Blog News

2016 March Newsletter

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION

 

2015-16 YOUTH INTERNSHIP (YI) PROGRAM WRAP UP

After 13 years VCN continues to be committed to delivering high-impact programming to offer youth in Vancouver meaningful tech-related internships. This cycle we received close to 600 applications for 27 placements with 23 host organizations.

As we assess the successes and challenges, we are thrilled with this year’s outcomes. The greatest indicator we found was that over half of youth interns were offered extended contracts with their host organizations or found work immediately after their internships. Read more about their experiences below!

TESTIMONIALS

“[There is] satisfaction in knowing that I had created something that will be very useful for an important organization. Now I have an increased understanding of my trade and a great portfolio piece to add.” Safe Amp Intern

“My coworkers at Geist were very supportive and encouraged me to delve deeper into better web practices. I came out of this internship with more web-related expertise, it was a wonderful learning experience.” Geist Magazine Intern

“I was able to learn more digital skills and enhance my existing ones. In this role, I really felt like a member of staff and not a youth intern, and [I] was given a lot of responsibility to use my skills in the digital sphere.” UBC LE Learning Exchange Intern

“If I can introduce similar methods to a future work environment then this will give me an edge in the work place. I feel ready to enter employment and apply my disciplines.” BC Technology for Learning Society Intern

“We bonded over art, and learned about how technology can serve their art practices, as well as everyday computer skills that benefit their ability to connect with others and get access to information and resources.” Gallery Gachet Intern

“I personally have seen growth in many of my skills including problem solving, written and oral communication, and teaching. I also improved in my technical skills through troubleshooting computers, performing maintenance and learning to develop a website using WordPress.” RayCam Co-operative Centre Intern

“VCN’s [youth internship] program provided me an excellent opportunity to gain real work experience in a technical related position. I was able to oversee the launch of the organization’s new website, greatly Improving my WordPress knowledge in the process, and see the result of my work adopted and implemented.” New Forms Media Society Intern

“…people experiencing poverty and homelessness…it was very powerful to have [had the] opportunity to work with so many passionate and intelligent co-workers and community members. It was particularly helpful to gain new skills working with computers… I am very grateful that the youth internship was able to fund my participation in the project.” Megaphone Magazine Intern

 

SUCCESS STORY: PATRICK CLARK

For close to 20 years, Patrick Clark has stayed connected to the VCN network and has generously given his time in different capacities – as a help|desk volunteer, board member, and digital rights advocate to name a few.

Patrick’s invaluable work and enthusiasm continues to inspire the VCN team to better serve our community. We interviewed Patrick and asked him to share what his involvement with VCN has meant to him.

How did you become involved with VCN?
Originally, many years ago when the organization was only about four months old I was invited to an introductory get-together and was immediately drawn in by the sincere desire to provide an insurer Internet access and education to the whole community regardless of an individual’s income or position in life.  The founders of VCN had seen the writing on the wall in regards to commercial [high cost] Internet in Canada and wanted to make sure that the voices of modest or zero income people were not left out.  I immediately then began a year-long term on the board of VCN.

What role(s) do you currently have with the organization?
Two roles officially: volunteer and board member.

How has being a part of VCN’s network impacted your professional work?
In the year and a half I’ve been involved with the office crew and manning the help line I have learned, and been exposed to, more information and opportunities than I could ever hope to have achieved on my own.  I learned a completely new content management system “WordPress” for quickly designing web pages.  I have been able to explore various Linux operating systems, and work on a wide variety of computers both old and new.  Most importantly, because everyone at VCN is so supportive the knowledge has been free-flowing. If you have a question, you get a collaborative answer. It really is the best way to work.  Not only that, there is a real sense of community that encourages questions and discussion.  In short this has been a massive boost to my knowledge base, which has resulted in several contract jobs.

How has working at VCN influenced you personally?
I have been involved with a great number of nonprofit and advocacy organizations over the years. I was becoming a little jaded because, through no fault of their own, many groups succumb to “power positioning” and hierarchical structures, ultimately focused on maintaining the status quo. VCN has done the exact opposite. Collectively they have managed to inspire, not only the community at large, but everyone who works or is involved on regular basis. There is a real sense of sincerity in everything they undertake. It is the true cooperative adventure with a real community and spirit.

What makes VCN rock, and indeed makes them unique among many organizations is that there is a sincere cooperative spirit to everything that is undertaken. Ego does not live with this group. I think perhaps all the core people are “kindhearted radicals” who have each had to fight battles and that has given them a real understanding of community spirit in the truest sense. Truly inspiring–is it any wonder I love VCN!

 

NEW CANADAHELPS TAX RECEIPT TOOL

The deadline for submitting 2015 tax returns is quickly approaching!

