Joy Flags Workshop

The fun had us in stitches at the Friends of the Newton Grove ‘Joy Flags’ workshop put on by Elizabeth Carefoot On February 17th.

We made our joys flags by hand-stitching and embellishing pre-cut flag forms and had a  great time.

Joy Flags are loosely based on prayer flags that are displayed all around Buddhist temple grounds, particularly in Nepal and Tibet.

Watch for our Flags to make a Joyous appearance in the Newton Grove later in the season, when the weather gets nicer!


Cedar Bark Poets Book 25: “Fall & Messages”

Cedar Bark Poets proudly present “Book 25: Fall & Messages.” The Cedar Bark Poet ‘Zine is a community-led project. If you would like to contribute work to future editions of the Cedar Bark ‘Zine, please contact

Cedar Bark Poets Book 24 “Oceans & Art”

Cedar Bark Poets proudly present “Book 24: Oceans & Art.” The Cedar Bark Poet ‘Zine is a community-led project. If you would like to contribute work to future editions of the Cedar Bark ‘Zine, please contact

Contributors to “We Are Newton”

Thank you to all the residents of Newton—past and present—who shared their memories and thoughts about Newton. A few writers requested anonymity and/or declined to provide bios. Here’s a little bit about those who did. See here for more information about the project.

Philip Aguirre has been running his family’s Old Surrey Restaurant since 2007. He spent a year in France mastering his culinary skills and perfecting the traditional recipes served at the restaurant. Philip is also the Executive Director of the Newton Business Improvement Association.

The Amazing Tutors Children’s Foundation is a registered non-profit society. Its primary goals are to secure tutoring access for families with financial difficulty and to provide educational scholarships for deserving students. They also support youth and families by providing free or low-cost community events and volunteering opportunities in Surrey. Lastly, they demonstrate commitment to helping individuals and other community-focused organizations by providing charitable donations.

Thank you to all the students and staff who entered submissions.

Norm Bain has been writing poetry and short stories, in praise of his Creator and for family and friends for 60 plus years, some of which were published in The Surrey Leader where he worked from 1957 to 1965. He is a member of the Newton Seniors Centre Writing Club and has recently self-published a book of his poetry.

Brendan Borba first moved to Newton as a nine-year-old in the late 1990s. He watched as the community grew up and changed alongside him. He continues to reside in Newton today with his wife and three children.

Teresa Cahill grew up in Tsawwassen and has lived in several Metro Vancouver communities, but she’s chosen Surrey as her home for the last 22 years. Teresa lived in the Newton community from 2003 to 2008.

David Dalley and his wife, Erin, moved to a small apartment in Newton in 2004. They liked the neighbourhood so much that when their family outgrew the apartment, they moved to a townhouse two blocks away. They will be there until they are too old to climb the stairs.

Forrest Day lived on a farm on King George Highway in Newton during his school days. He attended Newton School and Princess Margaret High School. He is a retired educator who worked in Burnaby and Langley.

Eakam Dhami is a 14-year-old Punjabi boy who loves Nintendo and reading fantasy/adventure books.

Ellen Edwards grew up on a farm on Archibald Road near Bear Creek. She attended Newton School and Princess Margaret High School. Her career path included teaching in Surrey and other areas, and employment counselling and training coordination for career and vocational rehabilitation professionals.

Comfort Ero is the founder and artistic director of African Stages Association of BC (ASA). Originally from Nigeria, she uses inter-art storytelling forums to teach positive values, empowers immigrant youths to deal with problems like bullying and helps to build healthy communities. Comfort lived in Upton Place in Newton from 2006 to 2010.

Gary has his Bachelors and Masters in Social Work and is a Doctoral student in Education. He is currently the head of the non-profit Moving Forward Family Services that provides low barrier counselling and support services to residents of Surrey and surrounding areas. The office is situated in Newton.

Corallyn Hocaluk has lived in Newton for the past 18 years with her talented husband and two beautiful daughters. She has a special interest in environmental concerns, nutrition and urban food initiatives. Along with her husband, she has researched and developed an aquaponic food system in hopes of building stronger community.

Diana Joy was born in Vancouver. She moved to Newton in 2015 to care for her elderly parents. She currently resides part time in Surrey, part time in Port Coquitlam and has ties to the Sunshine Coast. She has recently published her first chapbook From the Wet Coast, With Love.

Jane Kovich has lived in South Newton for nine years with her young family. She works as a publicist and writer. She published her first novel Love and Fear this fall. Her family enjoys long walks around their South Newton neighbourhood.

