March Magazine

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MAY 2021

MOVING FORWARD Turning anguish and isolation into hope and creation





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Europe came to a crashing halt in 2020. Young people have been hardest hit by the pandemicinduced job drought—but here’s how two recent grads have made it work. by Lauren Reynolds

Harrison Johnston’s journey from classrooms to climate activism, and protests to politics. by Bridget StringerHolden

7 CARDS FOR CASH How a childhood game is now worth thousands of dollars. by Israel Lobo Gomez


PEOPLE Four Vancouverites on what their lives has been like since 2020, and what they’re most hopeful for in 2021. by Ashley Sandhu


living on the street to back on her feet: Emily’s story shows the importance of the Leadership and Resiliency Program. by Gianmarco Iuele

STRAIGHT A’S BUT NO PAY Dreams of summer internships or backpacking through



hot sauce will knock your “hooves” off. by Vanessa Gibbs







BE A DUCHESS. DRINK A COSMO From crypto content marketing to bottled cosmo creation. by Vanessa Parrotta


UNPRECEDENTED WEDDING BELLS They weren’t married to the idea of a traditional wedding. by Mariah Klein

18 PASSIONATE PIZZA Al Cashin is using pizza as a platform to give everyone their piece of the pie. by Matias Suez




Dog adoptions have boomed during COVID-19—but do owners know what it means for the long term? by Tristan Meroni




How the legalization of public drinking has benefitted business. by Jenelle McComb



Shaketown puts a spin on the rich history of North Vancouver, while offering fresh brews you can’t find anywhere else. by Aynsley Hurtado


While some businesses withered under the pandemic’s weight, Advantage bulked up. by Claudia Funaro


WASTE With COVID-19 adding to our mountains of waste, we can add drowning in trash and producing greenhouse gases to our list of quarantine activities. by Madison De Castille

Plan smart—and put safety first—before your next North Shore hike. by Delaney Chute


LOVE IN LOCKDOWN Catch feelings, not COVID-19. by Nozi Kapenda

Dog-friendly trails in Greater Vancouver by Lindsay Cooper



V OL U M E 1 / IS S U E 1

University students provide some insight into their pandemic pastimes. by Jordan Merchison


Discover Canada’s roots in the comfort of your own home. by Cohen Isberg



Touch deprivation is a consequence of social distancing—but massage therapy is proving to be a strong support system. by Denise Hua


Illustrator Alyssa Hirose creates a daily comic that’s part humour and part therapy. by Nicholas Long



local artist wove wonder into Robert Burnaby Park. by Sarah Lepchuk MAY 2021 march 3

For life’s challenges large and small, Foundry offers connection, tools and support. At Foundry North Shore we provide services for young people ages 12-24:

• • • • • •

Drop-In Counselling Medical & Sexual Health Clinic Mental Health Support & Counselling Substance Use Support & Counselling Peer & Family Support And many more!

All services are free and confidential. Centre hours & details: Located at: 211 W. 1 St Steet, North Vancouver, BC 604-984-5060



Catherine Mullaly EDITORS

Mariah Klein, Bridget Stringer-Holden MANAGING EDITORS

Madison De Castille, Jordan Merchison WRITERS

Bridget Stringer-Holden

Mariah Klein


MarchingForward Well, it’s been a year.

I know I’m tired of hearing about these unprecedented times. There have been immense periods of isolation and suffering, but many have managed to adapt and turn these tumultuous times—yet another phrase we’re all tired of hearing—into something inspiring. As I write this, I’m sitting at home in sweatpants with a warm cup of coffee in hand—definitely an improvement from a long bus ride to school while half asleep. This is not how I pictured my first Editor’s Note for a magazine, but even over Zoom, we’ve managed to make it work and I’m so proud of how everything’s come together. This issue showcases the stories of others in our community who have been making it work—from pandemic romances (p. 19) and Zoom weddings (p. 17), to relaxation methods and coping mechanisms that have been helping university students (p. 34). Daily walks to clear my head have been my go-to stress reliever, and I’ll often walk around my neighbourhood and stop in at my


favourite restaurants to grab takeout. Many small businesses have worked hard to adapt, and we’re shining a spotlight on a few of them—including Al Cashin’s Untitled Pizza Project which evolved into Good Pizza (p. 18) and Duchess’ new bottled Cosmo delivery service (p. 16). Young people have been stepping up and continuing to march for what’s important throughout this pandemic (p. 6). Experience is crucial for those wanting to break into any industry (p. 13), which is why working on this magazine has been endlessly rewarding. Despite the pandemic and the Zoom fatigue, we’ve managed to pull together March, a magazine that highlights those who have pivoted and thrived throughout this pandemic. The stories, but also the perseverance and thoughtfulness of the contributing writers, is inspiring. I hope that you can curl up on the couch with a warm cup of coffee or tea and enjoy a virtual escape with these people and places as much as I have. Bridget Stringer-Holden

Delaney Chute, Lindsay Cooper, Madison De Castille, Claudia Funaro, Vanessa Gibbs, Denise Hua, Aynsley Hurtado, Cohen Isberg, Gianmarco Iuele, Nozi Kapenda, Mariah Klein, Sarah Lepchuk, Israel Lobo Gomez, Nicholas Long, Jenelle McComb, Jordan Merchison, Tristan Meroni, Vanessa Parotta, Lauren Reynolds, Ashley Sandhu, Bridget Stringer-Holden, Matias Suez PHOTOGRAPHERS

Jenelle McComb, Tristan Meroni, Ashley Sandhu ADVERTISING EDITORS

Anysley Hurtado, Vanessa Parotta PUBLISHER

School of Communication Bill Van Luven, Chair

march magazine is published once a year by the students in CMNS 490, Group Project in Publishing, a course in the Bachelor of Communication Studies degree at Capilano University, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V7J 3H5. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.

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Climate activist Harrison Johnston stands with a megaphone during the Sept. 2019 Climate Strike.

Running for Change Harrison Johnston’s journey from classrooms to climate activism, and protests to politics. by BRIDGET STRINGER-HOLDEN


hat do we want? CLIMATE JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!” More than 100,000 voices swirled across the Cambie Bridge as protesters passionately cried out on September 27, 2019. And as the crowds moved towards the Vancouver Public Library, their voices grew louder, firm in their demands. Meanwhile, 21-year-old student and climate activist Harrison Johnston stood alongside other lead organizers, pondering his next move. “We accomplished this,” he said. “But also this is so much bigger beyond us.” It’s a day many will recall as one of the largest protests in

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B.C. history, the culmination of more than six months of work by organizations like Sustainabiliteens, where Johnston is an organizer and mentor. Previous climate strikes garnered about 3,000 attendees, but Johnston and his team only expected 10,000 at best. Upon learning of the huge crowd headed their way, they scrambled to get everything ready. “Our own estimate was about 170,000 people,” says Johnston. Following the climate strike, Johnston and his fellow organizers were on the brink of real change. But some meetings with politicians left them feeling deflated and discouraged. “We mobilized the biggest protest in Vancouver history, and

it’s had pretty much no impact on the climate policies that both our provincial and federal government are working on,” says Johnston. “We just didn’t see any changes in the direction that the NDP government was taking.” Frustrated by the lack of change, Johnston did what a lot of other 21-year-olds haven’t: he decided to run for the BC Greens in the riding of North Vancouver-Seymour. He built a campaign team—run by 18- and 19-year-olds—to highlight some of the NDP’s failures in addressing the climate crisis, such as LNG and fossil-fuel subsidies. “I pretty much just got to the point where I was like ‘Hey, I’m just gonna run against them’ and try to show that this movement that we had created—of young people really trying to fight for climate action—had some sort of political power.” Johnston had no expectation of winning, but wanted to prove that young people can

run for politics—and influence others to do the same. “Not that they can win necessarily— although I think they can, if the circumstances are right—but showing that politics is not a world that should be exclusive to young people,” he said. “We shouldn’t have a situation where our youngest MLA is in their mid-30s.” His peers have also taken notice and are on the same page. “I know of Harrison Johnston from activist circles—the climate strike of course, and other organizing with post-secondary students as well,” said Emily Bridge, President of the Capilano Students’ Union. “When I heard they were running in the provincial election I was blown away, like, a young person? Running for office? But I found it really inspiring and empowering because honestly—why not?” Johnston received 4,514 votes, which was 16.4 percent of the total votes—fairly close PHOTO: SUSTAINABILITEENS

to the Green’s showing of 5,208 votes or 18.3 percent in the previous election. “These young leaders who started as activists and then shifted to running for public office, demonstrate the strength and innovation of young people—we will be heard,” said Bridge. “When you see your friends and other young people running for office you think, ‘well why not me?’ And whether they were elected or not, this will be their legacy.” An extensive political background isn’t necessary to advocate for issues, says Johnston: his interest in politics didn’t begin until 2015. “If you’re a young person who has an issue that you want to work on and push for change on, politicians... will welcome you and try to work with you to support you,” he said. “There are definitely a number of politicians that I’ve interacted with who have been really incredible,” said Johnston, pointing to B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, SOURCE: ELECTIONSBC.CA

who made him feel like his voice was heard and valued. “Most of the world has been focused on COVID-19 for the past year, but the climate crisis has continued to get worse,” says Johnston, explaining that government’s recovery plan includes subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry. “We want to see major investments in renewable energy, public transit and housing,” he says, “because that is the only way forward that makes sense both in terms of the economy and the climate crisis.” Johnston’s final piece of advice for others is to approach elected officials as equals, and to keep the climate conversation moving forward. “Just be confident in what you’re trying to push for—don’t be afraid to step forward and speak your truth and fight for what you believe in, because we need more people who want to do that.” n

2020 B.C. Provincial Election Results for North Vancouver-Seymour Riding 16.4%

35.7% 46.8%


The support for the Green Party in the riding of North Vancouver-Seymour remains basically unchanged in 2020 as in the 2017 election.

