Local writer tackles youth mental health

Suddenly managing schooling and health care during a pandemic, on top of working and parenting, Lynn Valley’s Lisa Bournelis turned to writing for respite. Her first novella hit the shelves at the local library and online stores in July, and she hopes it will help kids with their mental health.

Lived experience

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a child who is unwell is harder. Being a parent negotiating the mental health system is exhausting. For Bournelis, her journey into this world began a couple of years ago as her son showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder. 

“As a parent, we can’t step in and can’t make this go away – that was the hardest thing ever,” she said. “I started to see these compulsions and I was unwittingly enabling him.”

Bournelis credits her son’s hard work, the care of the BC Children’s Hospital, and its exposure and response therapy (ERP) for his improvements. According to Dr. S. Evelyn Stewart, the medical director of the Provincial OCD Program, OCD is a disease characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions that cause significant distress, take up a great deal of time or limit a person’s functioning. An obsession is a repetitive, intrusive thought or image, and a compulsion is a recurrent action or mental act that is intended to reduce distress related to the obsession.  

“It’s horrible – not what is portrayed in the movies like washing your hands a lot, or compulsions shown in a funny way,” Bournelis. “That is not what it is. It is a compulsion that if you don’t complete it something horrible will happen to you or your family. Therapy has been incredible, to learn OCD ‘lies’ to you. One in 40 people globally has OCD. People are good at hiding it.”

Despite it typically beginning between seven and 18 years old there is little information readily available to parents and schools. Frustrating because early intervention can help prevent adult crises, she said. 

“It’s actually very debilitating.”

Cutoff by Covid

Similar to school and other health supports, when the covid pandemic began Bournelis’s family also lost access to therapy. 

“A lot of the good, hard work he had done, was undone,” she said. “Like many parents with children with complex health needs, we found ourselves unable to access therapy when we needed it most. We had to go back to look at our notes and step in as therapists.”

Soon the repetitive days were wearing thin. 

“I was really stuck – it felt like a perpetual groundhog day,” she said. “I set an intention to write every day as a release. The story of Louie and the Dictator flowed out and I hope it helps other anxious kids. I poured my heart and soul into this book.”

With fingers to keyboard Bournelis penned the story of Louie and the Dictator.

I wrote an uplifting children’s novella that will help anxious and neuro-divergent children see themselves as heroes of their own stories. They will be able to apply some of the fun ‘tools’ in the story to help them remain calm, or shift mindsets,” she said. 

Her son offered important insight and enthusiasm during the writing process.  

“He loves it,” she said. “He is my biggest cheerleader. I did consult with him throughout the process and ask how he feels, if he wants it published. He was very much a collaborator. He would give insight into his compulsions and I also added in others he didn’t have. A lot of the experiences you will read about did happen to him or our family. 

“He is loving reading the reviews coming in and knowing he is helping other kids.” 

The story also weaves in aspects of the pandemic. Bournelis says she wanted to help address the ongoing challenge and growing anxiety facing children.

“We have all experienced trauma in the last 18 months,” she said. “The health care system is seeing more mental health concerns, more agoraphobia, more anxiety, more repetitive things because people are worried now. This isn’t just my son, this is the experience of many children. They are worried about the air they breathe, what school will look like, will they see their friends.”

One of her goals with the book was to support the very programs that helped her son. Bournelis will be donating some of the profits to the OCD program at Children’s Hospital. The other goal was to empower children.

“This book shows that kids can have control, that change is incremental and small shifts can improve our circumstances.” 

Early reviews of the book are very positive. Learn more by visiting Bournelis’ website or check out Louie and the Dictator at the NVDPL and online.  

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

From local bike shop to Olympic elite

With years of international experience, Adam Trotter landed in Japan last month as part of Canada’s Olympic delegation. It was his second Olympics as head mechanic of the mountain bike team. 

Climbing to the top

Following his bike from Ontario to Lynn Valley, Trotter has been on the road with professional teams and Team Canada since 2009. But you may have unknowingly had your bike tuned in the past by one of Canada’s top mechanics, with Trotter’s downtime often spent at Lynn Valley Bikes. 

