Meet Jackie Wong, Community Strategic Initiatives Associate

October 15, 2020

CERi continues to grow with the exciting addition of Jackie Wong who joined the team in September as the Community Strategic Initiatives Associate. In this role, she will be bringing her lens to CERi’s initiatives and contribute to building bridges between CERi and the communities of practice that it is engaging with.

Wong has a deep history of working with and within different communities. Most recently she was the Race and Equity Project and communications director at hua foundation, a non-profit dedicated to youth empowerment.

She has a background in journalism and has written on issues such as harm reduction, race, housing, and mental health. Her work has been published in Maisonneuve, The Tyee, Reader’s Digest, The Georgia Straight, VICE Munchies, and University Affairs. She is also a former editor at Megaphone, a social enterprise providing meaningful work for people experiencing poverty.

Working within an academic setting is also familiar to Wong who taught in SFU’s Semester in Dialogue program and in the New Media Journalism program. She was also an adjunct instructor in the UBC Creative Writing program for two years.

“In working variously, sometimes simultaneously, as a journalist, editor, facilitator, and instructor, I've so valued the relationships at the core of the work and particularly the relational nature of how the work is done. To me, the magic is always where the people are and where the community is,” says Wong.

She has consistently been drawn to work that envisions alternatives to what can be considered the norm because, as she notes, these structures can be oppressive and exclude or marginalize people and communities. As a journalist, a field that she worked in for more than a decade, she strove to contribute to the public conversation about politics and how it was impacting communities particularly. “In that work I was always interested in how public policy was impacting communities that might not always be in the mainstream eye or part of mainstream conversations,” says Wong.

Moreover, defining what community means or who it reflects can be tricky. To Wong, the term can take on a “problematic shorthand for people who are living vulnerably or people who are having a hard time of some kind and I don’t think that’s quite fair.”

“For me working with community or thinking about community work is thinking about how to work always to redistribute power and particularly tip the balance of power in terms of whose voices and experiences are centred and whose are excluded and left out,” she says. “And that can take a number of forms.”

At the same time, she says she has noticed that there is a gap between widely acknowledging the importance of people and community in the work and understanding how to ethically, equitably, and respectfully work alongside people and communities.

“I'm excited by how CERi strives to address that gap: this, to me, is work that holds a lot of potential for transformation at the personal, social, and institutional levels,” says Wong.

“I'm excited that CERi aims to do things differently by challenging power structures in service of its redistribution. Here, I see so much potential for learning and growth: coming into this with questions and a spirit of curiosity and collaboration instead of holding all the answers or expertise. I like how there is challenge and uncertainty in this.”

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