Chrissy LeClair, 39, is the mom of four girls. She says, “The Newton Community was there for us in our time of need. It lifted and strengthened our spirits.”

Jodi Leech is coordinator of Studio Seventy Three, a growing social enterprise supported by the Community Living Society. They are excited to be new members of the Newton business community and have felt very welcomed. Their artisans produce beautiful and functional glassware, decorative pieces and wearable art.

Kelly Magnuson lives in Surrey. Kelly loves to read, write poems and watch The Big Bang Theory.

Eric McKinley lived on Nichol Road in Newton while he was a boy. He attended Newton School and Princess Margaret High School. Eric teaches and ministers in Peru.

Dawn Miller walks through The Grove nearly every morning on the way to her favourite coffee spot. Coming from Saskatchewan, she was appalled at what she saw and heard in The Grove and Newton Exchange. Now, she says, “The Grove has become a positive place to walk through.”

Mila Grace Nagy was born in Manila, Philippines. She immigrated to Canada in the 1970s, married her love, Louis, and together they raised daughters, Mary and Jolie. Widowed in 2009, Mila lives in Surrey where she enjoys singing in the St. Bernadette Church choir, writing classes, yoga and spending time with her grandson, Aiden.

Ellen Niemer moved to Newton in 2012. In her role as editor, she enjoyed reading all the submissions to this anthology and hopes that you’ll enjoy reading these stories too. She hopes we’ll continue to celebrate the positive people and places that make Newton home.

Fauzia Rafique is a South Asian Canadian writer/poet. She has published the novel Skeena (Libros Libertad, Surrey, 2011) in English and Punjabi, and her second novel The Adventures of Saheba N: Biography of a Relentless Warrior is being launched this November. She coordinates Surrey Muse, and is a project organizer for Surrey Muse Writers.
Shannon Robinson is originally from the Shuswap Lake area of BC. She moved to Surrey four years ago with her husband and two sons. She is the owner and primary yoga teacher of Riverwise Yoga Studio. She loves the outdoors, travel and books.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar is a poet, author and mentor who is also the first Poet Laureate of the City of Surrey. Trained as a lawyer at the University of British Columbia, she has a degree in English Literature and graduated from Simon Fraser University’s The Writers Studio. Her book Children of Air India was the winner of the 2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry.

Barbara Sarahan grew up in North Delta and Surrey. As a teenager, she and her brothers raced through the fields, galloped around on their neighbour’s horse and found old bottles. They picked flowers and brought them home to their mom. She says, “I am now 55 years old and watching all the good stuff disappear.”

Steve Simpson was raised, and currently resides, in the Newton area.

Katheren Szabo is originally from Duncan, BC. Her family moved to Surrey about 10 years ago. Katheren enjoys family, poetry, art and volunteering. Becoming active with Friends of The Grove and Cedar Bark Poets, she’s now part of a lively social scene in Newton. Katheren encourages everyone to volunteer.

W.B. is lost in the middle of Newton, having been here so long trying to reconcile landmarks that have weathered and changed, in a town growing and rearranged.

Ken Westdorp now resides in Whalley, but he grew up and lived as a young adult in various locations in Newton during its formative years. Passionate since an early age about writing, Ken is continually influenced by the Newton community that has become a large part of his poetic repertoire.

D.C. Willbourn was dragged out to Newton against her will from downtown Vancouver eight years ago. Getting involved with the creation of the Newton Bark Park introduced her to the people who want to make Newton a place to be proud of and a place to call home.

George Zaklan’s father, Dragan, purchased land in Surrey in 1926. After dynamiting the tree stumps on their land, Dragan and Marta Zaklan got a cow and grew vegetables and strawberries. Today Zaklan Heritage Farm continues the farm legacy that began with Dragan and Marta.

Katheren Szabo Receives Community Leader Award

Generous artist in Newton shares her creative gifts with the community

Over the last few years Katheren has been associated with many community projects including Friends of the Grove, Cedar Bark Poets, Party for Peace, Christmas caroling, neighbourhood parties for low income housing residents and most recently, Fambul Tok, which highlighted a multicultural celebration of peace, forgiveness and community.

“Volunteering costs nothing and can change lives,” Katheren says. “I meet so many lonely, hurt people and I encourage them all to volunteer and share how I feel better by going out and doing for others.”