“Rio was my first Olympic Games,” said Trotter. “I had some ‘major games’ experience doing the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland by that point so I was used to that environment as it’s quite different from a World Cup or World Championships. It was memorable for the fact we won a bronze medal [Catharine Pendrel] in the women’s race – so that was special for sure.” 

Trotter’s career began as a shop mechanic before doing event support and later joining Cycling Canada’s elite downhill, cross-country (XC), and cyclocross teams. 

“We select our staff from among people working with professional teams,” said Karine Bedard, Cycling Canada. “Adam is a trusted mechanic on the Enduro World Series and has also been part of the Canadian team for many years.”

Canada’s best

“I can’t recall where I heard this but a mechanic can’t win the race for an athlete but they certainly can lose it,” said Trotter. “I’ve got my systems in place that I used during my pre-race checks so that I’m confident that each bike that I put a number plate on is race-ready when it rolls to the line. In terms of stress, I just make sure I’m dialed and relaxed and if the riders see that then they’re chill as well. If I’m freaking out, they’re freaking out and that’s not good.”

Bedard echoes the importance of the mechanic-athlete relationship.

“The riders have to trust that their equipment is in the best condition possible, and the mechanic needs to be a calm presence who knows what to say and what not to say even in stressful situations,” she said.

“It’s just an honor to be able to support our best athletes on that stage,” said Trotter. “Athletes always say it’s special to wear the jersey representing your country and I feel the same way wearing my T-shirt.”

The Olympic experience

The Tokyo Olympics were a different experience than a typical international competition. Pandemic protocols limited how the athletes, staff, coaches, and crew could interact with each other, the events, and the entire Games itself. 

“Last season I traveled internationally for some EWS races and MTB World Championships so I’m used to all the added layers of travel these days,” said Trotter. “I got my first shot in May and my second one while I was traveling in France so I was fully vaccinated by the time I got to Tokyo.” 

Even for someone used to the constant travel and competition, this Olympics was a whirlwind. 

“I felt Tokyo was over pretty fast,” said Trotter. “We flew in from a camp in Europe, got settled, did our training days, and we were on a plane home 24 hours after the last race. It was also unique that we weren’t in the main Olympic Village but three hours south in Izu at a summer resort transformed into a satellite village. It was just mountain bikers for the first six or seven days until the road and track athletes began showing up.”

Behind the scenes

LVL: Can you describe event day from your perspective?

Trotter: The night before I wash and check over the bikes and get all my things organized for the next day – like spare parts and wheels that I bring to the tech/feed zone. Race day Tara [team physio]  and I head to the race early on the bus to get our pit area at the venue set up. The riders get driven to the race with [Coach] Dan. Then I just hang out and help as needed – putting a bike on a trainer or some tire changes. With 15 minutes to start, I’ll walk down to the tech area and set up my tools and spare wheels. Sometimes I help with bottle feeds.

LVL: Can you describe the relationship between elite riders and their mechanic?

Trotter: All the athletes we had at the Olympics I’ve worked with plenty over the years on National Team projects. I know how they operate on race days and as people. Some racers like to talk and joke around before a race, some just tune out and get in the zone. Andreanne [ALN] is one of the athletes I work with on the Rocky Mountain Team and I’ve known her since she actually raced XC on the National Team before switching to Enduro. She calls me her psychic, just from working together for so long. It’s also a relationship where communication is important. They need to be able to talk to you about bike stuff, set up, tire choice, and you need to be able to understand them as well. 

Of course, they also have to trust you that their bike is going to perform as well every single time you hand it back to them.

LVL: Were the crew and riders as surprised as they appeared to be on TV about the removal of the ladder between training and racing? [During training runs a boulder leading into a drop had a ladder eliminating the drop. Not all riders appeared to be informed of the change, resulting in some crashes.] 

Trotter: I haven’t actually watched the coverage of the race. I do find it strange that they took it out, but also strange that it was there in the first place.  