CanadaHelps has recently launched an online tool to help donors find and get a copy of all receipts for donations made in 2015 using CanadaHelps.

VCN donors and supporters can easily access tax receipts by using this Tax Receipt Tool: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/receiptdownload.aspx

 

VOLUNTEER, PAY DUES and/or DONATE TO VCN

Start the new 2016 tax season off with a donation to an impactful community organization working to bridge the digital divide!

VCN helps advance education and provides a public utility which helps relieve disadvantage by providing Internet access to those who would otherwise be denied it.

Remember VCN counts on you to either pay your yearly membership ($25) and/or make a donation helps us to support the entire system. Please commit to keeping this valuable resource available into the future! https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

We welcome volunteers who speak Aramaic, Farsi, Kurdish, or Arabic to help with the resettlement of new immigrants and refugees. To volunteer, please fill out our online form: http://volunteer.vcn.bc.ca/apply/

Events News

Success Story: Patrick Clark

For close to 20 years, Patrick Clark has stayed connected to the VCN network and has been meaningfully giving his time in different capacities – as a help|desk volunteer, board member, and digital rights advocate to name a few.

Patrick’s invaluable work and enthusiasm continues to inspire the VCN team to better serve our community. We interviewed Patrick and asked him to share what his involvement with VCN has meant to him.

DSC00810Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 3.06.29 PM

How did you become involved with VCN?

Originally, many years ago when the organization was only about four months old I was invited to an introductory get-together and was immediately drawn in by the sincere desire to provide an insurer Internet access and education to the whole community regardless of an individual’s income or position in life.  The founders of VCN had seen the writing on the wall in regards to commercial [high cost] Internet in Canada and wanted to make sure that the voices of modest or zero income people were not left out.  I immediately then began a year-long term on the board of VCN.

What are your role(s) at VCN?

Two roles officially:

1. Volunteer and;
2. Board member, and now that I think about it, there is a third role, albeit unofficial perhaps,
3. Total Hard-Core VCN Fan And Supporter. I see good things coming from VCN and I sure do let people know about it whenever the opportunity sincerely arises.

How has being a part of VCN’s network impacted your professional work?

In the year and a half I’ve been involved with the office crew and manning the help line I have learned, and been exposed to, more information and opportunities than I could ever hope to have achieved on my own.  I learned a completely new content management system “WordPress” for quickly designing web pages.  I have been able to explore various Linux operating systems, and work on a wide variety of computers both old and new.  Most importantly, because everyone at VCN is so supportive the knowledge has been free-flowing. There is no hoarding of information.  If you have a question, you get a collaborative answer. It really is the best way to work.  Not only that, there is a real sense of community that encourages questions and discussion.  In short this has been a massive boost to my knowledge base, which has resulted in several contract jobs.  A critical point is also that volunteering at VCN is real world experience, because ultimately we are there to serve and support all the people who use the organization’s Internet network and services.

How has working at VCN influenced you personally?

I have been involved with a great number of nonprofit and advocacy organizations over the years. I was becoming a little jaded because, through no fault of their own, many groups succumb to “power positioning” and hierarchical structures, ultimately focused on maintaining the status quo. Once this happens the environment becomes very stale and subtly unhealthy. VCN has done the exact opposite. Collectively they have managed to inspire, not only the community at large, but everyone who works or is involved on regular basis. There is a real sense of sincerity in everything they undertake. It is the true cooperative adventure with a real community and spirit.

What have you taken away from your experience with VCN?

Aside from everything mentioned thus far, one of the things I have been inspired to get back into is actually building electronics. I don’t think that would have had the “nerve” to even consider such a project before my exposure to the technical aspects via VCN.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

What makes VCN rock, and indeed makes them unique among many organizations is that there is a sincere cooperative spirit to everything that is undertaken. Ego does not live with this group. I think perhaps all the core people are “kindhearted radicals” who have each had to fight battles and that has given them a real understanding of community spirit in the truest sense. In short, the VCN module might be summed up as: “How can ‘We’ make this work?” Truly inspiring–is it any wonder I love VCN!

Blog News

2016 February Newsletter

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION

2016 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

VCN’s AGM was held on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 on the second floor of the Woodward’s Heritage Building. The meeting reached quorum with 4 board members, 7 staff, 2 volunteers, and 17 regular members.

