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Local summit aims to make Surrey a better city for women and girls

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SURREY, BC ⁠– Women in Surrey are invited to share their perspectives and experiences at Women Shaping Surrey: Towards a Women-Friendly City, a summit co-hosted by Women Transforming Cities and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women in partnership with the Shakti Society.

The summit will provide an opportunity for women in Surrey to discuss how they can most effectively work together to amplify the diverse voices of women and girls, and to ensure that a gendered perspective is applied to all city policies, programs, and activities.

In 2017, Status of Women Canada (now Women and Gender Equality) funded the study,”Action on systemic barriers to women’s participation in local government” which has focused on the cities of Surrey and Vancouver. The project aimed to find recommendations that would increase representation of diverse women in all aspects of civic life: as elected officials, staff, members of advisory bodies, and engaged citizens.

Among the project’s findings was the importance of women’s advisory bodies in providing insights on how different municipal policies impact women and girls, including public safety, accessibility, housing, childcare, and more.

The summit will feature Jinny Sims, the MLA for Surrey-Panorama and former Minister of Citizens’ Services, as the keynote speaker. Previously, Sims served as the MP for Newton-North Delta, and as the critic for International Cooperation, Critic for Immigration and Critic for Employment.

“In April 2018, our project sponsored a forum in Surrey that brought together women who had run for office to discuss their experiences as candidates and as elected officials,” said Rebecca Bateman, project manager. “We learned not only about the barriers and opportunities they encountered, but also about the strong network of women in Surrey who mentored and supported them, and the upcoming summit is a way of building on that strength to address city-wide issues that matter to women.”

Interested participants can now register for this free event online.

This article was submitted by a reader from the Surrey Community. You can submit your own community story, press release, event or public notice directly to our Community Board today! We also have advertising and promotional options for businesses.

Community Board

COVID-19: BC NEEDS MORE TESTS

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As residents of the lower mainland keep their eyes glued to the television in hopes of receiving positive updates in relation to this global pandemic, they are disappointed and disheartened by the exponentially increasing infection and death rate of the highly contagious COVID-19. The timeline and increase in numbers are highly reminiscent of the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, which has now amassed to over 59 000 infections and over 5000 deaths. With Canada seeming to follow these footsteps, one must wonder: “What are we doing wrong?” And, “how can we stop the spread of disease?”

To combat COVID-19, the World Health Organization recommends extensive testing, contact tracing, quarantining, isolation, and social/physical distancing. Although many of us have taken it upon ourselves to undertake the latter half, the BC government is only implementing public COVID-19 testing for those with respiratory symptoms who require hospitalization or were in specific locations with a large number of cases. However, this puts the general public at risk as, arguably, testing is the most important factor in countering the virus, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claiming, “We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.” Echoing that statement, Andrea Crisanti, an infectious disease expert working in Italy, says “Test the neighborhood, test the relatives, test the friends, and isolate all positive individuals. If you do it now, you will stop the disease.”

Furthermore, if we are not testing – we cannot be contact tracing. Community transmission cases will not be tracked if we do not know who is sick to begin with, as the majority of those infected show only minor symptoms. Individuals with mild cases are more likely to be the ones that ignore social distancing guidelines. They may be going to work, going on grocery runs, or they may be one of those people we saw on the beaches of Vancouver, blatantly ignoring the appeals of Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer. If social distancing rules are not being enforced, then at least rigorous testing should be.

Our current approach of only testing those that require hospitalization or those who were recently in a localized area with a large number of cases is nowhere near as effective as the policies set in other countries. South Korea, for example, has implemented the process of rigorous testing and it has allowed for the rate of infection to decrease. They were the first to incorporate multiple locations for drive through tests, and to date, have tested over 330 000 people, as opposed to Canada’s 88 883 (as of 5pm March 22nd, 2020). As of March 16, 2020, the infection rate in South Korea has been steadily declining, and currently, the fatality rate in South Korea for COVID-19 is 0.7%, which is drastically lower than the global average of 3.4%. It seems intuitive that Canada should start testing to the degree that South Korea is. Despite the BC government’s statement that testing is not necessary unless you’re a critical case, the truth is that we are actually not testing because we do not have the resources.

