SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition

These 18 teams are springing into action with their community partners!

March 18, 2022

From art-based co-creation or engaging with schools, to community advocacy and meaningful acts of Reconciliation and more, the winners of this year’s SFU Student-Community Engagement Competition are putting ideas into action with their community partners.

Last fall, 45 teams submitted ideas for working with community groups and individuals to realize brave, transformational change. Teams with strong ideas were then invited to prepare detailed proposals for submission, outlining the communities they were working with and in, how they were doing that, their activities, a budget and their intended impact (as well as how they’d measure it). From there, a shortlist of teams was selected to present virtually to a panel of judges in late February, competing for award money to implement their ideas. Now that the dust (pixels?) have settled, eighteen teams have emerged with a $2,000 or $3,000 award and the privilege and responsibility of working well with their partners to put their ideas into action.

“This year’s projects show just how much students desire to lift up and live values like equity and diversity, and just how motivated they are to actively contribute with communities to Reconciliation,” says Matthew Grant, Director of SFU’s Office of Community Engagement. “They are taking the reins now to ignite change together, with and within their communities.”

Congratulations to our winners! We are so excited to share their ambitious and creative projects (please note – the variation of voice in each description preserves the style of writing found in each original proposal):

African-Canadian Seniors And Single Parents Association (ACSSPA) Sewing Mask Project

This project aims to support vulnerable Burnaby seniors from Black African communities who are facing social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as their peers and neighbours in the surrounding Burnaby neighborhood. Through four learning workshops, we will provide 20 African seniors with the ability to sew, access, and teach how to properly wear non-medical masks.

Team members: Nsimire Gisele Mubalama (SFU Community Capacity Building Program)
Community Partners: African-Canadian Seniors and Single Parents Association (ACSSPA), United Way

Art for Comfort : Art for Connection

Art for Comfort : Art for Connection will invite participants to explore comfort as a means to connect with their own inner resources and coping skills, as well as an opportunity to connect with each other in community. Through a series of workshops, I will engage the community to create a virtual quilt that will hold the community’s memories, hopes and dreams. A goal of the program will be to help people connect to, and express, their story in a way they find meaningful.

Team members: Linden Yin Choi (SFU Community Capacity Building Program)
Community Partners: Trout Lake Community CentreHolly Keen Goldes Expressive Arts TherapyLakeview Long Term Care Home

BC Newcomer Camp

For newcomer refugees, it can be difficult to adjust to new places with unfamiliar languages and customs. By providing free educational programs in both English and the native languages of our attendees, we hope to foster new interests and hobbies for children while helping them adjust to their new home in Canada. For this project, we will recruit SFU students to teach Raspberry Pi fundamentals to school-aged, newcomer refugee children, helping to bridge the access gap to STEM education and providing paid career-relevant experience to the instructors.

Team members: Melissa Ho (SFU School of Interactive Arts & Technology), Raphaella Robles (SFU School of Interactive Arts & Technology), Lucas Rempel (UBC)
Community Partners: BC Newcomer CampCanaKit

Burnaby Mountain Festival

Burnaby Mountain Festival coordinators, Tsleil-Waututh Nation leaders, students volunteers and community partners will come together virtually (and hopefully, ultimately physically) to listen to each other, co-create, develop and plan a one-day festival of Indigenous land acknowledgement on Burnaby Mountain. The rationale for this project is to put the words of Indigenous land acknowledgement into meaningful action. Although the festival itself is part of the project, the process of co-creating the festival is a key component: the process is the project.

Team members: Olivia Lohan (SFU Community Capacity Building Program), Regina Martinez (SFU Sociology And Indigenous Studies), Kayah George (SFU Indigenous Language Program)
Community Partners: Members of Tsleil-Waututh NationBurnaby Festival of Learning.

Generation BXY

Giving voice to improperly consulted, vulnerable populations is the greatest way for us to make a difference in our community. Generation BXY will host an intergenerational in-person leadership development program that will enable community members to build relationships and feel comfortable with one another in a safe space, empowering them to speak publicly and confidently in anticipation of upcoming municipal elections (October 2022).

Team members (SFU Community Capacity Building Program): Sammie Jo Rumbaua, Eddie Sabile, Roberta Mcdonald
Community Partners: Joyce Street Action Network (JSAN)TulayanCollingwood Neighborhood HouseSliced Mango CollectiveRenfrew Collingwood Food JusticeUnite Here! Local 40Vancouver Tenant Union.

