YEAR IN REVIEW: North Shore Change Makers
1. James Wilson, Obsession Bikes
Obsession Bikes owner James Wilson still remembers his first bike.
He was around five years old. It was a hand-me-down, thick with coats of paint splashed on over the years. The frame was a little big and the tires a little bare, but it changed his world. Everything opened up.
That’s why he passionately believes every kid should have bike — even if the family maybe can’t afford it.
That’s why he started the Bikes for Tykes program eight years ago.
Here’s how it works: Donors drop by used bikes to his Lower Lonsdale shop and his technicians fix them up and they are given to needy families in time for Christmas.
And every year it seems more people are donating bikes, money and time to the project.
Wilson donates around $3,500 in labour costs towards the project, but he’s not complaining. He’s happy to give back to the community and encourage others to do the same.
“With regards to my business, it’s the happiest I am,” he says of the bike program. “I couldn’t ask for more at Christmas.”
2. North Shore Arts Council guerrilla knitters
Something more permanent came out of a controversial yarn-bombing project in North Vancouver. Re-using the multicoloured knitted patterns decorating trees around the city, volunteers with the North Van Arts Council made 30 scarves this November to donate to the North Shore Lookout Shelter.
“The wild colours will cheer people up while keeping them from getting cold,” said volunteer Theresa James, a “guerrilla-knitter” who helped decorate a park in central Lonsdale this summer.
The temporary art form, however, faced skepticism from North Van City council earlier this year. In February, the North Van Arts Council’s request for $7,500 to pay for knitting kits was denied, but later reversed in a 4-2 vote after council members had a change of heart.
3. Capilano U students raising awareness for homelessness
A small group of Capilano University students spent five days living in a doorway this March to raise awareness for homelessness.
They asked for donations and time to talk about the issues from passersby and were given some wild weather to brave.
Each student left the campaign a little different than when they arrived.
The participants — Brandon Hofmarks, international business; Liam Park, arts and entertainment management; Dolly Reno, film studies; Sage Birley, global stewardship and Melanda Danenhower, also global stewardship — gained an idea of how easy it is suffer such a fate and how cold and lonely that life can be.
Educating the public, they say, is one of the most important ways to combat homelessness.
4. North Van civilians and cops who made the streets safer
The passenger who’d just jumped into the back of his cab was breathing fast and kept saying “let’s go.”
Cabbie Kuldeep Dosanj was about to turn on his fare meter when he looked into his mirror and saw two men in suits running down the street in hot pursuit.
This was trouble, he thought to himself.
He tried to trap the passenger in his cab by hitting auto-lock, but the man escaped. A struggle ensued, with Dosanj and the two men in suits, who worked at a nearby bank, struggling to corral the man. Turns out the man they just held down until police arrived had just robbed the bank. Police later determined he’d robbed five banks in a span of two weeks.
Dosanj and the two other bank employees Stanley Yee and Bardia Pourmalek were recently honoured by North Van RCMP for going out of their way to help the police and fellow citizens. Several RCMP officers, support staff and members of the North Vancouver Crime Prevention Society were also honoured.
To see a complete list of those honoured, visit northshoreoutlook.com
5. Dogwood Rescue
Murray, a gentle three-year-old Weimaraner, was one of 800 dogs adopted by the North Shore’s Dogwood Rescue over the last 40 years.
He had a hard life before
Dogwood took him in but quickly grew to enjoy his new home and two-hour mountain hikes.
Dealing primarily with sporting breed dogs, the group adopted 100 dogs last year and 200 the year before.
With 14 foster homes, mostly on the
North Shore, the charity’s founder Lichen Tilley hopes the trend will stay.
“If everyone adopted rescue dogs instead of ones from a breeder, we’d be able to help a lot more,” she told The Outlook.
6. North Shore Advisory Committee on Disability Issues
There are plenty of obstacles facing people with disabilities, from sidewalks with no curb-cuts to inaccessible washrooms and parks to hard-to-navigate store aisles or crosswalks with no auditory pedestrian signals.
Fortunately, there’s a small but dedicated group on the North Shore who are working to make North and West Vancouver more accessible.
Meet the North Shore Advisory Committee on Disability Issues (ACDI).
Started nearly two decades ago the tri-municipal committee meets once a month with council representatives to discuss projects and initiatives that improve overall accessibility.
“[ACDI’s] contribution has been really significant,” explains District of West Vancouver planning analyst Claudia Freire.
7. City of North Vancouver firefighters
Whether they chose the Fu Manchu, the Super Mario, the Zorro or a simple handlebar, five North Vancouver firemen took part in Movember to raise awareness for prostate cancer and male mental health initiatives.
The team grew their ‘staches for the entire month of November to help “change the face of men’s health,” and raised $440 from supporters.
The money raised went towards programs run by Movember and Prostate Cancer Canada.
8. Tamo Campos, snowboarding humanitarian
Tamo Campos had the opportunity few powder-junkies get — to hit the slopes year round. For the past few years, the North Vancouver snowboarder has travelled to Chile in August to live near the mountains.
Noticing the extent of poverty in Chile, he decided to make a documentary this year with the group Boarders Without Borders.
In addition to making the movie, he visited Iquitos, a city in the heart of the Peruvian rainforest accessible only by plane or boat.
Campos and other volunteers built two large rafts for residents to grow vegetables on to eat and flowers to sell to the market. All money raised by the flowers goes towards paying teachers in local schools.
9. Margaret Benson, teacher and crusader for organ donation
When Cystic Fibrosis caught up to Margaret Benson, a devoted elementary school teacher, she had to quit her job and endure a double lung transplant.
The operation went well but she suffered a seizure and stroke soon after that left her fighting to regain her equilibrium.
When Benson began to feel better, she decided to compete in the 2003 World Transplant Games in France to help promote organ donation and show donor families what a remarkable difference their loved ones make. “This was the most humbling experience of my life because I don’t do what I do for awards — I do it because of what it means to me,” she told The Outlook.
Benson is back in the classroom today, teaching one day a week at Highlands elementary.
10. Jeremy Bally, human rights crusader
Rebellions in West Papua were on the mind of Bowen Island’s Jeremy Bally when he set off to bike across the country in May.
After visiting West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of the island of New Guinea, Bally explored the human rights injustices and subsequent rebellions against the Indonesian military.
Back in Canada, he came up with the cross-country bike ride as a way raise money for community leaders to pay for English classes.
On the 9,500-kilometre, three-and-a-half month trek to Newfoundland and back he showed a movie he made himself featuring audio from an interview in West Papua.
Towing an 80-pound trailer full of AV equipment, he made 31 multi-media presentations based on his field research.