SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition

Fourteen student-led teams win funding to realize community impact!

March 23, 2023

Featuring community-engaged research, policy-targeted knowledge mobilization, equity-serving knowledge translation, and even Bertie, a breakfast banana mascot, this year’s winners of the SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition are bravely building community partnerships across BC in order to tackle challenging complex issues, like Islamophobia, food insecurity, health justice and more.

Last fall, 54 teams submitted their ideas for working with partners in their communities. It was the largest pool of submissions the Student-Community Engagement Competition has ever seen. Teams with strong ideas were invited to prepare detailed proposals for submission that outlined their idea, who they were working with in the community, and how their idea tackled a key community challenge. Successful proposals had appropriate budgets and feasible timelines, and their teams were selected to present virtually to a panel of judges in early March, competing for award money to implement their ideas. Fourteen teams were successful, winning a $2,000 or $3,000 award to help them work well with their partners and put their ideas into action.

“This year’s projects show how connected SFU students are to their local communities and how motivated they are to further social justice with and in those communities," says Matthew Grant, director of SFU’s Office of Community Engagement. "Many of this year’s projects seek to address inequalities in access, participation, and voice, and to deepen equity, reduce discrimination, and promote diversity. Each one aims to make a lasting, positive difference in their communities."

Congratulations to our winners! We are so excited to share their ambitious and creative projects with you (please note – the variation of voice in each description reflects the style of writing submitted by each team. All the following descriptions were approved by the teams listed). Please click the TEAM NAME to see their dedicated project page.

Crafting Circles

Crafting Circles will be free, semi-guided art sessions led by members of our team. Targeted towards youth (ages 12-25), we will provide a safe and relaxing space for creating art – or to just take a break from life! Art projects will relate to the environment, social justice, mental health, or any other issue crafting circle participants are passionate about. Session themes could include zero-waste crafting, stickers with environmental advocacy messages, or simply stress-relieving doodles!

Team members: Anisha Biswas (Faculty of Science, UBC), Puneet Chhina (Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU), Catherine Wong, Gabrielle Wong (Human Geography, Faculty of Environment, SFU).
Community Partners: Encompass Support Services SocietyBig Brothers, Big Sisters of Langley

Documenstory - Ashcroft Youth Media Club

Partnering with the Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal, we will train and mentor youth to become Youth Broadcasters and journalists, regardless of their learning style or ability, and we’ll provide various platforms for them to grow, engage and impact their communities and enrich the world by sharing their stories. Our hope is to give our local community youth voice and choice in documenting some of their challenges and celebrating the victories they experience around identifying "The Good". We will guide them through the creative writing and inquiry process so that they create stories and document their experiences using multiple media. We will also guide them to become constructive critical peer reviewers and editors.

Team members: Elvenia Gray-Sandiford (Community Capacity Building Program, SFU)
Community Partners: Ashcroft LibraryAshcroft Cache Creek Journal Newspaper, Ashcroft Church, K-12 School Parents’ Advisory Council

Empowering Muslim Youth

I will work with Muslim Youth in Motion to host two personal/professional development workshops for female youth, ages 15–25. Workshops are anticipated to be half-day events to allow ample time to engage, learn, and enjoy what is being taught. The first workshop will focus on public speaking and will be hosted by an expert in the field. The aim is to have the workshop be informative (strategies to improve public speaking) and practical to allow the attendees to practice the tips they received. The second workshop will focus on leadership training, exploring various qualities important for a leader to have (e.g. communication, teamwork, and listening). There will be hands-on small group activities to practice the strategies learned.

Team members: Zahraa Hawili (Public Policy, SFU)
Community Partners: Muslim Youth in Motion

Happy, Connected, Resilient Neighbours

This project weaves together local resources, community partners, local facilitators, content creators and volunteers to create an intergenerational learning series that will increase mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing in our community and create a sense of connectedness in our neighbourhood. Fifteen bi-weekly workshops will be held, focussing on five different topics on a rotating basis: Stress-Free Living, Creating Health and Abundance (with local land and food resources), Financial Literacy, Nature Connection, Social Connection and Building Community.

Team members: Rita Lee (Community Capacity Building Program, SFU)
Community Partners: New Chelsea SocietySouth Vancouver Neighbourhood HouseCopley Community OrchardCityReach Care

Knowledge Translation Re-imagining: Healthcare in the DTES

In 2021, some members of our team conducted a participatory qualitative research study with the intention of amplifying perspectives and experiences of those with lived experience of mental health and substance use. We are now at the stage where we would like to share and reflect on our findings with stakeholder communities. Given the history of extractive research practices in neighbourhoods like the DTES, it is of utmost importance that findings be shared in meaningful ways with the existing community and to maximize ownership of this work by those who contributed to it. Access and ownership of this knowledge is important to support efforts to hold the health system accountable to its pursuit of health equity.

Team members: Ally Giesbrecht (Community Capacity Program, SFU; UBC), Ali Lohan (Community Capacity Program, SFU), Becky Kean (Community Capacity Program, SFU; VCH), Mohammed Khaleghi-Moghaddan (Peer Advisor), Elvenia Sandiford (Community Capacity Program, SFU), Jenny Hawkinson (Transart Institute, Visual Artist), Ivan Lim (Animator), Karen Lo (Interaction Designer), Felicia Chang (Photographer).
Community Partners: Gallery GachetMegaphone Magazine

Let’s Do Breakfast

Let’s Do Breakfast will provide healthy, mind-empowering breakfast to children while emphasizing how a healthy breakfast goes hand in hand with education. We want to educate children on the importance of having a nutritious breakfast. We hope to achieve this with our informative pamphlets, which would be distributed to each student attending our program. Pamphlets will have a variety of healthy breakfast games, information to read with parents, and a rewards program based on stamps.

