Welcome to Canada

As we embark on a Canada Day long weekend celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, it seems like a good time to post about Burnaby Mountain District’s Thinking Day event from this year — although this happened back in February, it is just as relevant today.

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Back in 2016 at our district camp, girls from all units in Burnaby Mountain District worked on Welcome to Canada cards which were donated to ISS of BC to help welcome immigrants and refugees new to Canada. When we delivered these cards, our Guiders were so impressed by the work of this organization that we wanted to do more to help welcome these newcomers.

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This is what inspired our Thinking Day 2017 Welcome to Canada luncheon. Working with ISS of BC, we invited six families with children aged 4-17 to join us for our Thinking Day celebration. Girls and their families from all of our units came out to this event, demonstrating how kind, friendly, and welcoming our community is.

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We began with a colour party and the singing of O Canada. We served a tasty lunch to everybody. Nothing builds camaraderie in a community quite like sharing food together, after all. Following the meal, girls gave presentations that they had worked on in their units which included sharing songs, dance, and artwork. At the end of the presentations, the entire district encouraged all the special guests to participate in a sing-a-long campfire. Specially chosen songs with big actions and repeat-after-me lyrics were chosen so that even those unfamiliar with our songs or language could still enjoy.

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In the closing remarks a representative from ISS of BC helped us hand out welcome gifts to the families. These were composed on donations from our girls and families of gift cards, transit tickets, and new gifts like Canucks scarves, toys, and treats — and of course, the gift bags also had Girl Guide Cookies! We were also able to donate a large basket of gently used toys, books, and games for ISS of BC to bring back to their welcome centre to use in their daycare facilities.

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This project felt more important than ever this year with the socio-political context in some parts of the world being less than welcoming to immigrants and refugees. Many parents commented on how valuable it is to have Girl Guides provide the opportunity for their girls to get involved and take action to welcome newcomers like this, to demonstrate their compassion and the warmth of our communities, and to get them engaged even at a very young age in conversations about why this is so important.

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The special guests all seemed to have a good time as well. They appreciated the warm welcome and their children had a great time singing the songs and then afterwards playing outside on the playground with our girls. Some of the families even made inquiries about how to join Girl Guides. Over all, it was a Thinking Day that we’re not likely to ever forget.

Happy Canada Day from Burnaby Mountain District!

Cleaning Up with Teamwork

This week girls from the 22nd Burnaby Mountain Guides and the 54th Burnaby Mountain Brownies worked together to collect litter, cleaning up the environment around Silver Creek and Forest Grove elementary school where the Guides meet.

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A registered service project with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, this group of 17 girls managed to collect about 4 pounds of garbage — not bad since most of what they found was lightweight objects like food wrappers and cigarette butts. Together they walked about 4km, leaving the area much cleaner than they found it.

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The project started a few weeks ago when as part of their program work, the Guides invited the second year Brownies to one of their meetings so they could see what it was like to be a Guide. One of the things the Guides were doing that day was planning their upcoming community clean up project. The Brownies helped the older girls plan, brainstorming what supplies they would need, what routes they would take, and how to organize the day. It was a great example of girls taking the lead.

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On the day of the clean up, the Brownies once again joined the Guides to see the project through. The girls started with a fun ice breaker game of Unicorn Tag to energize them and get them working together. Then they set out on the clean up.

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We are very fortunate in Burnaby Mountain District to meet in an area of such great natural beauty. The forests and creeks around our meeting places feature lovely and important greenery as well as salmon-bearing streams and habitats for wildlife like birds, bugs, and even bears. Thank you, girls and their leaders, for helping keep our community clean!

Guides Build Bird Habitats

This year, as part of a Canada 150 initiative, Lee Valley stores across the country are inviting community groups to help make bird and bee houses. Loss of habitat for our birds and bees is a growing concern across Canada. Birds help keep the insect population in check, while bees are important pollinators for our plants. To help combat the habitat loss, Lee Valley Store is partnering with the community to build bird houses and bee houses.

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This week, the 56th Burnaby Mountain Guides had a great time contributing to this important ecological project!

The bird houses the group made will be going to the Surrey Parks department to provide homes for tree swallows. These very special homes feature a hole exactly the right size for tree swallows, but not for other species. To learn more about tree swallows, click here.

During the activity girls learned proper technique in using a hammer, screw driver, hand drill, plane, hand saw and a square; they also did the measurements to mark the spot to drill the hole, mark the corner cuts and mark the wood pieces to line up the walls evenly. New skills for everyone!

This was also a great chance for parents to lend a helping hand. Lots of moms and dads participated in this activity. It is so great to get to work on something together.

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A huge thank you to the people at Lee Valley who made this possible. Not only did the girls have fun and learn new skills, but it’s great to know that these bird habitats are going to be put to excellent use helping wildlife in our community. A few other Burnaby Mountain Units are taking advantage of this opportunity as well. Such a great project!

