Christina Wong, executive director and co-founder of Employ to Empower, a program that offers Downtown Eastside residents access to development and entrepreneurial resources.

Community celebration event screens videos of strength and resilience in the Downtown Eastside


Christina Wong has volunteered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) since she was 14 years old. Her dedication to eradicate poverty and homelessness has put the SFU alumnus at the forefront of several initiatives in the community.

In 2018, Wong launched the charity Employ to Empower (ETE) that takes a long term and compassionate approach to helping DTES entrepreneurs get on their feet.

“Most people want a second chance to do things better, but these chances don't come for everyone due to barriers,” she says.

ETE offers skills training, affordable microloans and a one-on-one mentor to turn that loan into something tangible. Wong’s BA in psychology from SFU helped her to realize that if she wanted to truly give people a hand up, ETE would have to do even more.

“Not only do we support them with their business growth, but we’re also someone they can confide in,” Wong says. “It’s really important for them to know that we have their backs. Because loneliness is a huge thing for many of us. And not just people in the DTES.”

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