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!

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 Celebrate Canada 150

Last night the girls in the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks had a great time celebrating Canada in honour of our country’s 150th birthday this year.

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The meeting started with a great discussion about the flag and the singing of the national anthem. Then the group discussed different things they knew about Canada and asked some interesting questions.

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Everyone’s favourite part of the meeting was playing a fun game of “pin the tail on the beaver” — it was so fun they wanted to play again and again! One interesting thing about this meeting was that it was entirely planned by the unit’s Junior Leader, a Ranger who has been working with the unit for the past three years. The Guiders were happy to see how much she has learned about running a unit meeting and working with the girls. It was a great way for this Ranger to work on her leadership skills in a safe, supportive environment.

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The meeting ended with a couple more activities including a flag craft and some goal setting for the future. They sang a traditional Canadian song together before saying goodbye for the night. As an added bonus, this meeting allowed the girls to complete the Canada 150 Challenge, which meant everyone went home with a cool crest. Yay Canada!

Remembrance Day Meetings

This week at Girl Guide meetings across the country, girls and their leaders have had tough, but important conversations about remembering. One of Burnaby Mountain District’s leaders wanted to share what they did to honour to Remembrance Day in the 24th Brownies:

We had a good talk about the poppy and its symbolism, Canada, our flag, our national anthem, the geography of our history/presence in wars, and our veteran family members, and we did some singing. Then we made Christmas cards to send to military personnel overseas. The girls were pretty into that. Take a look! It was a fun meeting despite the density of the subject matter.

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Way to go, girls! Those look great. These cards are sure to bring cheer to some who really need it this holiday season. This meeting, complete with service project, is a great example of how the Guiding program connects girls with the world around them. These activities helped fulfill part of the Brownies’ My Community program area.

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.