MENU

FACULTY OF ENVIRONMENT Changemaker Awards

Voting is now closed. 

We've received your nominations of Faculty of Environment students and groups contributing to making positive social and environmental change and the voting is now open to choose the 2022 SFU FENV Changemakers of the Year. Awardees will received $400 to support professional development, be profiled on social media and SFU news, and join a community of Changemakers. 

Read through the nomination packages below! Nominees are listed in order of submission. 

Isabel Nelson (she/her)

Physical Geography - Geosystems and GIScience (major), Urban Studies (certificate) 
 
Short Bio: 
Isabel is currently studying in the Geography Department. She is deeply involved with student engagement and campus life as a member of the Faculty of Environment Student Leadership Team, the USES Planning Committee, and the Geography Student Union as the union's Departmental Representative. Outside of school, she runs a non-profit organization called Young Minds Exploring Science. 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
Isabel shows great enthusiasm for student engagement, volunteering, and enriching the lives of her fellow students. Through her involvement with various SFU groups, she has mentored new students at SFU and helped them make a smooth transition to university life. For example, Isabel is currently a mentor for 11 incoming Faculty of Environment students and has helped out with various welcome initiatives, including SPROUT. 
 
Beyond university, Isabel founded a nonprofit called Young Minds Exploring Science. The group aims to provide all students with opportunities to explore and engage in science. Through partnerships with the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning  and the Delta School District, they recently wrapped up their Fall 2021 program of science workshops and activities for students in Grade 6-7. Previously, Isabel was invlved in Bridging Environments, a FEnv project that connected university mentors to high school students to work on a project related to environmental change and spoke on the FEnv's podcast geared towards students making the transition from high school to university. 
 
Relevant links: 
Young Minds Exploring Science: https://www.instagram.com/ymes.youngminds/?hl=en 
Branching Into Environment Podcast: https://anchor.fm/branchingintoenvironment/episodes/6---Isabel-Nelson-e1anf1b

Jaden Dyer (she/her)

Environmental Science Major (Earth Systems Concentration) 
 
Short bio: 
Probably one of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy fangirls at SFU, Jaden is a fourth-year Environmental Science student with a bit of an obsession with mountains and a lifelong desire to one day visit the rolling hills of the Shire. She is passionate about climate change mitigation, habitat conservation, ecological economics, and seeking out the most perfect sunset-viewing spots in BC. Outside of volunteering with the Faculty of Environment Student Leadership Team, she’s a climate activist; a mentor to incoming SFU students; an executive with her student union, an avid skier, paddleboarder, and volleyball player; a dancer with the SFU Athletics Dance Team; and recently organized a Hunger Strike to motivate SFU's full divestment from fossil fuels! 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
- Successfully organized hunger strike. 
- Always a huge help with planning faculty events. 1st to volunteer and always follows through! 
- Really involved in the EVSCSU. 
- Presented to high school students in Bridging Environments Program, showing how to plan and execute their own initiate, inspiring them to be change makers too! 
- Passionate about environmental issues and not afraid to do what it takes to raise awareness. 
 
Relevant links:  
https://www.burnabynow.com/local-news/burnaby-students-plan-hunger-strike-if-sfu-doesnt-divest-from-fossil-fuels-4479855 
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/10/05/news/sfu-students-have-had-enough-bold-climate-claims-buzzwords 
https://burnabybeacon.com/article/sfu-divestment-hunger-strike-cancelled/ 

Matthew Syvenky (he/him) 

Bachelor of Environment, Resource and Environmental Management Major 
 
Short bio: 
Matthew (he/him) is a 20-year old, 2nd year REM student living in Burnaby on the unceded, traditional territories of the Kwikwetlem, Musqueam, Stolo, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. 
 
Matthew knew he wanted to be an advocate for the environment from a young age. Each day at recess was spent finding insects and helping them out of harm's way on the soccer field and onto a nice patch of greenery for them to munch on. Most days were spent with animals rather than fellow children, and that's just how he liked it. 
 