Therefore, the question becomes: “How come other countries are capable of testing at a much higher rate than we are?” One of the factors that has allowed South Korea to test rigorously is a rapid approval system that was put in place in response to the SARS pandemic that threatened the world in 2002-2003. Although we weren’t as prepared for a pandemic, we do currently have options that could allow us to reach the testing levels of South Korea. Canada could fast track test kits by looking at which tests are being approved in other countries. This could also battle the dilemma of facing limited resources by implementing different types of tests other than the popular nasopharyngeal swab. Many labs are coming out with various versions of rapid testing that detect antibodies via blood sample. These rapid tests allow anywhere from a 10-minute to 3-hour window to give a positive or negative result. Bangladesh and the United States have recently given the approval to use these alternative tests to the nasal swab so they can follow the WHO’s recommendation to “test, test, test.”

It is essential that we as a community come together to put pressure on our representatives to approve and implement rapid test kits so BC can catch up to the rest of the world in fighting this virus. We can contact our representatives, MP’s, and politicians for the safety of everyone in our community, including our grandparents, parents, and our immunocompromised friends. Please take a moment to look at the links below and write your concerns regarding our government’s lack of testing. If we put pressure on our government to fast-track more testing methods, perhaps we could all go back to our daily routines faster, and in the process, save a few lives.

 

City of Surrey

COVID-19@surrey.ca

 

Mayor Doug McCallum:

Phone: (604) 591-4126

Email: mayor@surrey.ca

 

Member of Parliament for Surrey-Newton

Sukh Dhaliwal

Phone: (604) 598-2200

sukh.dhaliwal@parl.gc.ca

 

Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre

Randeep Sarai

Phone: (604) 589-2441

Randeep.sarai@parl.gc.ca

 

 

 

 

RESOURCES:

-CDC Testing Procedures: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing-isolation?fbclid=IwAR2Nx80aPMlsDwWO7JROWcW_QIL-AkC45JXDe84g-RlhtaqRROVApcv26xQ

-Stats: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/case-counts-press-statements?fbclid=IwAR2fjHRDBPVz3wZb0eRtpRwaFfClJYp1g0sJx3VA9x56oIy0jdUTXSnnwYc

-Advice from Italy: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/coronavirus-canada-testing-symptoms-italy-1.5504780?fbclid=IwAR1KQnrI1iqTEzvJHZ_9RXGTocq9L6B8goH-8rJb1DGr8pAxGtFKsWU4fTM

-Key is to Test:

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-51916707/who-head-our-key-message-is-test-test-test?fbclid=IwAR00o0V8rNCJ3MoJY1r43969XxL5N348LeExPwfTEuuYWcMziFIrD5zIHGw

-Opinion Piece – Vancouver: https://www.squamishchief.com/pandemic-widespread-in-vancouver-as-testing-capacity-fails-needs-b-c-doctor-1.24100643?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&fbclid=IwAR3TPXHhVPVzZRUAy6f9yBbxQN6SuLE0btM0NsvrxBTBLf5awje0F1yzt8s

-South Korea Testing: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51970379

-Status Quo due to Testing Shortage: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/don-t-have-the-capacity-to-do-that-many-swabs-top-doctor-defends-covid-19-testing-1.4861872

-Testing for Health Care Workers: https://bccatholic.ca/news/catholic-van/vancouver-s-first-drive-through-covid-19-test-site-opens-for-health-care-workers?fbclid=IwAR1W3YXndsq_R27ctXtC_e9Dw9uQUDCM1L_HSC8eO14o0EezWssQEdwK1a4

-Bill Gates take on testing: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world/covid-19-bill-gates-says-countries-that-test-for-coronavirus-will-bounce-back-in-weeks/article31106514.ece?fbclid=IwAR1NQ1foMtQ_WHTM9H47zkzWZDe9u0-8hyYuDgWpaLxmBCcH8M-kqbPf2Kk