Cards or Cash? How a childhood game is now worth thousands of dollars. BY ISRAEL LOBO GOMEZ


e’ve all been collectors of something at some time in our lives: keychains fromaround the world, particularly beautiful rocks, cans of soda—everything can be considered a collectible for the right person. That was the case for Vancouverite Sean McQuill as a 13-year-old in 1999. At his junior high in Edmonton, Alberta, he would purchase Pokémon cards at the corner store across from school. At the time, he didn’t consider himself a collector—just a kid who just wanted what he loved. And at that time, it was Pokémon. As with many kids, McQuill forgot about the cards over the years, and left themin a binder back home. Until fall of 2019 that is, when he found his binder while packing to move to Vancouver. And with that discovery, he was reintroduced to the magic of the Pokémon TCG—and the up-and-coming business that came with it. For those who aren’t familiar with Pokémon, the television show was first released in Japan in 1996, making its way to North America two years later. The show

gained popularity all around the world not just because of the storytelling, but because of the appeal of the Pokémon themselves—animals with powers— and their amusing designs. When McQuill found his binder full of vintage cards, he decided to grade them, a process that involves sending themto an expert to determine the card’s grade fromone to 10. When his cards came back in the mail in early 2020—right before the pandemic hit—he discovered that his cards had a combined valued of over $140,000. The results made McQuill a collector again—only this time, he’s making serious cash, too. Like McQuill, many Pokémon collectors have decided to come back into the hobby since they’ve found some pandemic-induced free time. By early 2020, “Pokémon TCG” was starting to trend as a search termonline, peaking in early November 2020 and going strong in 2021. So why Pokémon? And why now? Nostalgia is no doubt a factor—a reflection back to a pre-pandemic time when social distancing and sanitary protocols were non-existent. McQuill also believes it’s more than just that. “I think because we have decided Pokémon is as valuable as it is because of the impact it had on us,” he says. “I believe the time is now because those young kids who used to purchase Pokémon cards for $1.99, now have disposable income that they want to put toward something that makes themhappy.” n MAY 2021 march 7


Pandemic People Four Vancouverites on what their life has been like since 2020, and what they’re most hopeful for in 2021.




Yes, that’s their name, and yes, we’re a bit jealous. They’re a 26-year-old tattoo artist based out of Vancouver who very recently made it their fulltime job. “For 2020, the most positive thing that came out of it was honing in on what I really wanted to do with my life. And that was tattooing.”

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focus right now. “I feel very happy with my life and career, so I hope that society-wise, things start to perk up as well.”

Having more time for themselves has also been a plus. “I’m very introverted, so I’ve really appreciated not feeling so obligated to be busy all the time— and even if I am busy, I’m selective of how I’m spending my time.” And how will they be spending their time in 2021? Tattooing, of course! Growing their clientele is their main

He’s a 28-year-old product designer who works at a local design studio. “The pandemic as a whole is bad but I think it expedited some of the things that were going to happen anyway. Technology has progressed because of [us] needing better connection with people.” And for Robbie, that connection with people is a big part of who he is. “I used to be a super outgoing and social guy,” he says, so being

able to maintain friendships in 2021 is very important for him. He’s been focusing on having weekly virtual get-togethers with his friends. “We always have video calls and play games together. It keeps me sane, even though it’s online.” Like many of us, Robbie is also looking forward to travelling in the near future. With previous trips to places like Los Angeles and Cancun cancelled, he hopes to be able to visit at least one of them after vaccines have been distributed. MEET: SUNNY CHEN

They’re an actor, musician and filmmaker also based out PHOTOS: ASHLEY SANDHU

of Vancouver. Despite their industry being at a standstill for a good part of 2020, they still kept busy. “I just kept going. I took an [online] acting class when we first went into lockdown, and then I was applying for grants, going to workshops online, including a webinar at least once a week.” Along with that, they also made sure to call friends and family every few days—and they still do. “Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I’m too tired, so I make time to recharge. [But] I feel like I’ve connected more with people than before the pandemic.”

2020 not only inspired Sunny to stay connected with their career and relationships, but it also gave them time to connect with their own identity: they came out as non-binary and learned more about their Chinese heritage, and their ancestors from Sichuan and Hubei. Going into 2021, they are hoping for a lot of rest—and rightfully so. MEET: JACOB JORDAN

He’s a 25-year-old marketing student in his final semester at Capilano University. “That’s pretty much my identity and life right now. I’m trying to figure out how to get a job [and]

what exactly I want to do.” 2020 was a very quiet year for him, but Jacob doesn’t seem to mind. “I’m kind of introverted, so it’s not the worst thing. I like the adjustment. Sitting at my home office and spending time with my pets.” And as for 2021? “I want to have more of a work-life balance,” he says, as he transitions out of student life. Besides finding a job, Jacob is hoping to buy himself a bike. He wouldn’t call himself an outdoorsy person, but as he says, it’s important for him “to capture those opportunities” in the new year—and as fellow west-coasters, we couldn’t agree more. ■

Clockwise fromleft: Dox Thrasher, Robbie Sebullen; Sunny Chen and Jacob Jordan

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NO MORE second chances From living on the street to back on her feet: Emily’s story demonstrates the importance of the Leadership and Resiliency Program. But what does the COVID-19 pandemic mean for its future? by GIANMARCO IUELE


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he clouds hid the sky like a secret, as my dad pulled into his usual parking spot. He was already outside the car by the time I managed to unclasp my seatbelt. I had to hurry—I didn’t want to walk in on my own. There was a young woman, I’d guess to be about 21 or 22, sitting against a chainlink fence. Beside her on the grass, I couldn’t help but notice the bundle of roses, and I’d wondered who they were for. Everything she wore was black: her hair, her clothes, her makeup, even the mask under her chin. A puff of vape smoke left her mouth, followed by a gentle voice I didn’t expect. “Good morning, Franco. Long-time no see,” she said, and then turned to me. “Hi, Gianmarco.” I smiled, surprised that she knew my name. I’d never met her before, but I figured she was one of my dad’s ex-students and that he’d shown her photos of me. I hated when he did that.


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My dad stopped to chat, but I walked past them and up the narrow, rotten staircase to a door with a barred window where I could see a mosaic of my own nervous reflection. My dad made his way towards me, pulling a ball of keys out of his pocket and I imagined 20 corresponding doors—I wondered if he knew what each one opened. He opened the door and the old couches inside supplied that nostalgic smell I remembered so well. “Gianmarco, can you get the lights please?” The woman in all black was already behind me turning on the one switch that I had missed. “Your dad’s the best. Did you know that?” “I do now,” I chuckled. As I watched him prepare the classroom, I wondered what my dad was like as a teacher. “I’m Emily, by the way,” she said, taking a seat on one of the sofas. I sat on the other one.

Emily is just one case in many of how LRP and other federally funded arts and skills programs are invaluable in helping marginalized youth from falling through the cracks. In her case, the reinvigorating LRP experience and her many art pieces came as a result of her having the space to talk about her own well-being, vulnerability, expression and coping mechanisms.

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Eight years ago, a 14-year old Emily was living on and off the streets and starting to use heroin and cocaine. With the push of her school counsellor and her desperate single father, Emily ended up in WEST, a South Vancouver school program that’s been run by Franco Iuele for over 30 years. (And yes, he’s also my father.) WEST, part of the Vancouver School Board (VSB), is a 22-student, grade 9 and 10 alternate program for at-risk youth. While at WEST, Emily was fully immersed in all healthy aspects of the school, from daily nutritious meals to regular exercise. By her second year there, Emily had stopped using drugs and led her class in the Vancouver Sun Run. She was passionate about art but avoided math, so she was allowed to spend much more time painting than doing equations. By the end of the year, she was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for her painting, “Majestic Eagle,” at The Annual Alternate School Arts Fair and was elected valedictorian by her peers. She’d also participated in a year-long, federally funded Leadership and Resiliency Program (LRP). LRP began in 2015 in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health, and it provides students with support regarding the emotional and social experience of school. Its core components include volunteer work, regular one-on-one and group meetings, and outdoor activities, and according to Public Safety Canada, “The program has demonstrated reductions in school suspensions and juvenile arrests and increases school attendance and high school graduation rates.” However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program’s future is uncertain, Since the LRP relies on in-person meetings, social-distancing measures and student cohorts have threatened the effectiveness of the entire program. With the federal government already supporting so many other programs for COVID-19 relief, there is growing concern now that funding could be cut or eliminated altogether. The LRP was set to end in March 2021, and although VCH renewed funding for an additional year (until March 2022) “longer-term funding is still being explored,” reads an email from a spokesperson. Vancouver Coastal Health

confirms the program is only guaranteed to run until 2022. “I’m shocked that it’s even being considered,” says Emily. “God knows where I would be if it wasn’t for LRP and WEST.” This year, four years after her graduation, Emily visited WEST with two dozen red roses as a way to thank the staff who “saved [her] life.” For the past three years, Emily has been working as a flag person at a construction site in Richmond. “I know what time-and-a-half is now,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve actually been using the system that I learned at WEST—saving 10 percent or more of each pay cheque. I’m saving for my own art space.” Emily is just one case in many of how LRP and other federally funded arts and skills programs are invaluable in helping marginalized youth from falling through the cracks. In her case, the reinvigorating LRP experience and her many art pieces came as a result of her having the space to talk about her own well-being, vulnerability, expression and coping mechanisms. Her “Majestic Eagle” was, in fact, a symbolic representation of Iuele’s terminally ill sister-in-law, who loved eagles (she also happens to be this author’s aunt). She painted it as a gift and had written all of the names of our immediate family members on the sash around its body. “There are many students in alternate programs that use art as an escapist method and a way to express themselves when words can’t be found. If they take the LRP away, they’re taking away a place of escape, of healing, of safety and of community,” says Iuele. “COVID has made things more difficult for people of all ages, especially in regards to mental health,” says Iuele. “These kids were already at-risk, already struggling, and now they’re having to cope with these things through a pandemic. They need support more than ever now”. Like many, Emily has had a difficult time adjusting to new norms created by the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s had to move twice since last March. But her spirit is resilient. “I’ve been here before in some ways. I know change,” says Emily. “But I worry for others, for the younger ones. Going into high school during a pandemic? That’s fucked. So, to see that the future of LRP is uncertain, it’s concerning. It has to continue—to me, it’s short-sighted not to fund it long term.” ■ PHOTO: MARCOFILECCIA/UNSPLASH


or USC Marshall School

Straight A’s but NO PAY Dreams of summer internships or backpacking through Europe came to a crashing halt in 2020. Young people have been hardest hit by the pandemic-induced job drought—but here’s how two recent grads have made it work. by L AUREN REYNOLDS PHOTO: ANDREW NEEL/UNSPLASH

of Business 2020 graduate Alexandra Weir, this last year has been nothing short of disastrous for her much-anticipated career plans. After the Vancouverite’s work visa to the United States was frozen, her plans to live in L.A. and work on a film set in Hollywood changed drastically. “My plans were crushed and I had zero control over what was happening,” says Weir. On to Plan B: she’d keep her head up and search for a new job in Vancouver. She reached out to all the connections she could and found a job as a full-time assistant on the Riverdale film set in Langley. It meant working 10-hour days, five days a week—but she’s happy with how it turned out. “Even though my plans fell through,” she says, “I feel very fortunate to have found a job during this time.” For those freshly graduated, sparkling-eyed millennials, dreaming of summer internships or month-long backpacking trips to Europe, 2020 was an unwanted wakeup call. COVID-19 struck in March 2020, bringing a harsh reality check for those who had their lives after college all sketched out. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed, and studies show that youth between the ages 15 to 24 have been hit the hardest with the job drought. Statistics Canada reported that the 2021 youth unemployment rate is MAY 2021 march 13

at 16.8 percent, the highest it has been this century. For those graduating into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the search for jobs can feel like mission impossible. The soft job market is something Ernie Holmes has experienced from an employer’s point of view. The owner and Vice President of TFG Financial Corporation would regularly hire a half-dozen summer interns, but his resources won’t allow for it this summer. “The