Now, Matthew is the youngest member of 2 boards and committees, a dedicated volunteer for the Invasive Species Council of B.C., and spends his free time restoring the health of ecosystems or picking up garbage along trails. It is because of these kinds of hobbies that Matthew still spends most of his time with animals and plants, and not people his age. 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker? 
Matthew is a participant with the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC), a federally funded program to help young adults make changes in conservation. As a member of the CCC, Matthew is initiating and leading an ecosystem restoration project in collaboration with The City of Burnaby, BC Hydro, the Invasive Species Council of B.C., and the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society. The project will gather over 30 excited youth volunteers from the Lower Mainland who are passionate to learn about invasive species and ecosystem restoration. The restoration site is over 250 square metres and will be restored over the course of two months. The creek is visited by over 100 people each month and this project will make each visit all the more enjoyable! 

Read more

Matthew is also spearheading an ecosystem restoration project at a creek in his Burnaby neighbourhood. He removed 150 square metres of invasive species and restored the site with 7 trees, 9 shrubs, and dozens of native wildflowers. He regularly invites friends who are interested in learning about ecosystem restoration to join him for a day of removal or planting. 
 
Matthew is always looking for ways to demonstrate his passion for action against invasive species. Matthew became a volunteer for the Invasive Species Council of B.C. (ISCBC) in August 2020. Since joining, Matthew has contributed more than 750 hours to improving the health of B.C.'s ecosystems, spreading awareness of invasive species, and enacting social change towards the spread and purchasing of invasive species. 
 
In 2021, Matthew was invited to join the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society's (CHFPS) Board of Directors. The CHFPS advocates for the protection of the last unprotected green space in Burnaby, which has been zoned for development for decades. As a board member, Matthew has worked to maintain the trails for hundreds of weekly visitors, remove over 100 kilograms of invasive species, monitor the water of the forest's waterways and ponds, and build public/city relations. 
 
During the summer of 2021, Matthew volunteered as a camp leader for the B.C. Wildlife Federation's Youth Program. As a camp leader, Matthew taught over 100 children and youth conservation topics like pollinator stewardship, wetlands conservation, and wildlife protection. Many of the children felt impacted by the lessons during the camp and have gone forward to join other environmental organizations to further discover their passions. 
 
Finally, Matthew was personally invited to become the youngest member of BC Nature's Climate Committee (BCNCC) in 2022. The BCNCC joins representatives of BC Nature clubs to meet with MLAs, host climate workshops, and advocate for climate action legislature on municipal, provincial and federal levels. 
 
Relevant links: 
Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society: https://caribooheightsforestpreservation.org 
BC Nature Climate Committee: https://bcnature.org/climate-crisis/

sfu fair trade

Short bio: 
SFU Fair Trade aims to provide opportunities for student ambassadors to run their own fair trade campaigns and build leadership. The SFU Fair Trade Ambassadors engage in outreach across the campus and larger community through workshops for Highlands Elementary School and other interested schools, events and presentations across the university, and communications online and through social media. 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
One of the significant changes we have made is to help Simon Fraser University to be recognized by Fairtrade Canada, and the Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) for the second year in a row, as the only educational institution in Canada to attain the highest level of Fair Trade Campus designations – the Fair Trade Gold Campus status. In addition, Fair Trade ambassadors have been spreading awareness about Fair Trade on Campus by interacting with fellow students at the booth during Fair Trade Campus Week (an annual event), doing a guest lecture in different classes, and answering questions on where students can purchase Fairtrade products on campus online our social media platforms. We have also been posting monthly on social media and our websites for different Fairtrade products to connect Fairtrade certified businesses with consumers. Allowing the consumers to have more options when shopping for Fairtrade commodities. Furthermore, student ambassadors have been doing different outreach for elementary and high school throughout the year. They are encouraging children and youth to support Fair Trade with their power. We are currently working on two campaigns. Our goals are to encourage local businesses to source Fairtrade certified products and sell Fairtrade options in their stores. At the same time, we hope to support human rights and decent working conditions for the farmers in the global South. 
 
