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Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 West Hastings Street

Below the Radar: A Knowledge Democracy Podcast

Amplifying ideas that fly below the radar.

Below the Radar is a weekly podcast hosted by Am Johal. We talk environmental and social justice, arts, culture, community-building and urban issues with featured guests.

Hosted on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, this podcast is produced by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement as a part of our Knowledge Democracy Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities. 

Listen to Below the Radar on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifySoundcloud, Stitcher, and Podyssey. Stay up to date with the podcast by liking us on Facebook and following us @BTR_pod on Twitter.

Latest episodes of Below the Radar

Episode 76: Neuroengineering and Brain Plasticity — with Faranak Farzan

Faranak Farzan works at a fascinating intersection of engineering and neuroscience — innovating technological solutions to mental health issues like depression and addiction. Using the concept of brain plasticity, Faranak speaks to host Am Johal about how technological interventions can help the brain to rewire itself. She delves into the exciting opportunities neuroengineering presents for streamlining diagnosis and treatment, reducing the burden on patients who often go through years of trial-and-error before being matched with the right treatment. They also discuss Faranak’s research specific to youth mental health, the ethical implications of neurotechnology, and the importance of community perspectives in co-creating brain health solutions.

Dr. Faranak Farzan is the Chair in Technology Innovations for Youth Addiction Recovery and Mental Health at the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering at SFU. Dr. Farzan is the founder and Scientific Director of Centre for Engineering-Led Brain Research at SFU. She has obtained her Bachelor in Electrical and Biomedical Engineering from McMaster University, her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and Medical Science from University of Toronto, and her Postdoctoral training in Cognitive Neurology from Harvard Medical School. Prior to joining SFU, she was Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Toronto, and Independent Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Dr. Farzan leads a unique research program at the cross section of Engineering and Neuroscience. The program is aimed at development and practical implementation of neurotechnology and computational approaches for studying human brain health and function, and for diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Farzan has authored over 70 peer-reviewed journal articles, and her work has received funding from prestigious agencies such as CIHR, NSERC, CFI, CIHR, NIMH, NARSAD, Brain Canada, Kids Brain Health Network, and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Episode 75: This Atom Bomb in Me — with Lindsey Freeman

From Mister Rogers to radioactive frogs, Below the Radar dives into the nuclear imaginary with SFU Associate Professor of Sociology Lindsey Freeman as she recounts the atomic culture she was brought up in. In this episode, Lindsey is in conversation with Am Johal about her new book, This Atom Bomb in Me, a reckoning with our nuclear past that resonates with the present moment. Through Lindsey’s experiences of growing up in the Manhattan Project secret city, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the book traces the radiating influence of the arms race on American politics and culture. Lindsey also speaks to her current projects, including a trip to Chernobyl, the impact of rain on Vancouver’s social mood, and a fascination with miniatures and the uncannily small.

Lindsey A. Freeman is a writer and sociologist interested in atomic culture, feelings, memory, poetics, and rain. Freeman is author of This Atom Bomb in Me (Redwood Press/Stanford University Press) and Longing for the Bomb: Oak Ridge and Atomic Nostalgia (University of North Carolina Press), and editor of The Bohemian South: Creating Counter-cultures from Poe to Punk (University of North Carolina Press). Freeman is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Simon Fraser University and an Affiliated Researcher at the Espaces et Sociétés (Space and Society Center) at the University of Caen-Normandy.

Photo credit: Dave Chan

Episode 74: The Human Right to Housing — with Leilani Farha

Leilani Farha has a long history of advocacy around poverty and housing, in Canada and beyond. She is in conversation with Am Johal following her tenure as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, a post that saw her travelling the world to connect with people who were struggling with inadequate and precarious housing or homelessness, and to work with governments to uphold housing as a human right.

In this interview, Leilani speaks to concerning patterns in housing globally, including homelessness, evictions, unaffordability, and the financialization of housing. They discuss opportunities in Canadian housing policy, Vancouver’s housing crisis, and the incredible importance of having a safe place to call home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leilani Farha is the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing and Global Director of The Shift. Her work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, not a commodity. Leilani has helped develop global human rights standards on the right to housing, including through her topical reports on homelessness, the financialization of housing, informal settlements, rights-based housing strategies, and the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing. She is the central character in the documentary PUSH regarding the financialization of housing, screening around the world. Leilani Launched The Shift in 2017 with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Cities and Local Government.

Episode 73: Training and Jamming with New(to)Town Collective — with June Fukumura and Anjela Magpantay

Finding a lack of space for experimentation and play in Vancouver’s theatre scene, New(to)Town Collective formed to provide accessible, low-barrier physical theatre training to the community. Our host, Am Johal speaks to two of the collective’s founding artists and alumni of SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, June Fukumura and Anjela Magpantay. They discuss barriers facing emerging artists in the city, as well as how they embrace messiness and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration in their by-donation Training Jams. The collective blends different artistic practices in their training and in the creation of new works, spanning from clowning to contemporary dance, to playwriting, to dramaturgy and more. Anjela and June also give Am a taste of what goes on in a Training Jam, guiding him through a sound and movement exercise.

