SFU Students Exemplify the Spirit of Innovation and Community Engagement at the Annual President’s Gala

March 09, 2020

On a Friday night at the end of February, people gathered in the SFU Surrey mezzanine for a very special evening. The mezz had been transformed from a daily gathering place to a magical blue-lit space filled with elegant tables, flower arrangements, and well-dressed diners. It was the President’s Annual SFU Gala, hosted at SFU’s Surrey campus by SFU’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Andrew Petter.

The Gala celebrated 17 years of community partnership with Surrey’s city centre. VIPs in attendance included incoming SFU president Joy Johnson, Surrey Mayor, Doug McCallum; Burnaby Mayor, Mike Hurley; Translink CEO, Kevin Desmond; Vice-President Blackwood Partners, Bill Rempel (the folks who operate and care for the building); and fifteen student representatives from this year’s SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition winning teams.

One of the highlights from the night was the recognition of those students for their teams’ committed work to develop projects with community partners that will lead to social impact. Thanks to financial contributions by Blackwood Partners, SFU and the Burnaby Festival of Learning, a total of $28,000 has been awarded to fund ten student-led projects that exemplify the competition’s purpose and serve as shining examples of the creativity, vision, and community commitment of SFU’s students. Congratulations to this year’s winning teams!

  1. Making HER Future!
    This is a series of interactive workshops to inspire young girls to be confident about engaging with technology-related subjects such as robotics and programming. Girls are invited to participate with their mothers to engage both generations in seeing the opportunities for girls to succeed in STEM. Team members: Maryam Zarei (SFU), Naghmi Shireen (SFU), Niloofar Kazemi (SFU), Ahmed Abu Zuraiq (SFU), Talia Ahmad (UBC)
  2. Camp We Empower (Spark Foundation)
    The team's mission is to ignite flames of change, one SPARK at a time. The project involves workshops that are designed to help kids in Grades 3–12 learn essential skills to become community leaders and to develop strong sets of skills for coming into adulthood, building a sustainable future and caring about the community. Team members: Rochelle Prasad (SFU), Niloufer Gill (SFU), Roha Malik (SFU)
  3. CommuniCreate
    CommuniCreate fills a gap for immigrant and refugee youth in Surrey to get involved in their communities through a summer and afterschool program in which newcomer youth can learn English through the use of engaging and hands-on activities such watching and discussing movies, roleplaying, debates, and presentations among many other things. Team members: Saba Fatemi (SFU), Trisha Dulku (SFU Alumni), Rufaida Pervez (SFU), Eunbee Baik (SFU), Ricky Lalli (SFU Alumni)
  4. Empowering the Village to Connect with the Child
    The goal of this project is to connect newcomer parents and kids aged 1–5 years and build community through play and learning activities focused on healthy eating. Team members: Daniel Minoru Higa Reyes (SFU), Giuliana Lira Guzman (Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House)
  5. Bridge2Health
    A half-day workshop that focuses on the gaps that immigrant youth aged 15–24 experience in accessing sexual health education and services in the Greater Vancouver region. The session will promote discussion and networking within a coalition of interested community partners who work with immigrant youth to determine actionable ways to address these gaps. Team members: Amanda Monteiro (SFU), Bethel Lulie (SFU), Cassandra Parsons (SFU), James Young (SFU), Viseth Long (SFU)
  6. Connecting Little Ones to Indigenous Culture
    The goal of this project is to connect little ones aged 1 to 5 years from newcomer families to First Nations culture. First Nations people will introduce their culture to the children through their stories and music. Team members: Daniel Minoru Higa Reyes (SFU), Giuliana Lira Guzman (Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House)
  7. The Oral History Crew
    This is an exhibit that highlights the contributions of lesbians to the women’s movements of the 1970s and 80s through the stories of ten local Vancouver residents who were interviewed in the fall of 2019 as a final project for a fourth-year oral history seminar. Through a mix of audio documentary and textual and photo documents, visitors will learn about the hidden past of lesbians in the women’s movements through the intimate stories of their lives as they were lived. Team members: Kirstie Goodfellow (SFU), Holly French (SFU)
  8. Stick With Me
    This project invites rural women migrants living in Quito, Ecuador to participate in workshops to create collective collages depicting different aspects of their lived experiences, with emphasis on their migration histories, health and wellbeing. These stories and collages will be collected as online multimedia journalistic posts that emerge from people’s own experiences and perspectives.. Team member: Belen Febres-Cordero (SFU)
  9. True Colours
    Every day, children are adapting to medical conditions and treatments which can be stressful, scary, and isolating. As a team, we believe that every child should have the right to just be a kid and have fun! With this vision, True Colours aims to provide a new creative platform for young children in health institutions to freely express themselves and share their journey by designing their own stickers. Team members: Shemaiah Chiu (SFU), Angelica Valdez (SFU) and Vivian Wong (SFU)
  10. Bridges in Strathcona
    The KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) is an experiential teaching tool based on participatory education methodologies that employs Indigenous practices to build awareness and understanding of the shared histories of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This project will engage with youth in the Strathcona neighbourhood through the Kairos tool. Team members: Ashley Kyne (SFU) and Dan Turvill (Cathy O’Connor Morris)