Boardgame geeks gather to raise money for diabetes May 26-27

Boardgame fundraiser
Game aficionados will gather May 26 and 27 at the Royal City Curling Club to raise money for diabetes research. Tickets are available at Boardgame Warriors – 708 Clarkson Street (604-540-6322). Costs are $20 for Saturday, $15 for Sunday, $30 for the whole weekend, or $50 for a weekend pass for a family or couple.

Boardgame geeks are a special group of people. They’re incredibly diverse but they all share a passion for sitting around a table and trying out the latest releases a group member has brought back from a gaming expo. Their love of a good mental challenge makes them disdain light, popular American games like Monopoly, but they’re endlessly patient with new players and kids.

And once a year they get together in New Westminster to game, socialize, and raise money for Team Diabetes members who are fundraising for either a full or half marathon. Michael Blais and his wife Waleah Cook started organizing Boardgaming for Diabetes in 2006. This year it’s the May 26-27 weekend at the Royal City Curling Club.

I’ve attended for the past two years and always had a great time. People bring their kids (12 and under are free) and the curling club bar upstairs is open. The more hard-core gamers often stay all weekend, but more casual gamers like me can choose to come for just a day. Part of what makes it great is that you’ll almost always be able to find a group who wants to try something you want to play. The games range from party games like Wits and Wagers and Telestrations to hours-long strategic war games.

Last year I got the chance to play Dungeon Lords, a really cute game where you play a dungeon master using your minions and recruiting monsters to fight the heroes who are trying to conquer you. I also got to try a shipping-themed game called Before the Wind, and an hilarious kids game called Loopin’ Louie, which involves hitting a lever to prevent a clumsy plane from accidentally knocking over your chickens (you kind of had to be there).

Sadly I’m away for a conference this year, but I really recommend other folks stop by for a game or two on the May 26-27 weekend. There’s really something for everyone and all the money raised goes to a great cause. There’s also a 50/50 draw, silent game auction, and great door prizes.

In New West, tickets are available at Boardgame Warriors – 708 Clarkson Street (604-540-6322). Costs are $20 for Saturday, $15 for Sunday, $30 for the whole weekend, or $50 for a weekend pass for a family or couple. There are other ticket locations around the Lower Mainland and you can get more information at

Raid ‘Grandma’s Attic’ at Royal City Gogos fundraiser

Grandma's Attic New & Used Sale
Poster for Grandma's Attic New & Used Sale

I’ll be the first to admit I shouldn’t really be let loose near a secondhand store or garage sale. I tend to go a little overboard taking in all the amazing things people have cast off. So I’m already practically salivating in anticipation of the Royal City Gogos’ Grandma’s Attic New and Used Sale, which is coming up on Saturday, April 28 from 11 am– 4 pm at the CAW Hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster.

In case you’re not familiar with the Royal City Gogos from their numerous other community events, including Scrabble tournaments and art shows, they’re an organization founded by local grandmothers, who raise funds to assist African Grandmothers who are caring for some of the 14.8 million children orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa by the HIV/AIDS pandemic through the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

According to event organizers, the sale on the 28th will be “huge”, including six specialty areas:

  • Grandma’s Attic: quality used house wares, collectibles and décor items.
  • Grandma’s Bookshelf: Current, gently read books for $2!
  • Grandma’s Garden: get a head start on spring with sunflowers, bedding plants and perennials
  • Grandma’s an Expert: Grandma offers her skills in a service auction lessons on making perfect scones, designing a family photo book online, or knitting a scarf — in your home or at grandma’s house. Grandpa offers a morning of bird watching, handyman skills
  • Grandma’s Got Style: Grandma makes stunning gift items and fashion accessories locally and in fair trade workshops in Africa
  • Grandma’s Tea Shop: Grandma is serving tea and pastries to hungry shoppers.

“African grandmothers, having buried their own children, have stepped into the breach to parent again with few resources,” says local Gogo Janine Reid, “The Stephen Lewis Foundation directs the funds to community-level organizations that provide necessities and help to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa.”

Entry to the marketplace is free and open to the public. Only cash or cheques will be accepted.

Gogos fundraise for Africa with ‘Cheater’s Scrabble,’ feather fascinators

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game.
“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game.

In just a few weeks the Royal City Gogos, a group of almost 50 New Westminster grandmothers and “grandothers” formed to help the Stephen Lewis Foundation are hosting a Scrabble event entitled “Good Words for Africa.”