About New(to)Town Collective:

June Fukumura is an award winning Japanese-Canadian theatre artist based in Vancouver, BC. She is the Co-Artistic Director of Popcorn Galaxies, an experimental theatre company that has produced over ten independent productions presented at Centre A, Vancouver Fringe Festival, BC Culture Days, and the rEvolver Festival. Additionally, June is the Co-Founder of New(to)Town Collective an artist collective with a mandate to create new experimental works; provide ongoing accessible physical theatre training; and experimental research workshops in Vancouver. June is the creator and performer of My Name is SUMIKO, a one woman clown performance featuring June’s alter ego, Sumiko. This show was produced by New(to)Town Collective and won the Public Market Pick of the Fringe Award at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2019.She has studied Grotowski inspired physical theatre, Pochinko clowning, directing, dramaturgy, devising, and improvisation. Her practice is a blend of experimental contemporary theatre and clown, site-responsive and site-specific art making, embodied performance techniques, and community engaged theatre and education.

Anjela Magpantay is an immigrant, actor, producer, teacher, director, and collaborator with various artists of different disciplines. After co-founding New(to)Town Collective, she has gone on to intensely study Grotowski and Clown training to bring back to the Collective. She has worked internationally, touring the UK with Foreign Radical by Theatre Conspiracy and toured to Hong Kong with A Wake of Vultures for their newly devised piece Walking at Night by Myself by Nancy Tam. Anjela is currently honing her leadership skills and specializing as a Cultural Consultant in multilingual Filipinx plays. Anjela holds a BFA from SFU's theatre program and continues it's rigorous training lineage in New(to) Town's Training Jams.

Episode 72: Podcasting as Scholarship — with Hannah McGregor

With the rise of podcasting as a forum for academic conversations and as a teaching tool, Hannah McGregor of SFU’s Publishing department set out to investigate — and enact — podcasting as a form of scholarly communication, knowledge mobilization, and open pedagogy. Hannah is in conversation with host Am Johal about her research into the exciting potentials of scholarly podcasting, and the power of the podcast as a grassroots, decentralized medium.

Hannah McGregor is an Assistant Professor of Publishing at Simon Fraser University, where her research focuses on podcasting as scholarly communication, systemic barriers to access in the Canadian publishing industry, and magazines as middlebrow media. She is the co-creator of Witch, Please, a feminist podcast on the Harry Potter world, and the creator of the weekly podcast Secret Feminist Agenda.

Photo by Michael Ti

Episode 71: Paying the Land — with Joe Sacco

Am Johal is joined by Maltese-American cartoonist Joe Sacco, renowned for his long-form graphic journalism and field work in conflict zones and places where people are facing displacement and dispossession. They discuss his new book, Paying the Land, dealing with the painful history of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and resource extraction in northern Canada, as well as overarching themes of dispossession, the violence of settler-colonialism, and the bonds between people and land that are prominent in his work. Joe also shares some of his upcoming projects and touches on the intensification of political tensions in Portland, OR, where he lives.

Joe Sacco is the author of Footnotes in Gaza, for which he received an Eisner Award and the Ridenhour Book Prize, as well as PalestineJournalismSafe Area Goražde (also an Eisner winner), and other books. His works have been translated into fourteen languages and his comics reporting has appeared in DetailsThe New York Times MagazineTime, and Harpers. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Episode 70: Youth in Policymaking — with Aida Mwanzia

Jackie Obungah is in conversation with Aida Mwanzia about the importance of centering Black youth and community perspectives in policymaking. Aida speaks about a policy brief she wrote advocating for a cap on international student tuition, as well as her experience working with Ethọ́s Lab to create accessible and inclusive tech spaces.

Aida Mwanzia

With 5 years of facilitation experience, Aida is skilled at bringing people together to discuss critical topics, create new possibilities, and transform the way that teams interact with one another. She is driven by her mission to connect and empower youth through transformative educational programs, and currently has her own facilitation business. Aida’s roots in Kenya, upbringing in Gambia and experience in Canada inform her desire to shift the narrative about misunderstood places, people, and systems in order to positively shape how we engage with the world around us. You can reach her for booking enquiries at, or via Linkedin.

Episode 69: Vanessa Richards: Singing Through the Dark — and Other Pandemic Pleasures | Below the Radar Conversations

How do we come together to make and enjoy art in a time of physical distancing? Interdisciplinary artist and community organizer Vanessa Richards joins host Am Johal in his backyard for a physically-distanced conversation about convening community through music during the pandemic. They discuss the challenges and opportunities of practising community-engaged arts over these past months; Vanessa’s experiences of virtually leading Van Van Song Society and Dancing in the Dark; and how Vancouver is responding to and participating in this moment of heightened community action for racial justice.