Sparks Visit Seniors

Burnaby Mountain District is thrilled to have a great relationship with nearby seniors residence LJ Christmas Manor. Every month a unit visits there to share some Guiding spirit with the older adults who live there. The residence always provides a lovely snack of juice and cookies and the girls provide some entertainment and socialization. The residents always appreciate the visit, some of them looking forward to the event every month.

Last month the 1st and 2nd Sparks visited together. The visit happened to occur on February 22nd, which of course is World Thinking Day, a very special day for Girl Guides. The leaders spoke to the girls and the residents a little bit about the history of Guiding and then sang some favourite campfire tunes to celebrate. Some of the residents even joined in when they sang “Quartermaster’s Store” which is a very traditional song.

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Then the girls and residents paired up to play an exciting game of Sparks Bingo! Words associated with Sparks were called out and the players had to find and dab those words on their cards. These Sparks words included “sharing,” “friendship,” “Crystal,” “promise,” “sleepovers,” and “crafts.” The prize for the bingo games was a package of radish seeds, which happened to fit in great with the “grow” theme that had been decided upon by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts for this year’s World Thinking Day.

Everyone was amused to see just how much of a mess five and six year olds can make while using a bingo dabber.

It was a fun evening! Other groups that have visited the manor this year have done activities including skits, games, dancing, and quilting. We love the opportunity to share these moments and memories with others in the community. A huge thank you to the staff at LJ Christmas Manor for allowing us to come in each month.

Guide Quilt to be Auctioned

The 22nd Burnaby Mountain Guides are thrilled to finally unveil a project that they’ve been working on for a long time: an original Girl Guide quilt!

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Over a year ago the unit found out about a collection of old Girl Guides of Canada uniform pieces that had been stored at Provincial Guide house but that no longer had any use. After confirming that the uniforms were not of interest to other committees, including the museum and archives, they decided they had to come up with a worthy project for this textile piece of Guiding history.

The idea was born to make the uniforms into a quilt. It seemed like a great idea… except for the fact that neither the girls nor their Guiders actually knew how to make a quilt.  The unit brainstormed some design ideas and sought out some expert advise from family and community members.

As an ongoing service project, units in Burnaby Mountain District take turns going to LJ Christmas Manor, a local senior’s residence, for monthly visits. When the 22nd Guides had their turn, they decided to appeal to the seniors for help. In September 2016 with the help of the residents of the manor, they dismantled the uniforms, removed the buttons, and cut the fabric into usable squares. It was a great hands-on project to engage the seniors and it was great to see the girls working with them on a task.

Then, the group reached out to some local West Coast Area Trefoil members to help with the next steps. In January 2017, with the guidance of these experienced quilters the girls helped lay out the quilt and did some of the sewing at their unit meeting. A huge thank you goes out to Guider Nancy who took the quilt home to help with putting the last bits together on her sewing machine.

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Almost done, the quilt came back to a Guide meeting in March 2017 for the girls to put on the finishing touches, which included sewing on buttons for decoration. In addition to the old Guiding uniforms and scarves, the quilt also features commemorative crests from Lady BP’s 100 club, 100 years of Girl Guides in Canada, Thinking Day,  the four original world centres, and West Coast Area.

The quilt is going to be auctioned off at the Trefoil Guild Rendezvous, happening April 28-30 2017 in Richmond, BC. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Canadian World Friendship Fund.

Rangers Help Homeless Youth

Recently the 12th Burnaby Mountain Rangers decided to have a hoodie drive to collect new and gently used hoodies and sweatshirts for homeless youth. This winter has been a particularly cold one in Vancouver, and these girls have stepped up to help make a difference.

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Altogether they collected 92 hoodies, folded them and tagged them by size. One of the girls then made the trip downtown to deliver the donations to Covenant House where they were gratefully accepted.

One of the objectives for Girl Guides of Canada as per our national strategic plan and priorities is to empower girls to have the confidence to advocate. We will continue learning effective ways to speak out and take action on issues of importance to girls and relevant to the quality of life for girls and women. Projects like this one carried out by these Rangers demonstrate exactly the kind of service project that contributes to these goals of taking action for a better world.

Way to go, Rangers! We’re proud of your hard work, and confident that these 92 hoodies will help make a difference to youth in need.

Uniform Exchange

Where has September gone?? Our Guiders have been so busy this month getting things organized for a wonderful year of fun and adventure. Burnaby Mountain District has a number of exciting district events planned this year. All units have gotten started with their first meetings and next month will hold lots of great things from outings, to enrollments, to sleepovers.

The first event to kick off our Guiding year was a uniform exchange in early September. The event was designed to give families a change to bring in the uniform items their girls no longer need and to hopefully pick up a gently used option for their next Guiding branch. We decided to run the event as a consignment sale where part of the proceeds were collected for donation to the Canadian World Friendship Fund, the national Girl Guide charity to support international Guiding.uniform-exchange

The event was well advertised and people came from all across the lower mainland. Many of the donations that were brought were old versions of the Guiding uniforms — did you know that official uniform always remains “official” even if it is not the current version? Many families loved the idea of collecting these older styled items that you can no longer purchase through our store to be used as extra uniform pieces to be used as back ups or at camp.

