The religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the “Festival of Breaking Fast,” is also known as Lesser Eid or simply Eid. The festival can last one to three days marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. During Ramadan, Muslims don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sundown while also engaging in prayer, reflection, and charity.
In Canada, Eid begins Wednesday at sunset and ends Thursday evening.
Eid al-Fitr is an important time of celebration for Muslims as they engage in special prayer, visit and embrace loved ones, exchange gifts and sweets, as well as greet others with “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Blessed Eid.” However, it is the second year COVID-19 precautions are impacting how Eid is celebrated.
The date of Eid changes year to year because the Islamic calendar is a lunar one, with each month starting when the waxing moon is seen. Eid al-Fitr is determined by the first sighting of the new crescent moon for the Islamic calendar month of Shawaal.
It is also the first of two Eids, with the second, Eid al-Adha, coming later in the year and lasting longer.
To commemorate Mental Health Week we wanted to share with you some general information on mental illness and some tools for creating attainable self-care goals. You can practice these skills for yourself for yourself, or you can share these skills with your friends and family.
What is mental illness?
Mental illnesses, or ‘mental health disorders’, are conditions that affect your mental wellbeing. This includes an impact on such things as your cognition, your thought patterns, your behaviours, your feelings, and your mood. These symptoms can impact your day-to-day life. Mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses; except unlike broken bones other people cannot easily see your mental health.
There is a lot of good information and research available on mental health yet despite this there still remains a prevalence of discrimination, misunderstanding, and even fear of mental illnesses. This could be as a result of people not really understanding mental illness, an inability of people to recognize poor mental health in others, or even because many people simply do not know enough about caring for their mental health. Unfortunately this stigma and discrimination prevents people from seeking supports from those around them and medical professionals.
Examples of mental illnesses are: anxiety disorder, depression and bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few.
Mental illnesses can be diagnosed by a medical professional and treated or managed with the use of medication.
Of course many people do experience and feel anxiety and depression at certain points in their life without being clinically diagnosed. Others will be diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety because their daily lives are being significantly impacted by their symptoms.
Who could be affected by mental illnesses?
Many people will experience mental illnesses at some point in their lives, or have someone in their life (family member, friends, neighbour, or coworker) who is struggling.
Mental illness can affect anyone no matter what their education, gender, age, cultural backgrounds, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
Why do some struggle with mental illnesses?
There are many factors that could result in someone experiencing a mental illness. Examples include environment, personality, genetics, and biology.
What can you do about it?
If you are struggling with mental illness the first step you might want to consider is reaching out to your doctor. Some family doctors know a lot about mental illnesses and the medications available. You might also be referred to a psychiatrist who is specialized in mental illnesses.
You could also reach out to any other mental health professional, such as a counsellor, to talk about your struggles. They may be able to work with you to develop coping tools.
If someone close to you is struggling with mental illness then you may feel helpless and unable to support them. The best way to offer support is to talk to them and actively listen. You can also help them to look for the mental health resources that they may want to access. Many organizations cannot accept 3rd party referrals for adults because of confidentiality, but you can help them to identify what services are out there.
How to manage your mental health
Talk about how you feel. Notice how you feel. Acknowledge your feelings. Whatever you might be feeling is totally okay. If you are someone who tends to minimize or dismiss your feelings and emotions then it can be helpful to start noticing and recognizing which emotions you are feeling (you can Google feeling faces and use it as a guide). If you are someone who notices bodily senses (such as tightness in the chest) it can be helpful to know that these sensations are also tied to your emotions and feelings and start to recognize this in yourself.
You may find it easier to name and recognize some emotions over others. That is totally okay. Some of the emotions and feelings you are experiencing you might not even have a word to describe. That is totally okay. Whatever you might be feeling and noticing, they are all your emotions.
You might want to find ways to express and process some emotions, such as anger, constructively and in a healthy way.
All of your emotions and feelings are valuable and important. So please, practice self-care.