Vanessa Richards, born in Vancouver, works as an artist and facilitator. Her practices encourage the personal and civic imagination towards positive social change and sustainability.  

Since the 1990's she has been devising and delivering arts-based engagement, education and programming through collaboration with community programmes, universities, unions, cultural organizations, health care providers, and projects that serve the imaginations of young people and elders.

As a community choir leader she also brings collective singing to conferences and gatherings to connect ideas, emotions and people. Her poetry and critical works are anthologized in the UK, Holland, United States and Canada. As a performer she has been nominated for a Jesse Richardson Theatre Award.

She is on the advisory committee for the RADIUS Fellowship at Beedie School of Business SFU and a producer/facilitator for the Social Venture Institute with Hollyhock Leadership Institute. For many years Richards served as a volunteer on the City of Vancouver Black History Month Advisory Committee as well as the Hogan’s Alley Working Group and Society. She is currently a volunteer mentor for two youth co-operatives, Ethọ́s Lab and Solid State. For her work in community engagement Richards was the recipient of the 2018 City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Achievement Award.

Ayaan Ismaciil

Episode 68: Black Youth in Community Organizing — with Ayaan Ismaciil and Natasha Mhuriro

Jackie Obungah is joined by Ayaan Ismaciil and Natasha Mhuriro to discuss the importance of starting a Black in BC Mutual Aid fund during the pandemic as a means of community support and sustenance. Ayaan and Natasha also talk about finding a balance between student life and community organising. Both Ayaan and Natasha are members of the African Students Association at SFU and have been part of student organizing initiatives on campus. In this conversation, they also explore the continued solidarity between Indigenous and Black communities in working towards liberation.

Ayaan Ismaciil is a Black African Muslim Refugee-settler on the stolen and occupied ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples; the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She is invested in community organizing, furthering aftocentric decolonial practices in her life/community, and creating youth spaces that center the leadership, lived experiences and expertise of Black and Indigenous youth. Ayaan is a founding member of the Black in BC Mutual Aid Fund Team. She is also working on a personal project Dreams of Humanity: Refugee Voices which aims to create space for Refugee folks living in what’s colonially known as Vancouver. Amid this global pandemic and fight for Black liberation and Indigenous Sovereignties across Turtle Island, Ayaan is being sustained by mutual support and community care from Black and Indigenous youth.

Natasha Mhuriro

Natasha Mhuriro was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She currently lives, works and studies on the occupied territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam, Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Peoples. Her interests are in public policy and empowering self-identified Black women. Upon completion of her studies at SFU she hopes to start initiatives that will encourage young women to foster positive societal change by taking an active role in shaping public, economic and development policies. She is inspired and guided by the many teachings and lessons she continues to receive from the Black women in her life.

She is passionate and invested in community organizing, which has resulted in her making lasting contributions in the various fields she has worked in marked by an exceptional devotion to amplify the voices of Black women. On campus she organizes with the SFU African Students’ Association as President of the group to engage and amplify African students’ voices and interests and the community at large. She also currently volunteers as one of the co-organizers of the Black in BC Mutual Aid’s Support Fund which is a low-barrier, emergency, micro-grant program that seeks to support Black people in BC throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Natasha loves travelling and fashion. In her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling, dining out at different restaurants and spending quality time with her family and friends.


Episode 67: Ann Livingston: Ending Fentanyl Contamination Deaths — Below the Radar Conversations

On this episode of our Below the Radar Conversations Series, our host Am Johal is joined by Ann Livingston, community organizer and drug user activist. Ann is the co-founder of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, and is currently the Executive Project Coordinator of the BC-Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors. Am and Ann discuss the two current public health emergencies: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fentanyl contamination deaths in BC.

Ann Livingston is a community organizer, who works to improve access to citizenship for people who use illegal drugs. After co-founding the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) in 1998, she was employed as VANDU’s executive program director for 10 years. Ann organized with PWUD to form several drug users’ groups including the BC Association of People on Opiate Maintenance, the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, the BC Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors & the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs. Ann has advised the Vancouver Injection Drug User Survey, the NAOMI & SALOME Heroin Trials, BCCSU and the City of Vancouver. Ann was central in ensuring the policy of 1-for-1 Needle Exchange become Needle Distribution & Collection as well as seeding drug user groups for people who smoke crack, people who drink illegal alcohol, women who use drugs and survivors of the heroin prescription programs. Ann has opened 4 unsanctioned overdose prevention sites. She is the Executive Project Coordinator of BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors.