Bate-Smith decided to use his spare time in quarantine to create an energy drink company, Santo Energy Drink. While brainstorming how he could make proper use of his newfound free time, he came up with the idea to create a company that would be inspired by his interests in health and fitness. effects COVID has had on our business have been dramatic,” he shares. “It has had considerable impact on our productivity and has been challenging to keep some of our part-time workers employed.” And so, in 2021, the defining factors for employment opportunities seem to be luck, timing and networking skills—and it’s all about resilience. And one student who’s created one such entrepreneurial opportunity for himself during this time is Capilano University student Aiden Bate-Smith. Bate-Smith decided to use his spare time in quarantine to create an energy drink company, Santo Energy Drink. While brainstorming how he could make proper use of his newfound free time, he came up with the idea to create a company that would be inspired by his interests in health and fitness, and his challenges in finding an energy drink that fit his lifestyle and workout plan. The COVID-19 lockdown gave him the freedom to finally put his plan into action. He filed his company papers on Sep-

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Aidan Bate-Smith, creator of Santo Energy LTD, used his time in quarantine to launch a new product.

tember 23, 2020, and set to work to use his own network to build connections to expand marketing of his new company. He partnered with a company called Cal MOD in East Vancouver for recipe development, and BCBTAC for beverage testing. “I am still in the process of interviewing local small breweries to find the right fit for production,” says Bate-Smith. He’s already signed a deal with Whole Foods in West Vancouver to start carrying his drink in the coming

months, once production is underway. With the steep decline in the job market and the extreme stress of college graduates to find jobs that will pay off student loans and kick-start their careers, Bate-Smith provides real motivation for college graduates looking for ways to make money or follow their dreams. Finding something you love and creating something from it can be scary, but also inspiring. But as Bate-Smith explains, “When life stops moving, I won’t.” ■

Health Hacks to Keep Your Immune System Strong UP YOUR VITAMIN D One study showed that low levels of Vitamin D made individuals more susceptible to COVID-19 infections. START TAKING PROBIOTICS One study showed that improving your gut flora allows for better immune responses to viruses. PHOTO: COURTESY AIDEN BATE-SMITH

Let’s Spice Things Up

This hot sauce will knock your “hooves” off.




ach Bruce was having a few drinks with one of his friends in April 2020, when he decided to get into the kitchen and make some of the best hot sauce he’s ever made. “I was used to putting Frank’s Hot Sauce on my wings, but I decided to get my home-grown peppers out and try to make my own.” Despite knowing nothing about canning or making sauce, Bruce had stumbled into his first business venture: Bad Horse hot sauce. The first batch of sauce was a test to determine which ingredients would work to make great taste and consistency. And as it turned out, luck

was on his side. “The first batch I ever made was actually pretty kick-ass,” he says. Although the 23-year-old’s first job was as a line cook at White Spot when he was 16, he decided to up his chef game: he decided it was time to read Canning for Dummies. The next day he was right back in the kitchen making a bigger batch—big enough that his friends and family could taste it too. Since then, he’s created a few varieties of what he calls Hot Sauce for everyone from the super spicy and garlicky Garlic Ghost Pepper, to the sweet and mildly spicy Pineapple Habanero and


the very mild fresh Jalapeno Verde. Bad Horse officially kicked off with Bruce making an Instagram page to promote it (@badhorse_hotsauce)—and he quickly sold out of his first three batches (a modest 12 bottles of each variety). Once he moved Bad Horse into proper woozy bottles, which help the controlled drizzling of the sauce, sales took off even more. And so why Bad Horse? Bruce laughs and shakes his head. “My friends used to call me bad horsey when I was up to no good,” he says. “And there’s never too much sauce.” n

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Be a Duchess: Drink a Cosmo From crypto content marketing to bottled cosmo creation. b y VA N E S S A PA R R O T TA


’d like a cheeseburger, please, large fries and a cosmopolitan” – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City. Years ago, when Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw asked for a cosmo at a drive-thru in New Jersey’s Ho-Ho-Kus, she followed it up with a long sigh, and asked for a strawberry shake instead. Fast forward to June 2019, and North Shore native Olivia Lovenmark was also craving the ‘90s pink drink on her flight back from New York. When the flight attendant offered a beverage to Lovenmark, she thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could get a cosmo? It’s the best drink there is.” It might not be too long before we’re all able to order a cosmo on a flight thanks to Lovenmark. During the next three hours of her flight,

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Duchess founder Olivia Lovenmark receiving cosmos for delivery.

Lovenmark pondered creating a bottled cosmo herself— and that was the genesis of Duchess Cosmo, which launched in November of 2020. The bottled cosmo, produced in Vancouver, looks more like a fashion product than an alcoholic drink, and it’s inspired by the founder’s love of ’90s fashion. “’90s Chanel, ’90s Versace, even ’90s Dolce,” says Lovenmark. “I thought, how fun would it be to incorporate that side of fashion into the brand?” She was determined to have the “product and the packaging reflect the effort and the premium quality of the drink.” The 33-year-old was in need of a creative pursuit, and Duchess became her weekend project, a welcomed change from doing content marketing about cryptocurrency in Silicon Valley. She dug into figuring out whether or not the market wanted a premium craft beverage, pulling from her experi-

ence of watching start-ups in Silicon Valley. “Understanding your product-market fit and understanding what the market conditions are, is one of the most important things you can do,” Lovenmark says. According to the International Wines and Spirits Record, the ready-to-drink category is forecast to grow 41 percent between 2019 and 2024. When Lovenmark realized there was a clear trend of premium ready-to-drink cocktails gaining popularity, she decided to go for it—but not without roadblocks. The male-dominated alcohol industry doled out multiple rejections, and she found her idea just wasn’t taken seriously. Unfortunately, it also wasn’t an unfamiliar environment for Lovenmark: she was underestimated and experienced the same “mansplaining” behaviour in Silicon Valley. But she pushed forward

because she didn’t see anything that resonated with her in the alcohol market. “The products that were designed for women in the alcohol market seemed to have largely been designed by men,” she says. The available options were “what people [thought] women should want versus what women actually want.” Duchess Cosmo’s launch in November 2020 resulted in an almost immediate sell-out, and she’s currently working on the launch of three new flavours this year. As for the pandemic, it’s been a silver lining for Duchess. More people are at home enjoying drinks, notes Lovenmark, and with available delivery, why not enjoy a Cosmo to relieve your Zoom fatigue? Lovenmark is grateful for that genesis of an idea, back on that fateful flight. “[I had a] strong sense of what was missing in the market,” she says. “I stuck to my vision.” n PHOTO: COURTESY OLIVIA LOVENMARK


Provincial Spirits, located in Port Coquitlam, provides a variety of handmade premium pre-mixed cocktails. Try their new flavour: Tamarind Peach Lime &Gin. GOOD TIMES DRINKS

based in Vancouver, offers ready-to-drink Gin and Tonics. The drinks are 120 calories and have 5 grams of natural cane sugar. Flavours include Cucumber Basil Mint, Raspberry Rose and Pink Grapefruit. COCO FRIO

Developed in East Vancouver, Coco Frio crafts vodka sodas with 33% coconut water. Five percent of sales are donated to organizations that support equality for women in B.C. and in Latin America. SOUTHSIDE B EV E R AG E C O.

Originating in Smithers, B.C., Southside Beverage Co. creates vodka sodas that are all-natural, unsweetened and 100 calories. Flavours include Huckleberry, Maple and Spruce Bud. HUMBLEBEE MEAD

Located in East Vancouver, Humblebee Meadery produces readyto-drink mead beverages. Try flavours such as Saffron and Orange, or Green Tea and Kaffir Lime. PHOTO: JEN NEWMAN (RIGHT)

Unprecedented Wedding Bells They weren’t married to the idea of a traditional wedding. by MARIAH KLEIN


he white beams of the altar are decorated with floral bouquets, and the bride’s sister and photographer are lighting candles as the groom peeks out behind a wooden pillar. Fairy lights cascade along either side of the ceiling, creating the cozy setup for the wedding to begin. The finishing touches are in place, and the anticipation of the ceremony to come can be felt by the viewers at home. The chat bar below the video starts filling up with comments like, “AHHHH,” “Happy Wedding day!” and an abundance of smiley faces and heart emojis. The groom walks down the aisle to the front of the altar, and takes off his face mask. At the start of 2020, Sam and Ellie* had a wedding date booked in Vancouver for September of that year. They’d sent out invitations, guests were booking flights and things were going according to plan. But when COVID-19 hit in March, everything began to fall through. This past year has been hard for anyone planning a wedding—but for Sam and Ellie, things were a little more complicated. They were living in Melbourne, Australia. Sam is a native Aussie, but his fiancé is from B.C., where they were planning to have the wedding. “We held onto hope,” said Ellie. “We thought, ‘that’s not going to affect us.’” The wedding industry has been forced to quickly adapt to the ever-changing restrictions since the pandemic began, in an attempt to keep the big day still

feeling just as meaningful and special. And couples have had to get creative to combat these limitations, and seek help from wedding planners and advice from wedding professionals— with publications like Vogue providing tips like, “How to Set Up Your Zoom Wedding.” According to Wedding Wire, this past year had 43 percent of weddings with an online streaming option. The once-idealized image of a ceremony filled with friends and family has quickly become focused on what will realistically keep everyone safe. Socially distanced gatherings have become the new norm, with outdoor weddings taking the cake for the most common wedding venue. In Sam and Ellie’s case, by July 18, the couple were still both in Melbourne where

lockdown was so strict, leaving the country felt next to impossible. They decided to legally get married there instead of waiting until they could be in Canada again. Their ceremony could only have five people, but it ended up being the perfect timing, because weddings were banned altogether a few days later. Having a wedding with Ellie’s family there was important to her, so they still planned for their Canadian ceremony for early 2021. In mid-August, Ellie flew back to Canada, but there were no guarantees they’d actually get to see each other again, because Sam still hadn’t been approved to leave the country yet. By December, Sam was allowed to fly back to Canada, where he immediately went into 14-day quarantine. Things started moving really quickly. “I had four days out of quarantine, and then we had our ceremony,” says Sam. “The day [of the wedding] was very joyful because we knew the pain of separation.” And so, on January 2, 2021,

The happy couple saying ‘hello!’ to all their online viewers at home.