The first “Good Words for Africa” Scrabble meet and craft fair was held two years ago and I had the pleasure of taking part along with a team organized by New Westminster MLA Dawn Black. I’m looking forward to participating with Dawn again this year (here’s the link to my donation/info page).

“Good Words for Africa” will be held on Oct. 29 from 10 am– 4 pm (with Scrabble being played from 1-4 PM) at the CAW hall, 326 Twelfth Street, New Westminster. The event has two sections: a craft fair and a Scrabble game. Those playing Scrabble collect pledges prior to the event, but even those who can’t commit to playing Scrabble that day can drop in for the craft marketplace.

One highlight of the craft sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators.”
One highlight of the craft sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators.”

I interviewed Royal City Gogos founder Janine Reid about the event. First I asked what people who want to register to play Scrabble should know.

“This isn’t a straight-up Scrabble game – this is a variation and it’s meant to be fun,” Reid said. The Gogos’ press release points out this is “cheater’s Scrabble”:

“This modified game is intended to engage all comers. Many players will come in crazy hats or costumes and create words on a theme… According to event rules, players are allowed to use proper nouns, purchase letters they need, consult the experts from the Vancouver Scrabble Club and even purchase cheat sheets! There will be door prizes galore and scorekeeping is optional.”

Of course if you’re a more hard-core Scrabbler, there’s nothing to stop you from playing the rules the way you normally would, but the looser rules mean that players of any background can participate and have a great time.

Players can register and receive a pledge kit by sending their name, address and phone number to and Reid points out it’s important to register soon.

“We’re 50% full and we haven’t even started advertising,” she said. “It’s important for people to register soon and get started.”

People who can’t stay to play Scrabble are still encouraged to stop by for the marketplace, which will run from 10-4. Entry is free. The marketplace will be stocked with gift items and fashion accessories made locally by the Gogos or in fair trade African cooperatives. One highlight of the sale will be locally-made whimsical headpieces the Gogos are calling “feather fascinators”.

All proceeds from the craft market and Scrabble will go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign.

An estimated 14.8 million children have been orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Their grandmothers, having buried their own children, have stepped into the breach to parent again with few resources. The Grandmothers Campaign is a Canadian initiative to raise urgently needed funds which are directed by the Stephen Lewis Foundation to community-level organizations that provide necessities such as food, educational supplies, uniforms and school fees, home-based care, HIV counseling and testing, adequate housing, grief support and micro-credit loans.

“We made $43,000 last time and in our dreams we would like to raise $50,000 but we’ll just have to see how it all unfolds,” Reid said.

New West Goes Purple To Fight Domestic Violence

Purple Light Nights LogoIn just a few days New Westminster residents will notice local business areas lighting up purple. That’s because April 19-23 is the 2nd Annual Purple Light Nights campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.

The campaign was started last year by the New Westminster Community Action Committee for Women who Experience Violence (CAC), a group made up of representatives from the community organizations who work with women experiencing abuse.

Why purple? According to Lorrie Wasyliw, Executive Director of Monarch Place Transition House and Co-Chair of the New West CAC, purple is internationally recognized as a symbol of the struggle against domestic violence. The idea for Purple Night Lights comes from a US event that happens every October.

Each year, 20,000 women in BC will experience violence (Statistics Canada), and almost half have children who will also be exposed. A study by Sociologist Jillian Riddington revealed that more women are injured or killed by physical abuse than by automobile accidents, muggings, and rapes combined, yet many people underestimate the seriousness of the crime and its social and economic impact on our community.

“Knowledge can help communities support women, youth, and children who experience violence, and prevent tragedies,” says Wasyliw.

That’s why the CAC is  so excited to see the expanded recognition of the campaign already this year. They’ve already got a banner hanging outside the offices of the Family Services of Greater Vancouver on 6th Street, and organizer Roshni Vedamanikam pointed out that purple lights will be hanging at City Hall and Mayor Wayne Wright will be issuing a proclamation to recognize the campaign.

Last year the CAC focused on having businesses on 6th Street take strings of purple lights to hang in their windows to coincide with BC’s Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, but this year other areas are being encouraged to participate and really motivated individuals can take lights for their homes, too.