She also just recently finished her 4th annual 60-day peace vigil where she attends the Grove beside the Newton Recreation Centre and listens to anyone who needs a shoulder, provides what small items of food she can and offers art supplies to encourage everyone’s creative outlet no matter who, what, or from where they are. She accomplishes this mostly by small community grants and has become quite well known in that respective circle.

“People are my passion. I believe if we build more caring, trusting and committed connections to each other then the whole neighborhood becomes stronger day by day. People have so many amazing gifts to share.”

Katheren is an amazing woman who, in spite of a serious contingence of obstacles, has managed to persevere and bring forth an unselfish display of absolute love and harmony of life. Frequently she paints and draws messages of peace, harmony and togetherness that she leaves in various spots around Newton, where she has lived for 15 years. She does this while travelling on her scooter, which is her only means of transportation. The sole reason she does is to find someone who may need it to be uplifted.

“I like to think I help bring some joy, memories and feelings of belonging to neighbors I meet,” Katheren says.

Newton would not be anywhere near as bright were it not for her in it.

See the full summary of Community Leader Awards in this article in the Now Leader Newspaper.

Without Newton, We Are Nothing!

The following submission appeared in “We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.” See here for more information about the project.

By: Comfort Ero

A big black rat called Fen arrived in a cool part of Newton forest after a long, tiring and extremely dangerous trip from a far-away city. She stopped to rest in the cool shade under a tree. Her 12 babies scurried to hide under her balding belly.

“Caw, caw, caw!” called a crow on the branch above her. Startled, the rat moved to run away. But when it saw that it was a small crow, black like she, she greeted the crow, her tail and nose twitching in anxiety.

“Good morning, my friend,” Fen said.

“Why do you greet me and call me your friend?” asked the crow.

“Oh sorry,” replied Fen, “that is a common greeting where I come from.”

“And where are you from?” a voice interrupted.

All eyes turned in the direction the loud question came from. They saw Pero, the African parrot. His grey and red plumage was highlighted by the background of dark green foliage he perched upon. Fen and her babies squeaked and scurried to hide in fear.

“Caw, caw, caw!” greeted the crow. “Pero, Fen and her babies arrived in Newton last night. It took them many days and nights to travel here from the big city.”

“And why are they hiding?” Pero asked.

“They are scared of you,” cawed the crow.

“Me? Scared of me, me, me!” chanted the parrot excitedly. “Please come out of hiding. This is Newton, the city of peace. I quite understand your fright. I know about some other cities where animals are attacked unprovoked. You are welcome to the village of Newton where people, birds, plants and other animals coexist peacefully.”

“Pero is right,” added the crow. “Even in winter, human beings put food in funny nests behind their houses to feed us! Caw, caw, caw!”
“What about the hunters? Do they not attack you with their spit-fire guns?” Fen asked timidly, not totally trusting her new friends.

“That is against the law here,” Pero screamed, irritated. “Anyone who does that will be punished by the government! Here in Newton, we are protected like treasured resources. The people have great respect for nature. ”

“Wow!” exclaimed Fen. “It sounds unbelievable!”

“No, it doesn’t,” chirped the crow. “I grew up here in Newton. Some of the farms and forests that I grew to know have been cleared to make room for new homes. This is because just as we migrate, humans also come from other parts of the world. They need homes to live in when they come. Happily, they plant trees and shrubs around their homes so our habitats are not totally lost.”

As the crow finished speaking, a seagull flew in with a big fish dangling from its beak. It landed in front of the tree where the crow perched. The latter flew down to meet it, but the parrot stayed on its branch singing. There was a mixture of “caw” and “koah koah” sounds of greeting between the two birds. Fen was very afraid of the seagull and kept her distance. The seagull looked up at the whistling parrot and said, “There you go again, singing your owner’s song.”

Pero retorted, “I have no owner. Tony is my friend. I am free to do what I want whenever I want. He is very kind, and we talk together like very good friends do.”

“Caw, caw, caw. Ah, ah, ah!” chorused the crow and the seagull. “Come down and have some fish.”

Suddenly, they heard human whistling. Pero replied, saying, “Tony, my friend, welcome.”

Within a few minutes his friend Tony appeared with a plastic bag full of birdseed. He spread a piece of cardboard and poured the seeds on it. The seagull and crow rushed forward. Fen and her babies followed timidly behind.

“Come on Pero, on y va?” Tony said to the parrot.

