FCAT Alumni Excellence Award winners reflect on their awards and their time in their programs

Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, School of Communication, School of Interactive Arts & Technology, School for the Contemporary Arts, engagement, Art & Design, Technology & Society

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December 09, 2021

The goal of the FCAT Alumni Awards is to recognize alumni achievements in career, community service, and research. This year’s alumni award categories included “Distinguished Alumni,” “Young Alumni,” “Alum of the Year.” 

Alumni from the School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA), School of Communication (CMNS), and School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) were recognized for their hard work and dedication. Our award winners shared what their award means to them and reflected on their most impactful FCAT experiences.

Christopher Elawa and Heather Lamoureux have been awarded as Alumni of the Year, Prem Gill is FCAT’s Distinguished Alumni, and Pedro Chamale & Derek Chan from rice and beans theatre are recognized as this year’s Young Alumni.

Our two Alumni of the Year, Christopher Elawa and Heather Lamoureux, share what their awards mean to them. 

Christopher Elawa initially discovered the field of design at SFU, he started learning how to use it as a tool to support people and communities. Elawa shared that courses such as IAT 233, 438, and 309 prepared him for his career in product design. 

Now, he works as a product designer on the Social Impact team at Facebook where he helps build and grow fundraising products that empower people.

“This is the type of work I have been engaged in over the last 4+ years and my education at SFU is a huge reason for that,” he said. Elawa adds, “As a Black person and an immigrant, it is a privilege to receive this award and I hope that it represents a small touchpoint in a much broader timeline of progress towards a more equitable future.”

Heather Lamoureux is a SCA alum and currently the artistic director at Vines, and has grown with the festival since it’s beginning over the past seven years. She is committed to her responsibility to imagine and co-create nurturing creative spaces for artists.

She recalls her most impactful FCAT experience, “In my third year I volunteered to co-produce a student show with my friend Robert Azevedo with the support of our teacher Judith Garay.” She adds, “This opportunity to learn while doing was pivotal in giving me direction towards a career that is in service of many artists' visions.”

After that project, she went on to co-produce her grad dance show titled "I'll Decide." Lamoureux expresses her appreciation and pride for the project, “This experience taught me about collective decision making, leadership, scheduling, and holding multiple hats necessary in my work today. Most importantly, it taught me about conflict within community.”

FCAT’s Distinguished Alumni award winner, Prem Gill speaks about her FCAT experience, “My most impactful experiences were the directed study and smaller seminars in my final years at SFU. The discourse, conversations, and challenging discussions we had in those groups broadened my perspectives and views on so many things."

Gill is a School of Communication alum and has been the Chief Executive Officer of Creative BC for the past six years.

Not only is she the CEO of an established company, but she has also been named one of Canada's 100 most powerful women, Vancouver Magazine’s “Power 50,” and received the Community Catalyst award from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.

Gill also expresses her admiration of the work that comes from FCAT, “Throughout my career, I often cross paths with other graduates of the program. People from this program work across so many industries and sectors in BC — we should be very proud!”

FCAT’s Young Alumni award winners, Pedro Chamale and Derek Chan are the co-founders and co-artistic directors of rice and beans theatre. The theatre focuses on the creation, incubation and production of original performances.

Derek Chan shares that he came across SFU’s theatre program while he was at a boarding school in Norway, where a teacher recommended SFU Contemporary Arts to him.

“Over the course of my academic career at SFU, I learned the essential skills required to craft my professional artistic practice — and not only the arts, but also how to collaborate with people and enter each process with an open mind,” he says. 

Chan expresses his gratitude to his instructors, “A big, heartfelt thank you to all of my teachers and professors over the years! I wouldn't be where I am without your wisdom and mentorship.”

“Derek and I have put in a lot of work into our practices both as a company and individual artists,” Chamale shares.

He adds, “Since it all started with us working together as fellow students at SFU, it is incredible to be recognized by the school.”

Chamale expresses that his overall experience with the School for the Contemporary Arts was instrumental in preparation for his career. 

“While there I was prepared to work in collective settings and as an artistic lead. Through classes like Black Box, I learned how to flourish under pressure with little time for getting bogged down in choices.”

He also shares his appreciation for the collaborative environment that the School for the Contemporary Arts offers, “Taking interdisciplinary courses and participating in different performance streams allowed me to have a broad range of skills for collaboration.”

Learn more about the FCAT Excellence Awards here.