Project Proposal and Progress


Weekly Objectives and Achievements

Our objective was to visit the Legion during our flexible learning time and find out more about the facility, obtain contact details for the branch president, and understand their services.  Our first attempt was on a Friday evening, under the assumption that the Legion would be open as a social space.  We realized that there were specific office hours during the day time and were unable to enter the Legion and access the space.  As a result, we planned a second visit to the Legion during their said office hours. We arrived during their office hours and discovered that the hours are flexible. The elevator was locked so we couldn’t access the basement level, where the Legion is located. While we attempted to figure out how to enter the Legion, we met an employee who works in the building (which is shared between three other organizations) who gave us information about the Legion. Since out last blog post, we also put together our project proposal, which can be found here:  

Our Moment of Significance



We were trying to obtain information regarding the Legion’s facilities and wanted to meet a possible contact person. An employee named Shaun shared his insight with us, including how the Legion uses their space, and the facilities and resources the Legion has. He also advised us to talk to Isabel, the Legion’s president, in the early morning when she is most likely to be in the office, as the posted hours are very loosely observed.


So What

Even though we were unable to access the physical Legion space and meet Isabel, Shaun provided us with valuable insight. We learned that the Legion has a full kitchen and banquet space, is one of two dry Legions in Canada, and has three bowling lanes. He also provided information about the Legion’s programming, which includes senior-focused banquets and their annual poppy fund campaign. When asked about access to an event schedule, he said it isn’t publicized and relies heavily on word of mouth.

This speculation made us question, how many people people are aware of Mount Pleasant Legion as a food resource?  In Ron Finley’s Ted Talk, he expressed the need for bringing food into the proximity of those who need it.  Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in finding any information regarding this Legion after researching on the Internet.  It wasn’t until we visited the Mount Pleasant Legion building, that we were able to gain substantial information. In the case of this particular Legion, the food is available and accessible, however most people are unaware of its existence. This issue may explain the motivation behind the City of Vancouver’s initiative to publicize local food assets, and will hopefully broaden the resource options available to individuals living within these communities.

This experience did not reflect our expectations and we could have come away from it feeling frustrated, however as Tim Harford explains in his Ted Talk, problems that arise can present themselves as opportunities (2016). Our situation reminded us that community-based research is often unpredictable, but that we can still gain information from non-ideal situations if we can adapt to the problems.

Now What

With this newfound information, we plan to visit a third time in the morning in hopes of meeting Isabel in person. We would like to establish initial contact in preparation for an interview in two weeks’ time as well as find out if and when the next event will be. If possible, interviewing Isabel and speaking with volunteers and members will give us a clearer picture of how the Legion operates within the community.

Although our inability to contact our Legion up until this point could be seen as a failure, we had anticipated that establishing a relationship with Legion staff could take time. As heard in the Freakonomics podcast, “Failure is Your Friend”, there is a negative stigma associated with failure, but accepting failure and working through it can lead to a more productive group output and more positive results during project work. We have noticed that it is only through failure that we have grown stronger as a team.  As we continue to reach out to the Mt. Pleasant Legion, we will work on being flexible with our communication efforts and being patient regardless of our slow start to this project.

Upcoming Objectives and Strategies

In the next two weeks, we will:

  • Make a point of contact with Isabel, the President of Legion Branch 177
    • Learn about upcoming events and if there is potential for us to participate
    • Observe the Legion’s kitchen and dining facilities
  • Prepare for interview sessions
    • Refine interview questions from interview guide in proposal
    • Prepare consent forms
    • Schedule interview times



Group Introductions (left to right)

Joanne Wong

    • Global Resource Systems Major – Global Health
    • Interests: biking, playing guitar, music, community, graphic design and typography, and trying new things!

Rachel Leung

    • Food Nutrition & Health Major
    • Interests: Plant-based baking and cooking, food photography, scenic hikes and bike rides, scrapbooking, entrepreneurship

Jenny Sinclair

    • Global Resource Systems Major – Sustainable Food Systems and Communities
    • Interests: cooking, travelling, playing guitar, and reading endless cookbooks and food magazines!

Carmina Paterno

    • Food Science Major
    • Interests: Baking, cake decorating, hikes and kickboxing, wine science and product development

Winnie Kwan

    • Global Resource Systems Major – Sustainable Food Systems
    • Interests: gardening, creative writing, reading, swimming, dragon boating

Olivia Shaw

    • Global Resource Systems Major – Food Systems and Community Engagement
    • Interests: vocal and fiddle improvisation, dance, wild food foraging, drawing, adventure-ing!