Glow Within Foundation      

Society lacks in providing available resources dedicated to teaching young women about their minds, bodies and common pressures they may face. Glow Within’s mission is to empower and cultivate a community of confident feminine-identifying individuals by giving them the essential resources to navigate their physical, mental and emotional health. Our workshops create an open environment where facilitators can connect with high school students and share relatable stories, helping them feel supported and understood during this pivotal stage in their lives.

Team members: Claire Connop (SFU Beedie School of Business), Karan Johar (SFU Beedie School of Business), Marzia Sager (SFU School of Communications)
Community Partners: School districts of Burnaby, Tri-Cities and Surrey, South Vancouver Neighbour House (SVNH)

Haida Nerds

There are many Haida scholars at SFU doing amazing work in Haida language and cultural revitalization. The “Haida Nerds” project goal is to bring Haida grad students together for support in monthly gatherings (a hybrid of virtual and in-person) to share Haida language and traditions and discuss our schooling and research. The project will also build connections between Haida SFU students and the Haida Repatriation Committee, the Haida Gwaii Museum, the Haida language, the Bill Reid Centre, and the Bill Reid Gallery to strengthen the research for all.

Team members: Lucy Bell (SFU Interdisciplinary Studies; Haida Repatriation Committee), Bryan Miles (Bill Reid Centre), Vince Collison (Xaad Kil Nee (Haida Language Society))
Community Partners: Haida Repatriation committeeXaad Kil NeeBill Reid GalleryBill Reid CentreHaida Gwaii museum

Hastings Folk Garden Sound Map

Sound Map is a proposed resistance project centered on the Hastings Folk Garden that weaves together three iterative, low-barrier projects that the Hives for Humanity (H4H) Community Engagement Committee (CEC) collaboratively co-created over the past year of organizing together. We propose to resource our governance principle Room to Grow by supporting a CEC member in receiving dignified lateral mentorship to embody and build a seasonal monitoring framework for the Sound Map project.

Team members: Cait Hurley (SFU Geography), Jim Mcleod (SFU Community Capacity Building Program)
Community Partners: Hives for Humanity (H4H)

Indigenous Tutoring & Mentoring Program (ITMP)

The disparity of high school graduation rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students is well documented. Our goal with this program is to create meaningful relationships between Indigenous students and their tutors and mentors. With the support of various Indigenous communities across BC, we plan to create cultural workshops, allowing Indigenous youth to connect with their Elders and cultural identities, as well as tutoring programs in school districts, allowing Indigenous students to contribute to and create belonging for themselves in their school community.

Team members: Todd Nelson (SFU Behavioural Neuroscience), Jessica Seemann (SFU Alumni), Basil Giannopoulos (SFU Engineering Science)
Community Partners: Indigenous Education Council (IEC) SD78, Indigenous Support Workers (ISWs) SD78

Math Walks

Why do we not think about places, stories, nature, community when we think about mathematics? The natural and built worlds offer us an endless supply of patterns, shapes, quantities, data, and other attributes that prompt mathematical thinking. Through Math Walks, we not only have the chance to analyze examples where mathematical principles have left their mark, but we can also spark ecological imagination and help people to reimagine their relationship with their world.

Team members: Daniel Minoru Higa Reyes (SFU Economics), Kelly Jennifer Davila Vargas (UBC)
Community Partners: Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House

NaloxHome SFU

It has been disheartening to see the record numbers of drug-related deaths in the past two years. In partnership with NaloxHome, a non-profit organization and previous SFU Community Engagement Competition award winner, SFU’s chapter of The FentaNIL Project (TFP) aims to educate high school students in the Burnaby school district (SD41) about how to identify and respond to an opioid overdose through educational presentations and practical training.

Team members (SFU): Nima Ghane-Tehrani (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), Imran Hudda (Biomedical Physiology), Hannah Van Laethem (Psychology), Ari Sihota (Criminology), Chloe Goodson (Health Sciences)
Community Partners: NaloxHomeBurnaby School District (SD41)


As co-hosts of a popular podcast (50,000+ streams and counting) about ADHD, we have received feedback from BC listeners about the lack of care and information available for the newly diagnosed. Our goal is to host two half-day events featuring speakers from the clinical community alongside adults with lived experience to provide a platform and community hub for the neurodivergent community. These events will also act as a conduit and springboard for the establishment of peer-led support communities.