“Oui Tony, allons-y! J’ai une faim de loup!” Pero replied.
The crow saw the amazement on Fen’s face and said, “Pero can speak as many languages as are spoken in Newton; he speaks English, French, Spanish, Hindi and Mandarin. You know, Newton is a multicultural city. Pero learned these languages partly from Tony, who speaks seven languages, and by listening to people in shopping malls and other busy areas.”

Fen only partially listened to the crow as she and her babies ate hungrily. The seagull promised to invite them all to her home near the seashore. The crow said that she would take the rats on a tour around the city of Newton where there are animal sanctuaries, parks and brooks. He offered to show them where they can build their own home at no cost and live without fear.

“Humans here are so kind,” sighed Fen in relief.

“Yes,” agreed the seagull. “Humans are nice, but what I don’t like about them is the way they refer to us as wildlife! We are freedom-loving creatures, not wild species. Our way is how our life is meant to be. Human beings have their own way of life too!”

“Yes,” Fen cut in quickly. “I don’t know why people in Newton get positively involved in maintaining our habitations and in preserving our lives. Where I migrated from, there is so much hatred and violence.”

“Don’t you know why?” the seagull interrupted her. “Newton is home to different species of birds and animals. Negatively treating one or more species and their habitats will have a ripple effect on us all.

“Humans, animals, habitats and nature; we all are Newton! Without us, there’s no Newton; without Newton, we are nothing!”

Newton is Home to Me

The following submission appeared in “We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.” See here for more information about the project.

By: Jade Pruden

Newton, to me, is home. I grew up here, and I have lived here for almost my whole childhood. I moved here when I was four, and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve made so many friends here in school and in my neighbourhood.

The people in my neighbourhood are all so nice to me, and I know most of them pretty well. My neighbourhood is welcoming and kind. Living here has shaped who I am today.

The best place in Newton is the park behind my old elementary school. I like to go there and sit on the swings and hang out with friends. That park has given me so many great memories that I will never forget. My friends and I called it the Oval. It’s a huge field surrounded by trees. I used to go there and climb trees, hang out with my friends, play games and spend a lot of time there. It was so beautiful in the fall with all the leaves on the ground and the smell of the trees.

I remember when my friend got stuck in a tree in the Oval. She was too scared to jump down. Her mom had to come and help her out of the tree. My friends and I still laugh about that story and we probably always will.

There are so many places in Newton that have provided me with memories with my friends that I will never forget. What I’m trying to say is that even though Newton gets some bad reviews, it’s still home to me. I will always remember my favourite childhood places and I will always love it here.

The Angel

The following submission appeared in “We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.” See here for more information about the project.

By: S. Hayat, Amazing Tutors Children’s Foundation

There are so many things I can tell you about my life, but the last decade has no doubt left impressions and experiences which have helped shape the woman that I have become today. Perhaps if I had not met Alina, I would have lived a different life, and if God had not interceded in my decision to be married to my husband, I would not be here in Newton.

I remember clearly how I felt when I first walked into the bright, sunny office on that summer day. I was an impressionable young woman looking for an entry-level job as an administrative assistant. There she was, dressed in a dark, emerald green hijab with a matching gown that draped downwards. Her face was solemn, offset with a prominent nose and very keen, dark brown eyes. Her stature and demeanour revealed strength and dignity.

I flashed a friendly smile at her and wondered who she was. Her son interviewed me. When I was hired, I came to know Alina as the president of the company.

With Alina, everything felt so right and our days were filled with fun activities on top of my regular duties. There would be days when I felt overwhelmed with paperwork and phone calls from customers about their orders. However, she was always there to encourage me and help me resolve problems. Some days she would scatter her silk flower arrangements all over the desks to sell her handiwork to raise money for the mosque and help feed poor people. She taught me to be strong and assertive when working with men because all the other workers were shippers and drivers. On the weekend, we would go to the mini bazaar to sell her extra things to raise money for the mosque.

I can still hear her forceful words. “What you need is a good Muslim man who will treat you right!” Why? Where in the world and how? I thought she was out of her mind to make a bold suggestion like that. I did not know any Muslims in Newton until I met her and her loving family.

On a cool day, Zaid walked into the office to see Alina. He was a family friend. Never in a million years did I ever think that I would marry a man from across the world, least of all not an Arabian one. In a strange twist of fate, destiny has a way of bringing two hearts together. I know now that matches are made in heaven and marriages are experienced on earth right here and now. Things do not happen without God’s blessings and sanctions.