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Over all, the event was really well run and for that we have to thank the wonderful volunteers from Burnaby Mountain District (and even a few from other districts!) who came out to make this a success.

uniform-exchange-3Burnaby Mountain is extremely proud to report that we collected a total of $312.00 to donate to the Canadian World Friendship Fund. This contribution will go towards helping other girls experience the world and broaden their personal horizons. Well done, team!

Refugee Welcome Cards

At the recent Burnaby Mountain District camp, girls had a great time all weekend with the theme “Camp Flower Power.” Activities were designed, where possible, to fit around the concepts of peace and love. This didn’t only involve tie dye (though it did, of course, also involve tie dye!). The camp’s program coordinators incorporated a service project for all girls at camp to put the idea of peace into practice. Girls of all ages spent some of their time at camp making welcome cards and letters for refugees arriving in Canada.

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Girls took the task very seriously and spent time thinking about how and why refugee families need to be welcomed. The considered what kinds of tips they could give about Canadian culture and how they could help newcomers feel more comfortable. In their messages, girls wrote things such as the following:

Welcome to Canada! I hope you like it here. In Canada we respect everybody.

I hope you feel safe here and make lots of friends. In Canada people are nice to each other and play games like hockey.

Some of my favourite activities are swimming, gymnastics, and being a Brownie. What do you like to do? You should try maple syrup when you’re in Canada.

In Canada it rains a lot. But that’s ok, just get an umbrella. It’s nice here.

This week, two of our adult volunteers visited ISS of BC to deliver the cards and get a tour of one of their welcome centres. Our Guiders were blown away by the important work being done by this organization and were amazed by the courage and strength of the refugees that they were told about. One of the Guiders described the experience as life changing.

The people at ISS of BC were touched by the thoughtful cards and letters and assured us that gestures like this can make a major difference to refugee families when they arrive.  Feeling welcome and finding a sense of community can be important factors in how well refugees settle into Canadian culture. The girls of Burnaby Mountain District were given a lovely thank you card, pictured below.

Burnaby Mountain District is proud to have been a part of such an experience and looks forward to finding other ways to spread messages of peace and welcome throughout our communities, especially to people in situations like this who need it the most.

 

District Thinking Day: Connecting

February 27th Burnaby Mountain District came together to celebrate World Thinking Day. Following the lead from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) we took a “Connect” theme and decided to connect as a district while also connecting with the community. The focus of the event was a food bank drive for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank done in the style of a can art construction competition.

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Each unit had been working for the past few months on collecting non-perishable foods, mostly in cans, in preparation for the event. Girls took time to consider their donations and to plan a sculpture that took into consideration a Guiding theme (so we could also connect with worldwide Guiding!). At Saturday’s event, the girls worked together, showing great cooperation, to assemble their sculptures.

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Sparks, Brownies, and Guides had a great time building with the canned goods. Older girls got involved in other ways. One Ranger took the lead coordinating the donation drop off with the food bank and lead a team of dedicated Pathfinders and Rangers in tasks like assembling and filling the boxes, and arranging to have the goods dropped off at the local fire department, which would hold the donations until the Food Bank could arrange pickup on Monday morning.

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Pathfinders and Rangers also helped to run the bake sale, which was a fundraiser for the upcoming district camp, and also the WAGGGS inspired “Connect” picture frame activity, which helped some units complete their WAGGGS Thinking Day 2016 Challenge.

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Congratulations to the 49th Guides who won the sculpture competition with their trefoil-inspired piece. The unit won some funds for unit activities and each girl got a small prize.

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The real winner, of course, was the Greater Vancouver Food Bank which got a donation of more than 800 cans and other items (including a good number of Girl Guide Cookies!). Thank you to everyone who donated, and who helped to pack and move the boxes. We also want to thank the City of Burnaby, which donated cool prize packs for every participant including a pin, pencil, and chocolate treat.

 

Units Visit Local Seniors

Our district is pretty excited this year to be continuing to make connections in this community. This fall and winter, units from our district have been building a relationship with LJ Christmas Manor, a local senior citizens highrise complex under the sponsorship of the Lions Club. This vibrant community of seniors have been happy to receive our units, and our girls have been so welcomed that we hope to make return visits.

22 Guides Seniors 2In November the 22nd Guides did a Remembrance Day visit. They sang some of Guiding’s more traditional and sombre songs in honour of the occasion and shared a snack with residents afterwards.

54 Brownies Seniors 9In December the 54th Brownies visited and sang a campfire that mixed traditional campfire songs (including some silly ones!) with Christmas carols. The girls then gave out Christmas themed gift bags with handmade ornaments and cards.

54 Brownies Seniors 4As an added bonus, the Brownies ended up invited to watch a shuffleboard tournament happening down the hall and were given a lesson! For many, this was the first time they had encountered the game.

Thanks for having us, Christmas Manor! Hopefully some of our units will be able to make it out to visit you this Spring.