-South Korea’s success: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/20/south-korea-rapid-intrusive-measures-covid-19?fbclid=IwAR27BRIg8y-HcUCw919cw1ECwz7AuNznE4HQoHBk3Nq9PNZ00rMwU2TBQCc

-Importance of testing mild symptoms: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00822-x?fbclid=IwAR2nQfu–ydCElzcEE6FiJaDf6kcD11zD7zts6iJuUItfbdLkuo1GLmDte4

-Rapid Testing: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200318005814/en/?fbclid=IwAR2IvC8Bw7yOOWln7-kieXOtiTOLu5OrRqUFC19iPPD_8lQhQExqB_kdbHk

-Bangladesh Rapid Tests: https://www.medicaldevice-network.com/news/bangladesh-low-cost-covid-19-test/

-Low Resources: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/health-officials-explain-why-not-everyone-can-get-swabbed-for-covid-19-right-now-1.4855979?fbclid=IwAR3bGXY9SQ6sn_x44V3DJiG4Nvq1nuOVdyIUHSf_cbyKIkV0noYxAw-_4P4

-Coronavirus in South Korea: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51836898?fbclid=IwAR0OYngfTviBJ20Fs44bSbO531FSD5c6vDaARmx72JMJSdlU7z6OskheY9Y

-Why we aren’t testing: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-testing-shortages-1.5503926?fbclid=IwAR12wq6MhFqcEd8Z_-IhGDY9d8P6YCHLCv1gtqS3bWgj0Ziernc0WcsEOHM

-South Korea Infection Rate: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/south-korea/?fbclid=IwAR3Bo70u4-SPt9jKkrJtqiyd3j4G6L–cyGF0ou_cEDsyeyx-0LOyujB-Y8

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VANCOUVER CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS RECEIVE MUCH NEEDED DONATIONS FROM CHURCH OF CHRIST (IGLESIA NI CRISTO)

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VANCOUVER CHARITY ORGANIZATIONS RECEIVE MUCH NEEDED DONATIONS FROM CHURCH OF CHRIST (IGLESIA NI CRISTO)

Several charitable organizations around the metropolitan Vancouver area received, from the Church Of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo or INC), over 200 boxes of much-needed items for distribution to their beneficiaries, who have fallen on hard times.

These items included non-perishable food and personal care items as bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, socks, brushes and combs, blankets, hats and gloves. These were donated by the members of the Church’s local congregations in and around the city under the Ecclesiastical District of British Columbia.

Through the auspices of the Church’s charitable arm, Felix Y. Manalo (FYM) Foundation, ecclesiastical districts all over the world held Aid to Humanity events in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The socio-civic event conducted by the British Columbia District benefited the following charity organizations:

  • Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre – a non-profit organization that provides shelter, meals and support to women and children who are homeless or at risk of violence
  • Russell Residence and Housing Centre – a year-round emergency shelter in New Westminster that operates under the Lookout Housing & Health Society to help those with no or minimal income
  • Bill Reid Place – Part of the Options Community Services Society, this organization provides meals and housing in the Cloverdale area of Surrey
  • Covenant House – a shelter that specifically provides assistance to Vancouver youth
  • Loaves & Fishes Community Food Bank in Nanaimo and The Greater Vancouver Food Bank at The Food Hub in North Vancouver.

Bruce Strom, Senior Manager of Homelessness Services at Options Community Services commented: “I think great organizations are stepping up and really try to create that positive social impact that communities around our country and around the world really need. It’s mainly through faith organizations that we get such positive social connections, and the willingness to reach out and try and help people who are the most in need. I would really like to give my thanks to the Church Of Christ for the generous donation today. That’s going to really improve the lives of many people that we are giving shelter to.”

In May of 2019, the largest Aid to Humanity Tour in Canada was able to extend assistance to 36 organizations and thousands of individuals in the fight against poverty.  Humanitarian and outreach efforts through the FYM Foundation, and the INC Giving Project are often carried out by Iglesia Ni Cristo members to lend a helping hand to their fellowmen in need, as it is a biblically prescribed Christian virtue.