Team members: Roberta Mcdonald (SFU Community Capacity Building Program), Jordan Lane
Community Partners: Santina Mozgiel (Clinical practitioner with Adult ADHD clinic), Dr. Anita Parhar and Dr. Gurdeep Parhar (Adult ADHD Centre in Burnaby)


OneTime aims to create a platform where diverse, intersectional backgrounds, experiences, and stories can be shared with authenticity and pride, bringing stigmatized topics out into the open. Through our community events and social media campaigns, we are acknowledging the power of lived experience and knowledge in influencing perspectives and promoting change. By building a space where vulnerability is celebrated, young people may feel more represented and comfortable with their own stories.

Team members: Emily Lam (SFU Health Sciences)
Community Partners: Local community members.

Public Health Speaks

Although temporary foreign workers play a significant role in Canada’s economy, they have remained an invisible and underpaid human resource who often have limited access to health care due to the bureaucratic challenges and delays they face. Public Health Speaks aims to (a) empower individuals by bridging knowledge gaps about the healthcare system; (b) orient the participants to existing community health services and resources; and (c) help reduce possible overcapacity in Emergency Departments and emergency lines.

Team members: Girly Joy Abasta (SFU Master of Public Health Program)
Community Partners: SUCCESS BCSFU Faculty of Health Sciences Graduate Caucus and SFU Residences.

ReRooting Relationships

In an era of isolation and wicked problems, holding space for youth to find their places within the social change ecosystem in an environment that promotes shared learning, equity and justice, collaboration, and dialogue is increasingly crucial. Activism is not something you do alone – systemic problems require a collective and community response. We will create and run a summer program for a cohort of 15 youth (priority QTBIPOC) to engage in a series of relationship-building workshops based on community engagement and social justice.

Team members: Jocelle Refol (SFU Health Sciences), Sarah Law (SFU Sociology)
Community Partners: Sliced Mango CollectiveShades of SustainabilityCity Hive

Singing Our Truths: Telling Our Stories

I’ve heard it shared from locals who live in the area that there are not enough queer friendly or 2SLGBTQIA+ friendly spaces in the Comox Valley. As a queer expressive arts therapist who is ethnically half Chinese, quarter Scottish and quarter Ukrainian Canadian, I recognize the potential that I have to create more space for community members from marginalized identities. This project will gather the stories and voices of people within the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community, both local and afar, in order to offer them a platform to be heard, witnessed and honoured.

Team members: Holly Keen Goldes (SFU Community Capacity Building Program)
Community Partners: The Cumberland Culture and Arts SocietyCumberland Village WorksHolly Keen Goldes Expressive Arts TherapyCaresse Nadeau Film

Voices 4 Reconciliation

Voices 4 (re)Conciliation is a project that aims to bring inter-generational Canadians from faith-based communities together to reflect on the history of Residential Schools (RS) through learning and music. As the horrendous news of unmarked RS graves grew, so too did strong acts against churches. Young Catholics were frustrated that there was no space or support to actively hold this news, let alone conduct conversations to unpack conflicting feelings. Their frustration was an inspiration for this project.

Team members: Stephanie Duran (SFU Community Capacity Building Program) and Shahira Sakiyama (SFU Alumni). Gratitude to Yvonne Rigsby-Jones for consulting on the direction of Voices for (re)Conciliation 

Young Minds Exploring Science

Young Minds Exploring Science (YMES) seeks to eliminate barriers that youth face when accessing extracurricular STEM programs. Our idea is to offer workshops throughout the year to Grade 6 and 7 newcomer youth in the Surrey community. Each workshop will cover a unique topic within science, in alignment with the BC Science Curriculum. Through participating in our program, we hope to positively impact the experience of newcomer youth by providing them with a safe space to learn and cultivate valuable connections with others within their schools and community.

Team members: Isabel Nelson (SFU Physical Geography), Monika Jandu (UBC), Nima Tehrani (SFU Molecular Biology and Biochemistry), Gurbir Suri (UBC), Rabina Jandu (SFU Health Sciences)
Community Partners: SFU Surrey-TD Community Engagement CentreSurrey School District’s Welcome Center



Hey, students  – What would you  do with $3,000?

Up to $30,000* is available to fund SFU students who want to work with community partners to create meaningful impact. Register today – all you need is your name and a brief description of your idea.