Relevant links: 
SFU news: https://www.sfu.ca/sfunews/stories/2021/09/sfu-named-canada-s-only-fair-trade-gold-campus-for-2nd-year-.html 
SFU Fairtrade website: http://www.sfu.ca/fairtrade/blog.html 
Linktree: https://linktr.ee/sfufairtrade 
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/sfufairtrade/ 

Group nominations require a Faculty of Environment student to be identified to receive the award and represent the group. Daphne Chan from the Resource and Environmental Management program was nominated to represent SFU Fair Trade. 

Emma Chong (She/her) 

 Archaeology Major, Geography Minor, and GIS Certificate 
 
Short bio: 
Emma is a third year Archaeology Major with a minor in Geography and the GIS Certificate. Emma is part of the A.S.S. as the interdepartmental rep, a leader in the Student Leadership Team for the Faculty of Environment, and part of the Jazz Band. While Emma is an active volunteer, she also has completed a co-op position at the Port Moody Station Museum. 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
Emma is an avid community member. She is an active volunteer who shares her story as an Archaeology student. Emma is an excellent example of a student who brings "more than you think" with her ability to communicate what students could study with Archaeology. At many new/future student events, Emma has helped introduce areas of study that are new to people. You can find Emma at nearly every event around the faculty, being an integral community member that has valuable impact on campus life.

KRISTIN OLIVER

ARCH MA 
 
Short Bio: 
In Kristin's own words: 
"I am a second-generation Canadian of British and Danish heritage who has the privilege of working with the K'ómoks First Nation during my degree and the Stó:lo First Nation during my day job. My favorite part about archaeology is using the techniques as tools for conservation. When I'm not doing archaeology you can find me puttering around the garden with the dog and chickens." 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
Already a very engaged and involved undergraduate in the ARCH program, Kristin has been working with Indigenous nations as part of her CRM training. More recently, as an MA student, Kristin, together with ARCH Manager Merrill Farmer, has spearheaded a successful CRM career event for ARCH Majors in February 2022. Her desire to decolonize the discipline saw her doing work for the Sto:lo nation, as well as collaborating on initiatives relevant to Indigenous representation and advancement alongside the program's graduate Chair,    Dr. Dana Lepofsky. 
 
Relevant links: 
https://www.sfu.ca/gradstudies/life-community/people-research/profiles/fenv/2021/kristin-oliver.html 

SFU350

Short bio: 
SFU350 is a student-run climate action club operating on the unceded territories of the səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Burnaby is located. We have been active at SFU Burnaby since 2013 and operate under the regulations and guidelines of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS). We are known as “SFU350” because 350ppm of CO2 represents the safe amount of carbon dioxide for our atmosphere. Currently, we sit at over 400ppm of CO2. 
 
The club started with a student-led divestment campaign. This campaign called on SFU to divest their financial holdings invested in companies that extract, refine, and transport fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil, and natural gas). Through numerous initiatives, including but not limited to, presentations to treasury, faculty, the Board of Governors, student funds BEAM and SIAS, and students, research on the financial justification for divestment, and direct actions including student-focused rallies, SFU350 finally completed their divestment campaign with an SFU announcement of full divestment by 2025 in November 2021. 
 
Besides divestment, SFU350 has drafted and presented a climate emergency declaration open letter to the Board of Governors on decarbonization, divestment and reinvestment, a climate hub, education, raising awareness and amplifying, and climate justice. The Board of Governors has since declared a climate emergency and acknowledged alignment with our recommendations thanks to our advocacy and the advocacy of supportive faculty, unions, and students at SFU. 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
SFU350 is dedicated to creating meaningful impacts through various campaigns. By directly lobbying those in positions of power, SFU350 has generated impetus for positive change at the highest level. The club ensures equity, sustainability, and Indigenous sovereignty are centered in all campaigns, and has a dedicated working group active with the express purpose of advocating for climate justice. 

Read more

Past campaigns have achieved the declaration of a climate emergency from SFU’s Board of Governors; the full divestment of SFU from all financial holdings invested in fossil fuel extraction, refinement, and transportation companies; and the acknowledgement of alignment between SFU’s goals and SFU350’s open letter demands. These milestones were achieved through many months, and even years, of student advocacy – with support being garnered among a multitude of SFU community members and stakeholders. However, SFU350 was the driving organization responsible for initiating this support and lobbying SFU. 
 
