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animal welfare compassion News/Blog Promoted Uncategorized

VHS Visits The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary

 

Earlier this week, Vancouver Humane Society staff spent the morning volunteering at The Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary in Aldergrove.

After helping clean up around the sanctuary, we spent some down time with the rescued animals who call Happy Herd home.

The pigs came running to the gate to greet us and ask for treats (which they sat nicely for!). While we cleaned, they played in the mud and requested the occasional belly rub.

We also visited with the goats while they enjoyed their lunch, which they generously shared with some of the chickens. Lunch was followed by the goats showing off their climbing skills on the ramps set up in their area.

The cows spent the morning lounging in the field and soaking up the sun. Meanwhile, the turkeys, Moe and Leonard, who go everywhere together, stopped by to show off their beautiful feathers and to check in on everyone. They’re very curious and love following guests around the sanctuary.

Seeing the animals at Happy Herd live out their lives as they should – playing, exploring, enjoying a mud bath, asking to be pet and napping in the shade – is a reminder of how similar they are to the cats and dogs we open our homes and hearts to. They share the same capacity for love, happiness, fear and suffering, yet society treats them very differently.

This is something both The Happy Herd and Vancouver Humane strive to change. Please consider supporting the wonderful work that Happy Herd does to help farmed animals in need and be sure to mark your calendars for our joint Giving Tuesday fundraiser on December 3rd!

 

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Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted Uncategorized vegan vegetarianism

Vancouver Park Board puts more plant-based foods on concession menus

Umaluma dairy-free gelato / @vanparkboard

Nothing beats spending a sunny summer day at one of Vancouver’s beautiful beaches, pools or parks – except maybe doing that while also enjoying a delicious plant-based meal or treat. Thanks to some new menu additions at a number of city-run concession stands, it’s never been easier to do exactly that!  

Mark Halyk, the Food & Beverage Operations Manager for the Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation, explained that the move to offer more veg and vegan options on concession menus is part of the city’s larger effort to meet the growing demand for local, healthier and more sustainable foods.  Other recent sustainability-focused Park Board initiatives include reducing single-use plastics, switching to wooden cutlery and offering discounts to patrons who supply their own travel mug.    

The new menu additions are a big change from what you might typically find at concession stands. They include a variety of veg and vegan Vij’s curries (available at Second Beach and Jericho beach locations), battered cauliflower tacos and battered avocado tacos that are veg but can be made vegan (available at all locations except Sunset Beach and Railway Café), plant-based burgers including the Beyond Meat burger and Yves burger (available at all locations) and fresh plant-based salads with greens grown on local golf courses (available at Second Beach, Third Beach, Kitsilano pool, Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks East).

You’ll also be able to cool off with plant-based Umaluma gelato (available at Kitsilano pool and Jericho Beach) and treat yourself to Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” plant-based loaves and cookies and Three Farmers roasted chickpea, lentil and pea snacks (available at all locations). 

Plant-based “Beyond Meat” burger / @foodlees

Recent surveys have indicated that a growing number of Canadians are reducing their consumption of animal-based foods. In fact, a survey released just last week from Insights West found that 27% of Canadians are likely to consider a vegetarian diet and 11% would take the next step and explore a vegan diet. Meanwhile, 26% of Canadians are likely to drop dairy from their diet. Younger generations are especially open to changing their diets – with 38% of 18-34-year-olds likely to go veg; 17% are likely to try veganism; and 36% are likely to go dairy-free. The survey found the leading motivators for those considering veg and vegan diets are animal cruelty, environmental impact, and personal health.

With awareness building around the many benefits of a plant-based diet, Vancouver Humane is thrilled to see more humane, healthy and sustainable plant-based foods on city menus. Improving public access to these foods is a step in the right direction when it comes to creating a more just and sustainable food system. So, the next time you’re out and about in Vancouver enjoying the beautiful summer weather and are in need of a meal or snack, be sure to check out the plant-based options at any nearby city-run concession stand!