“There are so many people around the world who need help. They really need help, not only materially, not only with their basic necessities, but even with their spiritual life, their faith. The Church of Christ will continue to provide assistance and give back to those in need, in this part of the world,” said Moriel Cadacio, district minister of the 17 congregations in British Columbia.


For more about the Church and its activities, please visit www.iglesianicristo.net.

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Surrey Reads for Spring Break

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Spring Break is right around the corner and what better way for your kids to spend their free time than with a good book? Surrey Libraries can help make Spring Break reading fun while also keeping children’s literacy skills sharp!

Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, Surrey Libraries recommends that kids read throughout the break. “Reading helps children learn, explore and develop their curiosity,” says Rei Kitano, children’s librarian at Surrey Libraries City Centre branch “It helps children connect their world – including family and friends.”

And if your family is going away for Spring Break, that doesn’t mean your child can’t take along a great book – or two – to read. Visit your local Surrey Libraries branch, check out the Spring Break displays and find a new book to read from our top 20 in 2020 Spring Break book lists for kids and teens at surreylibraries.ca.

Surrey Libraries also offers eBooks and downloadable audiobooks through the Libby and RBDigital apps for those who prefer to use a device for their reading while traveling or at home.

If you’re looking for fun, educational, and free activities for your child during Spring Break, don’t forget to check out the many programs Surrey Libraries offers to keep students occupied. STEM challenges, juggling workshops, and Dot and Dash Robotic Coding are just some of the programs available. You can find the list of programs in your local library branch or at surreylibraries.ca/events.

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Surrey Libraries Celebrates International Women’s Month

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For over 100 years on March 8th, the world has celebrated women past and present who fought to obtain equal rights and opportunity for all women and girls. These extraordinary achievements made by ordinary women who rose above adversity with courage and determination continues to empower the next generation of young women to find their voices and stand united toward creating equality.

 

Surrey Libraries recognizes the impact and importance of women in our community and value their positive contributions towards making Surrey a more literate, inclusive, and thriving city. What better way to celebrate International Women’s Month than by reading about the lives and stories of influential women throughout the generations?

 

Visit your local Surrey Libraries branch to check out the International Women’s Month book displays. Or, visit surreylibraries.ca to check out the staff-compiled book lists for children, teens, and adults about current women’s issues, female empowerment, and equality. These resources inspire women and girls to pursue their dreams, as engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut, Dr. Mae Jamison reminds, “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life.”

 

Women accomplish extraordinary things each day, some of which goes unnoticed. On March 8, take a moment to celebrate the women in your own lives and recognize the impact just one woman has on your life, whether it be a grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, or friend.

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If the Federal Government in Australia won’t act on climate change, what happens next?

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For most Australians, 2019 will always be remembered as the year the country burned – wiping out 24 million acres of land, killing at least 28 people and destroying some 2,000 homes.

It was the year that blazes turned skies orange and made breathing the air dangerous for our health. An estimated 1 billion animals were lost, and scientists fear long-term damage to many sensitive ecosystems.

2019 will also be remembered by many as the year that Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to acknowledge not only the clear and present danger presented by the bushfires, but the general public mood around his government’s inertia on the important issue of climate change.

A national disaster

And, to make matters worse, as the country continued to go up in endless flames that teams of firefighters were unable to control, climate change scientists from around the world commented that the apocalyptic scenes being portrayed by the media were definitely a sign of what is to come if climate change is ignored and temperatures are allowed to rise to dangerous levels.

For the past few decades, scientists have been very clear about global warming, saying that prolonged droughts and increased storm intensity are two of the most likely results of climate change.

As Greg Mullins, former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and a climate councillor wrote in the Guardian newspaper: “Make no mistake: this disaster is a weather-driven event, not a fuel-driven one, underpinned by years of drying and warming. Climate change is the driver of increasing extreme weather.”