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the wedding is on. It’s 1:30 p.m. in B.C., but for the viewers from Melbourne, it’s 8:30 a.m. the next day. Sam is all smiles, looking into the camera at all the support he’s getting virtually from his friends and family back home. Ellie’s family stand to either side of the altar, joining Sam. The music starts playing, and Sam is mic’d up, so you can hear him softly singing along to the lyrics, “I’ll follow you anywhere you wanna go.” He abruptly stops, and even though the online audience can’t see her yet, they can tell from Sam’s teary-eyed reaction that Ellie is walking down the aisle. The videographer and camera woman gather at the front to get that shot of her as she makes her way to the front. He’s laugh-crying now, and as she stands next to him, the setting is complete. It’s easy for the audience to almost forget they’re watching through a screen, because the normalcy of the picture is just so beautiful and it feels like they’ve got the best seat in the house. It’s their moment, and we’re all just watching from afar. “It was everything we actually needed,” Ellie recalls. Sam agrees. “We got to spend a lot of time with our family, individually, that we wouldn’t get in a big wedding.” n *Names have been changed for the privacy of the couple.

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Passionate Pizza Al Cashin is using pizza as a platform to give everyone their piece of the pie. B Y M AT I A S S U E Z


o the beat of “Jazz (We’ve got),” by A Tribe Called Quest, Al Cashin kneads his overnight pizza dough, working it to develop thick and strong gluten in the crust. As he moves, the dough stretches and clings to the edges of the cast iron pan. Inside the small open-concept space of Modus coffee shop in Mount Pleasant, Cashin has set up a temporary storefront where he sells his modern takes on Italian classics. Surrounded by plastic screens and with his mask in place, he bounces and bops to the deep drumbeats. He greets customers as they walk by and come in—friends, and strangers alike. When Vancouver went into a lockdown in March 2020, the world of homemade bread exploded into a common project. Focaccia, sourdough and everything in between became an obsession for many a novice baker. And Cashin was no different: he picked up the yeast

breads, and never slowed down. He pursued the home-baker trend and found his calling in cast-iron pan pizzas. The Untitled Pizza Project launched in early August 2020, with 30 pizzas going live on preorder once a week on Instagram. In under a month, the stock was selling out in under 90 seconds. The project successfully grew to 30 pizzas twice a week, with the menu going up on Wednesday morning, and sales beginning at noon on the dot. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Cashin got his first job at a local restaurant back in high school, working in the dish pit, grinding his way through the pots and pans. Over the years he discovered that the front of house held a higher calling for him, and he began to serve and then bartend. He worked his way through to the “restaurants that took food more seriously,” Cashin says. In these restaurants he created connections that would pave the way for the

guerrilla, word-of-mouth marketing that became his pizza shop. He built his own community, and they create the space for his pizza to shine. By January of 2021, the Untitled Pizza Project had evolved into Good Pizza: a simple and descriptive, elegant and playful name, where what you see is what you get. It started as a community service, getting pizza to the people he knew and to the friends of friends. “Everyone uses that word community without actually doing anything,” says Cashin. “It’s a shame and sad.” Getting to know the people that live in the neighbourhood pays dividends in the long run, he says—the local businesses, the people that frequent them and his neighbours make up the community that will support him and his dream. Cashin recognizes the investment his community


made in him, and he chooses to always give back. Twenty percent of Good Pizza’s sales go to a Vancouver organization helping local residents. In January and February 2021, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre was his first recipient. Community is a tenet of Good Pizza, and one that Al Cashin will support and build indefinitely. “If we’re looking out for everyone and make sure everyone’s fed and housed,” he says, “then we don’t really have too much left to worry about.” n Left: Al Cashin taking orders while partner Matt kneads their dough; (below) the Kale Caesar pizza is vegan and delicious.

Love in Lockdown Catch feelings, not COVID-19. by NOZI KAPENDA


h, online dating. We love to hate it, but most of us have probably been there and done that. Living in the midst of a pandemic means that many people are probably swiping more disinfectant wipes than swiping right on Tinder. But does that mean you need to “social distance” from dating altogether? Well, in an August 2020 interview with Forbes, Dr. Jennifer Berman, a specialist in female sexual medicine, emphasizes that avoiding dating may be hard for many because “we are wired to connect with other people […] you can either regress or adapt to the new situation.” So, are you ready to get back


into online dating? Here’s how to date during COVID-19. BE PICKY

“I just try to avoid all the crazies,” laughed Kaméla Parker, a 23-year-old single Vancouverite. “Last year, I went out on a date with this really hot guy I met online, only to find out he was still living with his ex-wife and had baby-mama drama. After listening to all his baggage, this date felt more like a therapy session. Being attractive does not define people.” With online dating, it’s easy to get wrapped up with looks rather than personality. You’re compelled to “swipe right” on nice abs or “double D” breasts— and not so much when their bio

says, “I like long walks on the beach.” If you’re planning on dating right now and possibly breaking social distancing regulations, it may be better to maintain momentum with someone whose personality has promise. Try to refrain from choosing sporadic lovers just because they’re attractive. HAVE A REMOTE DATE FIRST

You may be thinking, “I don’t want to Facetime,” or “How am I supposed to be alluring while I’m sitting in my living room?” Although Zoom or Facetime may not sound as romantic as close proximity (especially for the “no strings attached” people), try to take this as an opportunity to ask key questions and get to know your new beau better. Wazi Dlamini, a graduate in public health specializing in epidemiology, notes that MAY 2021 march 19


despite our biological need for human touch, “in order to keep the safety of everyone in mind, practices such as Zoom meetings are best.” It’s also a good way to pre-screen your date to watch out for any red flags. (For example, are they an anti-masker?) WHEN YOU DECIDE TO MEET IN PERSON, COME TO AN AGREEMENT AHEAD OF TIME

Dating during the coronavirus is weird. Everyone is now wondering “Is kissing okay?” or “What about sex?” instead of worrying if their breath stinks or if they should have shaved. But before you meet in person, it’s important to discuss just how COVID-19-careful your partner is. Get an idea of the precautions that they’re taking in order to respect each other’s boundaries. And that means

discussing how intimate you both plan to be. “I think that dating, even during the pandemic, is a positive thing,” Dlamini says. “Human beings are, of course, social beings and being loved and loving someone releases specific hormones that people need to feel good inside.” In spite of everything, it can be hard to abstain from oxytocin-filled affections, especially during such stressful times. The goal is to communicate and discover new ways to date safely. “If you plan to go out on a date, make sure it’s in a public place where you can practice social distancing,” Dlamini adds. “Because you don’t know this person that well. If you plan to get intimate, getting tested for COVID-19 should be discussed before you take that next step.” ■

Three long distance relationships that worked. by ISRAEL LOBO GOMEZ


More than 10 years of relationship from one of the most loved couples in all of Hollywood. With Legend constantly going out on tour, and Teigen staying home with their kids, this couple has found a way to keep their relationship as good as ever





The both were really successful poets in the 1840s, which eventually led to themexchanging love letters in secret. She was worried her father would not approve (which he didn’t). But eventually they tied the knot and lived happily ever after

We know this might be cheating, but let’s be real. Marshal and Lily from the TVshow How I Met Your Mother are one of TV’s most memorable couple. Specifically when Marshall goes back to live with his mom, and both Marshall and Lily show us how things can work, when you put your mind to it n

Spirits Soar How the legalization of public drinking has benefitted business. by JENELLE McCOMB

I Atoast to the new drinking regulations.

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t’s a warm Friday evening, and the sun is creating a golden glow over a spacious patio that overlooks downtown Vancouver. Small groups of friends enjoy a cool drink and let off steam from the week. It’s the perfect way to start the weekend—and the best part is, it’s B.Y.O.B. A scene like this one in Lonsdale Quay is new to the Lower Mainland. In June of PHOTO: TRISTAN MERONI

2020, the City of North Vancouver legalized the consumption of alcohol in eight public venues. (Before this time, public consumption of alcohol was prohibited by law.) It was a trial project, but due to its success, it was made permanent in October of 2020. North Vancouver is the only jurisdiction in Canada, besides Quebec, that has legalized public drinking. While the new rules had people flocking to the permitted parks and spaces, including the Quay’s Cates Deck, the surrounding businesses appear to have benefitted from this

pilot project as well. Since this success, the City of North Vancouver has made The Shipyards a popular year-round venue, even in the winter months, by installing fire pits and lights. Just a minute’s walk from Cates Deck, there’s a little glass box in view. Up close, it’s a coffee shop perfectly situated to enjoy a postcard view of the water and downtown Vancouver. Café Artigiano is adjacent to two of the designated legalized drinking locations in North Vancouver (the other is nearby Shipbuilders’ Square), and its manager, Bella

Molineux, notes that it’s been a good thing for their business. “I have only seen it start to have a positive impact on our business lately,” says the young energetic manager, who has only been in the role since the start of the pandemic. She suggests that this past winter, the cold, rainy weather had people looking for a safe, warm place where they could enjoy a drink with friends. “I have assisted customers who come in for coffee and openly tell me that they are going to add Baileys or Whiskey to their dark roast to add some fun

to their walk or gatherings!” And while the deck of Café Artigiano falls just short of the drinking parameters, it’s a lovely spot to warm up and sit around the fire. With the loss of business after the first lockdown, it is difficult for Molineux to determine whether the influx of people is due to the need to get out and socialize or, if it is due to the legalization of drinking in public spaces or, both. Whatever the reason Molineux says, “It’s a great way for people to have some safe fun during a hard time.”

B.Y.O.B. at These Parks Around North Vancouver. CAT E S D E C K

Located next to the Lonsdale Quay, this is the perfect deck to enjoy dinner fromthe Quay and enjoy a drink. The deck is also situated near the sea bus and busses so if you have one too many, you have a safe way home! GRAND B O U L EVA R D PA R K

You can legally drink at the three parks from13th street to 19th street. But be careful: alcohol consumption at the

three parks below 13th is not permitted. Each legal park has picnic tables and benches sprinkled throughout, making it the perfect place to enjoy a picnic with a drink, each day fromnoon to dusk. K I N G M I L L WA L K PA R K

Drinking in this park is only allowed fromHarbourside Place to Fell Avenue. This one is along the spirit trail, and next to the King Mill Off Leash Dog Park. The park

is grassy, and benches and chairs are scattered through it. It also holds one of the best views of downtown Vancouver. M A H O N PA R K

Mahon is right next to a basketball court, and it’s perfect for a game with friends, and to toast a drink together afterwards. The courts and park are behind the bleachers at Fenn Burdett Stadion at Mahon Park; alcohol is only allowed in this one section of the park. R AY P E R R AU LT PA R K

Alcohol can be consumed in the northwestern corner of this large, grassy soccer field. This park is the perfect place to hang out with friends, playing soccer, frisbee or just having a picnic. S H I P BU I L D E R S S Q UA R E

Ray Perrault Park


Located in the heart of all the action, the Shipbuilders Square is surrounded by nice restaurants that offer takeout, and a short walk

Grand Boulevard Park

away frommultiple breweries in case you run out of supplies. The square is lit up at night and undercover, so it is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink, even in the rainy winter.

perfect place for picnics and having a drink, and possibly a pickup game of frisbee: you’ll find lots of roomto run around here.