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animal welfare Captivity News/Blog Promoted wildlife zoo

Vancouver Zoo Incident Raises Captivity Issues

Black bear in zoo – Jo-Anne McArthur / Born Free Foundation

Last week, media reported that a two-year-old girl was hospitalized following an incident at the Greater Vancouver Zoo (GVZoo). Reports indicated the toddler was able to access an area not open to the public and was bitten through a fence by a black bear, leaving her with a broken arm and injuries to her hand. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has since opened an investigation into the incident.

While GVZoo issued a statement over Twitter, including reference to its adherence “to the safety standards put forth by Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) to ensure the safety and well being of all patrons and our animals”, this means little considering that CAZA is a private zoo and aquarium industry association formed to represent its members’ interests. CAZA’s zoo and aquarium accreditation program amounts to the industry certifying and overseeing itself, which raises concerns about animal welfare, public safety and overall accountability and transparency within the industry.

In fact, some especially controversial zoos and aquariums have been given the CAZA stamp of approval, including African Lion Safari, an Ontario zoo that recently made headlines after being ranked in a World Animal Protection report as among the most cruel and outdated in the world. The CAZA-accredited facility offers elephant rides to guests, as well as the opportunity to pet elephants, take posed photos with them and watch them perform tricks. Shows, tricks and elephant rides are often associated with inhumane and traumatic training techniques while the practices themselves compromise the physical and psychological welfare of the animal and can present safety risks for guests. Earlier this summer, African Lion Safari was again in the news after a trainer was seriously injured in an incident with one of the zoo’s elephants.

Vancouver Humane has long-campaigned against the keeping of wild and exotic animals in captivity on the basis that their social, physiological and behavioural needs cannot be met in captivity. Captive animals often suffer due to a lack of space and enrichment, isolation, inappropriate social groupings and unsuitable environmental conditions. Depriving wild and exotic animals of the ability to perform instinctual behaviours in their natural habitat compromises their overall welfare and can lead to premature deaths.

GVZoo has a contentious history that reflects many of these issues, including but not limited to the 2015 death of a 15-month-old red panda, ‘Rakesh’, due to a fungal infection; the 2014 death of a two-year-old Siberian tiger, ‘Hani’, due to a lung infection; the deaths of three giraffes between 2011 and 2012; the 2009 stress-induced deaths of four zebras after two cape buffalos were placed inside their enclosure; the 2006 cruelty charge against GVZoo over the mistreatment of Hazina, a two-year-old hippo who had outgrown her pool and was kept for 15 months in a concrete holding pen with no outdoor access; and finally the high-profile and tragic story of Tina the elephant, who was kept for more than 30 years in a small, barren pen (many years of which she spent alone) and suffered from foot problems worsened by the ground in her enclosure. After a long-fought campaign by VHS and Zoocheck Canada and increased public pressure, Tina was transferred in 2003 to a sanctuary where she lived with other elephants and her foot condition improved, but sadly she died unexpectedly almost one year later of a sudden heart condition.

Vancouver Humane maintains that there are more ethical, effective and safe ways to engage in public education and wildlife conservation – the main claims that zoos and aquariums use to justify the keeping of wild and exotic animals in captivity. Alternatives include sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centres, ethical eco-tours, documentaries and films (e.g. The Great Bear Rainforest IMAX film), and the use of immersive technology to offer interactive animal-free exhibits (e.g. National Geographic’s “Encounter: Ocean Odyssey”) to educate the public about wildlife and conservation issues.

As the public becomes increasingly aware of the welfare and safety issues associated with wild and exotic animal captivity, attitudes surrounding the practice are evolving. Canada’s recent ban on the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity illustrates this. It’s time for zoos and aquariums to embrace this new era and evolve as well.