Quick pitstop

Just like the athletes, Trotter’s 2021 mountain bike season is continuing as he heads to Europe this week. When it wraps you might see him at Lynn Valley Bikes, riding the Shore, or hanging out at home in Lynn Valley. 

“The trails are right here, the riding community is amazing and having a bike shop in the area is awesome! I’m a mountain biker for sure,” said Trotter. “It’s really why I moved out here from Ontario. I love a good Seymour lap, my favourite trails are over there.” 

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Stop thrifting, start swapping

Eco-fashion is booming and the clothing resale market is the fastest-growing segment. As Lynn Valley’s Geraldine Durant noticed the climbing prices at local thrift shops, she created a more community-oriented swap. 

Think globally, act locally

Inspired by the eco-focus of her former employer, Lynn Valley’s Cousteau School, Durant has been trying to make environmentally friendly decisions. Often they pay with bonus rewards. 

“I love thrift stores,” she said. “They are unique and interesting. You can find different things than you can find at the mall.” 

Speaking with like-minded friends sparked the idea of a clothing swap. If the interested swappers continue like (the non-pandemic restricted portions of) last year, more than 15,000 items will be kept out of the landfill.

The Good Swap

Many people who shop at thrift stores are the very same people who donate to them in the first place, said Durant. 

“Talking with friends we realized the amount of money we were spending in thrift shops after we donated to them. The idea of a clothing swap led to this,” she said gesturing to the lower level of her home filled with stock from the Good Swap’s swappers. 

The swap idea is simple. Participants bring in their items – quality clothing and children’s items  – and choose a similar amount of new-to-them items, as well as paying a small flat fee to cover cleaning and storage costs and minimally compensate Durant for her time organizing the swap. 

“Trading doesn’t always work, because if I don’t have what you need then we can’t trade,” she said. “This makes the circle bigger so more people can find items and more items stay out of the garbage.”

Curation is key

The items at the Good Swap have been checked for stains and rips – missing items like buttons are clearly labeled.

“Most people bring in items in good condition,” she said “I check the games and puzzles – I don’t want someone to get home and find there is a piece missing.”

Items that don’t pass her standards are donated for other thrift options or textile recycling. Her swap stock continues to grow with most people choosing to leave with fewer items than they came with.

“I prefer people swap rather than donate. I get a lot of questions about ‘What is the catch?’,” laughs Durant. “There is no catch. Once people visit they are more confident in the swap.” 

About 80 percent of her customers return about every three months. 

“I do have one that comes around every two weeks.” 

With hopes to slowly grow Durant aims to divert as much as 30,000 items from the landfill each year.

To learn more about the swap or book an appointment visit Durant’s Facebook page

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Forging in the forest, not foraging

It took three years and countless hours to go from clicking an intriguing YouTube link to becoming a master bladesmith in his own right. Lynn Valley Forge’s Casey Vilensky now ships his creatively crafted knives all over the world. 

Forging patience

VilenskyWith a background as a luxury car mechanic and proficient woodworker, Vilensky pairs his metal and wood experience beautifully, making the blades, handles, and wooden sheaths of his knives. Three years in from his first attempt, his knives are unquestionably art. Vilensky’s Instagram account chronicles the progression from one art to another. 

“It’s a different thing, most people get into something like woodworking,” he said. “I kind of will metal into what I want it to do.”

A fateful day of woodworking research led Vilensky across some bladesmith videos. 

“YouTube is great for makers who share their craft,” he said “I was randomly watching videos and these Damascus knives came up and I was interested.”

Functional art

Using an existing space – not huge – about the size of a garage, Vilensky began to adapt his woodworking shop into Lynn Valley Forge.  

“I added tools as I could afford to buy them,” he said. “Definitely having a mechanical background gave me experience with the process and my skills for woodworking gave me the confidence to create. I knew absolutely nobody, no other blacksmith in the Lower Mainland. The learning curve was very high at first. Knifemaking isn’t just about making something beautiful it is also about making it functional. Nobody asked me to buy a knife for the first year.” 

His progress required patience and a lot of practice. 

