FENV Changemakers

2024 Awardees

Geography Student Union (GSU)

What makes them Changemakers?

The Geography Student Union (GSU) is one of the most active Departmental Student Unions at SFU. Over the years, the group has built a strong community of undergraduates within the Department who are engaged and committed to helping every geographer within their department shine. Most recently, the GSU organized an academic conference, RANGE, that brought high schoolers, undergraduates, graduates, and faculty together to share ideas and learn about geography. RANGE 2023 attracted almost 100 attendees who participated in various conference sessions themed around physical geography, geographic information systems, human geography, and sustainability/advocacy. The conference was an excellent opportunity for students to learn from each other and to build connections within and across the Department.

Apart from RANGE, you might find GSU members organizing degree planning socials, planning experiential learning trips, and running social events that help other students within geography and beyond to make the most of their university experience.

Relevant links:

Maria Preoteasa (she/her) | BEnv, Resource and Environmental Management

What makes Maria a Changemaker?

Maria researched Food Forests in many different ways, from her Spring 2023 REM 495 capstone project on Vancouver’s policy pathways to food forests, to SFU's Environmental Education field school in Indonesia, where she researched more about sustainable agriculture and cultural practices, to the ideation of the new Food Forest Outdoor Learning Space. Inspired by the existence of global food forests dating as far back as 11,000 years ago, she decided to make use of a pre-existing food forest site at SFU's Burnaby campus.  She is helping to fight the collective forgetting of human nature-based skills. Currently, she is partnering with faculty and community members to integrate this space into SFU classes, Indigenize the curriculum, and make this a place of belonging. She is also planning events for community involvement. As a student holding the Major Entrance Scholarship, she has always been a devoted student, and her dedication to the environment has only grown in these past years as she was President of the Bachelor of Environment Student Union during 2023, Vice President from 2021-2023, and also other titles. Maria has been invited to speak at the Invasive Species of Metro Vancouver Council’s 2024 Stewardship Series to share her experience with creating Food Forests across Metro Vancouver. 

Please note this nominee received multiple independant nominations and submissions were synthesizes to the above nomination.

Eli Hacker | BEnv, Resource Environmental Management

What makes Eli a Changemaker?

Eli has worked tirelessly to create a vibrant community for students. He helped to establish REMSA, REM’s new departmental student union, so that REM students would have a stronger voice and feel more connected to the School of REM. As the first President of REMSA, Eli has increased student engagement by planning fun, accessible events with his team. He is also part of the Student Leadership Team, where he helps to organize faculty-wide social activities such as the annual FENV Career Night, an opportunity for students to connect with alumni to learn about career paths and job-search experiences. Eli led campus tours and provided information about academic resources to new students as an EnvironMentor last year. He also mentored and supported a high school’s Environment Club in their green initiatives through the Bridging Environments community outreach program. In addition, Eli’s passion for forestry management led him to volunteer with the Fire and Ecosystems Research Lab at SFU.

Relevant links:

REMSA’s Instagram:
FENV Career Night Info Page:
EnvironMentors Info Page:
Bridging Environments Info Page:
Fire and Ecosystems Research Lab Info Page:

2023 Awardees

Emma Kingsland (she/her) | BEnv, Resource Environmental Management, Biology Minor

About Emma
Emma Kingsland is currently a student at SFU studying Resource Environmental Management and Biology.  She is passionate about coastal stewardship, wildlife conservation, and environmental education.  Emma works as the Conservation Stewardship Assistant for the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF) and is one of three Co-Leads on the Year of the Salish Sea (YOSS) initiative.  Through her work with the BCWF Emma has helped develop workshops that engage members of the public in conservation stewardship and restoration projects across the province of BC.  To advance radical coastal stewardship in the Salish Sea region Emma has worked with other SFU students to develop the YOSS initiative. The initiative calls on coastal municipalities to act as a catalyst for other governing bodies, organizations, and community groups to join a collective effort to improve the health and management of the Salish Sea and raise public awareness about the importance of a revitalized and healthy sea.  Ten municipalities along the coast of BC and Washington have proclaimed June 8, 2022 to June 7, 2023 the Year of the Salish Sea.  Working with municipalities and ENGOs to advance conservation stewardship initiatives has allowed Emma to participate in community events, dialogues, and conferences as a young environmental professional.