All of Waterfront Park, excluding the playground, is game for enjoying a drink. This open grass park hosts sculptures and views of downtown. It’s a short walk away fromthe Quay, as well as the Seabus and other transit. n

Caution: it’s only on the west side of Victoria Park that you’re allowed to have a drink. This park is located just off of Lonsdale on West Keith Road. The park doesn’t have picnic tables, but does have many benches. It’s a


MAY 2021 march 21

Shaketown features fresh, crisp brews with a low alcohol percentage.

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SHAKE it up Shaketown puts a spin on the rich history of North Vancouver, while offering fresh brews you can’t find anywhere else. b y AY N S L E Y H U R TA D O

“It’s like

you’re turning grain into gold!” says Ryan Scholz from under a facemask that’s currently disguising the mustache he’s been working on for months. With the rezoning of North Vancouver’s Shipyards, eight new breweries have joined the scene and began opening their doors, and Scholz is part of the opening team for North Vancouver’s newest, Shaketown. Entering the craft beer industry with two other partners, Scholz laughs that his Shaketown-appointed title as “the VP of general affairs and concerns, which pretty much means everything.” Scholz has had an interest in the industry for a long time. “I like how the alcohol industry is a lifestyle brand,” he says. “There’s a sexiness around it which portrays a good time.” He had prior experience in the restaurant industry and his plans to help open a new brewery in his local community started back in 2018—long before the pandemic. “When I saw North Van re-zoned as a brew district, that’s what sparked the idea of opening my own brewery,” he says. “North PHOTO: COURTESY RYAN SCHOLZ

Van is a younger area, tons of young families, and I knew if I didn’t do it now, I’d be kicking myself later.” With a background in advertising and a BCIT marketing management degree, Scholz loved the creative process of launching Shaketown. “I really love branding and branding stories,” he says. “Creating something that people will talk about and has something interesting, that’s not just a random name.” The name wasn’t easily arrived at, and Scholz laughs as he opens a list of hundreds of names on his iPhone. “You’ll find pretty quickly most cool names are taken.” He Googled North Vancouver’s history, and found an article from 1940 in the University of British Columbia’s archives describing an old Lynn Valley logging camp named Shaketown. “But when I was researching Shaketown, I realized the actual history is pretty boring, which is when we had the idea to make our own history,” he explains. The team created a brand with a comedic,

Ryan Scholz, one of the creators behind North Vancouver’s newest Brewery, Shaketown.

MAY 2021 march 23

The vintage-inspired branding of Shaketown.

fictional twist on the history of North Vancouver “Once the city saw the branding, they thought it was funny and went along with the idea.” The team had originally planned to open June 2021, but of course, the pandemic had other plans. With investors in place and plans to start building out the space, every-

thing was brought to a standstill. “The biggest thing has been investor money,” says Scholz. “I needed to sign a lease for a year right when COVID-19 hit, and I had a lot of investors back out, so that was hard. A lot of them couldn’t commit to the amounts they had originally promised.” With the world coming to a standstill, “remaining positive and optimistic was almost impossible,” says Scholz. “There were times when I did think that it wasn’t going to work out. Many times. After people started adjusting to the new normal, they realized it wasn’t the end of the world, life keeps going and businesses still operate.” As for now, “I’m having a lot of fun with branding and I’m excited for people to see the space,” says Scholz. And although COVID-19 has pushed plans back, it hasn’t

stopped him from getting Shaketown relevant and ready to enter the brewery scene. “I think the trend of beer right now is the highhopped, hazy IPAs, but we don’t want to be like other breweries,” he says. “We’re about to brew our first batch in mid-April, which will be a prohibition lager, and in mid-May we’ll be brewing a golden ale. Our mentality is lower-alcohol content beers, that are made well and are crushable. I want people to spend time here not get drunk off two beers.” So what should we expect when Shaketown opens its doors on East Esplanade in September? A beautifully designed, open space filled with comedic approach to North Vancouver’s history. “We target anyone who likes beer and we want to be known as a community space to meet new people and make new connections,” he says. “I think that’s what the backbone of a tasting room should be.”

A Tour Through North Van’s Brewery District. This list is a go-to for your day of brew-hopping. Each brewery offers a unique aspect to what makes Lower Lonsdale the most upcoming area for breweries in the Lower Mainland. S H A K ETOW N B R EW I N G

104 East Esplanade Coming Soon

Enjoy your favourite Mexican-inspired food and crisp beers at this colourful brewery with a beautiful view of the city fromthe patio. Check out some of our favourites, including the salted lime lager, orange safflower blonde ale, and horchata porter.

says the daily recommendation of fruit intake can’t come fromyour favourite brews? Taking a fruity spin on craft beer, we’re most excited to try the raspberry saison, citrus lager, and guava gose. HOUSE OF FUNK

350 East Esplanade

Currently brewing your soon-to-be favourite Pre-Prohibition Lager and Golden Ale. Check themout this September for their complete list of low-alcohol brews.

They say the best cure to a hangover is coffee and, well, to keep drinking, and at this Lolo Brewery you can do both. Serving specialty coffee and micro-batch brews, their fresh flavours never fail to impress. Choose froma German rye lager, Czech pilsner, wild pale ale, or the bourbon barrel-aged milk stout—or all four.


312 East Esplanade

With a beautiful view of the water, this family brewery opened in 2017. Whether you enjoy a blueberry lemonade sour or like a dark stout, 10 rotating taps means this spot has something for everyone.


266 East 1st Street ST R E ETCA R B R EW I N G

123AEast 1st Street L A C E RV E C E R I A A ST I L L E R O S

226 East Esplanade

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Streetcar Brewing, named after the famous streetcars that once roamed Lower Lonsdale, offers an array of low-calorie, low-carb beers. Who

Bringing the cabin feel to the shipyards, this is the perfect location to cozy up. With their snug, comfortable selection, bring your friends and get excited to try their chocolate stout, cranberry blonde, whiskey hazelnut porter, and the champagne shower IPA.


123 Carrie Cates Court (Lonsdale Quay)

Brewing in-house craft beer, kombucha and ginger ale, this brewery aims to be a spot for everyone in the community. With the perfect happy hour (Monday to Friday 11 to 4p.m.), this brewery allows you to enjoy their brews and even bring your own food to snack on. On-tap brews include light crisp lagers, hoppy IPAs and pale ales, and fruity radlers and sours. B L AC K K ET T L E B R EW I N G C O M PA N Y

720 Copping Street

Meet the beers: pale ale, India pale ale, brown ale, black IPA, WCpale ale, blonde ale, session ale, and porter ale. This is the last stop on our brewery-hopping spot because at this point we’ve worked up an appetite. Pair a refreshing brew with house-made wild boar or a loaded cod, salmon, chicken or beef burger. ■


Owner Adrian Gomez has been through three shut downs this year, and has had to work hard to keep his buisness thriving.



the Lockdown While some businesses withered under the pandemic’s weight, Advantage bulked up. by CLAUDIA FUNARO


Adrian Gomez knew something was up. But he had no idea that in March 2020, his full-to-capacity Saturday boxing class would be his last. “The last Saturday class was so full, our members were happy to be there,” he said. “And there wasn’t much fear in our clients’ eyes just yet. Until the news hit and the world shut down.” When the world went into its first lockdown due to COVID-19, Gomez did everything but sit down and enjoy the mandatory time off. He’s been in the fitness industry for over 13 years, running and operating his own gym for the last eight. His facility, Advantage, focuses on Muay Thai, boxing and conditioning classes, as well as private training. He was determined to make his members and clients happy, allowing them to still participate in Advantage workouts from home. While the pandemic had created a growing trend for people to take part in Zoom work-

outs, Gomez didn’t want to go that route. He wanted to offer something that they could benefit from even more. He decided to pre-film a series of 10minute workouts consisting of body-weight cardio exercise, and upload them to his new YouTube channel, allowing them to be done anywhere and anytime. “While Zoom workouts force the participants to show up at specific time and take part for the duration of the class,” he explains, “Advantage’s 10minute YouTube workouts allowed the participants to do them at any given time, and decide on how many 10-minute sessions they would stack together based on their own fitness level or how they felt that day.” It was also a different type of challenge for a majority of Advantage members. “Our clients who normally would take part in a boxing or kickboxing workout were limited due to lack of equipment and training partners,” he says. “With everyone prioritizing MAY 2021 march 25

26 march

MAY 2021

their health during the pandemic, these 10-minute sessions gave our members an innovative tool to help them engage in a healthy lifestyle.” Where a lot of gyms and trainers charged for Zoom classes, and resumed all memberships after the lockdown, Gomez’s YouTube workouts were free—and he also had to build his membership roster back up from scratch upon reopening in June, after the first lockdown ended. “Many of our clients’ means to earning a living changed during this pandemic and some of them felt uncomfortable returning to a group setting,” he says. “We didn’t want to automatically charge anyone. This meant building back our clientele as if we were a brand-new gym, all over again.” When Advantage reopened in June, members returned to a new set of rules and regulations. “It’s been an incredible challenge for the business,” says Gomez. “We had to operate our facility at half its regular capacity, enforce a lengthy set of protocols, have members partner with members from their own core bubble and purchase all their own equipment.” While the gym built back its client roster over the next few months and even began offering more workouts than they did prior to the initial lockdown, the challenges due to the pandemic were not over yet. Come fall, a second lockdown hit. In November of 2020, B.C’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, delivered new “stay at home” mandates and ordered all group fitness classes to be closed down for two weeks. As a group-fitness facility, it meant Advantage as a whole had to shut down. Two weeks turned into an indefinite timeline, and as of April 2021, the order was up to five months and counting. In addition to how catastrophic closures have been for businesses like Advantage, equally worrying is how the government mandates have left members questioning if group fitness is something they ever want to return to at all. By March 2021, Advantage once again re-opened its doors, targeting a new demographic and offering a revamped approach to its training system. Gomez pivoted the business from group fitness and partner work, to individual workouts and bag work. He began to offer high-end personal training sessions, semi-private sessions to members from the same household, and a variety of solo training sessions. Members

Advantage owner Adrian Gomez demonstrates the flying knee movement in his gym.