Highlights of 2014-15:

  • Long-time Board Chair, Jim Sayre, sadly passed away in August 2015 after a long battle with cancer. VCN will move forward with the values and goals he instilled. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
  • In 2015, VCN connected 1000+ people to our WiFi networks across the city.
  • VCN showed appreciation to our volunteers at the AGM. The leadership team, headed by Chris Chanhsamone, mentored and provided work experience to over 30 volunteers.
  • A social enterprise strategy, known as VCN Innovation Labs, was developed and launched this past year to provide low-cost technical services through VCN’s tech|team and web|team.
  • Refurbished laptops for $25 annual lease are available to members.
  • Participation in Canada Helps’ fundraising campaign raised money to keep VCN’s programs available to the community.
  • This past year saw a significant increase in new and renewing memberships.
  • Telus commissioned a short film on the Street Messaging System and awarded $10,000 in funds to advance the Street Messaging System.
  • In participation of 2015 Homelessness Action Week, The City of Vancouver awarded a grant to hold a series of community consultations to feed into the development process of the Street Messaging System.
  • VCN partnered with Lu’ma to offer Community Voice Mail for people who are homeless, phoneless, in crisis, and/or in transition.
  • VCN submitted a bid to the City of Vancouver for more space in the Woodward’s building. We are currently engaged with the opportunity to be a lead tenant in the 312 Main redevelopment project as a Tech and Innovation Centre envisioned for the community.


LONG TIME BOARD MEMBER, TRAVIS KEYWORTH, RESIGNS

At the end of this AGM, we had to say good-bye to long time Board Member – Treasurer Travis Keyworth.

He joined VCN in July 2009. For 7 years Travis used his accounting designation and skills to guide the society with his eye to strategic planning and financial management.

He will be sorely missed. We thank him for his years of devotion to social justice and digital literacy!


SUCCESS STORY: GLORIA CARRILLO, FOUNDER OF PAYING IT FORWARD TO MOTHER EARTH FOOD TRUCK

Carrillo is a mother, an award-winning chef, community organizer, and activist, as well as founder of Paying It Forward to Mother Earth Food Truck Program, Pachamama’s Natural Rights, and Quinoa’s Ambassador.

When she discovered VCN, Carrillo was living out of her van, without permanent housing, and moving from shelter to shelter. She would commute from a women’s shelter in Surrey to the Downtown Eastside to the Woodward’s Building to access VCN’s computers and services Monday to Friday.

Over the last several months, VCN witnessed remarkable progress with Carrillo’s project despite being faced with what seemed like insurmountable odds. Carrillo’s resilience and tenacity coupled with VCN’s resources has helped to further her personal and professional goals.
Through the difficult months, VCN staff particularly Executive Director Tracey Axelsson, supported Carrillo in moving forward with her dreams. With limited resources, Carrillo utilized VCN’s web|team services to create her own website to spread her vision.

From editing materials to providing input on a business plan, developing and updating website content, assisting with a crowd-funding campaign, and emotional support, Axelsson and VCN staff have strived to encourage Gloria in her work. She says, “The assistance of the volunteers and staff at VCN have been absolutely very supportive, I don’t think there is any place like this in the whole city.”

When asked the ways in which VCN helped in her mission, Gloria replies: How one could not be happy this organization’s breadth of empowerment. In my eyes, VCN truly represents the Canadian spirit. That the Canadian Government and sponsors should recognize that VCN truly works to empower spirit and minds… they are very supportive and they don’t hold back.”

Read Gloria’s full story here: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/success-story-carrillo/
Learn more about Gloria’s work: http://pachamamahub.org/

VOLUNTEER, PAY DUES and/or DONATE TO VCN

As VCN approaches its 23rd year of operation, help to keep VCN’s open and inclusive program by donating what you can – including your time! We are continuing to seek volunteers who speak Aramaic, Farsi, Kurdish, or Arabic to help with the resettlement of thousands of refugees.

To volunteer, please fill out our online form: http://volunteer.vcn.bc.ca/apply/

Remember VCN counts on you to either pay your yearly membership ($25) and/or make a donation helps us to support the entire system. Please commit to keeping this valuable resource available into the future!

Please give: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

Events News

2016 January Newsletter

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION

VOLUNTEER SUCCESS STORY: ADA WONG

Ada has been an active volunteer with VCN on and off the past 5 years. She worked with us while she advanced her knowledge in nursing and technology. Ada felt that professionally, she needed to keep up-to-date, keep her computer free from viruses and know where to purchase computer hardware at an affordable price.

VCN helped Ada by enhancing her basic technical knowledge in computer hardware and software to the point that she was able to take on a volunteer role, answering basic computer inquires, teaching others about the use of computers, and ultimately to design and create her own professional webpage.

When asked “Why volunteer for VCN’? She says: ‘VCN has the right resources and helps many individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organizations across Metro Vancouver, and does so in a charitable way. VCN requires some core staff, volunteers, generous donors, and grants to keep its charitable services up and running. I’m thankful to VCN for helping me save my computer from the recycle bin a few times!’

Read Ada’s full story here: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/success-story-ada-wong/


KEEP YOUR WORDPRESS SITE UP-TO-DATE AND SAFE!