Self-care is an important aspect of caring for yourself and meeting your needs. Engaging in self-care regularly will help you to manage your stress and anxiety. It is also important that you are well first before you can successfully care for others.
Self-care means doing something that brings a smile to your face and joy into your heart. Examples of self-care would be: walking, running, going to the gym/working out, reading, listening to music, watching movies, taking a bath, meditation, gardening, and the list goes on. As many tools as you can develop the better. Variations of self-care would be very useful so that you can pick and choose depending on your mood, needs, and time availability.
Practicing self-care isn’t easy, especially if it is not your regular practice. So start with something small and make sure it is doable, attainable, and concrete. For example, instead of planning to do a certain activity every day, make a plan to do self-care 3-5 minutes once or twice a week. Start small and make a habit of it. Once you feel confident with your new habit, then you can add a few more and stick with it.
Once you start to recharge your battery you may begin to notice certain situations feel less stressful than before. You might notice you feel less stressed. You might even notice your anxiety is manageable.
Take good care of your mental health regularly in the same way that you would take care of yourself physically.
Counselling Program offers free short-term counselling services for those who would like to work on anxiety, depression, grief, life transition to name a few. We are currently offering services in English, Farsi, and Japanese (please mention in your email if you are seeking a language specific service). We are currently developing a group counselling. For more information, please keep your eyes on our Facebook. If you are interested in being placed on the waitlist, please email us at email@example.com
During March we teamed up with ‘UBC Reading Week‘ which is an opportunity for students to learn from and share their skills with community organizations.
Three students were placed at Gordon Neighbourhood House where they planned and hosted a vegetarian cook-a-long for our community members. All ingredients were purchased for participants ahead of time and the group prepared tofu ramen with salad rolls. Recipes below!
Ramen with Tofu
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
Extra firm tofu packet
2 cups water
4 cups vegetable broth
2 packages of instant ramen
4 cups fresh spinach
4 green onions
(optional – for extra flavour!) 2 packets of Miso soup packets
1. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. Add the water, vegetable broth, and soup base of the instant ramen packets to a small sauce pot. (optional: can add miso soup packets here too!). Whisk until the soup bases (and miso) have been dissolved.
3. Add the cubed tofu to the pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat.
4. Once boiling, add the instant ramen noodles. Boil for one to two minutes, or just until the noodles begin to soften and pull loose from each other.
5. Add four handfuls of fresh spinach and stir it into the hot broth until wilted. The noodles will finish cooking as the spinach wilts.
6. Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top of the ramen just before serving.
Veggie Salad Rolls
Ingredients (for 8 rolls):
8 rice paper wrappers
1 cup white mushrooms
2 medium carrots
½ english cucumber
1 cup red cabbage
½ yellow bell pepper
1. Slice mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, and bell peppers.
2. Fill a medium shallow bowl with warm water and set near your work station.
3. Dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water for a few seconds, submerging completely. Remove and lay flat on a smooth, clean surface, such as a plate.
4. Add a combination of sliced mushrooms, sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, sliced cabbage, and sliced bell pepper to the middle of the wrapper. Be careful not to overfill, or rolling it will become difficult!
5. Fold both sides of the rice paper over the vegetables to secure.
6. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper and carefully fold it over the top of the vegetables, tucking it under on the other side, then gently roll until the vegetables are completely covered and the top edge of the wrapper adheres to the spring roll.
7. Set the spring roll aside and cover with a damp paper towel to keep fresh while you repeat with the remaining ingredients. Once you’ve finished making the spring rolls, chill in the fridge.
OPTIONAL SAUCES BELOW: You can also make sauces for dipping the salad rolls to further enjoy with the food!
¼ cup natural peanut butter
½ teaspoon ginger, minced (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame oil (optional)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons maple syrup or another liquid sweetener
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Whisk until combined.
Add water, sugar, lemon juice, and fish sauce. Whisk until combined. Can top with garlic cloves too! It’s 2-2-6(?). 2 tablespoons of fish sauce with 2 tablespoons of sugar, then roughly 6 tablespoons of water but you adjust here if the taste is too strong = add more… Then a squeeze of lemon/lime and walah. I hope that helps!