“The shop gets hot, it’s noisy, you get covered in grinding dust and wood dust. It’s not glamorous but it produces results that are quite beautiful.”

His passion and pursuit of quality supplies and tools have also led him far from his previous career to fully embracing blacksmithing, not only as a creator but also as an importer. Vilensky now distributes trade tools to the growing blacksmithing community in Vancouver and Canada. 

As an artist, he specializes in intricate mosaic Damascus steel. He is strongly influenced by the history and traditions of Japanese knife making. 

“The mosaic means you are working with a repeatable pattern,” he explained. “They look like flowers or explosions or a river running down. You are basically trying to paint a picture with steel.” 

It’s a good time to be creating such labour-intensive pieces of art as more people are recognizing the time and effort it takes to make one knife, said Vilensky. 

“There was a huge failure rate as I was learning. I have a bucket of knives that didn’t work out,” he said. “It’s really frustrating – some patterns take two weeks, working the steel two hours a day, every day. You can only do one operation in one day, and prepare for the next. It can take two weeks and on the last operation it fails, overheats or cracks and you just . . . start over. Luckily that doesn’t happen too much anymore.”

Sharing the trade

With future goals to continue to improve his skills, Vilensky’s priority is to maintain the artistry, and despite the lucrative opportunity of high-end knives, not fall into the trap of overproduction. 

“I don’t want to fall out of love with this. I have no desire to make reproductions, every piece is unique and that is the way it is supposed to be,” he said. “It’s a fun hobby that I sell a few knives to pay for but I want to keep it a hobby I love and not turn it into a job.”

Instead, he is sharing his love. The next project on the horizon is joining the team at Fraser River Forge to teach classes on bladesmithing. 

“I know how hard it was for me to get into, it was just watching videos and not having any personal instruction.”

Sharing his work on the other hand is more complicated. He walks a fine line of producing enough to fund future pieces while maintaining his quality and passion for the work. Vilensky makes a few pieces available through specialty shops but most stay in the hands of friends. The knives have made their way into the hands of chefs and collectors – even to Japan, often seen as the world leader in artisan knives. 

“It was humbling to have a few requests from Japan and having some good reviews from Japanese bladesmiths makes it feel like I have achieved something.”

Images courtesy of Casey Vilensky.

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Celebrating June with Mountain Market

For more than 15 years Mary and Steve Choi have been doing business on Mountain Hwy – Mountain Market is an institution in Lynn Valley. Looking to brighten up your spring Mary is joining us with a flower giveaway.   

A community needs corner stores

Whether it is spending your hard found pocket money as a child or hopping out of your car to grab flowers or a desperately needed loaf of bread – a neighbourhood needs corner stores.

We have a few in Lynn Valley but the classic remains Mountain Market. For today’s parents, it is nostalgically frozen in time, a reminder of childhood 30 years ago. For local students, it’s essential to meet their daily “nutritional” needs. For families, many an occasion is celebrated with Mountain Market’s beautiful bouquets.

The Choi’s have been behind the counter of Mountain Market since 2005 – their kids growing up alongside. Frequently Mountain Market is fondly referred to a simply Mountain Mary’s. In those years they have been supportive of local causes – remember that amidst the early pandemic, dwindling shopping numbers, they stepped up to donate a trunkload of flowers to graduates of Argyle Secondary.

Community Blooms

Mary is back at it. She would like to make some homes a little bit brighter. This June we would like to celebrate grads, teachers, and anyone going through a transition. Celebration options are still few and if you or someone you care about has a change worth celebrating – let’s do it!

We will be drawing a winner each week. Winners will need to pick up their arrangements at Mountain Market. Draws will take place Friday mornings. If your name is not drawn, it will remain entered for future chances to win in June.

To enter, please fill out the form below.

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Camping meal solutions

As travel and leisure activities shut down last year it sparked an idea for Kim Saunders. The local mom is leveraging her work experience to create a side hustle that gets her family and others outside for easy camping adventures. Camper Hampers was launched earlier this spring and she has given us a promo code!