Gomez and Advantage are now for the third time starting the gym from scratch, rebuilding from zero members on the roster. But Gomez remains positive—with the goal to develop his largest client base yet. can now train on their own, taking part in an Advantage-style workout in their own sectioned-off area in the gym, distanced from all other participants. They now have kickboxing and boxing solo bag work sessions offered, so their members who previously took part in martial arts partner work can now do similar style workouts on the bag. Gomez insists that while this new way of training may not be what they’re used to, it’s possibly better and even more effective than what they did before. “Our members use to spend half their workout holding pads for their partner. By eliminating partner work and having them use the heavy bag, they get double the workout in less time than before.” Gomez and Advantage are now for the third time starting the gym from scratch, rebuilding from zero members on the roster. But Gomez remains positive—with the goal to develop his largest client base yet. “This year has been a rollercoaster for my business, but it has taught me many, many things and I can’t wait to see how much my business will grow.” ■


MAY 2021 march 27


Time to Waste With COVID-19 adding onto our mountains of waste, we can add drowning in trash and producing greenhouse gases to our list of quarantine activities. So how do we do better?


he zero-waste community is a cult,” notes Melody Dupré, an English major at Capilano University. “Or so I thought before starting this sustainability journey.” With her glossy purple locks and sparkly silver nose stud, Dupré perhaps already resembles the average post-millennial activist. And she’s decided to completely change her relationship with waste. Back in late 2019 and the early days of 2020, climate action was at the forefront. With climate activists like Greta Thunberg reaching bigger platforms, protests were popping up across the globe—including in Vancouver, where over 100,000 protesters marched in September 2019. The attention the climate action movement gained was pushing lawmakers and businesses to change how they interacted with the environment. “I regularly marched pre-pandemic and seeing the thousands of people honestly gave me some hope,” says Dupré. However, with the rapid spread of the

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COVID-19 virus, our habits have changed. Social distancing, lockdowns and sanitary protocols have resulted in a mountain of additional waste. “The pandemic has thrown us back so far in terms of waste, I see at least a dozen discarded masks or gloves when I walk to the bus stop,” says Dupré. “It’s a nightmare.” So, she started exploring what it would mean to reduce the amount of waste she produces herself. “It seemed simple enough, all I had to do was not produce as much waste,” explains Dupré. “But the more I researched, the more I realized just how much garbage was around me. It was hard to grasp.” From the bigger, more obvious forms of waste like packaging and single-use plastics used in the food industry, to the more hidden ones PHOTO: FAHIM KASSAM

The Soap Dispensary’s shelves are stocked with packaging-free versions of all your day-to-day products.

like menstrual products, one thing is certain: waste is everywhere. So where does one start? “Do a waste audit,” recommends Linh Truong, the owner and operator of The Soap Dispensary on Main Street in Vancouver. The Soap Dispensary is a packaging-free store that offers a multitude of products including groceries, soap and essential oils. The company’s mission is to reduce single-use plastic and packaging waste to support the community of zero wasters in the Greater Vancouver area. A waste audit, Truong explains, consists of monitoring one’s waste for a set period of time. Whether that’s a week or a month, you won’t dispose of any waste. “If you go to cafés, that coffee cup? You don’t throw

it out. That bag your apples were in? You don’t throw it out.” Truong explains that any waste—garbage, compostables and recyclables—will pile up in one single space. This will enable you to record what you are throwing out and how much (by weight or by the number of pieces) of it you are generating. “This will give you a baseline of your consumer habits,” Truong says as she repositions her cat-eye frames. This audit gives a visual representation of the waste you produce. Seeing how much and what you’re producing also gives a starting point to discover where the biggest problems are. If you notice multiple plastic produce bags, switch over to reusable ones. If there are dozens of single-use coffee cups, purchase

a reusable tumbler. Hundreds of menstrual pads or tampons? Adopt a diva cup or menstrual underwear. “A good starting point is awareness because it motivates you,” says Truong. Dupré herself “feels a lot of guilt when [she] thinks of how much garbage [she] produces.” The emotions she felt after her own waste audit pushed her to commit to changing her lifestyle. After auditing and pinpointing the areas where you’d like to make changes, it’s key to look into where the trash is coming from. For example, the wrapper from your candy bar isn’t the only waste produced because of your sweet treat. That candy bar’s production line generates greenhouse gases, plastic and compostable waste. “Meat was my ‘Aha!’ MAY 2021 march 29

moment” explains Dupré. After looking into the resources and energy used to get her meats onto her plate, she was dumbfounded. According to OurWorldinData, 100 grams of beef herd protein produces a little under 50 kilograms of greenhouse gases. “It’s wild, man,” she says. Since then, Dupré has switched over to an ovo-vegetarian diet where she doesn’t eat any meat or fish, but still consumes ethically farmed eggs. Zero-waste businesses, like the Soap Dispensary, ethically source their products and verify that they are being made and distributed responsibly. Truong opened her doors in 2011, when the concept for zero-

The zero-waste community is tightly knit. With only a handful of stores to shop at in the Greater Vancouver area, it’s essential for those starting their journey to reduce waste to ask others for advice and recommendations. The support found in others will help newcomers to push past judgments. waste stores was still very new in the Lower Mainland, and she initially met with a lot of resistance from suppliers. “With a new concept, you are the guinea pig,” explains Truong, “You are the first person to ask suppliers to do something they have never done before.” A 2019 study by Accenture found that over 64 percent of Canadians wanted packaging-free options—a statistic that’s somewhat surprising, considering how small the zero-waste community is. “When I moved to Vancouver, I was expecting there to be many options because of its reputation of being green,” says Truong. “But I was really disappointed by the lack of options.” Most zero-waste businesses are created because of a need within the community. Although many people support the idea of zero waste, the lack of convenience tends to deter them from following through with the lifestyle. “On top of the lack of options, the judgement of others was really hard at first,” says Dupré. When asking the barista at her local coffee shop to make her drink in her cup and her refusing due to COVID restrictions, she

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felt discouraged. “The eyerolls I got when explaining that I didn’t want anything single-use were painful,” she says, swallowing hard. “I was trying to be better, but they weren’t making it easy.” These obstacles, although annoying, pushed her to ask the zero-waste community for advice. She found comfort in the common struggles they shared and received alternates to the judgmental coffee spot she had sworn, out of embarrassment, to never enter again. “All of us are building on the shoulders of other people,” explains Truong. The zerowaste community is tightly knit. With only a handful of stores to shop at in the Greater Vancouver area, it’s essential for those starting their journey to reduce waste to ask others for advice and recommendations. The support found in others will help newcomers to push past judgments and realize that they aren’t the odd man out for wanting to go against mainstream consumerism. “Having people that are experienced and others that are starting just like me, really helped,” says Dupré. “I had so much guilt in regard to waste. You have to be strict because your actions have consequences on the planet.” This strictness with oneself can sometimes be interpreted as obsessive by those outside the movement. The entire nature of this movement goes against “typical” consumerism and business management, which can ruffle a lot of feathers. “I find the term zero waste sometimes problematic,” says Truong. “Because no waste at all is impossible.” Carbon matter in itself is waste. But the radical term promotes the need for a complete turnaround in terms of policies and consumer habits. Truong notes that “although it is intimidating, it is what we should strive for.” To continue with the progress we made pre-pandemic, we must start implementing new ways to reduce waste. Upcycling furniture, buying clothes from thrift stores, reducing our meat intake or simply shopping from sustainable vendors are all valid steps, amongst hundreds, that each of us can take during the pandemic. Instead of a zerowaste cult, the community could grow into becoming a global sustainable society. As Truong notes, “That is the end goal.” ■

Waste Not P L A ST I C P R O D U C E B AG S

• Plastic bags take 500 years to fully decompose • The average Canadian family takes home over 1,500 bags a year OPTI ONS :

• Use reusable bags made of polyester or linen • Buy bulk produce at no packaging stores like NADA in Vancouver


• Plastic bottles take 500-1,000 years to decompose fully • 8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans every year OPTI ONS

• Use refill stores with jar deposit systems like The Soap Dispensary in Vancouver or The Refill Store in New Westminster FA ST FA S H I O N

• 2.5 billion pounds of clothing end up in landfills every year • 2,700 litres of water to make a single cotton shirt OPTI ONS

• Shop at consignment stores such as Hunter and Hare in North Vancouver • Buy local ethical brands such as Arc (Vancouver-based) or Power of my People (Richmond-based) PHOTO: ANNA TUKHFATULLINA/UNSPLASH

Hike or Flight JOURNEY

Plan smart—and put safety first— before your next North Shore hike. by DELANEY CHUTE


he blare of the sirens from incoming fire engines pierces through the silence of the forest as District of North Vancouver Park Ranger Adam Smith attends to yet another first aid call. With the increased number of visitors in the North Shore parks during the pandemic, there have been plenty of positives to go along with it: a boost in physical fitness, a mental health break, good old forest bathing. But along with those positives, come the downsides that Smith sees: many of these new outdoor thrill-seekers are ill-prepared for their daredevil adventures. In his daily park patrols, Smith has been called to treat an increasing amount of recreational injuries. This time, the call came on

Saturday, January 23 to Twin Falls in Lynn Canyon for a serious head injury requiring immediate first aid attention. While attending to the injured hiker on scene at Twin Falls, his alert system buzzed again: he’s called to a mountain biker injury at the nearby Fromme Mountain park. These days, says Smith, getting two major first-aid calls in one day is “not surprising.” Before the pandemic, Smith had spent many summers advising people who explored various North Shore parks, especially Lynn Canyon, to do so with caution. Lynn Canyon is a popular local and tourist destination, with a history of fatal incidents. But Smith describes the fatal and non-fatal incidents he has been a part

of as preventable. And he knows the head injury he witness on the 23rd will not be his last emergency call to those waterfalls. Many of these injuries are preventable, with a little preparation. New hiking enthusiasts often arrive on site without the right attire for the outdoor elements, and more commonly, disappointingly improper footwear. (In fact footwear has become one of the first things Smith now assesses when arriving on the scene of an injury.) “Hiking boots are the only acceptable footwear for North Shore trails, and sneakers are the ultimate ankle breakers,” he says. And before any hike— whether a brief spin around a

lake or a more ambitious multihour climb—“Don’t underestimate the importance of a plan before your next excursion,” he says. “Tell people where you are going, prepare for the worst, and always stay within the boundaries of your abilities. Because anything can, and will, happen.” ■

Inexperienced hikers often wear improper footwear, notes park ranger AdamSmith (top right) “Hiking boots are the only acceptable footwear for North Shore trails.”


MAY 2021 march 31

Ruff the Beaten Path Dog-friendly Trails in Greater Vancouver. JOURNEY

b y L I N D S AY C O O P E R


ired of being stuck at home but ready to go on an adventure with your furry friends? With the dog adoption boom during the pandemic, many pet owners are seeking fun activities that don’t involve cuddling up on the couch. Some of the most beautiful

scenery is right here in our own city: so get exploring with these great dog-friendly hikes around Vancouver. BURNABY MOUNTAIN

Just off of North Road, the east side of Burnaby Mountain has a variety of multi-use trails shared with hikers,

mountain bikers and dogs alike. It’s required for dogs to be on-leash at these trails but there’s lots to explore with your furry friend. “The trails have these boarded ramps and cool dynamic jumps,” says 30-yearold student teacher Eric Li, who’s just finished a hike on the trail with his golden standard poodle, Pumpkin—he’s taking the opportunity to lie on his back, panting after a good run. Depending on which routes you take and how leisurely you go, a hike at Burnaby Mountain can be as long as three hours, or as short as 30 minutes. Pumpkin places a paw on his owner’s thigh, reaching up to lick Li’s arm. “I think it’s one of Pumpkin’s favourite places that we go to together. He’s a jumper — he loves to hop up and over things.” Li recommends the Burnaby Mountain Loop trail (moderate difficulty) for people with active dogs who enjoy different kinds of terrains and pathing. NORVAN FALLS

Pumpkin the poodle explores his favourite spot on Burnaby Mountain.

