you heroic? I see heroes around me daily: people who take risks and create greatness in their lives as a result of those risks; people who show courage when the opposite should be true. The funny thing about heroes I see is that they don’t recognize they are, in fact, heroes.

The hero is you: you, who chanced everything to move to Canada to make a new life for your family and yourself; you, who courageously tries to learn new customs, new languages, new cultures and find employment; you, who picks yourself up after making mistakes, overcomes embarrassment, and continually keeps striving to adapt to your new world; and you, who instills an importance of education and effort in your children so they will not struggle the same struggles as you are now. You.

I went to Mexico and lived with a family for one month when I was 16 years old. I prepared by learning Spanish before I went. I didn’t feel I was very good at speaking the language, but if I had to, I would get by. When I got there, I found that everyone I met spoke English. It was easy for me to put my Spanish lessons off to the side and just speak my own language. My host mother tried in vain to get me to practice, but since I didn’t have to, I didn’t. Now, years later, I recognize that this was not the right choice to make. If I could go back to my 16-year old self, I would change the outcome of that choice. I would take the route of the hero.

There is vulnerability in making effort to fit in to a new life where everything is foreign, either subtle or drastic. I didn’t have to make a mistake by saying an inappropriate word, or joke. By not participating in the language, I got on well enough. But, I did not fit in, because in foregoing language, I missed out on more than met the eye. I did not make deep connections with those I met, I lost out on cultural subtleties, and just got a glimpse of the surface. To be a hero, we first must give effort to taking chances as they come. We must allow ourselves the knowledge that we will not be perfect and that perfection is in imperfection. Our language will never be perfect; no one’s language ever is. Our work history is never going to be ‘just right’ to apply for the job we want. Our lives are not going to be as interesting as those that surround us. But we have to try.

North Shore Writers Festival

The West Vancouver Memorial Library is hosting the North Shore Writers Festival this year. Carol Cram, experienced instructor and published author, will be hosting an interactive workshop that will teach you to use the concept of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ in your own storyline (to be held April 18th). This is your chance. Be your own hero and attend something that you know you would love to attend, even if you think you’re not ready. Maybe you’ll see the hero I see and write about it. That would be pretty amazing. Heroic even.

Let me know how it goes.

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