Filling a need

Most families have done it: load the kids, your gear, find a place to store the cooler, and head off to the campground. 

“I work a more than a full-time job and I am a single mom who loves camping, but trying to get to the grocery store, with preplanned camping meals with a five-year-old, at 6 o’clock at night, for two days of camping it was daunting,” said Saunders. “It limited the number of times we went out.” 

Like many others on the coast, she turned to camping last year to get outside and spend time with family in a safe way. One trip gave Saunders an important light bulb moment. 

“I would love to pick my kid up, throw some stuff in the car and know all my food would be there – and only the things you need, you don’t want to be eating hot dogs all weekend because they come in a pack of 10,” she said. “My parents get meal kits and they brought two of them. It made it so easy, but they weren’t the ideal meals for camping – I thought I could do this better,”

Saunders figured there were plenty of other families like hers – busy and getting busier, who love to camp but were facing barriers. For first-time campers it might be the knowledge of what to pack and how to cook, for others, it was other pressures. 

“I had all the gear but the biggest hindrance to camping was to find the time to get the food.”

Camper Hampers

Saunders has focused on simple meals that will satisfy hungry campers with quality foods. With a variety of delivery options, you don’t even need to bring your own cooler. 

“It’s slowly evolving as we test more recipes and they will be added. People seem to be responding to hand-held basics you can walk around or sit down by the fire,” she said, adding there are vegetarian options for most meals. “Our most popular items are our breakfasts and our s’more kits.” 

Using her career in logistics to find quality delivery partners, Saunders says Camper Hampers makes it easier to hit the road. 

“There are coolers to rent, so you can have your food dropped right at your campsite in the afternoon so it waiting, after you arrive, or we can drop it at your home so after work it is there so you can throw it in your own cooler and go.” 

It was important for Saunders to offer meals that maintain the quality she offers her family at home. 

“I don’t serve anything that I wouldn’t eat,” she said. If I wouldn’t feed it to my kid, I wouldn’t sell it. For me, eating very little meat, the quality of what I do eat has to be there. I use Lindt chocolate, Two Rivers Meats. We have just gotten with Very Good Butchers for our vegan options – I am very excited about that. 

As a start-up, Saunders is learning from other meal prep businesses and trying to be as eco-friendly as she can. She is exploring corn-based packaging that can be burned or composted. 

“Everything does need to be portioned, so there is some waste,” she said. “My aim is that by 2023 that everything will be recyclable, compostable, or reusable.” 

Beyond using Camper Hampers, Saunders offered some other advice for families camping for the first time.

  1. Bring bikes – “Kids can just go and explore and have a bit more freedom.”
  2. Be prepared – “Bring the biggest tarp you can, bring an extra. It’s wet on the coast.”
  3. Extra layers – “The temperature can change or kids can get messy, packing a few extra clothes might save your trip.” 
  4. Don’t forget your promo code – Saunders has shared one for LynnValleyLife readers: 10% off until June 30, 2021: LVLIFE2021

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

The noise of childhood

It is often said new moms should embrace the mess or chaos of motherhood, for two local moms the pandemic has been all about embracing the noise. Lynsey MacDonald and Caroline Garstin are reveling in being “boy moms” and launched a clothing line that embraces their lifestyle.

Noisy Boys

When Garstin and MacDonald – and their four boys under four – walk up to a playground, they say, you will know they are coming. 

“At the playground we’d see little girls playing cooperatively, having a tea party and then we show up with the boys having a yelling match,” laughs MacDonald. “We cause a scene.” 

The two Lynn Valley moms were friends back in high school at Argyle but lost touch. They reconnected a few years ago, in of all places, the maternity ward at Lions Gate Hospital. Another pair of babies later and they are loving the rough and tumble life they have – each with a 3.5-year-old and baby under one. 

“We were bored during the early pandemic and started taking more pictures and set up an Instagram page because we thought so many moms could relate to our lives. We celebrate the real. There are so many picture-perfect images on Instagram and we wanted to show the real-life of raising four boys between us,” said MacDonald. 

