Another necessarily-incomplete run-down of the things I have been doing that aren’t Council Meetings. It’s a little weird to try to report on everything, because my calendar is stuffed these days, and some things are more fun/interesting/relevant than others. So in no particular order, here are some things I’ve been up to. Besides randomly running into people at coffee shops and posing for selfies:
There are a series of talks and events at Douglas College under the umbrella of the “Changing the Conversation Project” which are exploring different aspects of community, housing, homelessness, and poverty. As February is Black History Month, they led a panel discussion on the Black experience in housing in the Lower Mainland, tying together the history of Hogans Alley to the Swahili Vision participation in an affordable housing project in New Westminster.
February also brought us Family Day, and there was a lot going on around New West, including an open door at the Learning Lab at the Anvil Centre. This is the hands-on offshoot of the New Media Gallery where people of all ages (yes, adults can learn to 3D print!) learn about new media video and sound, programming, electronics, robotics, and digital creativity. You should check it out.
Some members of Council took a tour of the Fraser River Discovery Centre to see what their new initiatives are, and to learn about their vision in the years ahead.
I went to my first wedding in something like 8 years. It was great fun (Congrats Jack and Jason!) but more personal than Mayoral, so I wouldn’t normally report out here. Except that the grooms knew enough to seat me next to a guy who I have mentioned on this blog, but never actually met before, Jens von Bergmann at Mountain Math. So it was half wedding, half geeking out on housing policy, and therefore a perfect evening!
You may not know that March 3rd is Bulgarian Liberation Day, marking the day in 1878 that the Treaty of San-Stefano was signed, and Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule. For the first time since COVID, this day was marked by the raising of the Bulgarian flag at Friendship gardens, an event attended by representatives of the local Bulgarian-Canadian community, the honourary Consel General, and Senator Yonah Martin, who is co-chair of the Canada-Bulgaria Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.
I also had a visit in the Mayor’s Office from a group of new Canadians that was organized by the Welcome Centre at NWSS. This group have been learning about Canada and New Westminster, and were able to tour City Hall to learn about how local government works. It was great to welcome them, and show them around Council Chambers and some of the curiosities of the Mayor’s office, like the Chain of Office and registry signed by the actual Queen and the King of Pop.
This last weekend was also busy with overlapping events. The Dancers of Damelahamid were hosting the annual Coastal Dance Festival at the Anvil Centre, and I was able to see several performances, including the group Dakhká Khwaán from Whitehorse who really (in their own words) brought the noise.
Saturday was also Hoobiyee, the Nisga’a New Year celebration. This is a big event both in the Nass Valley, and in the Lower Mainland where a large number of Nisga’a people live, and the celebration is shared with Indigenous people from around the province and beyond. This year, the festival filled the PNE forum with dancers, music, crafts, food and storytelling, and I was honoured to meet the organizers and take part in the event.
And finally, I was invited to join the head table at the New Westminster Police Department’s annual Mess Dinner – their first post-COVID. It was a great evening of speeches, memories, more than a few jokes, (“What happens when a member of the NWPD leaves to join the RCMP? The average IQ of both organizations go up!”) with a mix of camaraderie and formality that always kind of keeps you on edge.
Now that curling season is almost over, and the days are getting longer, event season is rushing towards us. I hope I will have time to keep writing these summaries. Meanwhile, get out there and enjoy the events of New West. If you see me out there, be sure to say Hi. And remind me to get a photo.