You can find out more about the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users here:

And you can learn more about the BC-Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors here:

Episode 66: Community Engagement in Muslim Communities — with Amal Ghazal

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Amal Ghazal, Director of the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU. They sat down to speak about her role at SFU and her approach to community engagement within Muslim communities and beyond.

Amal Ghazal was born and raised in Lebanon, where she earned a BA in History at the American University of Beirut. She moved to Canada in 1996 and completed her MA and PhD at the University of Alberta. After a postdoctoral stint at the University of Toronto, Amal joined Dalhousie University as a faculty member in the History Department. She joined SFU's History Department in September 2017. Amal is currently the director of the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU.

You can find out more about the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies here:

Episode 65: Designing for Social Intervention — with Kenneth Bailey

On this episode of Below the Radar, we speak with Kenneth Bailey, the co-founder of the Design Studio for Social Intervention. With our host Am Johal, he discusses how social justice issues have been exacerbated during the pandemic and protests in support of racial justice and defunding the police.

Kenneth Bailey is the co-founder of the Design Studio for Social Intervention. His interests focus on the research and development of design tools for marginalized communities to address complex social issues. With over three decades of experience in community practice, Bailey brings a unique perspective on the ethics of design in relation to community engagement, the arts and cultural action. Projects he has produced at ds4si include Action Lab (2012- 2014), Public Kitchen (2011-2018), Social Emergency Response Center (SERC, 2017), People’s Redevelopment Authority (2018) and inPUBLIC (2019). Bailey was recently a Visiting Scholar in collaboration with University of Tasmania and also a founding member of Theatrum Mundi NYC with Richard Sennett. He is currently pursuing his MFA at Bennington College. His new book (co-authored with DS4SI) is entitled “Ideas—Arrangements--Effects: Systems Design and Social Justice” (Minor Compositions, 2020).

You can learn more about Design Studio for Social Intervention:
Design Studio for Social Intervention's book Ideas-Arrangements-Effects:

Episode 64: Social Media and Revolution — with Adel Iskandar

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Adel Iskandar, Middle East media scholar and Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication. He is the author and co-author of several works, including “Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution” (2013, AUCP/OUP), “Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation”, (2010, University of California Press) and “Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism" (2002, Basic Books). His research primarily involves media, identity and politics. Adel is also the co-editor of online publication “Jadaliyya,” and academic podcast “Status.”

Adel Iskandar is an Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver/Burnaby, Canada. He is the author, co-author, and editor of several works including "Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution" (AUCP/OUP); "Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism" (Basic Books); "Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation" (University of California Press); "Mediating the Arab Uprisings" (Tadween Publishing); and "Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring" (Palgrave Macmillan). Iskandar's work deals with media, identity and politics; and he has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. His forthcoming publications are two monographs, one addressing the political role of memes and digital satire and the other about contemporary forms of imperial transculturalism. Iskandar's engaged participatory research includes supporting knowledge production through scholarly digital publishing such as "Jadaliyya" and academic podcasting such as "Status." His community research agenda involves showcasing local grassroots participatory creative production by communities in the Middle East to confront the rise of extremism. Iskandar's work also involves the autobiographical documentation and self-representation of Syrian newcomer women in the Lower Mainland illustrates their ingenuity in the face adversity. Prior to his arrival at SFU, Iskandar taught at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC. 

Episode 63: Rhetoric and Pedagogy — with Dan Adleman

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal sits down with Dan Adleman, an Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Toronto. He has also previously taught at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design. Dan received his PhD from the University of British Columbia in 2016, in his dissertation he explores new-rhetorical approaches to American fiction grappling with the emergence of a new media environment at the turn of the millennium. Alongside Am Johal, he is the co-founder of Vancouver Institute for Social Research, a non-profit graduate-level critical theory free school run out of the Or Gallery since 2013.

Daniel Adleman was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After acquiring his undergraduate degree in English and Philosophy from the University of Manitoba, he moved to Akita, Japan, where he taught English and studied Japanese. He eventually moved to Vancouver to study English Language and Literature at the University of British Columbia while he worked as a freelance journalist. Upon receiving his Master’s Degree, he decided to enroll in UBC’s English PhD program, receiving his doctorate in 2016. His PhD dissertation explores new-rhetorical approaches to American fiction grappling with the emergence of a new media environment at the turn of the millennium. In 2012, impelled by his passion for learning and community-building, Daniel co-founded the Vancouver Institute for Social Research (VISR), a critical theory free school situated in downtown Vancouver. Since that time, VISR has hosted lecture series on subjects ranging from sovereignty to new media theory to theories of violence. In 2017, he left his post as VISR’s co-director to take up a teaching position at the University of Toronto’s Innis College. Daniel has taught Rhetoric and Composition, English Literature, and Media Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design. His writing has appeared in Performing Utopias in the Contemporary Americas, Canadian Literature, The Part of No Part Catalogue, The Western Front Catalogue, Discorder Magazine, Tooth and Dagger Magazine, and The Republic of East Vancouver. He is currently writing a book about new conjunctures of media theory, rhetoric, and political thought.

