Children and Teen Services Coordinator, Burnaby Public Library
Joyce has worked for Burnaby Public Library since 1981, currently at the Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch. She is active on the Burnaby Early Childhood Development (ECD) Table, Burnaby School Aged Initiative and Literacy Now Burnaby Steering Committee. In her work and attitude, she contributes to making Burnaby a welcoming and inclusive community.
Welcoming and connecting has long been a habit of Joyce’s. She says, “Growing up in North Burnaby, all the kids in school spoke English – there were no recent immigrants. In Grade Four we were thrilled because a new student had just moved here from Japan. Our wonderful teacher did a great job of welcoming her and not making her exotic or different. The teacher used art projects to allow us to connect to the new girl, who was an accomplished painter. It’s important for newcomers to see that what they know is valued and respected. That experience in Grade Four piqued my interest in welcoming newcomers.”
Joyce has created programs, events and services to welcome newcomers and to help them develop a sense of belonging. Examples include Burnaby Library’s My First Language kits and the parent handout, Your First Language: A Precious Gift to Your Child, which has been translated into 26 languages.
Joyce has created Sharing our Stories and Rhymes, an innovative public education project designed to help residents of Burnaby and New Westminster understand and appreciate cultural differences. Through songs and rhymes in fifteen different languages including, this resource will offer newcomer families and the community the chance to share and celebrate their point of origin culture, and to learn about others.
Joyce says, “One of the most rewarding parts at the library is welcoming somebody who has almost literally just stepped off the plane. Family and friends tell newcomers about the many doors opened by our public libraries in BC and Canada. We offer conversation circles, information about citizenship, and with a library card, you have online access to hundreds of newspapers from around the world. Not having to pay and being able to borrow – many other countries have nothing like our public library systems.”
“So many people are highly literate in two or three languages, just not in English. Working with families succeeds so well because every parent I’ve ever met really just wants the best for their children.”
Joyce advises, “Really listen to people and be respectful of their point of view, and don’t make generalizations about a community or culture. I have spent years studying abroad and traveling in countries where I don't speak the language. This experience helps me in my literacy work, because not being able to speak the language or even understand the characters the words are written in, puts me in the shoes of many newcomers.”