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Norvan Falls, located just north of Lynn Valley in North Vancouver, is a longer hike to complete (about five hours roundtrip) but is well worth the distance. At the very end of the hike is where you’ll come to a great waterfall and natural pool to dip your feet in and let your pup swim to cool off. It’s a favourite of 26-year-old Capilano University business student Perryn Thiessen and her morkie, Zulu. “The elevation isn’t too difficult which is great,” she says from her home office, on Zoom. “We don’t often do the full-length hike because it’s so long, so it feels more like a long, casual walk most of the time than it does a difficult hike.” Zulu pops her head into the frame of the camera, inspecting the computer quickly before turning to her mom and curling up in her lap.

“The trail is shared with runners so you can have your dogs off-leash if they’re well behaved which is really nice,” says Thiessen. If you wish to do the full hike, make sure you come prepared with lots of water, snacks, and proper hiking gear—the trails waver between moderate and intermediate difficulty. If you’d rather a shorter and more relaxed walk, take the Lower Lynn Loops trail that is connected to the main Norvan Falls trail. DOG MOUNTAIN

Dog Mountain is a short and easy to intermediate level hike for on-leash dogs (about two hours roundtrip) that starts at the base of Seymour Mountain and offers terrific views of Vancouver. While the elevation isn’t too difficult, there are more technical parts that require a bit more attention to where you step—especially if it has recently rained. A favourite of Xenia O’Brien and her pudelpointer, Freddy, O’Brien has hiked Dog Mountain in both the summer and winter. “The conditions in the winter can be unpredictable and more difficult depending on the amount of fresh snow,” says O’Brien, “and the summer can feel a bit easier and more leisurely of a hike.” Park at the top of Mount Seymour Road near the ski hill and head up from there. About halfway through the hike, you’ll come to the small and scenic First Lake—a great place to take a break and relax. At the end of the trail, you’ll be met with a stunning view that overlooks North Vancouver and the Lions Gate Bridge. “A night hike is exceptional to see the distant twinkling lights, but a clear day will take your breath away.” says O’Brien. “The small break at the viewpoint recharges your soul and motivates you for the return.” ■ PHOTO: ERIC LI

The Vancouver-based Fur Bae is a dog rescue organization that adopts out pups like Rufus, who came fromDoha, Qatar. Below, Alessia Cuzzetto with her dog Malfi.

Pandemic Puppies Dog adoptions have boomed during COVID-19—but do owners know what it means for the long term? b y T R I S TA N M E R O N I


’d been thinking about getting a dog for over 10 years, and the pandemic was just the perfect time to do it,” says Alessia Cuzzetto, petting her new toy Maltese puppy. Cuzzetto purchased her dog from a local breeder in Burnaby through Kijiji, one of the only websites (outside of breeder sites themselves) that allows the sale of animals. Through the online posting she was able to schedule a visit to the breeder’s home and select the puppy of her choice from the new litter. Pet adoptions have boomed during the pandemic, as Vancouverite Jenni Baynham has seen first-hand. She runs a

non-profit dog rescue group called Fur Bae, which brings shelter dogs from Doha, Qatar, to the Pacific Northwest. “Our applications have doubled since the pandemic began,” she says. “More people are working from home and have more time for a dog.” Unfortunately, not everyone has recognized the challenges that come alongside the gifts of pet ownership, she notes. Baynham notes that local shelters have also seen an increase in surrenders due to the challenges associated with raising puppies. And while some breeds are particularly popular in this city—French


Bulldogs among them—they’re also known to be associated with certain health conditions. “If you buy a breed with known genetic conditions, like a French Bulldog,” she says, “you can easily be looking at dropping $1,000 to $2,000 a year at the vet when they’re young, and more when they are older.” They’re important figures to consider when shopping for a new puppy and determining if it’s feasible. Although the initial cost of a dog may seem affordable, you should account for the long-term expenses associated with being an owner. Baynham notes that responsible dog owners should also budget for pet insurance (approximately $80 a month) and about five training sessions (another $130

per session). COVID-19 has resulted in a new normal for everyone, and puppies can offer a comfort blanket for the masses. But dogs live a long time, and they deserve a stable home. If you’re seriously thinking about adding one into your life, just make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. ■

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Cool, Calm and Isolated JOURNEY

Capilano University students provide some insight into their pandemic pastimes. by JORDAN MERCHISON


he sun was shining, birds were singing and my sourdough starter was growing. I walked downstairs to the kitchen and made some whipped coffee while figuring out what to do inside the house for the rest of the day. Over time, my routine offered some comfort as I read books, discovered many (maybe too many) Netflix shows and online shopped

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(almost definitely too much). Introducing this kind of routine helped my pandemic stress—and I’m not alone in that regard. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, in 2020 approximately 24 percent of Canadians experienced anxiety and 21 percent depression. March magazine surveyed 90 Capilano University students who have

developed their own activities to find a sense of balance during this time, and these were their top three recommendations. GET YOUR SWEAT ON

Fifty percent of students surveyed recommended exercise as their best way to remain calm, from yoga and running, to weightlifting and cycling. Business student Nicholas Korz

chooses to run as his form of exercise and recommends running around the Lynn Valley area, because it’s “accessible, affordable, and you can set new goals to achieve.” TURN UP THE HEAT

Many restaurants closed at the beginning of the pandemic, so take-out became increasingly popular amongst Vancouverites. While eating from your favourite restaurant in the comfort of your own home is comforting, 27 percent of Capilano students surveyed have learned to cook and bake. (As we all know, banana bread was a major trend at the beginning


of the pandemic.) According to psychologist Stephanie Baines, baking lowers anxiety, stress and evokes emotions. Business student Pamela Mena recommends cooking “simple dishes such as baked tofu, and rice with any vegetable because it’s nutritious, and the vegetables can be switched out if you feel adventurous.” BOOK YOUR TIME… WITH A BOOK

According to Stacy Kaczmarek, Reading Partners National Program Manager for Curriculum and Instruction, sitting

by the window, in bed, or at the park with a good book is a way lower your heart rate, reduce your stress level, and keep your body relaxed while you are in a comforting atmosphere. A book doesn’t have to be educational— any read of your interest can keep you balanced. It was popular amongst our surveyed students too: 14 percent of Capilano students chose reading as their top stress reliever. Early Childhood Education student Catherine Tong loves reading about topics such as “mythology and war history to discover more about the world since travelling is restricted at this time.” Finally, keep in mind that this time isn’t all about learning new skills or constantly staying productive. Take the time to wake up, breathe, and find any activity to remain balanced. While we continue to experience the pandemic, we must discover our own way to wind down. As one respondent put it, “learning about [ourselves] and what truly matters” is essential to staying grounded.




Sit somewhere comfortable, grab your notebook and pen, and take a few minutes to open your mind. Think about what brings you enjoyment. Anything that you write can indicate where you should begin to develop ideas for interests.


Have you ever wanted to try something but no one would

ever join you? Now is the chance to enjoy a new activity, even if you are by yourself. Do whatever comes into your mind, even if you believe it sounds unrealistic. There is always a way.

to do, but you will also experience some much-needed nostalgia.



Look back on what you enjoyed doing as a child. If you were involved in any activities or did an activity where you felt comfortable, it will help you discover some options to begin with. Revisiting activities you once loved as a child will not only help you find what you love

While remaining inside your home during quarantine, the Internet has become a close acquaintance. There are many tests such as the Myers-Briggs assessment to learn more about yourself and they provides ideas on what may interest you. You can use the ideas as a foundation before you begin to branch out! n MAY 2021 march 35

Indigenuity in Tourism JOURNEY

Discover Canada’s roots in the comfort of your own home. by COHEN ISBERG MR. BANNOCK, CLASSIC BANNOCK MIX

Much like the battle between Coke and Pepsi, bannock versus frybread has long been debated in Indigenous circles. Bannock is an Indigenous bread staple that lies at the intersection of doughnut and scone. The difference depends on how you cook the dough: it’s either oven-baked or deep fried. From cinnamon sugar and butter to taco beef and chili, the fun part of both is in the toppings. Paul Natrall, aka Mr. Bannock, now gives locals a chance to discover Indigenous cuisine at home. Natrall is the owner of Mr. Bannock Food Truck, a North Vancouver gem based on the Squamish Reserve, and he now sells premade bannock mix through an online store. As a chef from the Squamish Nation in modern North Vancouver, Natrell’s Indigenous fusion-based recipes are made using more traditional cooking

techniques, and his “just add water” mix is his own blend to make bannock or frybread at home. “It’s all about getting back to the roots we all once shared” says Natrall. “It’s very important for Canadians and Americans to be able to see Indigenous cuisine.” TOTEM DESIGN HOUSE, WE DESIGN–U COLOR !

This year, much of Comoxbased Indigenous fashion designer Totem Design House’s business is online—which is a shame. When you visit the storefront, Erin Brillon personally welcomes you, and her stunning Indigenous carved gold necklace rimmed in abalone may catch your eye. But it’s her bright and welcoming smile and exciting stories that leave a lasting impression. Totem Design House turns Indigenous designs into both

Virtually educate yourself on Coast Salish crafts.

The owners of Totem Design House, Erin Brillon and Andy Everson.

wearable and literal works of art—including the ones Brillon is wearing. She owns the business with her partner Andy Everson, who’s often found in his back office creating the designs, surrounded by a museum-quality display of Star Wars figures (including his own versions of characters painted in First Nations formline style). For Everson and Brillon, this style of art is a way to bring Indigenous culture and art into popular culture as a basis for dialogue, and the pair have devised a new way to spark discussion: paint-athome T-shirts that use design made by Everson and Erin’s brother, world-renowned artist Jessie Brillon. Choose between hummingbirds, dragonflies and butterflies to create your oneof-a kind wearable art piece. SQUAMISH LIL’WAT CULTURAL CENTRE AT-HOME CRAFT DEMONSTRATIONS

The Squamish Lil’wat Cul-

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tural Centre in Whistler is a world-class cultural centre that celebrates the living Squamish and Lil’wat cultures. With the challenges regarding in-person visits in the 2020 season, staff adapted and engaged with visitors at home. They created instructional videos to learn about Coast Salish crafts, including cedar bark and textile weave, leather working, and beading. These are crafts which have been practiced among First Nations peoples in B.C. for over 15,000 years. One craft is learning to make cedar rope, strong enough to reel in a 200-pound halibut. Or textile weaving, traditionally made from mountain goat wool used for clothing and blankets as works of art. Each demonstration includes an online supplies list, and if for some crazy reason you don’t have buckskin or cedar bark at home, the staff provide recommendations for alternatives you may already have at home. n PHOTOS: COHEN ISBERG

Paul Natrall (aka Mr. Bannock) serving his famous dishes.