What makes the nominee a changemaker?
Emma Kingsland is currently a student at SFU studying Resource Environmental Management and Biology.  Emma is one of three Co-Leads on the Year of the Salish Sea initiative.  The initiative was developed at SFU through the Semester in Dialogue program.  Once the program ended Emma and a few other students continued to work on the initiative.  The initiative calls on coastal municipalities to act as a catalyst for other governing bodies, organizations, and community groups to join a collective effort to improve the health and management of the Salish Sea and raise public awareness about the importance of a revitalized and healthy sea.  Emma has presented at municipal council meetings about the importance of collaboration in the management of the Salish Sea and the urgency for climate action.  This has resulted in 10 municipalities along the coast of BC and Washington proclaiming June 8, 2022, to June 7, 2023, the Year of the Salish Sea.  Through municipal proclamation, the Year of the Salish Sea opens opportunities for increased public education and engagement opportunities, collaboration in ocean initiatives, and advocacy for policy change in ocean management.  Emma has given talks about collaboration in ocean initiatives and youth leadership in conservation at events such as the CPAWS BC Ocean Fest Speaker Series in collaboration with IMPAC5, Ocean Wise Ocean Bridge Developing Lcoal Environmental Initiatives Program, and Coho Festival Tent Talks.  Emma additionally supports the YOSS initiative by attending outreach events and coordinating stakeholder engagement.

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Spirit Mayo (He/him/his) | BEnv, Global Environmental Systems

About Spirit
Spirit Mayo is a 3rd year Global Environmental Systems Major in SFU's Department of Geography. He is a current member of SFU 350, the Faculty of Environment's Student Leadership Team and the Bridging Environment's and Environmentors Programs. Currently, Spirit works as a community advisor for SFU Residence, enahancing student's on-campus experience.

What makes the nominee a changemaker?
Spirit is a core leader of SFU 350, a student-led climate activism club at SFU. He participates in the group's reinvestment initiative, following their successful divestment campaign in 2021, to encourage universities to move 10% of their endowment and working capital fund into community investments that support a vibrant and local economy, amongst other recommendations. Spirit also volunteers for the faculty of environment student leadership team, bridging environments and environmentors programs. While Spirit works on residence as a community advisor he connects residents with opportunities to contribute to a positive environmental change with resources at SFU from the faculty and other on-campus climate activism organizations and programs. Spirit aspires to provide ways that everyone can contribute to creating an equitable and sustainable world.

Relevant links:

Ellen Watters (She/hers) | BEnv, Resource and Envrionmental Management, Planning stream

About Ellen
Ellen Watters (she/her) hails from Vancouver Island on the traditional and ancestral lands of the Tsartslip Nation. She was raised in a blended family with 5 siblings of Jamaican and Japanese heritage, and is of Thai and Cree heritage herself. As someone who expresses their creative outlet through cooking and baking, it has been a fun and delicious journey connecting to her heritage and cultural background by learning how to make food.

Alongside being a creative outlet, Ellen believes making food (especially for friends and family) is a celebration and an expression of love. Her love for food has also transferred over in her studies at SFU as an Environmental and Resource Management Planning student where she has a special interest in sustainable food systems. She is excited about the challenge of incorporating food systems planning in an urban context.

In her spare time, Ellen enjoys novice bird watching at Burnaby Lake, open-water swimming, and slowly knocking books off her TBR list.

What makes the Ellen a changemaker?

Ellen has been integral in the food justice community at SFU this past year. She started off as a Food Justice volunteer at Embark Sustainability Society, where her commitment to learning and growing with her team resulted in the implementation of Nourishing Perspectives, a Food Justice Exhibition event in 2022. Within this event, Ellen and her team created a space for 5 student artists to share their experiences and relationships to food justice and food (in)security. The event also allowed about 35 student attendees to listen and learn from food justice advocates in the community and engage with them.

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This year, Ellen became the Food Justice Coordinator at Embark, where she led a team of facilitators to learn about Food Justice, where she embedded the importance of centring cultural relevancy and equitable access into discussions about food security and food justice more broadly. Through this, Ellen planned, hosted, and invited others to share their culture and other important topics through Embark’s monthly Community Kitchens.

At the end of 2022, Ellen also led her team in the ideation, planning, and management stages of Foodscapes: a Food Security Soiree. This event allowed for discussions about food security initiatives across the lower mainland with key stakeholders representing the food security sector in Burnaby, and across post-secondary campuses. The following questions were asked and explored with the attendees: What gaps in lower mainland’s foodscape need to be filled, and how can we build a future where nutritious food is accessible to everyone? Where can students get involved in the community to support their communities through food initiatives? Where can students access food at low-cost or free? Around 30 students attended and Ellen created a space through the event for such vital conversations to take place.