WordPress is one of the most popular and user-friendly website building tools today.

Regular maintenance of sites developed with WordPress is essential for stability and to remain free of security challenges. Keeping your website up-to-date with the current releases are key in preventing your website from vulnerabilities.

In recent months, VCN’s web|team has been busy restoring sites that have been hijacked by unfriendly code, or in situations where the original code contributor no longer updates their plugin or theme. It can then fail to have the site operate the way it was designed to. It’s vital that maintenance takes place as it can be very stressful to restore it once it is down.

VCN’s web|team does this work for smaller sites on our servers but larger sites really need more support. We provide these services at an affordable rate. Contact the VCN web|team for a quote: http://webteam.vcn.bc.ca/contact-us/


2015 TAX RETURNS

The tax season is once again upon us. VCN will be issuing 2015 electronic tax returns starting in February. If you sent in a donation prior to January 1, 2016 expect a pdf in your email’s in bin soon! For contributions made to VCN through the CanadaHelps website, please check junk/spam folders for tax receipts.

Hard copy tax receipts are available upon request at help@vcn.bc.ca.


TELUS AWARDS VCN FUNDS TO ADVANCE THE SMS PROJECT

On January 11th TELUS Vancouver Community Board and Covenant House Board Member Allan Seckell presented VCN Executive Director Tracey Axelsson with a cheque for $10,000 for the development of the Street Messaging System.

VCN will work to improve the architecture of the Street Message System to include new features. Funds will be used to further revamp the site to serve the needs of the community.

TELUS’ Grant Program focuses on supporting local initiatives working to positively impact local communities.


VOLUNTEER, PAY DUES and/or DONATE TO VCN

VCN’s vision to ‘bridge the digital divide’ has never been more essential. Our work began with offer local people a public amenity for each to freely access what is now the single most important economic instrument of our time – the Internet. It’s a fabulous success story!

But any bridge builder knows the work more precarious as it gets closer to the final gap. VCN knows this and works with low income and marginalized people every day who are in real danger of being left behind.

As VCN approaches its 23rd year of operation, help to keep VCN’s open and inclusive program going by keeping your membership dues paid, and donating what you can – including your time!

Please give: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

Blog News

Success Story: Ada Wong

Ada Wong

tech|team Manager, Chris Chanhsamone, and Ada Wong

The Vancouver Community Network would not be able to fill our organizational mandate to serve, engage, and improve public access and knowledge of the Internet and information communications technologies without the help of our dedicated volunteers.

VCN’s help|desk assists members and the general public from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday right here at Woodward’s. Many who seek help are from the Downtown Eastside. The staff and volunteers help by trouble-shooting hardware and software challenges associated with setting up a computer, training on a variety of software packages and internet applications, and troubleshooting for any of our VCN services such as using dial up internet access, email, mailing lists, and web hosting for individual accounts and for group accounts.

The majority of help|desk volunteers are youth interns from BCIT and UBC along with recent immigrants/refugees looking for in-country experience, training, and career development support. In 2015, 26 volunteers with diverse backgrounds worked over 3000 hours to offer our community members technical support.

Ada Wong, former RN practitioner and help|desk volunteer, shares her experience at VCN:

How did you become involved with VCN?
I was introduced to VCN while attending university from one of my best high school friends. I was told VCN provides free computer support and free electronic mail. Sold, I became a VCN member right away.

In what capacity are you involved with VCN?
Officially, I became an active volunteer with VCN on and off the past 5 years or so while I was advancing my knowledge about nursing and technology. Professionally, I needed to keep up-to-date, and keep my computer free from various software viruses and learn where to go to purchase computer hardware at an affordable price. VCN helped me tremendously by enhancing my basic technical knowledge about computer hardware and software to the point that I was able to answer basic computer inquires, teach others about the use of computers, and design and create my own professional webpage.

What motivated you to give your time to the organization?
VCN has the right resources and helps many individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organizations across Metro Vancouver, and does so in a charitable way. VCN requires some core staff, volunteers, generous donors, and grants to keep its charitable services up and running. I’m thankful to VCN for helping me save my computer from the recycle bin a few times!

What have you learned from working with VCN?
VCN helped me a lot, [the] people are kind, and I was given the opportunity to share my nursing knowledge and skills back to others by helping them with their computer inquiries and by sharing my knowledge about health/wellness questions. Some of VCN walk-ins require some basic knowledge and life skills before they could start their path to health and wellness, to look for productive employment, and to maintain a stable and caring friendship and relationship with others.

VCN taught me how to research mine and others’ inquires about computer hardware and software. Chris, Nhan, Patrick, and Tracey had been immensely helpful to me in their feedback during my learning process. From VCN, I learned how to respond to technical questions; how to answer e-mail and telephone inquiries using web request tracker; and ways to teach and manage walk-in inquiries at VCN, at 411 Seniors Centre Society, and at the Vancouver Public Library. In addition, I learned how to approach and teach basic computer usage to all kinds of people; how to manage and set-up basic computer hardware; and how to use various operating systems and software.

What type of knowledge have you been able to impart on to community members?
Over the years, I [have] met lots of people from VCN and from 411 Seniors Centre Society. Generally, they are interested in using the computer for writing e-mails to loved ones, for on-line shopping, for watching movies, for researching travel and leisure, or health and wellness.

VCN introduced me to their Street Messaging System [streetmessagingsystem.ca] – this platform allowed me to communicate health and wellness information to receivers across Metro Vancouver, and to apply my nursing expertise with those who may benefit from my nursing knowledge and skills.

How has volunteering helped you in your life?
My current success is because of what I have shared and what others have shared back to me – unconditionally – I believe this is what volunteering is all about. I definitely encourage those who are interested in computers and technology to volunteer at VCN – you only get as much out of it as what you put into it. Thank-you VCN and 411 Seniors Centre Society for taking me in as a volunteer!

Events News

2015 December Newsletter

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION

SUPPORTING SYRIAN REFUGEES: VOLUNTEER WITH VCN!

As Canada welcomes 25,000 Syrian refugees across Canada by the end of March 2016, at the community level Canadians are rallying to provide immediate, essential services, and long-term settlement support new refugees.

Here at VCN, we are fully committed to ensuring a safe haven, successful settlement, and integration of Syrian refugees into Canadian society.

Currently offering service in seven different languages, VCN is seeking fluent Arabic & more Farsi speaking volunteers to join the team! Volunteers will offer technical support for refugees who are looking to build skills as well as helping connect refugees to much-need information and telecommunications technology to help thrive in their daily lives.

If you would like to get involved, please look at our website for more details http://volunteer.vcn.bc.ca/apply/

 

VCN HOLIDAY HOURS

This holiday season, starting on December 21st to January 1st, VCN will be reducing help|desk hours and limiting technical support. VCN help|desk hours are as follows:

Thursday, December 24th                 10am – 2pm
Friday, December 25th                           Closed
Thursday, December 31st                  10am – 2pm
Friday, January 1st                              Closed

Hours will resume as normal on Monday, January 4th, 2016. Season’s tidings and happy holidays to you and your loved ones!
 

GIVE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

This year for Canada Helps’ annual Giving Tuesday Campaign plus donations from members of the community, VCN raised close to $2,000 in just 36 hours!

VCN is grateful for the outpour of support to sustain our work towards social justice and vital programs aimed at increasing digital inclusion of our most vulnerable and marginalized communities, including seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, and the street-involved.

Thank you to Canada Help and their partners INTERAC and PayPal for matching donors’ contributions.

The online matching campaign will last until 31st December 2015. For this holiday season, make your donation go further by donating with your PayPal account or through the Canada Helps website: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/paypal-1-match-2015-terms-and-conditions/

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TRACEY AXELSSON IN SO IT IS: VANCOUVER

VCN’s own Tracey Axelsson was featured in a new book So It Is: Vancouver created by Adam and Kev Photography.

The book tells the story of our city through remarkable people who live in Vancouver today.

Other notable names include Judy Graves, David Suzuki, Rick Hansen, Marc and Jody Emery, and the Boom Booms.

For a copy, visit their website: http://www.soit.is/buy-the-book/

Events News

2015 November Newsletter

RECODING OF STREET MESSAGING SYSTEM IN FULL SWING

With funds awarded by TELUS to advance the architecture of the Street Messaging platform, recoding of the website is well underway! Our mighty team is hard at work to incorporate feedback and features suggested by community workers and clients to improve the system.

Follow the project’s new twitter account @SMS_VCN for the latest news and updates!


VCN PROTECTS PRIVACY AND INFORMATION OF USERS

Do you ever notice after perusing or purchasing an item online, pop up ads touting similar products would appear on Google or Facebook?

In this day in age, data mining plays a large and increasing role in market and consumer analysis. Data mining occurs when computers, high-level algorithms, cluster-analysis sift through and collect data to elicit patterns, relationships, future behaviours, and trends.

There are many positive purposes of data mining, with collected information used to improve healthcare, weather forecasting, and transportation. Companies are able to determine the future behaviour of customers, allowing companies to target their marketing strategies and provide the products people want.

While the benefits are many, data mining is often an opportunity for misuse. Some companies have been aggressive in data collection, with contention stemming from what is done with the information once collected.

Canadian privacy law requires companies and organizations to obtain consent for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. Data processing poses risks when the data is used in ways that was unintended or unethically.