Episode 62: Community Engaged Dance — with Karen Jamieson

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal sits down with Karen Jamieson, Vancouver-based dancer and choreographer. Karen's company Karen Jamieson Dance works with residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside through community engagement and cross cultural dancing, and is recognized nationally as groundbreaking. Additionally, her work, "Sisyphus," was named one of the 10 Canadian choreographic masterworks of the 20th century by Dance Collection Danse. Karen has be recognized for her talent and dedication to her field, receiving the Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award in 2013, honoured with the Isadora Award in 2016, and in 2018 she was inducted into the Canadian dance hall of fame "Encore! Dance hall of Fame!"

Karen Jamieson is a dancer, beginning her career after receiving a BA in Philosophy and Anthropology, training extensively in dance in New York. She has created over 92 original dance works with original scores by over twenty respected Canadian composers, and performed in Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States. She has received the Chalmers award, Canada’s principal choreographic award, and her work Sisyphus was named one of the ten Canadian choreographic masterworks of the 20th century
In 1983 she established Karen Jamieson Dance, whose vision is to reveal the power of dance as an art form with potential to transform, engage, captivate, heal, and to impart knowledge available only to the dancing body; believing the power of contemporary dance transcends cultures, languages, histories and traditions by connecting us all at a very primal level.
In 2002 she embarked on the Skidegate Project, a multi-year, cross-cultural dance project with with the Haida village of Skidegate, BC, to honour Percy Gladstone, a respected Haida elder. The project is featured in Letters to Skidegate, a short film created as part of the Documenting Engagement Project. She also leads the Dance in the Downtown Eastside Project, offering dance workshops to residents of all ages and abilities. The workshops have led to numerous performances by the Carnegie Dance Troupe that emerged from the project.

You can learn more about Karen Jamieson Dance at their website:

You can also read more about community engaged dance on our blog, where we spoke with Karen Jamieson Dance facilitator Julie Lebel:

Photo: Grady Mitchell

Episode 61: Garth Mullins: Fentanyl Contamination Deaths During Covid-19 — Below the Radar Conversations

On this episode of our Below the Radar Conversations Series we talk with Garth Mullins, documentarian, community organizer, and host and executive producer of the podcast CRACKDOWN. Garth and our host Am Johal talk about how the overdose crisis in Vancouver has been affected by COVID-19, and the positive affects that listening to drug user activists can have on the safety of the community.

Garth Mullins is an award-winning documentarian and longtime community organizer, host and executive producer of CRACKDOWN. Garth has been an opioid user for years, injecting heroin daily all the way through the last overdose crisis, and is now on methadone. The podcast is led by an editorial board made up of some of Vancouver’s most experienced drug user activists. CRACKDOWN is produced by Cited Media Productions on the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-waututh) Nations.

Learn more about CRACKDOWN here:

Episode 60: Michael Roberson: Reading the Political Moment — Below the Radar Conversations

On this episode of our Below the Radar Conversations Series our host Am Johal speaks with public health practitioner, activist and LGBTQ community leader Michael Roberson. They talk about how to read the current political times.

Michael Roberson is a public health practitioner, activist, and leader within the LGBTQ community who created The Federation of Ballroom Houses, co-created the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Group and the nationally diffused CDC behavioral change HIV prevention intervention “Many Men, Many Voices.” Currently, he consults for several national community-based organizations focused on HIV clinical trial/biomedical and evidence-based interventions. He is also invested in national community capacity building and mobilization strategies designed to combat the disproportionate health disparities impacting both the black gay and black/Latino LGBT house ball communities. Michael co-teaches a course on the history of the house/ball community at New School University (New York), is a member of Ultra-red, and is the Scholar in Residence for the Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy (CRRED) at Union Theological Seminary. Michael earned Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from Union Theological Seminary.

Episode 59: The Garbage Queen — with Louise Schwarz

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal speaks with Louise Schwarz, founder and co-owner of Recycling Alternatives. Am and Louise talk about the cultural shift surrounding recycling from 1989, when Recycling Alternatives was founded, and today. They also discuss the future of recycling and waste management, and what policies might help keep more waste out of landfills.

Louise Schwarz grew up in Vancouver and studied Political Science, Spanish Literature, and Education. Before her trash-busting days, Louise attended school in Mexico, lived in Italy for 3 yrs and spent 5 years teaching middle school in Edinburgh. Off the trash-busting tracks, Louise hits a mean backhand, sings soul gospel, paints ceramics, and possesses an exaggerated predilection for trash-talking. Louise Schwarz sits on a number of community boards including the Cultch, Our Social Fabric, the National Zero Waste Council, and the advisory of the Downtown Community Court.  In May 2012 she received the ‘Woman of Distinction Award’ for her work in environment and sustainability.  Recognized nationally as one of Canada’s most prestigious awards for women, the Women of Distinction Awards honours women whose outstanding achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community.  In 2013 Louise was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by local MLA Libby Davies.