 

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animal welfare compassion cruelty Cruelty-free Dairy News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted vegan vegetarianism

Move to incorporate farmed animal codes into law will not protect animals from cruelty

The provincial government recently announced it will be adopting into law the codes of practice for the care and handling of farm animals, as outlined by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

The NFACC codes provide guidelines for animal handling, feed and water, housing and health, among other things. They will come into effect for poultry, fur and meat farmers across the province in June of this year.

While on the surface this may seem like a good thing for animals, the devil is in the details. NFACC is largely made of up industry representatives – it includes farmers, producers, transporters, veterinarians, retail and food service organizations, processors, governments and researchers, and animal welfare and enforcement agencies.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has several concerns about the adoption of the codes of practice into B.C. law. First, the adoption of the codes will not eliminate inherently inhumane practices currently applied to animals confined on farms. For instance, dairy cows will still spend most, if not all, of their lives indoors and be separated from their newborn calves; chickens will still be selectively bred for crippling fast growth; pigs will still be confined in crates. These are all still permissible under the codes of practice.

Second, how the codes are implemented into provincial law is of crucial importance. Animal Rights Lawyer, Anna Pippus, wrote about this in detail in 2016, after B.C. incorporated the codes of practice for dairy cattle into law. While the government celebrated it as a step forward in improving the welfare of dairy cows in B.C., Pippus noted that the dairy codes were incorporated as a defence rather than as a requirement. The BC Dairy Cattle Regulation recognizes the dairy code practices “as reasonable and generally accepted practices of dairy farming for the purposes of section 24.02 (c) of the Act”, instead of incorporating them as requirements that farmers must comply with. For comparison, Prince Edward Island’s animal welfare regulations reference the codes of practice as follows – “Every owner of a commercial animal shall comply with the codes of practice listed in Schedule B in respect of the commercial animal to which the code applies.”

This mean that in B.C., if a dairy farmer was accused of causing distress to an animal they could avoid charges by arguing that they were complying with the “reasonable and generally accepted practices of dairy farming.” Yet, the same regulation does not allow for farmers to be prosecuted if they aren’t complying with the codes, due to the fact that the dairy codes were not incorporated into law as a requirement that farmers must meet.

Fast forward to 2019, and we’re seeing this story repeat itself, with the remaining farm animal codes of practice being incorporated into B.C. law under the headline of improving animal welfare, but seemingly with the same problematic implications – as reasonable and generally acceptable livestock management practices, thus offering a defence for farmers, not animals.  

Join us in telling the provincial Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham that incorporating the NFACC codes of practice for farm animals as a defence for farmers is a step in the wrong direction. If we are to truly advance the welfare of farmed animals, on-farm regulations should be based on the best available science (not the industry-led codes of practice) and government oversight in the form of pro-active, on-farm audits in order to ensure compliance. See below for key points to make in your email to the Minister.

Ultimately, the best thing that we as individual consumers can do to truly protect animals from cruelty is to not eat, wear or use them. Today there are more alternatives to animal products on the market than ever before, making it easier for people to choose products that align more closely with their values.

Key points:

  • While the adoption of the codes into B.C. law is being framed by the government as strengthening animal welfare, it actually does nothing to further animal welfare. The codes still permit inhumane practices including selective breeding for crippling fast growth, separation of mothers from young and intensive confinement. 
  • Implementing the codes of practice as “reasonable and generally acceptable livestock management practices” and not as requirements that farmers must meet protects farmers, not the animals.
  • To truly advance farmed animal welfare, on-farm regulations should be based on the best available science, not industry-led codes of practice. The regulations should also be subject to government oversight through pro-active, on-farm inspections.
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animal welfare compassion Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted school Uncategorized

Students lead the effort to create a better world

Students are saving the world. Just skim the news lately and you’ll come across headlines about 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s compelling call to action at the recent UN Climate Change talks, or about the growing #FridaysForFuture youth movement and the recent Youth Climate Strike. Globally, youth are mobilizing a mass movement focused on creating a better world.