It is VCN’s policy not to collect data and to protect the privacy and information of all registered users. All client information is kept confidential and secure, unless VCN is legally obligated to release the information.

 

DONATE TO VCN

VCN has a monthly bill of $1100 to for our Internet Service Provision. The servers there host hundreds of organization’s websites that without us would fail to truly have the web presence they need to keep diverse messaging available in a commercialized realm. 

Support VCN’s work by donating here: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

 

NEW REINVESTMENT OF CANADA’S SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

PM Trudeau and the Liberal Party have dissolved Industry Canada and consolidated federal efforts to foster science and technology innovation, appointing Ontario MP Navdeep Bains as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Industry Canada, which has administered VCN’s Youth Internship Program since 2009, could not confirm whether the department would continue to exist in its current form. Analysts say that the move will result in an advancement of federal research and development in Canada.

Since ushering in the new Liberal Party, the government has pledged to invest $900 million in Canada’s burgeoning tech community with a significant amount of funds earmarked towards small tech start-ups in various regions of the country.

Writer Ivan Semeniuk for the Globe and Mail writes, “With virtually all areas of industry under rapid transformation because of digital technologies such as data mining and additive manufacturing (3D printing), a revamped federal ministry could help spur innovation culture in Canada.”

 

BC TECH SUMMIT 2016

On January 18-19, 2015, BC Council for Innovation will be holding a two-day #BCTECH Summit aimed at showcasing BC’s flourishing and dynamic technology industry. The event will offer cross-sector networking opportunities to exchange ideas aimed at reshaping how the industry does business.

Entrepreneurs, investors, industry buyers, researchers, students and government officials will be in attendance, and participants will exchange fresh ideas.

To register and for more information, visit their website http://bctechsummit.ca/

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION

Blog News

VCN help|desk Supports Community Members: Success Story

eagle little
Through Homeless Advocate Judy Graves, for the past several months *Eagle Little Boy has been consistently dropping by the second floor of the Woodward’s building to access VCN’s computer terminals and community support.

Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Eagle Little Boy relocated to Vancouver in 1992 with the help of his cousin. As with many youth in the government care system, Eagle Little Boy experienced trauma, hardships, and obstacles during his childhood that led to a dark past involving “gang-life”, substance abuse, and crime.

By the time Eagle Little Boy reached 16 years of age, he had been in and out of 45 replacements and was aging out of the foster care system, pushing him out to make room for others. He recounts, “They didn’t want nothing to do with me no more”. His psychiatrist at the time said, “Congratulations, you’re free. I hope you’re happy.”

Feeling abandoned, Little Eagle Boy was suddenly without a support system. “No one was there to grab my hand and tell me everything is going to be okay… that really fucked me up. No one to guide me what-so-ever.”

At 16 was when his “life on the black road” began. At a time of desperation, he turned to a path of crime to provide sustenance. “That’s when I broke into people’s homes. I had to. I had to eat, needed clothes on my back, how else could I do that? I had to.”

“For 29 years, I chased away death numerous times. For 29 years I had neglected my whole entire family. I didn’t bother contacting them or phoning or asking them for help what-so-ever. I’ve been in and out of jails in Alberta. I came to B.C. and I’ve been in and out of jails.”

Now at 45 years old, Little Eagle Boy has been clean and sober for 163 days and counting, “right in the middle of the devil’s playground” stating, “I don’t have the urge to do that no more.”

With the help of community supports like VCN, Eagle Little Boy has left all that behind him. In this safe space, Eagle Little Boy receives the help he needs to maintain and (re)build relationships with family and friends. VCN staff and volunteers offer Eagle Little Boy technical as well as emotional support to help him thrive day-to-day. Eagle Little Boy has expressed that access to VCN’s services and computers have been influential to his recovery.

He has also attributed his successful recovery to sweats, where he was given his spirit name. The gatherings have provided him with emotional support and opportunities for self-reflection. Sweat lodges have been a tradition for First Nations throughout North America. The sweat lodge ceremony cleans and heals the body. It heals the mind – bringing clarity – and it us often a testing place, offering a rite of passage where a participant can demonstrate endurance, strength, and courage. They are also holy places where Aboriginal people can renew their deep connection to the universe and to the spirit realm.

Cultivating positive lessons from spiritual teachings and healing circles, Little Eagle Boy says, “Circle represents power in numbers… everyone is equal. No one is better than the other. We can cry, laugh with no judgment, discrimination, it’s a safe space. There is power in those groups.”

“[I] learned out how to survive on the streets but one thing I know is the love and compassion towards/between people in the streets. They were willing to share whatever they had – whether it was drugs alcohol, pipe spoon whatever, pillow anything, food, makeup or last pair of socks or last fifty cents. They were like a family away from your own family. People live people die, the streets taught me how to survive and that’s why I’m alive today.”