You can learn more about Recycling Alternatives here:

Photo: Jamie Leigh Gonzales

Episode 58: A Joyful Militant — with carla bergman

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal and guest host Fiorella Pinillos are joined by carla bergman, an independent scholar, filmmaker and producer. Alongside videomaker Corin Browne, carla is the co-director of EMMA Talks, a mini-art-festival and speaker’s series by women. With Nick Montgomery, she is the co-author of Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times. Recently, through TouchWood Editions, carla published Radiant Voices, a collection of essays inspired by EMMA Talks. Am, Fiorella and carla chat about previous projects such as the Purple Thistle Institute and EMMA Talks, as well as some upcoming projects in the works.

carla bergman is an independent scholar, filmmaker, and budding poet. She is the co-author of Joyful Militancy (AK Press) and edited Radiant Voices: 21 Feminist Essays for Rising Up (TouchWood Editions). carla is currently working on a book calledTrust Kids! (AK Press, 2021). Most recently, she has had the privilege to be part of an international collective, colectiva sembrar, who together edited the new book, Pandemic Solidarity: Mutual Aid During Covid-19 (Pluto Press, June 2020). carla spends much of her time capturing beauty with a camera, and walking with her partner, kids, and friends on Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam Lands (Vancouver, BC).

You can learn more about EMMA Talks here:

Episode 57: Janice Abbott: Advocating for Women During COVID-19 — Below the Radar Conversations

On this episode of Below the Radar, we are joined by Janice Abbott, the CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society. Our office’s Program Assistant Paige Smith sits down with Janice to discuss how the pandemic has affected the work of Atira in combatting violence against women. Janice discusses the many diverse initiatives Atira has, including their popup refuge SisterSquare for women in the Downtown Eastside, their expansive housing support systems, and their new safety protocols. With reports indicating an increase in calls to support phone lines for women experiencing violence, Janice also provides tips for what we can all do to support each other during these times.

Janice Abbott has been the CEO of Atira Women's Resource Society since 1992 during which time she has led the Society through its incredible growth from a single transition house located south of Vancouver with a staff of seven, to a large multi-service agency with two, for-profit subsidiaries, development and arts arms, and more than 900 staff.

Throughout Atira’s herstory, Janice has championed barrier-free and low-barrier access to programs and services for women, ensuring Atira’s programs are accessible to all women affected by violence including women who have traditionally been marginalized by mainstream society. She developed and works to honour in her daily practice and in her life Atira’s anti-oppression framework.

You can learn more about Atira at

Episode 56: Working in Community — with Jackie Wong

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal and guest host Rachel Wong are joined by Jackie Wong. Jackie currently is the Director of Communications and Race Equity Project Director at Hua Foundation and is a long-time collaborator and friend of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Together, they talk about Jackie’s past work as a journalist, the current work that she does in Chinatown with regards to decolonization and working with youth, and how her different experiences have shaped her approach to the work and research she does. You can learn more about Hua Foundation by checking out their website: 

Jackie Wong lives with her small family on unceded Coast Salish homelands. She is part of the staff leadership team of hua foundation, a youth empowerment non-profit working on racial equity and civic engagement issues. She is a longtime friend and collaborator of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, particularly through her former work as a founding co-facilitator of its Community Journalism 101 program, which is stewarded by Megaphone, where she used to work. She has a background in journalism and has written about housing justice, drug policy, and equity issues for The Tyee, Maisonneuve, and publications across North America. In addition to her current work with hua foundation, Jackie maintains an independent practice as a facilitator, editor, and writer. She looks forward to teaching again in SFU’s Semester in Dialogue program in summer 2021.

Episode 55: Research in the Service of Community — with Tiffany Muller Myrdahl and Brett Stoudt

On this special edition of Below the Radar, guest host Tiffany Muller Myrdahl (SFU Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and SFU Urban Studies) interviews Brett Stoudt. Brett came to Vancouver in early 2020 to give a workshop on participatory action research based on the work and research that he does at the City University of New York. In this episode, Tiffany and Brett talk about what participatory action research is, the Public Science Project and Morris Justice Project, and what it means to do research with and for the community rather than on it.