But as the national disaster continued to unfold, what became incredibly frustrating for Australians, is that the federal government really didn’t appear to be taking any notice. Nothing, it seemed, could sway Scott Morrison’s commitment to ‘no change’ to Australia’s existing climate policies – not the the Torres Strait taking Australia to the UN, school kids on strike, thousands of people marching the streets in protest nor comments made by the world’s most famous climate change activist, Greta Thunburg.

Then, bizarrely, on Christmas Eve, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce (himself a farmer in drought) posted a video to social media suggesting that God is in fact the answer to climate change.

State and Local Governments need to act

But there was a voice of reason. And it came from a state politician.

In fact, New South Wales Minister for Environment Matt Kean broke ranks with his federal Coalition counterparts, arguing that not only was climate change very definitely a factor to be considered in the context of the bushfire crisis, but in a radio interview days before Christmas, he also said that climate change must be dealt with as a matter of ‘science, and not religion.’

And, in a move unusual for a politician, at the same time, he actually made a real commitment to change, announcing a plan to increase the NSW government’s emissions reduction targets. In doing so, he set an example for the rest of the state and territory governments around Australia. Because, if the federal government is going to sit on its hands for the foreseeable future, then the state governments must now pick up the mantle of climate change.

Public health emergency

In recent months, aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory have gone on record saying they fear being the country’s first climate change refugees, fears that are by no means unfounded.

Last summer was the hottest on record, and also the driest in 27 years. In the year to July 2019, Alice Springs reported 129 days over 35C, and 55 days over 40C. A heat monitoring study also showed that on some unshaded streets the surface temperature was between 61C and 68C. At the start of this summer, temperatures were also predicted to soar, only to be made worse by severe drought.

Several of the remote communities and outstations in northern and central Australia are already running out of water, others have exceptionally poor quality water.

Predictions by the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress for the health impacts of heat are dire. In its submission to the Northern Territory’s government’s climate change policy discussion paper, it outlined some of them: “Increased sickness and mortality due to heat stress, increased food insecurity and malnutrition, increased risk from infectious disease, poorer mental health and an increased potential for social conflict.”

In the weeks before Christmas, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) too, also issued a climate change health emergency as Sydney suffered through thick haze measured at 11 times the ‘dangerous’ levels. Regional areas too were also covered in layers of smoke.

Despite the fact that Australia was held up as a global example of potential climate change catastrophe throughout 2019, we are, of course, not alone.

Tens of millions of people around the globe are also under significant threat from climate change.

In 2017, a study by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) predicted that climate change would create the world’s biggest refugee crisis. The study called on governments everywhere to agree a new legal framework to protect climate refugees and for leaders to do more to implement the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement.

Communities can effect real change

The good news in all of this, is that where governments are failing, cities and local precincts are picking up the charge. One example is The C40 coalition (90+ cities representing 650 million people) including New York, London and Sydney have agreed to reduce their emissions in line with the ambitious elements of the Paris Agreement.

Another example is the regional town of Byron Bay on the far northern coast of New South Wales. Always well-known for its eco-friendly policies, in 2015 it set an ambitious target to be a “zero emissions shire” by 2025 by cutting greenhouse gases in a range of areas, through a plan that involves boosting renewable energy uptake, improving public transport and options for electric vehicles as well as changing land use practices and improving the management of its water and waste.

The role of business

Byron Bay is also home to innovative energy start-up Enova Energy which is working to localise renewable energy generation, storage and distribution via microgrids, solar gardens and other community energy models. No mean feat for a small company started with funding provided by 1600 local shareholders who believed in the power of the vision.

These businesses and communities are proving that they can do what the federal government won’t do – creating impactful change at a grass roots level.

Undoubtedly, climate change is an issue for federal governments to manage – there needs to be clear policy set for the entire nation, but if recent times have shown us anything it is that climate change can’t wait. The sense of urgency is gathering momentum, and as such, State and Local governments as well as business and community groups may well be the ones to successfully lead the charge.

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