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Dim Sum fundraiser helps educate young women in rural China

Fred Lee hobnobs with non-fiction award nominees, CampOUT and OneCoffee

EDUCATING GIRLS: Ching Tien grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution. She was forced to leave her schooling to work in a factory in Gansu Province. After immigrating to Canada, she never forgot the poverty she witnessed in Gansu, particularly the plight of girls forced to quit school to support their families. In 2005, Tien founded Educating Girls of Rural China, a charity dedicated to providing young women the opportunity of an education and a brighter future. Thanks to her fundraising efforts, 842 young women have received the opportunity to attend school, with Tien touting her girls achieving a 99 per cent successful graduation rate. Tien continues her efforts to sponsor more girls. Several hundred guests convened at Sun Siu Wah Restaurant on Main Street to support her annual Charity Dim Sum Luncheon. Yours truly served as master of ceremonies of the power lunch that raised more than $40,000 to give another 40 young women the gift of schooling.

WRITERS FEST: British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction was created in 2005 to honour Canada’s finest writers of non-fiction. Ken Dryden (Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey), Doug Saunders(Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough), Tanya Talaga(Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City) and Carol Off (All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others) were shortlisted for the annual $40,000 award from the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, one of Canada’s largest prizes for non-fiction published in Canada and the only national prize originating in B.C. The four were on hand for the literati luau staged at the Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre and fronted by foundation chair Scott McIntrye. Off would take home the top book prize for her memoir of an Afghan family defying injustice. Inadvertently putting her subject's life at risk, Off became an advocate helping the family flee persecution.

PROUD PARENTS: UBC’s CampOUT provides a space for LGBTQ2S+ youth to develop personal and interpersonal skills, group skills, support systems, and fosters resilient community development. For the past eight years, the summer leadership camp has welcomed a diverse group of students from across the province to participate free of charge made possible by the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations. Benefactors were thanked recently at a sky-high reception held at Scotia Tower. Camp director Anne White hosted the community celebration, sharing with attendees the positive outcomes of this year’s summer camp. Among the many highlights, the camp held its first ever Parent Caregiver Day, inviting guardians of queer youth the opportunity to connect and learn with one another and service providers. “I loved being able to share and learn through others’ journeys… learning how to be an ally was so valuable,” said one proud parent. Applications are now being accepted for the July 5 to 8 camp.

COMPOSTABLE COFFEE: Canadians love their coffee and they love their coffee pods. More than 1.5-billion single cups of java are brewed in homes and offices annually. Unfortunately, most of those pods end up filling our local dumps and landfills. And there lies the dilemma of a caffeinated and green city. Many began abandoning their Keurig machines, the single largest maker of single-serve coffee. Enter OneCoffee, the latest brewing innovation: a 100 per cent compostable single-serve coffee aimed to reduce the country’s coffee pod trash problem. The organic, fair trade, single-serve coffee was introduced at a breakfast event early Saturday morning at Robbie Kane’s Café Medina. Orchestrated by parent company Canterbury Coffee, java junkies were invited to a free brunch to celebrate the launch and sample the firm’s fair trade, organic and certified compostable single-serve coffee pods.

Hear Fred Mondays 8:20 a.m. on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition AM690 and 88.1FM; email:; Twitter: @FredAboutTown