Do you have a small project idea that could make a positive impact in our community? Online applications are now open for Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants and Greenest City Neighbourhood Small Grants!
The Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program is a grassroots initiative that helps residents of any age, experience, or background take part in building community. We provide grants up to $500 to neighbours who have small but powerful ideas that will make our community better.
For over a decade Gordon Neighbourhood House has coordinated the program for all residents living on the Downtown Peninsula. In that time, we have supported hundreds of neighbours who have taken steps to improve our neighbourhood—people just like you.
Grants are awarded to projects that: connect and engage residents, share residents’ skills and knowledge within the community, build a sense of ownership and pride, and respect and celebrate diversity. Changes in the Neighbourhood Small Grants Program due to COVID-19 COVID-19 has disrupted most aspects of community life, especially how we interact with one another. Many projects that we previously funded (condo/apartment building social parties, craft workshops, block parties, etc.) are temporarily not possible due to Provincial Health Orders.
For that reason, we are offering two grant options in 2021.
1. Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants A new grant stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants (R-NSG) has been developed to forge connections and mitigate social isolation during the pandemic. This funding is intended for: safe, virtual, outdoor, and physically-distanced projects. Online R-NSG applications are now open and close when funding runs out.
This Neighbourhood Small Grant program is for everyone. We’ve funded projects led by residents as young as ten, in addition to neighbours well into their nineties. Some project Leaders have lived in our community for 30+ years, whereas others have moved here less than a year ago. We believe neighbours are the experts on their community, and we all have ideas on how we can make our community better and more resilient.
Please contact our Coordinator if you have a specific question, need support completing the application form, require translation assistance, would like something clarified, or simply want to learn more. This is a great opportunity to get involved in your community.
Jim Balakshin, Downtown Peninsula Program Coordinator Neighbourhood Small Grants Program firstname.lastname@example.org (604) 683-2554
Over the winter months you may have noticed a new planter box with perennial plants and signage in front of Gordon Neighbourhood House. The project was created by West End neighbour Jesse Orr. Jesse is a multidisciplinary artist, farmer, gardener, and is engaged in community activism and social justice. Jesse volunteers with Gordon Neighbourhood House through our Young Ideas group.
The planter originated in the summer of 2020 as ‘Invite The Bees’, an installation of summer flowering native plants for the Vines Art Festival. After the success of the flowering plants installation, Jesse was keen to extend the project into the winter months, this time connecting native plants and landscaping to local food systems.
For thousands of years Indigenous people have thrived on locally-sourced ingredients, yet wider discussions around food security and local food systems tend to focus on Western European-centric diets. This narrow approach excludes Indigenous societies and ignores the ecological benefits of growing and eating native plants, which tend to use fewer resources and are more beneficial overall for other organisms.
Jesse’s aim is to combine art with the natural world in an interactive way that encourages neighbours to rethink native plants species in relation to their diet and gardens. She hopes that neighbours will taste the berries, learn the plant names, identify characteristics of these native species, and ultimately inspire others to consider introducing these plants into their gardens and planter boxes.
“I’m interested in local food for greater food security and for a lower carbon footprint in agriculture, but that conversation often focuses only on a Western diet. I’m learning that what shouldn’t be forgotten is the fact that the pre-colonial ecology of this area was in itself a sustainable foodscape, shaped by local people, and that is a very different way of eating than mainstream agriculture provides. The work of Dawn Morrison and the Indigenous Food Systems Network over decades has done a lot to bring attention to this colonial frame which tends to dominate the food systems topic.” – Jesse Orr
The Environmental Youth Alliance is doing a lot of cool work around appreciating local plants (many which are commonly called weeds) and ecology. Follow the link to find out more about this project – Re-wilding Vancouver.
First We Eat is a documentary about a family living in Dawson City, Yukon on the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. This family embarks on a year long goal of eating only locally sourced food, and share what they learned in the process such as tips on foraging, recipes, and other interesting information.