Locally, we at the Vancouver Humane Society are also inspired by the youth who have led the effort to bring more humane, healthy and sustainable plant-based foods to their school menus and who have worked to educate and empower their peers, and are proud to support amazing young people in Metro Vancouver.

Shiqi Xu and Naiara Peruchena are two of those local students who have been inspiring change in their community. Our Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, first met Shiqi and Naiara in 2016 and supported them in co-founding a Meatless Monday Club at their school, Sutherland Secondary, helping to promote plant-based menu changes in order to help animals. Since 2016, their club has led a highly successful Meatless Monday campaign, with the growing demand for plant-based menu items leading to their school’s food service provider to commit to transitioning 20 percent of the daily menu to plant-based foods!

Shiqi and Naiara also presented their Meatless Monday work to the North Vancouver School Board, asking for a letter of support, which the board enthusiastically provided. They were also successful in getting a student choice policy for animal dissection implemented in the school district, with support from the Animals in Science Policy Institute. The student choice policy allows students to opt out of animal dissection and participate in alternative learning methods.

Sutherland Secondary students Naiara Peruchena (on left) and Shiqi Xu (on right)

All that said, it came as no surprise to us that Shiqi was recently awarded the prestigious Loran scholarship of $100,000 to go toward her undergraduate studies. She intends to study bioengineering and wants to help develop biotechnology that will save lives while replacing animals used in testing.

“I am proud of the work Naiara and I have done in promoting healthy, sustainable eating in our school and school district, with VHS’ support,” says Shiqi. “Not only has this experience allowed me to build my leadership skills, but it also played a central role in igniting my passion for sustainability and animal rights. In my bioengineering endeavours in the future, my goal is to help improve the lives of both people and animals.”

We have no doubt that Shiqi and Naiara will go on to do great things for animals, people and the planet after they graduate this year, and that they will leave an inspiring legacy for the next generation of students set to take over the Meatless Monday Club, who we too look forward to working with!

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animal welfare compassion ethics News/Blog Promoted Uncategorized wildlife

Coalition calls on government to end wildlife-killing contests in British Columbia

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has joined a coalition of 54 environmental and animal protection groups, conservationists and scientists in calling on the government of British Columbia to put a stop to wildlife-killing contests, after learning about three such events currently taking place in the province.

In an open letter sent to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson, our coalition expressed significant concern about the existence of contests throughout the province that are encouraging the indiscriminate killing of animals including wolves, coyotes, cougars and raccoons.

In some of these events, participants receive points for the type of animal killed and compete for a cash prize. The coalition is currently aware of three separate events, the first is a “wolf-whacking contest” hosted by Chilcotin Guns in Williams Lake; the second is a “predator tournament” hosted by the Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club; and the third is a wolf bounty being offered by the West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club.

VHS opposes wildlife-killing contests on the grounds that they are unethical, inhumane and are not supported by science. Contest organizers claim they are protecting ungulate populations (deer, caribou, elk, etc.) by killing predators, but research shows that predator killing contests are ineffective and fail to address any root causes of decline. Instead, wildlife professionals suggest efforts should be invested in habitat protection and restoration.

These contests not only teach disrespect for wildlife through the indiscriminate killing of as many predators as possible, but they also disregard the value of individual animals, both intrinsically and as a part of the larger ecosystem.

We’re encouraging our supporters to contact their MLA and the appropriate government officials and respectfully ask that predator-killing contests be banned. Contact information can be found below. Feel free to use our coalition letter as a template for your own, but be sure to personalize your email!

