Am Johal receives the 2020 Warren Gill Award for Community Impact

March 03, 2021

For his quiet and consistent work to build deep and reciprocal relationships between SFU and partners in Vancouver’s urban core – this year’s winner of the 2020 Warren Gill Award for Community Impact is Am Johal, Director of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Co-Director of SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERi)

Every year SFU recognizes a single staff or faculty member for their extensive work to partner with communities to create meaningful and lasting impact. Am, a community organizer with deep roots in Vancouver’s artistic, political and activist spheres, has brought a nuanced understanding of the systemic and intersecting issues that push people to the margins of the city. He has partnered with community members to engage the wider public in vital and accessible conversations about progressive housing policies, harm reduction solutions, poverty and income inequality, systemic racism and Indigenous movements, and environmental justice — as well as expansive dialogues about community-engaged research ethics, critical theory, literature, film and other artistic disciplines. Through his steadfast involvement and commitment to community work, arts, urbanism and social and environmental justice movements, Am has been a driving force for inclusion and social change, and a bridge between SFU and the community.

“Am Johal’s inspiring leadership of numerous community-university initiatives has deepened our partnerships, enhanced our relationships, and provided ways for the wider public to engage in vital conversations and action,” says SFU President Joy Johnson. “The university is grateful for the opportunity to do this transformative work with our communities, and I congratulate Am on this well-earned recognition.”

Since 2017, the Warren Gill Award has recognized an SFU staff or faculty member for their commitment to reciprocal partnerships that ensure that any cutting-edge research, innovation or community action is defined by, led and powered in collaboration with the people and communities who have the closest stake in the outcome. 

“Am Johal brings incredible passion, empathy, and creativity to helping support the Downtown Eastside community,” says Sean Condon, Managing Director of 312 Main. “He engages with the community to develop programs and initiatives that have a direct impact on the lives of the neighbourhood's residents. He has the rare ability to traverse different corridors and build bridges that create positive social and cultural changes.” Sean is also the founder of Megaphone Magazine, a project working in collaboration with SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. “I always appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to work with and learn from Am, who, along with great kindness and humour, brings countless skills to the table. He listens, supports, and ultimately problem solves with and for communities who historically have been marginalized.”

Listen to Am’s podcast, Below the Radar, part of the Knowledge Democracy project at 312 Main.