*Alternate Name Used

 

 

Events News

2015 October Newsletter

SNACK AND CHAT COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS

During this year’s Homelessness Action Week, October 12th to 19th, VCN accessed funding from the City of Vancouver to host a series of face-to-face consultations with leading professionals in the sector and residents of DTES Vancouver to share input on the Street Messaging System.

As the system continues to develop and moves from the beta-phase, it is critical to address the challenges faced by outreach workers, gather front-line experience, and seek ways to improve it. In attendance were representatives from Lu’ma, Greater Family Services of Vancouver, Pacific Community Resources, Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre, Carnegie Community Centre, Mission Possible, and H.A.V.E. Café.

Discussions from the meetings affirm a strong community support for the SMS and some really intuitive changes we will work hard to implement. We are please to announce that TELUS has granted VCN funds to code the expansion of the innovation across Metro Vancouver!

 

SUCCESS STORY: EAGLE LITTLE BOY* TAPS INTO VCN COMMUNITY SERVICES
*Alternate name used.

As with many youth in the foster care system, Eagle Little Boy* experienced trauma, hardships, and obstacles during his childhood, which led to a dark past that involved “gang-life”, substance abuse, and crime to survive on the streets.

With the help of community supports like VCN, Eagle Little Boy has left all that behind him. Through Homeless Advocate Judy Graves, for the past several months Eagle Little Boy has been consistently dropping by the second floor of the Woodward’s building to access VCN’s computer terminals and help|desk.

In this safe space, Eagle Little Boy receives the help he needs to maintain and build relationships with family and friends. VCN staff and volunteers offer Eagle Little Boy technical as well as emotional support to help him thrive day-to-day. Eagle Little Boy has expressed that access to VCN’s services and computers have been influential to his recovery.

Click on this link to read his full story: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/successstory-eaglelittleboy/

 

VCN ATTENDS iTECH CONFERENCE

On October 8th, VCN staff and volunteers attended the 2015 iTech Conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The conference, organized by IT professionals for IT professionals, brought together people working in the field to share key lessons in the industry.

Breakout and Vendor Sessions included data centre, cloud,and Windows 10 information. VCN staff and volunteer learned about emerging technical trends that will help VCN improve its hosting services.

 

TECH4GOOD FORUM

VCN attended the Tech4Good forum at the Innovation Hub on Wednesday, October 28 for an inspiring evening of engagement, innovation, and shared expertise for creating change.

The panel featured Renee Black (PeaceGeeks), Mike Simpson (BC Council for International Cooperation), Mack Hardy (Affinity Bridge), and Britt Neale (Appnovation).

Panelists discussed specific projects that local tech shops are already engaging with on human rights, the refugee crisis and gender-based violence. Conversations explored the ways in which Vancouver can become a recognized leader in tech for good through collaborations with the local tech community.

 

VCN’s SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

VCN Staff and Board have been working hard to grow and position the organization to continue to fulfill the roles and responsibilities VCN has come to hold and mission. As funding for social programs become hotly vied for short term projects and as donations become harder to rely on we need to attract more and new tech|team and web|team clients. The work that these teams do not only contributes to more sustainable VCN operations, it allows for individuals, organizations and businesses to access really great work at reasonable rates. The enterprise efforts are still driven by a community-good motive.

 

REFURBISHED LAPTOPS AVAILABLE FOR LEASE 

Are you in need of temporary laptop to get you by? Look no further!

VCN is leasing laptops for $25/year plus tax. The laptop will have a dual core CPU, 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive and a 15.4″ screen. Windows 7 is installed. Supply is flying and limited. Call 778-724-0826 for more information or fill out the form at https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/vcn-laptop-lease-request-form/.

Note: Setup is not included. Ask for a quote for setup, backup, and any other additional services.

 

DONATE TO VCN

VCN has a monthly bill of $1100 to for our Internet Service Provision. The servers there host hundreds of organization’s websites that without us would fail to truly have the web presence they need to keep diverse messaging available in a commercialized realm. VCN appreciates any amount, big or small, to help us continue our work in the community: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

Events News

2015 September Newsletter

CLICK HERE FOR PDF VERSION

 

CITY OF VANCOUVER FUNDS STREET MESSAGING SYSTEM FOR HOMELESS ACTION WEEK

Thanks to a grant awarded to The Vancouver Community Network (VCN) from the City of Vancouver, we will be hosting ‘Snack and Chat’ sessions on the Street Messaging System (SMS) from October 12 – 15th.

These sessions will be an opportunity to further communications and outreach in the sector through sharing lessons learned from the beta-testing and feasibility study conducted with the SMS since its launch in September 2014.