Taste the berries!
All neighbours are invited to come by and check out this installation. Please be mindful of physical distancing, mask wearing, and Honourable Harvest Teachings, as the plants are for the whole community to enjoy and learn from.
Please reach out if you are interested in obtaining one of these plants for your own garden, local vendors include Art’s Nursery and Figaro’s Garden.
Shehbaz Ahmad lives in the West End, and as trained Reiki Master wanted to share his skills and passion with the community. Last year Ahmad received $500 in funding from a Neighbourhood Small Grant to host his resident-led Reiki sessions at Gordon Neighbourhood House.
The classes were very popular, however when COVID-19 first emerged it seemed unlikely that his initiative could continue. That is, until one participant encouraged him to host the sessions online. He was skeptical at first, however the success of the online sessions surprised even the Reiki Master himself.
Reiki is a form of alternative energy healing
that originated in Japan. Practitioners frequently use a technique called
palm healing through which a “universal energy” is said to be
transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to
encourage wellness. Many Reiki participants experience benefits similar to
meditation including: reduced stress, increasing self-awareness, refocusing on
the present, and relaxation.
Shehbaz first started hosting his classes in 2020. As the demand for the free Reiki sessions grew, Ahmad decided to offer weekly sessions.
“Our sessions continued every week at Gordon Neighbourhood House until the pandemic,” recalled Shehbaz, “then one of the participants called me and said is there a chance we could continue our Reiki sessions online. I decided to give it a go and everyone was so happy to stay connected during the pandemic.”
Since hosting the sessions online, the group has flourished and now has close to 50 participants, many more than could be accommodated at his in-person sessions.
“We now call it our Joyful Reiki family,” said Ahmad, “What started with seed money of $500 from a Neighbourhood Small Grant, has now become a strong tree. I remember the first day when I was wondering if even one person show up. Now we have a regular virtual group in the West End, and people joining us from as far away as Germany.”
The group has been extremely beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I found many friends and have heard many heart-warming experiences from our community on how Reiki has helped them deal with stress and anxiety during these challenging times. Participants have reported sleeping better, having clarity of mind, emotional resilience, more confidence, and improved decision-making,” said Ahmad.
Birdeen Seltzer lives in the neighbourhood, and had a similar experience.
“Joyful Reiki Sundays have been an excellent way to stay connected with the West End Community during this challenging time,” explained Seltzer, “To share in the spiritual nature of Reiki with like-minded people has been integral in navigating the pandemic.”
The ‘tree’ that Shehbaz started, is establishing its roots as well. Several participants have decided to learn Reiki, and have become Reiki Masters themselves. Two members of the group now regularly volunteer and lead sessions when he is unavailable.
“I thoroughly enjoy volunteering…,” stated Ahmad, “I found that experience very fulfilling, enriching and enlightening. I feel delighted to see participants grow, and start their own wellness journey. The feeling of being part of a Reiki family is priceless.”
If you are interested in joining the Joyful Reiki group, the classes take place every Sunday at 11:00am for 1.5 hours. The sessions feature deep Reiki relaxation and guided mediation. Email email@example.com for more information.
The Neighbourhood Small Grants program supports resident-led projects with up to $500 in funding. Gordon Neighbourhood House coordinates the program for all neighbours on the downtown peninsula (West End, Yaletown, Coal Harbour, Downtown South, Central Business District). Applications are now open for a new grant stream called Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants which supports safe, distanced, and virtual projects. For more information, visit the NSG website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you enjoy cooking? Are you eager to make an impact in your community? Are you looking to join a team of fun, dedicated, and passionate people? If your answer is yes, Gordon Neighbourhood House is looking for you!
POSTED: April 1st, 2021 START DATE: As soon as possible DEADLINE: Until position filled OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE: Two 1 Permanent part-time position (21 hours per week) 1 Temporary part-time position (14 hours per week until fall 2021)
COMPENSATION Permanent part-time: $17.12/hour + benefits; Temporary part-time: $17.12/hour + 4% in lieu of benefits.