Find contact information for your MLA

Hon. Doug Donaldson – Minster of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
Email: FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Telephone: (250) 387-6240

Hon. George Heyman – Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
E-mail: ENV.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Telephone: (250) 387-1187

Fish and Wildlife – Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
Email: FishandWildlife@gov.bc.ca
Telephone: 1-877-855-3222

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animal welfare compassion cruelty Dairy News/Blog Promoted Uncategorized

New transport regulations don’t go far enough to protect farmed animals

The federal government has finally released the new farmed animal transport regulations, which were last revised in 1977. Alarmingly, the new rules fail to address some of the most major animal welfare concerns and offer only minor improvements to the existing, outdated regulations.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) own statistics indicate that approximately 14 million animals suffer injuries during transportation annually in Canada and almost 1.6 million are reported dead on arrival each year. The agency also noted that the existing regulations did not reflect the current science regarding the care and handling of animals and failed to align with the standards of Canada’s international trading partners.

Yet the new regulations still fall significantly short of meeting the best available science and still do not reflect other international standards. Transport is a stressful process for farmed animals and internal CFIA documents revealed that the CFIA’s original intention was to drastically reduce transport times under the new regulations. Officials also indicated in briefing notes that transport times between eight and 12 hours were ideal. But under pressure from industry lobbyists, the CFIA abandoned its own recommendations.

For example, the CFIA initially proposed a maximum of 24 hours in transport for day-old chicks, but lobbying by the meat industry led to the maximum time being changed to 72 hours under the new regulations. Similarly, maximum times for cattle changed from a proposed 28 hours to 36 and spent hens, who are deemed no longer productive for the egg industry and are incredibly vulnerable, went from a proposed maximum of 12 hours to up to 28 hours.

Meanwhile, the European Union has a maximum transport time of eight hours for most animals, while in New Zealand and Australia it ranges from 12 to 24 hours.

Shockingly, animals can still be transported in all types of weather without protection from the elements – a situation that has been increasingly making headlines in recent years, when the public encounters transported animals in distress during heat waves and cold snaps.

These “new” regulations will lead to the continued suffering of millions of animals every year across Canada. Join us in telling the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, that the revised transport laws are unacceptable and fail to meet not only the best available science, but also the expectations of the Canadian public.

Read the recent coalition letter from 30 animal protection organizations, advocates, experts and Members of Parliament calling for stronger federal transport regulations

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animal welfare compassion Cruelty-free ethics News/Blog Promoted Uncategorized wildlife

It’s time to ban inhumane predacides in Canada

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is currently consulting Canadians on how the humaneness of pesticides to control predators (predacides) could be considered during their approval and use.

There are currently three active ingredients registered to control large vertebrate predators in Canada: sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), sodium cyanide and strychnine. For the purpose of this consultation, the focus is limited to large vertebrate predators, for example, wolves, coyotes and bears.

Consultation Questions:

  1. Should PMRA include humaneness considerations as part of the pesticide registration process for products intended to control large vertebrate predators? If so, what would be the best options and approaches for doing so?
  2. Should PMRA develop public information, such as best practices / standards on humaneness considerations, that pesticide users could take into account when deciding whether to use a pesticide for controlling large vertebrate predators?  If so, what kind of information would be most useful?
  3. In either case, what should be the parameters to measure humaneness?

For more background information, please visit the PMRA’s homepage for the consultation. 

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has made a submission calling for humaneness to be considered in the pesticide registration process. VHS opposes the use of predacides, including sodium fluoroacetate (Compound 1080), sodium cyanide and strychnine, on the grounds that they are not only inhumane and violate animal welfare guidelines, but that they also pose an unacceptable risk to biodiversity, the environment and public safety. Therefore, we are calling on the Minister of Health and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to prohibit predacides under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA). Read our complete submission here.

We are encouraging our supporters to participate in this public consultation before the April18th deadline. Please feel free to use our submission as a guide, but be sure to personalize your own (duplicate submissions are discouraged).

 

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News/Blog Uncategorized

Animal advocates, experts and Members of Parliament call for stronger federal transport regulations

Every winter the issue of farmed animal transport makes news headlines across the country and this winter is no exception.