We believe sharing input with leading professionals in the service field will help to overcome challenges faced by outreach workers. We will also share front-line experiences and develop ways to improve the SMS.

If you are a social service provider and would like to participate in the event, please contact us for more details at coordinator@vcn.bc.ca.

 

TELUS COMMUNITY GRANT AWARDED TO ADVANCE SMS

Telus has awarded VCN funds to code the Street Messaging System platform! Telus will work with VCN to make the free and easy messaging system available across Metro Vancouver.

The Telus Community Giving Grant funds projects with the goal of improving the lives of youth and their communities through the power of technology.

The system is quickly moving from the beta-phase to potentially global impact: a vision both the City of Vancouver and Telus share.

 

NEW! REGISTER TO USE THE SMS BY TEXTING

The Street Messaging System (SMS) delivers vital information via text messaging to your mobile about missing persons, food services, emergency shelter availability, health and wellness alerts, job and training opportunities.

VCN has created a new way to register. Simply text 778-819-6826, enter year of birth and gender. SMS is an efficient way to connect those who are street-involved and disadvantaged to services they need most. After this, you will receive texts that are 140 characters or less straight to your mobile. If you enter your e-mail address, you will receive these alerts to your e-mail account.

 

LEASE A REFURBISHED LAPTOP

VCN is leasing laptops for $25/year plus tax. The laptop will have a dual core CPU, 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive and a 15.4″ screen. Windows 7 is installed. Supply is limited.

Please note that setup is not included. Ask for a quote for setup, backup, and any other additional services. Call 778-724-0826 for more information or fill out the form at https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/vcn-laptop-lease-request-form/.

 

VCN ATTENDS VANCOUVER START UP WEEK

VCN attended Vancouver’s Startup Week held from September 21 – September 27, 2015. Startup week offered an array of workshops with opportunities to learn the skills, resources and knowledge to overcome difficult obstacles within Vancouver’s tech sector.

The event was an opportunity for VCN to connect with entrepreneurs, international investors, corporate partners, some of Vancouver’s hottest tech companies and techies to share their stories, what they’ve learned from their business or project, and their successes or failures. BC’s newest companies competed for cash and other prizes from BC Innovation Council – New Ventures Competition.

 

DONATE

VCN focuses our efforts on youth, the disadvantaged in the Downtown Eastside, and seniors, pushing for digital inclusion and social justice. VCN appreciates any donation amount, big or small, to help us continue our work in the community: https://www2.vcn.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

 

RAISE YOUR VOICE AND VOTE FOR OUR DIGITAL FUTURE

For the 2015 Federal Election, Open Media launched a campaign to create a participatory process and empower the voices of everyday internet users to advance Canada’s digital future.

The platform’s key digital rights’ pillars include privacy, access, and free expression. The campaign aims to form a crowdsourced plan called “Canada’s Digital Future Platform.”

The organization writes:

“This election let’s not do politics as usual – let’s reimagine our democracy and create a more policy-centric rather than partisan party-centric electoral system.”

Sign the Digital Future Pledge at OurDigitalFuture.ca and visit their website at openmedia.ca for updates on party platforms regarding digital policies!

 

FEDERAL ELECTION AND BILL C-51

With the federal election approaching on 19th October 2015, it is important now more than ever to recognize the privacy rights of the Canadian people, and strong accountability and oversight for surveillance practices.

Bill C-51 is the Conservatives’ anti-terror legislation granting greater powers to police authority in order to protect Canada from terrorists. Concerns about this bill include loss of privacy, limitations to freedom of expression and a lack of sufficient oversight, which could lead to unlawful measures.

In June 2015, the Senate passed Bill-51 by 44-28, despite massive opposition from hundreds of thousands of Canadians and the country’s top privacy experts. The NDP voted against Bill C-51 while the Liberal party supported it; however, Justin Trudeau stated that he would fix the flaws if the Liberals win the coming election.

For more information on BILL C-51 and how you can add your voice to the growing campaign to repeal Bill C-51, visit: https://killc51.ca/?src=blg

 

HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

Ever since Canada’s federal government stopped investing in affordable housing, the problem of homelessness has been getting worse. The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness/The Homeless Hub states that, “…over 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year.” In a prosperous country with a strong commitment to social justice, the existence of homelessness, poverty, and hardship is unacceptable.

According to The Homeless Hub, if the federal government invests $106.00 per Canadian annually, which works out to $0.88 per person weekly, we will see an end to chronic homelessness and will be able help others on the verge of becoming homeless.

The Homeless Hub has posted the Housing and Homelessness Election Guide 2015. This guide sets out recommendations on ending homelessness and presents each party’s platform on how it meets (or doesn’t meet) these recommendations.