Thursday Night Law School: Immigration

eventsTrying to navigate the information available on the Canadian Government website can be overwhelming. When it comes to immigration, you want to be sure you have a very clear understanding of what you’re doing in order to make the process as smooth as possible. Enter the Richmond Public Library.

On Thursday, October 8th, lawyer Robert YC Leong will present the intricacies of the Canadian Immigration system. He will outline the issues that permanent residents face trying to complete the immigration process including:

  • Meeting the residency obligation and renewing PR cards;
  • Becoming a citizen;
  • Sponsorship of spouses or parents
    and Immigration issues faced by temporary residents (workers, students, visitors)
  • Changes to the Caregiver program
  • 4-year cap for temporary foreign workers
  • Path to permanent residence under Economic Class – Express Entry

The People’s Law School is a non-profit charitable society providing public legal education and information to British Columbians. Not only do they offer workshops, like the one above, they also have publications and multimedia as well as referral services covering topics from consumer law, paying taxes, wills and estates and more.

If you’re interested in this workshop, or finding out more about the People’s Law School, click on the calendar, find the workshop on October 8th and register.

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Words To Live By

There is a story within each and every one of us. As a new Canadian, your story is rich in cultural experiences, world-views, triumphs and struggles. Written stories offer insight into experiences and history; an author’s ability to share their innermost experiences to educate, challenge beliefs, offer connection through location and time, and deepens understanding of the world. Quiet time to absorb the journey of the characters allow reflection, connection, and insight into our own beliefs and values. If written well enough, stories invoke action for change.

Vancouver Writers FestThe Vancouver Writers Fest is coming. The diversity of the writers and experiences are rich. Some of the events scheduled for this event are particularly timely. With the Syrian refugee crisis at its peak, these will resonate with those who have overcome the odds to build a life in a new country:

Michel Chikwanine, a refugee to Canada, will speak about his traumatic experience as a child soldier in ‘Finding Freedom.’

As a teenage refugee to Canada, Michel Chikwanine found it hard to relate when his high school friends complained about their privileged lives. He was only five when Congolese rebel soldiers descended on an after-school soccer game, forced him and his friends into trucks and carted them off into the jungle to be trained as child soldiers. In his graphic novel, Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War, Chikwanine retells the traumatic experience – the horrors of which didn’t end when he escaped. Now a vocal peace advocate, Chikwanine has spoken to more than 100,000 people across North America, inspiring audiences young and old to believe in their ability to create change.”

Against All Odds follows. Writers Michel Chikwanine and Tanya Lloyd Kyi present a “riveting discussion about why people act the way they do in the worst imaginable circumstances and what we can learn about surviving and thriving.” Tanya Lloyd Kyi wrote ‘When the Worst Happens,’ intense stories of survival.

Of course, many of the estimated 60 million undocumented refugees do not, or cannot share their stories. Words for the Undocumented features four authors who write fictional accounts to bring compassion to stories of “desperation, hope, and with luck, a better life.” By bringing fictional characters to life, the reader is able to better understand why people risk everything to leave their country behind.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Vancouver Writers Fest, visit their website, Facebook page. If you want to read the books ahead of time, head over to your local library. The festival is scheduled for October 20 – 25, 2015.

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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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