Last week, during the extreme cold that hit parts of the country, CTV Toronto reported (CTV News at Noon, Jan.31, 2019, story starts at 2:45 minutes) on concerns from Toronto Pig Save advocates about the welfare of pigs being transported to Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse in Burlington in -35 degree Celsius weather.

The reality is that Canada’s federal regulations permit farmed animals to be transported for long periods of time without food, water, rest or adequate protection from extreme weather. The result is that approximately 14 million farmed animals arrive dead, dying or injured at federally inspected slaughterhouses each year. 

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and other animal protection organizations, advocates and experts have long called on the federal Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen Canada’s archaic transport regulations, which were last updated in 1977. Finally, in December of 2016 the Ministry released draft amendments to the regulations, but these offered only minor improvements and investigations revealed the amendments were directly influenced by the livestock industry, which strongly opposes any changes.

Meanwhile, the regulations have still not been finalized and animals continue to suffer during transport.

Join us in calling on the federal government to prioritize the release of significantly improved, evidence-based transport regulations.

Contact your Member of Parliament and the federal Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, and let them know this issue is important to you! See the coalition letter to the Minister as a reference (please be sure to personalize your letter) and for a complete list of signatories.

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animal welfare compassion Cruelty-free Dairy Food and Drink News/Blog plant-based diet Promoted vegan vegetarianism

Wild Trails Coffee in North Vancouver goes vegan

Wild Trails Coffee is a family-run coffee shop based in North Vancouver. VHS spoke with this mother-daughter team about their decision to make the coffee shop fully vegan and their commitment to helping protect animal welfare, the environment and public health. 

What inspired you to open Wild Trails Coffee and what do you think sets you apart from other coffee shops? 

We’re a mother-daughter team and my mom opened this shop about 30 years ago. It used to be called Mothers Herbs. When I became involved about five years ago I wanted to focus on coffees and a lot of inspiration came from my love of hiking. I spent a year working on our coffee syrups, perfecting them using real organic ingredients and no chemicals or fake added sugars.

As a business owner I didn’t want to cut corners and care only about profit. You can be a business that does well while caring about the Earth, animals and people, and that’s what we do at Wild Trails Coffee and what we’re about. We are a business that cares about doing our part to make the world a better place and will go the extra mile for people, animals and the planet.

You recently posted online about the shop’s decision to ditch dairy and go fully vegan – can you tell us about the motivation behind that decision?

I’ve been vegan for a long time now and it just never felt right using dairy, so my mom and I decided to replace it with dairy-free alternatives in the shop and now our shop is 100% vegan! We didn’t think so many people would care, but we were blown away by the support and we knew we made the right choice.

You also talk about the shop’s commitment to sustainability on your website – can you tell us about that?

We work hard to reduce our environmental footprint. All of our cups, straws and lids are compostable and we also compost everything we can within the shop. We work with a company to recycle the rest and even go through our garbage at the end of the day to make sure everything that can be recycled is.

What are your most popular items?

Our specialty coffee drinks, like our Wedgemount Lake Vanilla Latte and Elsay Lake Pumpkin Spice Latte are among our most popular items. We use real pumpkin and vanilla bean for our syrups. Our smoothies are very popular as well and we don’t use any ice, just frozen organic fruit. We also use water kefir as the base for our smoothies, which is a dairy-free probiotic that’s made in-house with spring water collected weekly from a local spring.

Elsay Lake Pumpkin Spice Latte
Wedgemount Lake Vanilla Latte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you have any helpful advice for other restaurants and businesses who might be considering going vegan?

Go for it! We need more businesses to stand up for animals and as business owners who care about these issues we recognized we were in a position to do more. There’s growing support and more people are embracing veganism every day! It’s also a great way to educate people about the impact of our food choices and to lead by example.

Wild Trails Coffee is located at 134 East 14th Street, North Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-988-4372 or follow them on facebook and instagram