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Students, Awards, Sociology & Anthropology, Departments & programs
Sociology student Emma Warner-Chee is the 2018 winner of the Michael McDonell Award in Social Justice. The annual award recognizes students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who have demonstrated a commitment to social activism and justice.
Warner-Chee, a sociology major, has been an active volunteer while at Simon Fraser University, working tirelessly to bring awareness to social issues. She describes this as a natural development from her days in high school, where an inspiring mentor introduced her to the local activist community and influenced her to develop an interest in political and social issues such as anti-racism and migrant justice, as well as food and environmental justice.
Warner-Chee has made long strides in her quest for social justice. She is on the Board of Directors for the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG), a student-funded and student-directed resource centre dedicated to social and environmental justice, and a member of the society’s Racialized Resistance and Healing Action group. Until last summer, she also served as the Food Systems Change Coordinator at Embark, the student-led not-for-profit that seeks to empower the next generation of student sustainability leaders.
Warner-Chee finds that being part of activist communities has made her passionate about community spaces, which is what drew her to places like SFPIRG and the Sociology & Anthropology Student Union (SASU) on campus.
“[These are places] where people can come together to find community on campus, and in the case of SFPIRG, where social justice organizing could happen,” Warner-Chee explains. “Community-building and education is really important to me, and it’s one of the reasons I started spending time at SFPIRG and why I’m on the board now.”
In addition to being part of activist communities, Warner-Chee has also contributed to growing awareness through her writing. As a contributor for The Peak, she has written articles on the rise of white supremacy groups in Canada and library access for non-profits, among other topics.
According to Warner-Chee, who aims to graduate after the summer term, her studies naturally complement her volunteerism and activism.
“Sociology offers many ways of understanding social issues—there’s theoretical understandings, and historical understandings as well as a lot of great research,” she says, adding that sociology also provides a critical perspective. “History and context are really key pieces for me in addressing social issues.”
While Warner-Chee has no set plans after graduation, she firmly believes that whatever she ends up doing, social justice work will be part of her life.
“Social justice work continues wherever there is oppression and inequality, and I imagine I will continue to be organizing or volunteering for the rest of my life.”