2022 Awardees

SFU 350

About SFU 350 
SFU350 is a student-run climate action club operating on the unceded territories of the səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, on which SFU Burnaby is located. We have been active at SFU Burnaby since 2013 and operate under the regulations and guidelines of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS). We are known as “SFU350” because 350ppm of CO2 represents the safe amount of carbon dioxide for our atmosphere. Currently, we sit at over 400ppm of CO2. 
The club started with a student-led divestment campaign. This campaign called on SFU to divest their financial holdings invested in companies that extract, refine, and transport fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil, and natural gas). Through numerous initiatives, including but not limited to, presentations to treasury, faculty, the Board of Governors, student funds BEAM and SIAS, and students, research on the financial justification for divestment, and direct actions including student-focused rallies, SFU350 finally completed their divestment campaign with an SFU announcement of full divestment by 2025 in November 2021. 
Besides divestment, SFU350 has drafted and presented a climate emergency declaration open letter to the Board of Governors on decarbonization, divestment and reinvestment, a climate hub, education, raising awareness and amplifying, and climate justice. The Board of Governors has since declared a climate emergency and acknowledged alignment with our recommendations thanks to our advocacy and the advocacy of supportive faculty, unions, and students at SFU. 
What makes them changemakers?
SFU350 is dedicated to creating meaningful impacts through various campaigns. By directly lobbying those in positions of power, SFU350 has generated impetus for positive change at the highest level. The club ensures equity, sustainability, and Indigenous sovereignty are centered in all campaigns, and has a dedicated working group active with the express purpose of advocating for climate justice. 

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Past campaigns have achieved the declaration of a climate emergency from SFU’s Board of Governors; the full divestment of SFU from all financial holdings invested in fossil fuel extraction, refinement, and transportation companies; and the acknowledgement of alignment between SFU’s goals and SFU350’s open letter demands. These milestones were achieved through many months, and even years, of student advocacy – with support being garnered among a multitude of SFU community members and stakeholders. However, SFU350 was the driving organization responsible for initiating this support and lobbying SFU. 
SFU350 also remains a dynamic group on campus, with multiple in-progress campaigns focused on issues ranging from the implementation of climate education at the university to advocacy against the Trans Mountain Expansion project. In the spirit of collaboration, these campaigns develop alongside other groups on campus – such as Embark Sustainability, ChangeSFU, and SFU’s own Sustainability Office. 

Relevant links:

Group nominations require a Faculty of Environment student to be identified to receive the award and represent the group. Liam Mackay from the Environmental Science program was nominated to represent SFU350. 

Emma Chong | BA, Archaeology, Geography Minor, and GIS Certificate

About Emma
Emma is a third year Archaeology Major with a minor in Geography and the GIS Certificate. Emma is part of the A.S.S. as the interdepartmental rep, a leader in the Student Leadership Team for the Faculty of Environment, and part of the Jazz Band. While Emma is an active volunteer, she also has completed a co-op position at the Port Moody Station Museum. 
What makes the nominee a changemaker?
Emma is an avid community member. She is an active volunteer who shares her story as an Archaeology student. Emma is an excellent example of a student who brings "more than you think" with her ability to communicate what students could study with Archaeology. At many new/future student events, Emma has helped introduce areas of study that are new to people. You can find Emma at nearly every event around the faculty, being an integral community member that has valuable impact on campus life.

Kristin Oliver | MA, Archaeology

About Kristin
In Kristin's own words: 
"I am a second-generation Canadian of British and Danish heritage who has the privilege of working with the K'ómoks First Nation during my degree and the Stó:lo First Nation during my day job. My favorite part about archaeology is using the techniques as tools for conservation. When I'm not doing archaeology you can find me puttering around the garden with the dog and chickens." 
What makes Kristin a changemaker?
Already a very engaged and involved undergraduate in the ARCH program, Kristin has been working with Indigenous nations as part of her CRM training. More recently, as an MA student, Kristin, together with ARCH Manager Merrill Farmer, has spearheaded a successful CRM career event for ARCH Majors in February 2022. Her desire to decolonize the discipline saw her doing work for the Sto:lo nation, as well as collaborating on initiatives relevant to Indigenous representation and advancement alongside the program's graduate Chair,    Dr. Dana Lepofsky. 
Relevant links: