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Our Community: Dragon boats return this week

The Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival isn’t just the region’s largest Asian cultural festival, it is also an important fundraiser for the B.C. Cancer Foundation, raising more than $700,000.
This year's Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival features more than 80 local and visiting teams, with more than 1,600 members in total.

The Canada Dry Victoria Dragon Boat Festival isn’t just the region’s largest Asian cultural festival, it is also an important fundraiser for the B.C. Cancer Foundation, raising more than $700,000.

As many as 80,000 spectators are expected to line the Inner Harbour for a chance to watch dragon boats fly during the three-day racing regatta that runs Friday to Sunday.

The event attracts more than 80 local and visiting teams, with more than 1,600 members in total, racing in identical 20-person Millennium dragon boats, which have been designed and built on the Saanich Peninsula.

While the event has been an important team-building exercise and dazzling and colourful competition for the city for the past 22 years, the real benefits extend beyond the three-day festival.

Fairway Market has been the presenting sponsor of the event for the past 20 years. For 10 years, the market has donated proceeds from the event — which come from team registration fees and related initiatives — to the B.C. Cancer Foundation. The foundation, in turn, funds research and the purchase of equipment and machinery for the early detection and treatment of cancer.

Over the past 10 years, the festival has raised more than $700,000. This includes funds raised through the Lights of Courage and Paddlers Pledge programs.

Some teams that will dip their oars in the harbour include breast-cancer survivors of both genders.

Every year, the public is invited to take part in the Lights of Courage Illumination Ceremony, an opportunity to honour those who have been affected by cancer.

With the support of Fairway Market, volunteers with the B.C. Cancer Agency will be on-site selling Lights of Courage paper lanterns for $2. All the funds will help support the Immunotherapy Clinical Trials at the agency.

The festival is free for spectators. It begins at 1 p.m. Friday with an eye-dotting ceremony. Races begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with cultural events and live performances throughout both days. The festival concludes with an award ceremony at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Ship Point in the Inner Harbour.

For a complete schedule, maps and more information, go to

To make a donation, go to get-involved/make-a-donation, or directly to the B.C. Cancer Foundation at


Peer counsellors needed for seniors 

Do you consider yourself a good listener? Seniors Serving Seniors is looking for mature volunteer candidates for its peer-counselling program.

Few people go through life without needing a sympathetic listener to help during troubled times. Seniors have their share of problems, from the loss of a loved one to a change in lifestyle.

Some people turn to professionals or clergy, but there are times when it’s good to talk things over with someone in the same age group.

The Seniors Serving Seniors’ Peer Counselling program offers free, one-to-one personal counselling by non-professional, volunteer counsellors. The volunteers, who are mature and non-judgmental with strong listening, interpersonal and communications skills, help their peers get in touch with their own feelings and gain a clearer understanding of their situations.

Selected volunteers will complete training on self-awareness, values and ethics prior to receiving clients.

The next training session runs 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and continues every Tuesday for 12 weeks.

If you would like to learn more, call Jane at Seniors Serving Seniors, 250- 382-4331 or


Kids will get back-to-school packs 

On Saturday, the Henry Schein Cares Foundation will distribute 150 backpacks loaded with school supplies to families in need.

The backpacks, filled with essential back-to-school supplies, will be given to children registered with the 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre.

This is the third year the foundation has donated the packs in Victoria, one of five Canadian cities the charitable program assists annually. In the past 10 years, the foundation has distributed more than 4,000 kits.

“The supplies help level the playing field for children from families in need,” said Glenn Turko, spokesperson for the foundation. “It gives them a little push.”

The program is part of the foundation’s mission to serve as positive agents for change in communities around the world.

Along with receiving their school supplies on Saturday, the children will be treated to a fun-filled day of street hockey, hot dogs, ice cream and an inflatable play area. There will also be music, a few Victoria Royals players with Marty the mascot and local artist Richard Hunt.

Henry Schein is a worldwide health-care provider in the medical, dental and veterinary fields. 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre is a registered non-profit charity that serves the needs of single-parent families in Greater Victoria. It offers practical support, opportunities for growth and a sense of hope.

For more information, go to or


Liquor-store customers raise $340,000 for fire aid 

B.C. Liquor Stores customers have demonstrated their compassion for fellow British Columbians affected by the wildfires by donating more than $340,000 to the Canadian Red Cross since July 10.

B.C. Liquor Stores activated its partnership with the Red Cross to help provide much-needed financial support for those affected by the wildfires burning around the province.

“I want to thank British Columbians for supporting their fellow citizens in this time of need, and I hope they continue to do so,” said Attorney General David Eby. “While our firefighters battle on the front lines, donors and volunteers help to ensure that care and services are afforded to those who need it most.”

Customers have donated — in increments of $2 or $5 — at the till.

Local liquor companies also have shown their support by donating as much as $2 from selected products, raising an additional $69,500.

All funds raised go directly to the Red Cross and help provide evacuees with shelter, food and water.

While the support has been impressive to date, more needs to be done, with many communities still under evacuation alert or evacuation order and more weeks of a hot summer still around the corner.

“The generosity of British Columbians through B.C. Liquor Stores is helping the Red Cross reach the tens of thousands of people impacted by the fires,” said Kimberley Nemrava, vice-president of the Canadian Red Cross, B.C. and Yukon. “We highly value and appreciate our community partners, like B.C. Liquor Stores, and our volunteers to do the work we do. For those who can donate their time as short-term volunteers for this response, please visit our website to apply.”

For more information, go to, for Red Cross volunteer opportunities: and B.C. Liquor Stores wildfire emergency relief: bc-fires-emergency-relief.


Cycle Cowichan Valley for MS Aug. 19 and 20

There is still time to join cyclists of all ages and fitness levels at the Cowichan Valley Experience, part of MS Bike, the largest fundraising cycling series in North America, Aug. 19 and 20.

Proceeds from the ride benefit the MS Society of Canada.

On Saturday, hundreds of cyclists will come together to demonstrate their power in helping to change the lives of Canadians living with multiple sclerosis. This is the 28th year of the annual fundraiser.

Participants can choose from varying route lengths (from 17.5 to 100 kilometres), with emergency mechanical support and first-aid support.

The Cowichan Valley Experience starts at Brentwood College School, with cyclists stopping along the route to enjoy local wineries, farms and delicious local fare. Upon return, cyclists can spend the afternoon at Rider Village, where the day will continue with appetizers, a gourmet dinner and evening musical festivities.

Camping is available on site, complimentary RV parking is offered, and dorm rooms are available.

Funds raised from MS Bike support research into the cause, treatment and cure of MS, as well as valuable services, programs and advocacy for Canadians affected by MS.

For more information on the disease, go to


Container needs be filled for evacuees 

People wishing to aid fellow British Columbians affected by the wildfires in the Interior can help fill a 20-foot container designated for three towns outside of Ashcroft, on Monday and Tuesday.

This is the seventh shipment for Disaster Aid Canada.

“A container in Nanaimo last week was filled in three days … we are challenging people in Victoria to fill one in two days,” said Anne McIntyre, executive director of Disaster Aid Canada. “The list of needed items we are asking the public to donate was provided by the United Way in Kamloops. The basics are really what is immediately needed. But the beginning of a new school year is just around the corner, and we will be providing school supplies, as well.”

Rotarians and firefighters will be on hand to help unload donations (new items only — please contact ahead of time if you have gently used items) between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Save-on-Foods, 3510 Blanshard St. Look for a Big Steel Box container in the parking lot.

Items accepted include: New hygiene products, soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, tissues, Chapstick, nail clippers, razors, shaving cream and feminine hygiene products. There is also a need for new underwear, socks, T-shirts, blankets, sheets and towels.

Or you can make a donation to the British Columbia Wildfire Campaign ( and search for Disaster Aid Canada).

For more information, go to


Tour de Rock riders hold dress rehearsal 

The Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team will be on the road Saturday for a dress-rehearsal mock tour.

The team, with support crew, police cars and motorcycles, will pedal from Nanaimo to Duncan and back.

“This is the 20th year celebration for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, and the team is pumped to kick things off,” said Katie Crowe, tour co-ordinator. “Over the years, Vancouver Island has raised over $23 million to support kids who are battling cancer. Thanks to our supporters, we have sent over 8,500 kids to Camp Goodtimes where kids and their families can escape and just be kids.”

The team is made up of police officers from CFB Comox and Esquimalt, Port Hardy, Campbell River, Comox Valley, Ucluelet, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, North Cowichan/Duncan and Westshore RCMP detachments, as well as Saanich and Victoria municipal police departments. The team is complemented with guest riders from ambulance, firefighters, media and the corporate world.

The tour musters at the Inn on Long Lake Nanaimo and then rides for a visit at Port Place Thrifty Foods in Nanaimo. The team then continues to Ladysmith Tim Hortons for refreshments. Next, they hit a lunch-stop fundraiser at Just Jakes restaurant in Duncan.

The Mock Tour concludes with a beer-and-burger fundraising event at Nanaimo’s Boston Pizza.

The public is welcome to meet the team at both stops. Tickets are still available through Just Jakes and Boston Pizza.

To learn more about each team member and for a list of upcoming fundraisers, go to Donations can be made at