Royal Society of St. George B.C. Branch Offers a Warm Welcome to English Ex-pats
DAN BROWN, president of the Royal Society of St. George B.C. Branch.
By CATHOLINE BUTLER
VANCOUVER - Dan Brown, the president of the Royal Society of St. George, British Columbia Branch, recently spoke to The Celtic Connection about the aims and objectives of his organization.
The Royal Society of St. George dates back to 1888 in Vancouver. At that time it was mainly a charitable organization which mostly helped English immigrants in distress, but now the work of the Society has changed.
"We are affiliated with the Royal Society of St. George which is based out of Kent, England," said Brown. "This is one of the most patriotic societies in England and it has branches all over the world."
The Royal Society of St. George, B.C. Branch in general observes the customs and traditions of England, but it is also about preserving the customs and traditions of England in Canada.
These customs and traditions are preserved in British Columbia in two ways. One is that the Society schedules social events - mainly for ex-pats but also for the second generation (like Dan Brown) - such as dinners, pub nites, or lunches throughout the year.
The Society also offers a program called "The English Welcome" which extends a hand to prospective immigrants, recent arrivals, and people working on visas when they arrive from Britain.
Brown explains, "We're not a benevolent society, we're really a resettlement program. We give advice and information and sometimes emotional support to new arrivals from Britain.
Some are trying to establish the Canadian way of doing things, others may require more information about Vancouver.
"We help by meeting them at the airport, locating short term housing, or help in finding schools for their children and learning more about which neighbourhood they may wish to settle into."
The Society recently held a luncheon in White Rock to welcome the new British Consul-General Alex Budden who has just arrived from Nairobi, Kenya. His position covers a vast area ranging across British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Speaking about his own second generation background, Dan said, "my family is originally from Staffordshire, at least my dad was. I became more and more interested in my British roots and discovered the Society of St. George.
"I found them to be a delightful group of people who enjoyed getting together to celebrate our customs and traditions.
"I have visited England several times... but not as much as I would like to. My last visit was quite eventful and one that I will never forget.
"It was July 21, 2007, and we got caught-up in the terrible floods in the Cheltenham area. We never planned to be in that area, especially in the middle of a national disaster.
"Fortunately we were evacuated by taxi and thanks to a wonderful driver, made it safely back to our hotel after a four and a half hour drive through flood waters. Over 1,000 people were stranded that night and had to sleep overnight in their cars."
For more information about the activities of the Royal Society of St. George B.C. Branch, call President Dan Brown at (604) 263-7369, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: www.stgeorgebc.ca.