It was Alina who hosted my secret marriage to Zaid with her family around us, followed by a wonderful dinner in her home. I can still feel her strong arms around me and the warm kisses her two grandchildren gave me.

Fast forward two years and I saw Harry, Alina’s husband, bringing an old, dilapidated loveseat into the office. When I asked him what it was for, he replied, “Alina has headaches which make her tired and she needs to lie down.”

She felt more exhausted each day. She would take longer cat naps while the phones kept ringing. I continued to deal with all the sales and managerial work. I put a blanket around her to keep her warm.

A month later, I was on my second day of vacation. The sun was shining and smiling down on my flowers and the soft wind ruffled the tree branches. I heard a knock on my door. I thought to myself, who can it be at this time of the day? I opened my rustic green door and it was Harry with tears streaming down his distraught face. I held his rigid, cold hands as I searched his eyes for answers. He had just come back from a doctor’s appointment and was told that Alina was diagnosed with lung cancer. She would only have a year to live and there was no cure. I was shocked and confused by his news.

How could this have happened? Alina was not prepared to lose her family, nor was Harry prepared to lose his life partner. Certainly, I was not prepared to let her go. As we drove closer to the office, I thought about what to say to her. I walked through the door and my steps quickened until I found her. I held on to her like there was no tomorrow. Her eyes welled with tears, swollen with red lines of pain. I felt her heavy heart beating in a rhythm of sorrow as she sighed and exhaled slowly.

Everything would change. She would not be by my side anymore. She had to settle all her important matters. I would only see her from time to time when she came to visit me.

One of the hardest things I ever had to do was to say goodbye to Alina. In her final days, she lay in her bedroom surrounded by her supportive, caring family. Her body was filled with morphine to help alleviate her suffering, and her chest heaved as she gasped for breath from her breathing tube. This was not the Alina that I had come to know. She was trapped in her failing body. Her little granddaughter sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and the notes still ring in my ears.

I looked at Alina and knelt on my knees to be closer to her. I placed a crimson and orange dahlia in her limp right hand and placed my hands gently around hers. With tears in my eyes, I whispered, “I love you so much. You have changed my life profoundly by shaping the person that I have become today. I will never forget you because I will always guard you in my heart.”

After a few moments, I said, “Hold this flower in your hand, Alina, as you walk through the gates of paradise. I know it is time for you to go and the angels are waiting. Do not fight any longer for this life is a mirage and it is short, and I will see you again, when my time comes.” With that, I gave her a final kiss and I gripped her hand to say good night.

That was the last night I spent with her. Very early the next morning I received a phone call. She had passed away peacefully in her sleep. I had known her by her actions and the thoughtful things she did for other people, but I never realized the full impact of her kindness and who she really was until the morning of her funeral. All the people she had touched, one way or another, came as one entity to pay their honour and tribute to her. I am not talking about hundreds, more than 1,000 people came to pay their respects. She died as a Muslim leader in our community, in the month of Ramadan, when the Gates of Heaven are wide open with angels waiting at the footstep.

To me, Alina was more than my employer. She was my treasured friend, my mentor and role model. She loved me as I loved her, and in those three years, she helped me become the young woman that I am today in a very unforgettable way. With her soft, steady hand, she showed me how important it was to help others in need. With her patience and kindness, she showed me what life was really all about. Her cheerfulness and optimism, even in times of stricken sickness, were the most amazing things that I have ever witnessed.

Living in Newton

The following submission appeared in “We Are Newton: A Neighbourhood Anthology.” See here for more information about the project.

By: Griya, Grade 5, Newton Elementary School

Every time I walk outside of my house, I am grateful that I live in a beautiful community. I have lived in Newton all my life so I have a pretty good knowledge base of Newton.

Newton has so many entertainment choices. Swimming in Newton Wave Pool is one of my favourite activities to do, especially when my brother and I have a water fight. Next to the pool, there is an ice rink where I go ice-skating. It is always cold so I have to wear a huge coat with gloves. I look super fat whenever I go ice-skating. We have a movie theatre where you can watch movies. I usually watch Punjabi and Hindi movies with my whole family.

There is public transportation to take you anywhere you want. We are super lucky to have Skytrains in our community that most other cities in British Columbia don’t have. Another option is to go by bus. It is great for the environment, and for our community, if we use public transportation!

Newton has many grocery stores and food choices where I go shopping for clothes and groceries. I want to live in Newton forever because it’s just a great place to live!

Having fun, strengthening our neighbourhood, and hoping you'll join us!