SUMMARY OF POSITION Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public health emergency, Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) in collaboration with our partners started an emergency frozen meal delivery program.
This program is one of several initiatives GNH has launched to improve food access in the community during the pandemic, and seek permanent solutions to the persistent and systemic causes of food insecurity in our neighbourhood.
Every week, we prepare and freeze 250 made-from-scratch meals, which are then delivered directly to participants via Shift bicycle couriers. Since the program started, our food team has prepared over 9,000 delicious and nutrient-rich meals that feature diverse menu options, while accommodating participant dietary restrictions.
We are looking for two part-time team members who will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and portioning 250-300 meals every week. This is a hands-on kitchen role. Examples of meals could include: vegetarian curries, spaghetti, stews, macaroni & cheese, stir fries, peanut stews, casseroles, chili, tofu bowls, etc.
KEY DUTIES – Prepare food for emergency frozen meal delivery program
PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES – Follow FoodSafe health and safety procedures at all times – Cook meals using recipes from our monthly menu – Prepare ingredients and cook delicious and healthy food – Heat and cool meals to required temperatures – Portion and plate meals – Clean and sanitize kitchen, equipment, and utensils – Ensure meals are prepared on time and within our budget
TASKS – Maintain kitchen tidiness and ensure supplies and equipment are clean and organized – Set-up, clean, and sanitize work stations – Clean, wash, and sanitize equipment, dishes, and utensils – Complete program-related records and documentation – Estimate expected ingredient requirements and coordinate preparation – Prepare ingredients for cooking: washing, peeling, chopping, seasoning, etc. – Safely operate oven, grill, dishwasher, appliances, hand tools, and utensils – Ensure prepared food reaches required heating and cooling temperatures – Portion meals into individual containers
SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS – Food Safe Certificate – One year related experience or an equivalent combination of education and training – Ability to multi-task, prioritize duties, and manage time efficiently – Ability to work in a team environment or independently – Self-motivated and directed – Physical endurance to stand and move during the length of the entire shift – Ability to stand, sit, kneel, bend, move, complete repetitive motions, and lift up to 25 pounds
LOCATION: Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton Street, Vancouver) Gordon Neighbourhood House is open to staff Monday to Friday between 9:00am-5:00pm during the pandemic. Shifts will take place during regular operating hours. The hours of this position are dependent on funding and may increase if additional funding is secured, or if new programs are introduced.
TO APPLY Please e-mail your resume, and a brief description detailing why you would be a great fit for this position to email@example.com with ‘Community Program Worker’ in the subject line (no phone calls please).
This is an internal and external posting. We thank all interested applicants; however only short-listed candidates will be contacted.
Gordon Neighbourhood House is a proud member of the Association
of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC), which is an equal opportunity employer.
We place a high value on diversity and encourage qualified individuals from all
backgrounds and identities to consider applying for the position. Our total
compensation and benefits package reflects our commitment to our staff and
their family. For more information about Gordon Neighbourhood House, visit
Nowruz is celebrated as the new year by many nations and cultures in Central Asia and the Middle East and worldwide by the diasporas. Nowruz comes from the literal Farsi translation for “New Day”and it occurs each year at a time that coincides with the Spring Equinox. The exact time and date changes based on astrological calculations that ensure the new year begins at the exact moment when the sun crosses over the equator and day and night are of equal length. Usually this will occur between 19th-21st March. This year in Vancouver’s time zone Nowruz occurred at 2:37:28am on last Saturday 20th March 2021.
Nowruz celebrates the rebirth that occurs during the Spring season and the link between humans and nature. This holiday has occurred for thousands of years and has many traditions and symbols. Celebrations centre on visiting with family, spending time outdoors, and eating traditional foods.
One of the traditions associated with this holidays is the creation of a Haft-sin which is an offering table filled symbolic objects. Each object has a special meaning and story behind it. You can read more about this beautiful tradition here. The 13th day of Nowruz is known as Sizdah Bedar which translates to ‘Thirteen Outside’ and is meant to be spent outside enjoying nature. On this day many people take the wheatgrass from their haft-sin and release down a river.