Business response has been enthusiastic. In addition to returning businesses from last year like Fit on 6th, Cartwright Jewellers, Park Georgia Realty, and Columbia Costume Rental, a lot of new storefronts are on board. Guy Dube, owner of the Coming Home Cafe at 753 6th Street, has organized the 8 businesses on the ground floor of his building to participate. And Burnaby-New Westminster NDP federal candidate Peter Julian will be hanging purple lights in his campaign office on 12th Street.

If you’re interested in participating or know someone who is, the CAC is selling strings of purple lights for $20 (at cost), or you can buy an individual standard-sized purple bulb for $1. Contact Roshni at 604-521-1888 or email me at for information on getting your lights.

Dan Mangan Rocks the 65 Red Roses Benefit

Last Friday’s sold out 65 Red Roses benefit concert for Cystic Fibrosis Canada brought down the house at Massey Theatre. And I was lucky enough to have a backstage look at the happenings, thanks to winning a contest through the Vancouver blog Hummingbird604!

The theatre was packed, mostly with 20-somethings, so we found ourselves in the upper balcony for the first half of the show, which opened with an introduction by Phillip Lyall, director of the 65_Red Roses documentary, and Rachel Aberle, one of Eva Markvoort’s close friends. They set the tone of the night, which was warm and celebratory of Eva’s life and her passion for creativity and inspiration, shown in the showcase of several of her favourite local musicians.

Kicking off the musical portion of the eveing was David Vertesi, who performed a set without a band, although in one humorous song that had the audience in stitches, he accompanied himself and his guitar with canned drums from his keytar.

After he closed his set with his new single “Mountainside”, Eva’s mother Janet Brine took the stage to introduce a video message Eva had made for a Cystic Fibrosis Canada event, just after she began to undergo chronic rejection, not long before she passed away. Unfortunately, just as Brine was extolling the “magic of technology” that would enable us to see and hear Eva, the sound on the video stopped working and they had to bring on the next band, The Zolas.

Luckily The Zolas’ upbeat set was just what was needed to get the audience back into the swing of things after the confusion about the video. The Zolas’ frontman Zachary Grey punctuated the set with jokes in-between songs, laughing that he felt the crowd at the Massey was too classy for them.

“Could you do us a favour and just talk through our whole set? Like you wish we weren’t playing?” he laughed.

By the time The Zolas closed their set with “You’re Too Cool”, one of their big new singles, the audio feed had been fixed and we got to see Eva’s message. It was difficult not to tear up as we saw Eva say, “Let’s continue to work so that, in my lifetime, CF stands for Cure Found.”

Then the MCs took to the stage again to talk about Eva’s two causes: raising awareness of organ donation, and fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis research. Everyone at the concert received an organ donor registration card with their programs. Register as an organ donor or find out if you’re registered at As to Eva’s latter cause, proceeds from the concert were donated to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, and you can also donate online at You can also join the 65 Red Roses movement on Facebook and Twitter.

After the pitch, Hannah Georgas finished off the first half of the concert with a set that showcased her amazing vocal and stylistic versatility. Backstage at intermission she said she’d never played in New West before but she was really honoured to be part of such a great initiative and it was great to be on the same bill as so many friends.

The author, Jarrah, (second from left) back stage with friends and Hannah Georgas (far right)

The first half of the show was amazing but it was clearly Dan Mangan everyone was waiting to see. His T-shirts flew off the racks of the musicians’ kiosk at intermission and as soon as he took the stage after another brief video on CF, fans flocked to the front of the theatre to dance near the front of the stage and take photos and videos, screaming as he played a combination of new songs and older hits like “Basket” and “Sold” (Mangan was recently voted the number one musician Vancouver women would like to sleep with in the 2011 Georgia Straight Sex Survey and judging by the audience reaction, the survey was pretty accurate).

Dan Mangan with members of The Zolas behind him

Mangan closed his set talking about Eva and capturing the sentiment most of us would leave thinking about. He talked about how knowing people like Eva, “who love without worrying about looking cool” inspire him and how Eva’s life should inspire all of us to be creative, love others, and be ourselves without fear.

Editor’s note: Voted 2010 Newsmaker of the Year in New Westminster by both the New Westminster News Leader and the Royal City Record, Eva Markvoort continues to touch lives despite having succumbed to CF on March 27th, 2010. For more info or to get involved, check out:, liberally use the #4eva hashtag on Twitter, and most importantly, register to be an organ donor.