Our group expectations for the project

We are looking forward to learning more about the Royal Canadian Legion and how it supports the local community. Through our project, we hope to identify potential ways in which the Mt. Pleasant Legion can be better integrated into the local community, potentially by encouraging new community partnerships and relationships. Before proceeding, we will need to learn the extent of the Mt. Pleasant Legion’s involvement in the local food community, and if they have an interest in expanding their involvement. Our reasons for choosing this project came both from personal interests and wanting to explore the unknown. Many of us have never been to or heard of the Legions, which made us curious to learn more about this community and project. Overall, our goal is to develop a better understanding of the Vancouver food system through assessing the smaller scale Legion food system.

royal-canadian-legion-sign-mount-pleasant-vancouver-bc-canada-joe-foxPhoto credit: FineArtAmerica

Our project objectives and community organization

Legions are Canadian organizations that provide essential services to veterans, their families, and local communities, while commemorating the sacrifices men and women made for our country. Legions hold space for an aging community of members that are rich with stories of Vancouver and beyond. They maintain their site as a communal place where veterans, other members of the community, and visitors can gather, play social games, listen to live music, participate in meat draws, and connect with each other. The Legion supports youth, health, and education programs in the community as well as provides food vouchers to veterans and bursaries to students. This long-standing organization is an asset to the community for its diversity of services, its long legacy of support and for many other facets we have yet to discover. As such, it presents itself as a great starting point around which an asset based approach of community development can be formulated, focusing on the positive impacts of the Legion on the community and how these can be developed further.

  tspa_0004302fPhoto credit:  Toronto Public Library

As LFS students hoping to increase food assets in the Mount Pleasant community, we aim to assess the state of the Legion’s food system and understand what the needs of its stakeholders are. Through site visits and interviews, questions concerning kitchen capacity, kitchen use, and the existence of on-site food services will be addressed. This research falls in line with the city of Vancouver’s goal to improve people’s access to healthy, adequate, and culturally appropriate food. Unfortunately, certain demographics experience disproportionately higher food insecurity compared to others, and therefore cannot access the food they require. This is why we will critically analyze existing infrastructure and community stakeholder needs with a food justice perspective, with the goal of making the food assets currently found at the Legion more accessible to the community. If the Legion does have an underused kitchen, we aim to identify potential uses for the facilities and to optimize and expand community services in line with the wishes of the branch.  If the Mt. Pleasant Legion does not have a kitchen for us focus on, we will shift our attention to the communal space and food assets available, and how we can promote the Legion’s current services to potentially build more community.



Building community through shared kitchen spaces

Photo credit: ironypoisoning via Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Our first impressions of the process to date

From the course descriptions of the Legion projects, our understanding is that the project is relatively open-ended. The direction each Legion would like to proceed towards will differ by branch, depending on what assets they have available and what they feel comfortable with. Like Sirolli said in his TED talk, our group agreed that we should “shut up and listen” to the Mt. Pleasant Legion’s wishes, goals, and desires before planning how our group can best assist them in meeting their needs. We have speculations and possible initiative ideas, but they could all be worthless if our branch is uninterested in pursuing them.

Sirolli’s TED talk can also be accessed via the following link:

Many members from our group did not know what to expect before walking into the West Point Grey Legion, but what we did see was not what we had anticipated. The old-timey pub and pool gathering space of the branch was very quaint, and we quickly grew curious to check out the Mt. Pleasant branch and experience the Legion that we would be working with!

Our visit to the West Point Grey Legion initially confused our group’s understanding of the proposal for our project, but it also helped cement the concept of using Sirolli’s theme as our guide, and opening our eyes to the needs of the community. It also further introduced us to the society’s food system, and allowed us to see through a food justice lens in order to carefully perceive and identify the existing obstacles and constraints the community’s food system presents.

Going into this project, we had very few preconceived ideas of what the entirety of the process would resemble.  We hope that by focusing on the desires of our Mt. Pleasant Legion branch we will be able to recognize the value of the community’s input and be sensitive to their needs and wishes.  As we begin to work with the Mt. Pleasant Legion, we look forward to approaching the branch with respect and openness, to build a culture of trust and collaboration so that we can assist in meeting the community’s needs based on the current foundation that they have created.

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