We were lucky to have community members come and assemble a haft-sin for the West End community at Gordon House. We have placed the table by our front window and it has display tags to name each item. Come by and check it out!
This week our Young Ideas group teamed up with some members of our community to host a special virtual Nowruz community celebration. Participants received a free gift bag that had goodies such as Turkish Delight and Persian tea, plus a traditional recipe and some speciality ingredients to prepare the dish.
During the virtual celebration a community volunteer led a cooking demonstration on preparing this tasty vegetarian dish – Halim Badenjan with red lentil. All the ingredients can be purchased at a Persian grocer such as Aria in the West End.
Check out this recipe for those interested in learning to make their own Kashk.
In between the demonstration while we waited for things to cook, volunteers shared more Iranian holiday celebrations and information about Nowruz. One special tradition involves using poetry for the purposes of divination. Participants took turns asking their burning questions for the year ahead and then using the poetry from Hafiz and Rumi for insight.
Our seniors meal program participants also shared in the festivities as we served up a ‘Nowruz Celebration Bowl’ made with golden rice, lots of saffron and spices; chicken breast stewed in a fragrant sauces made of pomegranate molasses, walnuts, dates, onions and spices, and a side to chicken is a slow oven roasted stew made of fresh tomatoes and eggplants in a mix of orange juice and peels, plus other spices.
For those interested in learning more about Iranic cultures check out this Google Document.
Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Saint Patrick’s Day is an Irish holiday celebrated on the 17th of March each year. In Ireland this date is a national holiday – schools and workplaces are closed and parades of all sizes are held in every city and small town.
Historically Ireland was a very religious Catholic country. Saint Patrick is Ireland’s patron saint because he was responsible for bringing Christianity to the island. He is also credited with introducing the shamrock as an important Irish symbol by associating it with the Holy Trinity, and he is said to have preformed a number of miracles such as banishing all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea!
Over the years Ireland experienced a mass immigration of millions of people due to poverty and famine. This has created a large Irish diaspora and resulted in worldwide Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrations. Today it is more commonly known as ‘Paddy’s Day’ and many Irish people and those with Irish ancestry celebrate their Irish heritage by wearing green and having more than a few drinks!
In the Irish language whiskey is called ‘uisce beatha’ which translates to – ‘water of life’. Check out this recipe for hot whiskey that uses just lemon, cloves, whiskey, hot water, and optional brown sugar. Best enjoyed in moderation!
The Irish language is called Gaeilge and you can learn some for free via Duolingo.
For anyone who missed out on the sourdough craze last year our Irish Soda Bread Recipe might be appealing as it is a much more simply made type of bread.
Ireland has many myths, legends, and old fairy tales that would be best described as ghost stories. Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner W.B. Yeats catalogued these stories in his book ‘Irish Fairy and Folk Tales’ which is available at Vancouver Public Library.
Ireland’s national broadcaster RTÉ has a website which houses the countries largest collection of audiovisual archival materials. Check it out if you are interested in seeing some old fashioned Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations.
At Gordon Neighbourhood House, we feel fortunate to work and play in such a beautiful area. To honour the sense of pride we have in the neighbourhood, we teamed up with the West End Business Improvement Association to create the Clean Team Program.
The Clean Team is funded by the West End Business Improvement Association and has been running for five years with the intention of keeping our community litter-free. The program runs Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 am – 1 pm. Our team performs general commercial sidewalk and street cleaning, 3-11 illegal dumping reports, graffiti removal, power washing, leaf removal, along with poster and sticker removal on Denman, Davie, and Robson streets. The Clean Team also works with schools, businesses, and organizations interested in community cleanups by organizing events where we map out a cleanup route around the neighbourhood.
We are currently looking for an individual passionate about the community and litter prevention to join The Clean Team. If this sounds like the right fit for you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org