SFU350 also remains a dynamic group on campus, with multiple in-progress campaigns focused on issues ranging from the implementation of climate education at the university to advocacy against the Trans Mountain Expansion project. In the spirit of collaboration, these campaigns develop alongside other groups on campus – such as Embark Sustainability, ChangeSFU, and SFU’s own Sustainability Office. 

Relevant links:
sfu350.com

Group nominations require a Faculty of Environment student to be identified to receive the award and represent the group. Liam Mackay from the Environmental Science program was nominated to represent SFU350. 

Bridging Environments Mentors

Chloe Ross (lead), Sophie Li, Erin Scott, Irina Lipnitskaya, Theresa Coles, Natasha Sing, Lauren Purves, Ada Leung, Paige Ripley, Mari Orosco, Jubemi Omabuwa, Jamie Chin, Omar Vasquez, Ryan Leung  

Short bio: 
Bridging Environments Mentors, connect Faculty of Environment students with local high school students who are keen to affect positive change. The mentors provide knowledge-based mentorship empowering high school students to implement projects that support sustainability in a variety of ways. The Mentors meet bi-weekly with their teams of highschool changemakers to support and drive their projects forward. The projects that are currently underway include reducing single use plastics in their schools, awareness campaigns, and a recycling audit/enhancement campaign. 
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker? 
Chloe led the mentor outreach, orientation, and built a framework for project planning. She has supported the Mentors helping them to troubleshoot and stay on track with project completion. The Mentor group, has as a whole, acted on their desire to support and champion, meaningful environmental change. They have freely shared of their knowledge and time to guide younger students in creating change. Navigating this mentorship through the pandemic, being flexible and able to easily pivot based on changes at the high schools has at times been challenging but the mentors have persevered. 

Group nominations require a Faculty of Environment student to be identified to receive the award and represent the group. Chloe Ross from the Environmental Science program was nominated to represent Bridging Environments. 

Elias Osmanzai (He/Him) 

Bachelor of Environment - Resource Environmental Management (REM) 
 
Short bio: 
Elias was born in 2000 in Vancouver, BC. His parents had left Afghanistan in the 1980s due to the war and searched for a better life. Soon after, they made Canada their home and a few years past before. Elias was born. Elias's family moved to a quiet neighbourhood in Coquitlam, BC. The typical suburban neighbourhood was nestled in the forests surrounding Eagle Mountain. Growing up, Elias spent most of his free time exploring the woods near his house or chasing the many streams that flowed down the mountain. Growing up in this environment meant a lot of Elias interests and pastimes included the outdoors. Known by his friends as a Pro Fisherman, Elias enjoys spending his free time fishing and exploring rivers throughout the south coast. Elias first noticed passion of the environment and outdoors in Grade 5 at Aspenwood elementary school. In his Grade 5 science class, they had been learning about different species of pacific salmon and their life cycles. As part of a fun learning experience, the classroom had their very own fish tank with live fertilized eggs, to observe the starting stages of the salmons life. After Elias spent months tracking the salmon from egg to juvenile. He waited until the day came to return the salmon back to the Coquitlam River. This passion continued throughout Elias youth, as he continues to be in touch with Coquitlam river and its salmon. As a current SFU student in the Resource & Environmental Management Program, Elias is dedicated to working towards creating a better understanding of how crucial wild salmon are to British Columbias ecosystem and Indigenous communities.  
 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
The Nominee has shown his love for the outdoors through volunteering with various environmental organizations. Most notably, since graduating High school, Elias has been involved at the Grist - Goeson Memorial Hatchery in Coquitlam,BC. At the hatchery, similar to the times in grade 5, Elias is actively involved in feeding Juvenile Coho Salmon and maintaining equipment around the hatchery. The hatchery is located on the Upper Coquitlam River. As another way to promote safe habitat for salmon to thrive in, Elias regularly volunteers with the Web of Life Organization, which works to collect garbage and restore degraded environments. Through his many volunteer days, Elias and other link minded volunteers have collected TONS of trash littered along the forested banks of the Coquitlam River. You can see the awesome work being done by the volunteers on instagram @weboflife.ca.