Team members (SFU): Ritu Mehra (Biological Sciences, SFU), Harbir Dhaliwal (Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, SFU), Muskan Jammu (Health Sciences, SFU)
Community Partners: SFU Surrey – TD Community Engagement Centre

Memorializing the First Filipino in Canada: A Documentary

While Filipinos form one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada, our history is relatively unknown. Stories of Filipino arrival in this country are practically unwritten and absent in contemporary writing. The project aims to fill the gap of Filipino history in Canada and raise the profile of the community. We will make a short documentary film to memorialize the first Filipino on record to have settled in Canada in 1861 – Benson Flores. More significantly, we will memorialize Benson Flores with a tombstone in his burial place in the Vancouver Cemetery.

Team members: Teodoro Alcuitas (Community Capacity Building Program, SFU)
Community Partners: Mildred Grace German – Multi-Media Artist, Joseph Lopez – Broadcast Journalist, Joella Cabalu – Filmmaker.

Mixed-Race Community Group: Exploring Self, Ancestries, and Lands

One common experience for mixed-race people is feeling lost in and/or having confusion around personal identity, a feeling that can get in the way of taking action towards social justice. We need more spaces for accountability and action-taking for people who have ancestors that were both oppressed and oppressors. Liminal Crossings: We Belong to Each Other will be a 3-month online program (12 weeks with an optional in-person celebration) with 8-10 participants that will explore topics on identity, ancestry, and place in the world and the positions of power and privilege we hold so we can take action towards social justice.

Team members: Vrindy Spencer (Equity Studies, SFU)
Community Partners: Building Resilient Neighbourhoods 

Ocean Care through Data Embodying and Behaviour Changes

Working with Ocean Wise and citizen participants, this project aims to cover not only collecting and reporting data from citizen participants but also to create changes in the behaviours of participants and increase awareness of community members about ecological issues. Through strategies of data embodying and co-speculative social/design practices, this project develops novel ways of encountering, learning, knowing, and experiencing data around marine debris and collectively builds common values toward ocean care.

Team members: Jihyun Park (School of Interactive Art & Technology, SFU)
Community Partners & Collaborators: Ocean Wise, Gillian Russell, Katherine Reilly, Ryland Shaw, Melanie Vidakis, Rachel Horst.

Peer Connect: Accessibility Meetup/Games Night

How do we make community accessible to people living with Chronic Pain or Chronic Illness? People facing these challenges often feel pushed out of society by medication side effects, symptoms, and mobility devices which often present differently from societal norms. The stigma of judgement for presenting outside perceived societal norms has historically caused Chronic pain patients to remain isolated. Working with my community and partner organizations, I will co-ordinate 3-4 one-hour peer connect events via zoom or discord, where we can establish connection and safety together. They will feature a peer format sharing circle with online Bingo and vision boards to establish safety and connections with each other.

Team members: Rebecca Kean (Community Capacity Building Program, SFU, Ally Giesbrecht (Community Capacity Building Program, SFU; UBC).
Community Partners: Complex Chronic Disease Program (CCDP) Alumni, Chronic Pain Unite

The Process of Political Activism     

Currently the Muslim community does not have a local network of legal professionals to advocate on their behalf in response to the rise of Islamophobia. We will set up a 2-day workshop that will include: an informational session with legal professionals, public safety officials and policy makers to share insight on what courses of action the Muslim community has when they are faced with Islamophobia, as well as public engagement and community dialogue to mobilize the Muslim community at large. We hope this might lead to the development of an advocacy group that will engage with policy makers and inspire the creation of legislation to combat the rise of Islamophobia.

Team members: Fatima Aziz (Applied Legal Studies, SFU)
Community Partners: Muslim Youth in Motion (MYM)

The Reclamation of Women's Bundles

The need for rematriation and reclamation work is planetary. We see this every time a woman experiences gendered violence from men, and we see it every time those men are protected by women. “The Reclamation of Women’s Bundles” is a course of healing for women who have experienced living under patriarchy and faced internal misogyny from other women. We will host a series of workshops that will begin a conversation in a safe and grounded femme-centered space. The workshop objectives are to open the door onto a pathway to healing from recognising and addressing internalized misogyny, and to actively rebuild kinship and matriarchal leadership between women in the community of participants.

Team members: Sara Cadeau (Community Capacity Building Program, SFU)

Community Partners: William Canero – Systems Change Director, Community Neighbourhood House Association/Collingwood House

Trans Connect-ing Youth in Sport

Existing research suggests that sport is a dynamic environment that can be joyous for many but traumatizing for sexual and gender minorities. Many news stories have criticized the fairness of transgender (trans) women in sport, and some American transgender athletes have become household names due to unnecessary scrutiny by media and governing sport bodies. Many Canadians think that Canada does not share these transphobic values, but Canadian views are rapidly catching up to US anti-trans sentiments, and clever, misleading messaging projecting a human rights slant obscures what is, in actuality, transphobia. Non-binary people in Canada are asking for policies to protect them in sport. While policies have been created to help include and protect transgender participants, non-binary people have been continuously left out. Our project aims to help fill this gap. 

Team members: Martha Gumprich (Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU)
Community Partners: Nicola Hare – ANKORS Trans Connect



Hey, students  – What would you  do with $3,000?

Up to $30,000* is available to fund SFU students who want to work with community partners to create meaningful impact. Register today – all you need is your name and a brief description of your idea.