English Is Hard To Learn. Give Newcomers To Canada A Break.

Building Bridges – my column in Peace Arch News – allows me to share my thoughts on topics I feel create better understanding among my community. Sometimes, these issues stem back to when I was in high school; things that were on my mind then are apparently still hot topics today. Like the belief that all newcomers to Canada should speak English. In my most recent column, I got to tell South Surrey and White Rock residents that English is hard, and immigrants and refugees deserve a break!

I learned English as a second language once I started school. I was also lucky to have parents who grew up speaking English in their school system so I picked up my new tongue (which is now my primary language) quickly and easily. At least, I don’t recall struggling with it. Since then I have learned French in school, tried my hand at Mandarin (couldn’t grasp it), picked up a little Italian and am now studying Spanish. I love languages and how learning them can bridge gaps, teach us about different ways of living and thinking, and much more. But I don’t expect people to learn them easily and I certainly don’t think we should be offended when people don’t.

I’d love it if you’d read the full piece and then comment here: do you speak more than one language? Which ones? And what are your thoughts about this issue?

Read The Article At Peace Arch News




What You Must Eat In Victoria, B.C.

For Spring break this year, my husband and I decided to take the kids to Victoria, B.C. I actually lived there for a chunk of my early childhood and it’s where my first memories are rooted. Though I’ve been back for day trips as a tourist (especially when relatives or friends visit from other parts of Canada), I hadn’t actually taken a few days to stay there. And I hadn’t visited the home in which I lived with my parents, brother and grandmother in 30 years. It was a nostalgic trip but also an opportunity to create some new memories with my own family.

The three nights we spent there were amazing. We got to do a lot of touristy things and just enjoyed the mild climate as we strolled downtown. And of course, while we were there, we ate some incredible food!

I shared the 5 foods you absolutely must try the next time you are in Victoria for the travel section of Surrey604. A couple of the restaurants were simply lucky finds but I had also asked my Instagram friends ahead of time for some recommendations.

I’m curious to know if you’ve eaten at any of these places – and of course, am always happy to hear your recommendations. I’m sure we’ll visit Victoria again next Spring and this time I want to try new places. Oh, except I am definitely going back to #5 on my list!

Read The Article On Surrey604


Healthy, Local Food Products In Vancouver

I love writing for Surrey604.com – a digital publication that showcases the best of where I live. I’m proud to be a Surrey girl; we’re a city in our own right. Often described as Vancouver’s teenage sister, my city is growing into its own unique identity. Writing for this pub lets me keep a finger on the pulse of this mecca of diverse restaurants, businesses, charitable organizations and of course, the people who live here. When the opportunity came up to highlight one of my favourite west coast grocery chains, I happily agreed to share 5 healthy, local food products that would work well at your next dinner party.

The transition from outdoor summer meals to indoor fall comfort foods can be a little awkward. I find myself racking my brain trying to remember what we like to eat that isn’t barbecued or eaten on a picnic blanket. It’s an exciting time too, though. Almost like pulling out the cozy sweaters from your fall wardrobe. But isn’t it even better when you try something new that you fall in love with?

I’m totally that way about food. I have my favourites but love to try new dishes – especially if they’re healthy and supposed to be delicious, too. I like to take companies up on that challenge to see if my tastebuds can be won over by better choices.

Have you tried any of these 5 products? If so, what did you think? And do you have a healthy recipe I can try this fall? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Read The Article At Surrey604



A Laundry Playlist For Your Folding Pleasure

The laundry drives me nuts. I have tried to keep on top of it but with each passing year I am failing miserably. Between school clothes, work clothes, wear-around-the-house clothes, pyjamas, uniforms, workout gear and the extra changes from the occasional spill…it’s never ending. (Towels. I forgot towels). The one consistent thing that pulls me out of a laundry-induced bad mood is a playlist of awesome music…songs that literally move me to get the job done.

So, for the readers of YMC, I put together a playlist of my favourite songs from different times in my life. Though some of the music is really old, I can assure you I am not that old. I just happen to have been born in the wrong musical era.

Do you listen to music, too, when you’re doing housework? What chore requires it? And what’s on your playlist?

Have a listen to mine on YMC and let me know if we share any. As a side note, you’ll notice that a couple of mine are Spanish. I’m currently learning the language and find that listening to music is a fun way to train my ear. I also like pulling up the lyrics in Spanish and English and matching up the words I know. Both of these songs have English or half-English versions. But you really should listen to them in their native language – they almost feel like different songs.

Read The Article At YMC

Israeli Folk Dancing: How Music Brings Us Closer

I have visited Vancouver’s Jewish Community Centre countless times over the last few years, reading poetry in their art gallery at various events. It’s always a special time for me, being hosted in a space that brings together a faith group that is different from my own. At a recent poetry reading, I stumbled upon an Israeli folk dancing class and it totally moved me. The music was beautiful and so were the movements. I was pinned to my place, remembering my friend’s bat mitzvah from years ago, and considering new ideas that came to me in that spot.

I wrote about the experience and my musings in my monthly column for Peace Arch News. As a writer, it’s my job to show my readers a different perspective. And because I am trying to build bridges by doing such, I like to show how we can transcend our own experiences and meet others’ in theirs. Music is an easy bridge. It exists in every culture. It creates our memories and most of us even have a soundtrack that accompanies the different eras of our lives.

Shortly after this piece was published, my editor emailed me and said a woman named Nona Malki asked to be in touch with me. I emailed her back and it turns out she is the President of the Vancouver Israeli Dance Society. She was gracious and so appreciative of me sharing my experience that she even offered me complimentary dance lessons! I love how writing always reaches the intended audience whether we purposely arrange for that to happen or not. There’s definitely something magical about music and words; both can be used to bring people together.

You can read my full piece in Peace Arch News – I’d love to know if you have had an experience where music has crossed over from another culture into your life.

Read The Article At Peace Arch News

How The Charlottesville Rally Relates To Canada

This past August, a group of white nationalists and Nazis took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia to spew their messages of hate. Yelling “Jews will not replace us!” and other profanities, they came forward with torches, swastikas…everything but the hoods their predecessors wore. The Charlottesville rally also drew Canadians down south to participate in this horrific weekend.

It’s a scary time in the United States right now and all eyes are on them: a president who doesn’t hide his bigotry, a lack of gun laws to keep its citizens safe, police brutality, a complete disregard for black lives and disdain for brown-skinned people.

As a columnist, it’s important that I know what is happening in the world and then share my Canadian perspective with my readers. I look at what is happening in the United States and I ask myself and my readers, “What does this mean for us in Canada? How does this relate to Canadian society? What can we learn from this situation? What must we be aware of in our own backyard?”

Peace Arch News readers are a mixed group of people and I love that. There are those whose families have been in Canada for generations and who, rightly, feel they belong here. And there are those who are brand new or first generation Canadians and also, rightly, feel they belong here. I love writing to this mixed community; my goal is to build a bridge between groups who feel different from each other and show them that, where it matters, we really are more similar than not.

Talking about race relations and nationalism can sometimes be nerve-wracking. There is the risk of offending people and making people angry. But there is also the hope of showing people a new way of looking at things and that’s what keeps me speaking up.

In my response to the Charlottesville rally, I tried to lay it all on the line clearly. We have a problem with prejudice in our own backyard.

Read The Article At Peace Arch News