MAY 2021 march 37

JUST A TOUCH Touch deprivation is a consequence of social distancing during the pandemic—but massage therapy is proving to be a strong support system. by DENISE HUA

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he dark hardwood

hardwood floors clicked with each step as Wilson Mah, a registered massage therapist (RMT) and owner of We Registered Massage Therapy in Surrey B.C., enters his brightly lit clinic at 10 a.m. with a tall coffee in hand. In the seafoam green and white room he makes his way to the front desk, where he checks his temperature—and it registers as normal. He’s relieved, and he subtly reaches for the hand sanitizer to get ready for the day. When personal care services resumed operation mid-May last year, Mah was given the green light to reopen his clinic. With strict sanitary protocols in place at the clinic, regular patients soon came back—and as Mah explains, a large part of it was due to a need for touch therapy from pandemic-exacerbated fatigue and burnout. “We get a lot of stress-related patients,” he says. Mah has since hired six additional RMTs to keep up with appointments. “The demand for massage therapy has accelerated in growth at the clinic,” he explains. The grim, first anniversary of the pandemic has just passed. Businesses quietly closed forever—while others hung on. Social distancing and safety protocols are still strongly enforced in B.C. As a result, some vulnerable or disabled populations haven’t been near others or felt a human touch in months. When COVID-19 was first reported in its early stages, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce surveyed 1,284 business leaders across B.C. The survey

Practices for Touch-Craving People Since touch isn’t an option for everyone, Jennifer Wright suggests three practices to restore and promote energy.

found that 26 percent of businesses were suddenly forced to close or modify their business models. Moreover, seven percent of businesses such as online services stayed connected to their customers, but touch and the intimate and healing settings just couldn’t be replaced. Massage therapy has become a support system for touch-deficit folks during this stressful time. “Helping others was how I was raised,” he says. Mah, who also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Simon Fraser University, believes massage therapy can play an integral role in mental and physical health—especially for healthcare workers, “We treat a lot of nurses and frontline workers who experience burnout,” Mah says. “To them, we’re considered an ‘essential’ to the essential workers; so that’s pretty cool.” According to Jennifer Wright, a Registered Clinical Counsellor at Brentwood Counselling Burnaby, touch is a form of communication and hindering touch is comparable “to wearing a blindfold,” since it’s as vital as other senses such as taste and sound. In fact, a study by Tiffany Field, the director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, found that depressed pregnant women during their second trimester experienced an average 31 percent increase of dopamine and a 28 percent increase in serotonin in response to two 20-minute massage therapy sessions. The study was over 16 weeks, and participants reported lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. Cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, significantly decreased. It’s not just massage therapy that can ease stress: Field’s studies have shown that anything that moves the skin with moderate pressured touch, such as hugging and holding hands stimulates pressure receptors beneath the skin.


Stimulate your vagus nerve, the main component of the parasympathetic system. Try massaging your neck to activate signals in your body to relax.


or clothes that are soft and pleasing to the skin. Weighted blankets induce deep pressure stimulation to activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

Unfortunately, there is a high cost for people who must stay socially isolated for themselves or loved ones to reduce the disease transmission. Some of Mah’s vulnerable and disabled clients have started to feel “touch deprived” after lengthy isolation and distancing. According to Mah, prolonged lack of touch can contribute to more mental health issues such as loneliness or depression. “Therapeutic touch is important. As social beings, we’re all used to being touched as soon as we’re born,” says Mah. “Touch eases the parasympathetic nervous system— so people feel calm.” Some introverts or homebodies may appreciate the alone time to recharge themselves. Others have tried to negate feelings of touch deprivation. Mah believes that feelings of loneliness shouldn’t be ignored. He recommends that people who experience feelings of depression and anxiety should seek out support or companions. “Pets are great to have around,” says Mah, who has two cats himself. “Pet companionship or even petting animals increases feel-good hormones such as endorphins and dopamine.” When people ignore symptoms of depression and anxiety from a lack of touch, there can be serious consequences that can eventually snowball into something more sinister. “Social isolation can manifest in the body with physical symptoms,” Mah says. “Some of my patients haven’t been as active as before but still experience tensions due to stress brought on by isolation.” When asked about the future, Mah hopes that massage therapy can be recognized as a valued service. “I hope to be operating in hospitals one day,” he says. “I want people to understand that massage therapy can be an integral service for wellbeing and that it is a real profession that people depend on.” ■

3 . DA N C E

Dancing connects us to our bodies, boosts moods, and reduces stiffness. Try adding in a scarf! The scarves might caress the skin in a pleasing way. —

B o n u s Ti p : S L E E P W I T H A B O DY P I L L OW Anecdotal

evidence suggests body pillows can relieve physical strains, improve blood circulation, and increase comfort by mimicking the feeling of cuddling. — MAY 2021 march 39

comic relief

Illustrator Alyssa Hirose creates a daily comic that’s part humour and part therapy—and a big dose of what we could all use right now. by NICHOL AS LONG

Comic illustrator Alyssa Hirose.

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After a solid three hours of procrastination, it’s 8pm,

and Alyssa Hirose has just clocked out for the day as an editor for Western Living magazine. But her work isn’t done just yet: she still needs to produce a daily comic strip for herself, and the thousands of people who follow her on Instagram.

With close to 1,000 posts on @hialyssacomics, it’s been part of Hirose’s daily routine for the last three years. “Creating comic strips is a form of therapy for me,” she says. The pieces she draws allow her to convey her thoughts, experiences and stories for her to look back on. Fortunately for the rest of us, she also shares them with Instagram— making the days of her followers just a little bit better with her humorous takes on life. As a magazine editor, Hirose had to shift her home in pandemic times to become her workplace, gym, art-studio and relaxation centre, but creating a new comic strip daily has remained a constant. And while it was just over three years ago that she


started sharing her work publicly, she says she’s “had a pen in hand for as long as I can remember.” Growing up in Richmond, B.C., Hirose recalls practicing drawing her favourite cartoon characters from television, along with comic strips like Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. By taking an interest in comics at an early age, Hirose has had the time to develop her own unique artistic style. As a creative writing student at the University of British Columbia, she was inspired in one of her electives to dabble in comic strips. Her professor, Sarah Leavitt, taught her “that comics aren’t solely based for comedic purposes,” she says. “They can tell very raw stories and experiences.” And ever since, Hirose has used her comics as a form of self-therapy. Her comic on Monday might express her feelings towards the pandemic or her nerves around the vaccine rollout. Another might feature one pigeon talking to a rattier one over a piece of mouldy bread, with the caption “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bread.” It’s a balance between humour, activism, and self-reflection—and it’s always great. Hirose’s comic strips are more or less a diary, “without the responsibility of writing about how I felt or what I did today,” she says. Instead, her drawings allow her to comedically retell experiences. When illus-

trating an event, Hirose often draws herself, and other important people in her life in order to create a specific memory she can look back on. Or she’ll use animals and little doodles to convey her witty thoughts and concepts. And although created for herself, posting her comics online motivates her to keep going, and her followers somewhat “hold me responsible to post daily,” she says. “Sometimes I just want to draw bees and only bees,” she says with a laugh. After gaining some popularity and receiving overwhelming support from her followers, Hirose decided to experiment with creating and selling Christmas cards over the last holiday season on Combining her minimalistic and modern drawings with her concise, and witty writing style yielded a massive success, with Hirose selling out on many of her designs. While she’s found success with her side hustle, she’s conflicted about whether or not she’d want to do it full time. On one hand, Hirose explains that “it would be amazing to draw all day, every day,” but she worries about what a full-time shift might mean. “Since I draw for myself, drawing for other people might take away from my inspiration,” she says. From a strip showcasing her experience with the overpowering sound of chips, prompting Hirose to turn up the volume on her movie, all the way to another describing a “kale massage parlour,” each moment is a little snapshot into her creative mindset— and a happy dose of what everyone could use a lot more of right now. ■ MAY 2021 march 41


Nickie Lewis’ Chewbacca sculpture, made from all-natural materials.

Creature Comforts How a local artist wove wonder into Robert Burnaby Park. by SARAH LEPCHUK


t first it seems like any other park. From the tall trees reaching above you to the damp forest floor softly squishing under your feet, it’s all almost mundane and familiar. And then, out of the corner of your eye, you spot it: a dragon, at least 10 feet long from snout to tail, woven from the trees themselves. This piece, alongside many

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MAY 2021

other fantastical creatures, is the work of local artist Nickie Lewis. Throughout 2020, Lewis has been installing her natural sculptures all around Robert Burnaby Park. Ten pieces of various sizes can be found nestled into the trees, including a unicorn, a mermaid and two ewoks. And they’re all made of natural materials, largely twigs and twine, which can make

them tricky to spot by even the most observant visitors to the park. The sculptures have made Robert Burnaby Park a draw during quarantine times. Pictures of the sculptures began to circulate around social media, and by the beginning of 2021, lineups had started to grow—all for those who wanted a picture or just a moment with one of the forest creatures. “It feels like a magical place when you know that there are these things hiding in the trees,” said one eager visitor to the park. This overwhelming response was not what the artist intended. Lewis has spoken on

her social media about building her park sculptures as a way to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. What started as an outlet for channeling her own anxieties has turned into a source of much-needed joy for the whole community. “It’s like a scavenger hunt,” said another park goer, “running around and trying to find them—it’s so fun.” Even without crowds pointing out the hidden locations of the twig creatures, there’s another easy way to seek out the ones that are currently in Robert Burnaby Park. Lewis has linked an annotated Google Map on her Facebook page for anyone who is eager to find them all. She only asks that those who come to see them are careful around her works because they were not made with durability for many visitors—or riders, in the case of the unicorn—in mind. But don’t be expecting any more mythical creatures to pop up in this park. At the end of January, the City of Burnaby asked Lewis to stop making any more of her creations. Gathering twigs from public parks is technically against the bylaw, and there is worry about the environmental impact of the sudden increase of visitors to the park. None of the sculptures will be taken down by the City, but no more can be placed there. However, there is still hope for those who wish to see more of Lewis’s natural artwork. She is currently working on a project that will place sculptures around a Burnaby neighbourhood where many frontline workers live and commute. And if you still can’t get enough of these whimsical sculptures, Lewis takes private commissions as well—including a discount if you make a donation to Anxiety Canada. Perhaps the next forest creature will appear in your own backyard. ■ PHOTO: SARAH LEPCHUK

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