Brett G. Stoudt, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Doctoral Program at the City University of New York, Graduate Center where he heads the Ph.D. program in Critical Social/Personality and Environmental Psychology. Dr. Stoudt has worked on numerous participatory action research projects with community groups, lawyers, and policy-makers nationally and internationally. His interests include the social psychology of privilege and oppression as well as the human impact of the criminal justice system. He is also interested in critical methodologies, particularly critical approaches to quantitative research. Dr. Stoudt’s work has been published in volumes such as Geographies of Privilege as well as journals such as The Journal of Social Issues. He is the recipient of The Michele Alexander Early Career Award for Scholarship and Service from The Society for the Psychology Study of Social Issues. He has also received the Haupert Humanitarian Award from Moravian College and, with his participatory collective, received the Truth to Power Award for Excellence in Collaborative Research from the Education Node of the Urban Research-Based Action Network. Dr. Stoudt is currently the Associate Director of the Public Science Project. He is also actively involved with Communities United for Police Reform as a steering committee member.

Learn more about the projects that Tiffany and Brett discuss here:
Public Science Project:
Morris Justice Project:
Learn more about SFU's Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) here:

Take a listen back to our interview with Tiffany Muller Myrdahl on her work and research here

Episode 54: Kimberley Wong: COVID-19 and Community Organizing — Below the Radar Conversations

On this episode of our Below the Radar Conversations Series, our host Am Johal chats with Kimberley Wong. Kimberley currently sits as the Chair of the City of Vancouver's Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group, the co-chair of Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition, and is the Community Development Coordinator for the Hua Foundation. Kimberley talks with Am about her current work in Chinatown and how its been affected due to COVID-19.

Kimberley Wong (黄壯慈) is a queer Chinese Canadian femme whose work mirrors the intersections of her identity. She has been recognized by the city and the province for her accomplishments in climate justice and multiculturalism, and her work continues to evolve beyond this. Kimberley currently sits as the Chair of the City of Vancouver's Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group, where she is putting her passion for crafting culturally appropriate and progressive policy to use. In addition to this, she finds thrill and inspiration in the challenges that campaign organizing brings, having built and executed campaigns since the age of 16. She is finding ways to bridge her education in urban geography and feminist theory with historic and contemporary experiences of racism, sexism, and homophobia. She sees through the lenses and experiential knowledge of living as a renter, being an independent contractor in a precarious work landscape, and of a descendant whose ancestors have long histories organizing and change making for marginalized populations on this land.

You can learn more about Hua Foundation by checking out their website:

You can also learn about Vancouver Just Recovery Coalition:

Episode 53: Dr. Ethan Taylor: COVID-19 and Selenium — Below the Radar Conversations

In this episode we talk with Dr. Ethan Taylor, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina. With our host Am Johal, he discusses the current research on selenium as an anti-pathogenic factor in emerging zoonotic viral infections, such as COVID-19.

Dr. Ethan Taylor is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. His current research focus is on selenium as an anti-pathogenic factor in emerging zoonotic viral infections: SARS & COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika, influenza, and other viruses with RNA genomes. Global pandemics like COVID-19 and more lethal variants of avian/swine flu will continue to occur unless humans can desist from eating animals, e.g., bats have been key factors in the origin of SARS, COVID-19, and the 2014 Ebola outbreak; HIV/AIDS came from apes as bushmeat.

Episode 52: Angela Marie MacDougall: The Pandemic and Increases in Gender-Based Violence — Below the Radar Conversations

In the sixth episode of our Below the Radar Conversations Series, we talk with Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women's Support Services here in Vancouver, Canada. With our host Am Johal, she discusses how COVID-19 is affecting gender inequality and violence within intimate relationships.

Angela Marie MacDougall is the Executive Director of Battered Women's Support Services Society. You can learn more here:

Episode 51: Meaghan Thumath: COVID-19 and Inequities in Health — Below the Radar Conversations

In this episode we talk with Meaghan Thumath, a clinical scientist at the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity and clinical associate professor at UBC’s School of Nursing. With our host Am Johal, she discusses her previous international work studying and combatting pandemics and how this has informed her current understandings of COVID-19, both globally and locally here in Vancouver, Canada.

Meaghan Thumath, RN, BSN, MPH, D.LSHTM

Clinician Scientist and Clinical Assistant Professor, Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity, University of British Columbia Trudeau Scholar, Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, University of Oxford

Meaghan Thumath is a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Nursing and holds a clinician scientist affiliation with the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity and a Trudeau Scholar at the University of Oxford.

For over a decade Meaghan has provided technical assistance to international organizations such as WHO, UNDP, UNAIDS, the World Bank and the Global Fund to End AIDS, TB and Malaria supporting human rights and health equity for marginalized populations in Central Asia, Latin America, West and Central Africa and MENA. In Canada, she has served as the Chief of Staff (Senior MA) to the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, as clinical coordinator of North America’s first supervised injection facility, Insite, and as a Street Nurse and Senior Practice Leader at the BC Centre for Disease Control. In 2019 she worked for the World Health Organization’s Ebola Response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She is also a public health delegate on the Canadian Red Cross Emergency Response Unit and an active member of the WHO Emergencies Programme (WHE) External Emergency Roster where she has worked on COVID-19 preparedness for both PHAC and WHO-AFRO.