People really responded which gave way to leveraging Noisy Boys even more. 

“Everyone has a noisy boy in their life whether it’s a teenager, a dad, a brother, a son and we took that idea and it grew,” said Gastin. “So now people can hear us coming and see us coming.”

Moms helping moms

Once the pair took hold of the idea, they credit their families and moms supporting moms for getting them to where they are now. Garstin and MacDonald are also grateful to the hive-mind of local Facebook groups for giving them momentum to get started. This is their first entrepreneurial venture. 

“It’s a huge learning curve,” said Garstin. “It has been a lot of fun to use our creative brains while on maternity leave. I am a full-time stay-at-home mom and Lynsey is going back to teaching this fall. This is different than anything we have done before.” 

“It has been nice to think about something other than snacks and nap times,” added MacDonald. “My husband owns a business and Lynsey’s dad owns a North Shore business – so we feel supported.” 

They have launched a line of hats, tees, and sweatshirts – with more pieces in the works for summer. With sales growing they are excited about the future. 

“We are surrounded by a lot of boy moms, I feel like we were destined to be boy moms – it’s a whole other thing,” said MacDonald. “I love the chaos and there is a lot of humour in it,” added Garstin.

Noisy Boys is giving back to the community too. By using the promo code: NOISY10 you can get 10 percent off a crewneck sweatshirt and Noisy Boys will donate 10 percent to the Cause We Care Foundation which empowers single mothers and children living in poverty. 

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

School board trustee by-election May 29

There is a by-election for residents of the District of North Vancouver May 29th to elect a school board trustee for the remainder of the term (approximately one year). There are five people stepping up to the plate with two representing Lynn Valley. 

Linda Munro

A life-long North Vancouver resident, Munro has been a long-time community supporter, in a variety of roles. In fact, we recognized her with the LynnValleyLife Good Neighbour Award in 2018. 

Linda works in University Relations at Capilano University. She has children at Ross Road Elementary and Argyle Secondary schools, and she is currently co-chair of the Parent Advisory Council at Ross Road School. Linda has served as a board member for North Vancouver District Public Library, Lynn Valley Parent Participation Preschool and Capilano Community Services Society. She is committed to inclusive education, support for complex learners, raising Indigenous graduation rates, and promoting learning models that recognize a whole-person approach to education. She believes in creating positive K-12 school experiences and centring schools at the heart of the community. You can learn more about Linda Munro on her website: www.lindamunro.ca

Alex Kozak

Another life-long resident, Kozak is a West Vancouver Secondary teacher. His children attend Lynn Valley Elementary. He aims to build on the lessons of COVID and to bring back the performing arts, athletics, field trips, and ceremonies/celebrations that make schools great. Other priorities include: supporting anxiety and mental health issues among students, parents, and staff, and financial shortfalls amplified by increased cost of safety measures in schools and decreasing international enrollment. You can learn more about Alex Kozak on his website: https://alexanderkozak.ca

Other candidates

Three other candidates reside in other parts of North Vancouver: Jo-Anne Burleigh, Jullian Kolstee, and Linda Williams. 

When and how to vote: 

The general voting day is May 29th. There is a polling station at Argyle Secondary as well as  Seycove and Windsor secondary schools, and Braemar, Capilano, Cleveland, and Lynnmour elementary schools.

There are two advanced poll days: May 19 at DNV municipal hall and May 24 at DNV’s municipal hall and Windsor Secondary.

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

A space for digital storytellers

The goal of enhancing the community’s digital literacy has led to an innovative maker space at the Lynn Valley Branch of the North Vancouver District Public Library. The StoryLab’s covid-delayed public debut allowed the library to seamlessly pivot to its pandemic programming, and now it is open for creating.

Evolution of storytelling and literacy

“The original goal was to launch in April of 2020,” said Maryann Kempthorne, manager of innovation and learning for the NVDPL. “But a silver lining was we had this space and resources to take the library digital [during the pandemic restrictions]. We had a studio that allowed us to continue our programs online.”

The new StoryLab facility is a new creativity and learning space. Essentially it is an audio-visual maker space stocked with computers, digitization equipment, an audio booth, and a film studio – complete with lights, mics, and a green screen. It’s a technology hub that builds on the North Shore’s tradition of storytelling, said Kempthorne. 

“Maker spaces are a trend in libraries,” she explained. “We went with audiovisual instead of a sewing machine or 3D printer to suit the community. There is a lot of impact from the district and the shore that is visual and very media. We have North Shore Studios right here. We have an opportunity to influence storytelling in an audiovisual way.”

With a commitment to diversity and inclusion, the StoryLab is also an effort to support more people. 

“Our library has a really strong background in creating readers,” said Kempthorne. “Literacy can be digital literacy – podcasting, film, green screen production.”

But more than that, the StoryLab is about meeting patrons where they are and helping them grow, she said.  

“There are people who are not interested in our anchor services around print. We are able to reach them with content we make that is more accessible. Youth who can’t see themselves reflected in other services might see themselves in digital media learning. It also allows us to support multilingualism.”

When the StoryLab is not booked by the public, it is used by staff to enhance the digital collection, to run online programs and events, and to record audiobooks by patron request.

There are other practical uses for the space. In a pandemic world and the rise of video conferencing and digital connection, people without resources at home or the knowledge to participate can be helped by the StoryLab, said Kempthorne, giving the example of a senior needing to attend a virtual court hearing.

Collaborative creation

The original plan was to have a space where creators could come together to innovate. There is an entire room still on covid-hold that will host technology education sessions in the Digital Learning Lab. As the pandemic pivot continues the NVDPL has plans to host virtual sessions from expert creators, think filmmakers speaking in a similar way to an author talk. 

In the short time, it has been open, the current vision of collaboration has shifted and is supporting creators, small businesses, and local organizations. 

“One of the best examples is North Van Arts was completing one of their local videos and wanted to get people in to record in alternate languages.”

The space is also part of a larger collaborative North Shore vision between NVDPL, the North Vancouver City Library, and the West Vancouver Memorial Library as they all explore maker spaces and aim to provide complementary services with little duplication, said Kempthorne.

How it works

Users can now book the film studio, audio booth, computer stations, or digitization stations. Staff will have a quick consultation to see how much support a creator might need and offer reading materials, digital resources, or other prep materials to make their session a success. Users will need to utilize cloud file transfers or their own portable storage to save their projects and they are also welcome to bring in their own equipment. 

Kempthorne is excited about the innovation opportunities the StoryLab will provide. 

“We have an opportunity to attract and develop storytellers and digital media artists. Having more storytellers in residence at our local library is really exciting. One of the founding projects we did was for youth. Some of my podcasters we have now, came and attended when they were 12 – that’s the continuum of digital literacy and learning.”

This project is the first step in an evolving vision, said Kempthorne. Just as patrons can recommend books they can chat with and make requests with the digital services librarian to improve the space and further innovate.  


Visit the Lynn Valley branch or its website to learn more. 

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Spring Break 2021

Spring Break will look quite a bit different than last year and even more different than 2019. Last year organizations were dealing with uncertainty and a hastily applied lockdown. While the options for Spring Break activities offered are fewer in 2021, they are thoughtfully crafted with safety in mind. The odds of outdoor spaces being shut down is also slim – giving kids a chance to play on playgrounds, skate parks, and trails. We have put together some options for Lynn Valley adventures – virtual and outdoor.

Lynn Valley Ecology Centre

Coming up for Spring Break the Lynn Valley Ecology Centre is back with its Wildlife Weeks! The naturalists at the centre have prepared a number of fantastic virtual programs, a scavenger hunt and a handful of in-person camps, plus the centre is extending its mid-week opening hours. 

The Centre will be open for Spring Break from 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday, with its weekend hours remaining noon – 4pm. 

“We are kicking off March with a scavenger hunt and a colouring contest,” said Cassie Allard, Ecology Centre education programmer. “Taking place inside, kids can look around to solve clues. The colouring contest is also available online and can be dropped off during opening hours or emailed to ecocentre@dnv.org.”

During Wildlife Weeks – March 15-26 – there are seven family-friendly virtual presentations. 

“These are going to be great,” said Allard. “We have Lynn Valley’s Tom Flowers – a local dad and Capilano University biologist – who will be taking us from Africa to BC showcasing fascinating birds. We will also [virtually] visit the Oceanwise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. In another David Wong will join us with his frogs and families will learn how they can help local amphibians.”

The programs last 30-60 minutes and are geared for children six and up and should interest the whole family, said Allard. A donation of $3.50 is suggested per person or $6 per family. Registration links are here

Check out:


Monday, March 15, 2021. 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Join biologist Danielle Dagenais from the BC Community Bat Program. Learn about the threats to bats and how you can help the bats living around your neighbourhood.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021. 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Join wildlife photographer Liron Gertsman for a virtual exploration of British Columbia’s coastal ecosystems above and below the surface.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021. 10:30 am to 11:30 am

Join David Wong, “the frog guy” for a virtual talk about amazing amphibians.


Monday, March 22, 2021. 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Take a virtual journey with “outdoor storyteller” Fernando Lessa into the watery world of Vancouver’s rivers and streams


Tuesday, March 23, 2021. 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Join Dr. Thomas Flower on a journey to a desert island off the coast of Africa, the Kalahari desert, and meet some sneaky Steller’s jays in BC’s coastal rainforest.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021. 10:00 am to 11:00 am

Take a deep dive into marine mammal rehabilitation with Emily Johnson of the Ocean Wise Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. 


Friday, March 26, 2021. 10:00 am to 11:00 am

Learn how to identify our mason bees, discover what makes their life cycle so fascinating, and build a bee house. Materials needed are listed on the Eventbrite page.

The Centre is also offering three in-person camps for children ages five-eight. 

“The camps take place completely outside and we have reduced the number of children to a maximum of six,” said Allard. “They are lead by enthusiastic naturalists and focus on fun, being active and learning about local plant and wildlife.”

She reminds participants to be ready for all types of weather that can change quite quickly in Lynn Canyon. Layers are great, she said. More details on Boisterous Birds, Forest Friends and Pollinator Party can be found here.  

There is one more offering that has recently opened at the Lynn Canyon. After several years of planning is a self-guided nature trail. The trail takes 15-30 minutes and uses a booklet ($3) available at the Ecology Centre. It begins to the left side of the centre and goes past almost all the park’s common trees and shrubs. 

More Lynn Valley options

Escape Adventures

The crew from Escape Adventures has put together Covid-19 protocols and an (almost) full roster of Spring Break camps. The camps for the smallest riders (3-5 years) are on hold because they require close contact. There are four camps running this March, and some have a number of different time slots. This late in the game the camps are full but there are waitlists available if you are looking for a last-minute possibility. 

Kudzu Studio

Jeri Sue Engen has pivoted to offer virtual camps this Spring Break. She has put together one-hour classes for kids and teens. Her classes feature a range of subjects and materials. Engen’s reputation for engaging, age-appropriate classes extends well beyond her roots in Lynn Valley. Details on her Spring Break programs can be found here

North Vancouver District Library

The NVDPL has added a handful of virtual programs for Spring Break focusing on cooking. There are two Teen Cook Alongs with Chef Mark March 18th and 25th. Whether you’re a whiz in the kitchen or a cooking novice, teens are invited for an afternoon of side-by-side kitchen help. Participants will receive a list of ingredients beforehand, and the library can assist in providing ingredients as necessary. Open to ages 12-18. Chef Mark of Crisp Cuisine has been a chef for 15 years. Details can be found here

The whole family is invited to join the NVDPL in helping the BC Parks Foundation rally kids of all ages in our community to become citizen scientists and take on the Foundation’s challenge to post the most observations in Canada. Becoming a NVDPL citizen scientist is simple: upload observations using iNaturalist and complete a NVDPL Nature Challenge activity booklet. Children have a chance to win a book prize. Details are here

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.