Learn more about Meaghan Thumath's work with pandemics:

Episode 50: Far Out: Outer Space Law — with Michael Byers 

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Michael Byers, an author and professor of Political Science at UBC. He is also the co-director of the Outer Space Institute, a transdisciplinary international network for space studies. Michael’s work focuses on international law, climate change, the Arctic and outer space. He sits down with Am to chat about Arctic sovereignty, international cooperation, space law and issues in outer space. 

Michael Byers is a professor of Political Science at UBC, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law. His work focuses on Outer Space, Arctic sovereignty, climate change, the law of the sea, the laws of war, and Canadian foreign and defence policy. Dr. Byers has been a Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, a Professor of Law at Duke University, and a Visiting Professor at the universities of Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Nord (Norway) and Novosibirsk (Russia). His most recent book is International Law and the Arctic (Cambridge University Press), which won the 2013 Donner Prize. Dr. Byers is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail newspaper. He is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press for a book entitled Who Owns Outer Space?: International Law on the Final Frontier.

You can learn more about the Outer Space Institute here:

Episode 49: Working the Front Lines During COVID-19 — with Dr. Kevin Patterson 

In this episode of our Below the Radar Conversations series we speak with ICU physician and writer Dr. Kevin Patterson about what he has learned working in the front lines during COVID-19. He chats with Am Johal about planning for a second wave, what we can learn from past pandemics, the relationship between this outbreak and climate change, and how we can improve our local healthcare systems here in Vancouver, Canada. 

Dr. Kevin Patterson is a writer and a physician specializing in internal medicine. He lives on Salt Spring Island.

Read Dr. Kevin Patterson's writings on COVID-19:

And an interview The Tyee had with Dr. Kevin Patterson:

Episode 48: Social Transformation — with Tara Mahoney

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Tara Mahoney, the Research and Engagement Coordinator of SFU’s Community-Engaged Research initiative team (CERi). She sits down with Am to talk about her research in the recent years, involving the emerging forms of participatory political culture in Canada.

Tara Mahoney is the Research and Engagement Coordinator with SFU’s Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERi). She holds a PhD from the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University where her dissertation explored emerging forms of participatory political culture in Canada. In addition to her role at CERi, Tara is an instructor with the Civic Innovation Change Lab at RADIUS SFU, a research fellow in climate change communications at the David Suzuki Foundation and the creative director of Gen Why Media.

You can learn more about CERi here:

You can learn more about Gen Why Media here:

Episode 47: Community-Engaged Research — with Stuart Poyntz and Joanna Habdank

This episode of Below the Radar features two members of SFU’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative, or CERi: co-director Stuart Poyntz and program manager Joanna Habdank. Both Stuart and Joanna bring their own experiences and expertise to CERi with hopes to create more opportunities for research that is respectful, ethical, and collaborates with community members. They discuss with host Am Johal what Community-Engaged Research is and how SFU is answering the call to provide more opportunities for collaboration in research with communities.

To learn more about SFU's Community-Engaged Research Initiative (SFU CERi), please check out their website:

Stuart R. Poyntz is an Associate Professor in SFU's School of Communication and currently serves as Co-Director of the Young, Creative, Connected research network. His research addresses children’s media cultures, theories of public life and urban youth media production. He has published four books and is currently Principal Investigator of the SSHRC-funded research project, Youthsites: Charting the non-formal arts learning sector in creative lives, and Lead Investigator of the Social Media and News Section of the SSHRC-funded research project, IMPACTS: Collaborations to Address Sexual Violence on Campus. He has published widely in national and international peer-reviewed journals, including Oxford Review of Education, Canadian Journal of Communication, Popular Culture, Journal of Children and Media, Cultural Studies, Journal of Youth Studies, Review of Education, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, and the Canadian Journal of Education, and in various edited collections.

Joanna Habdank has worked extensively in areas of community development with a focus on program and policy development for immigrant and refugee populations. She has six years of non-profit management experience preceded by five years working as a journalist. Her work has appeared in the Vancouver Sun and other publications throughout Canada. She has an MSc in Human Rights (LSE) and MA in International Journalism (Cardiff). Her research interests have explored the extent to which legal frameworks can be applicable to the protection of rights for women facing precarious migration situations such as displacement and trafficking. 

Episode 46: COVID-19, Geopolitics, and Climate Change — with Paul Rogers

In this episode, Am Johal speaks with Paul Rogers on the impact that COVID-19 has on geopolitics and climate change, his readings on the responses of individual countries to COVID-19, and how we might find a way forward together.

Paul Rogers is professor emeritus in the department of peace studies at Bradford University in the UK. He is openDemocracy's international security adviser, and has been writing a weekly column on global security since 2001; he also writes a monthly briefing for the Oxford Research Group. You can read more of his work and writing on openDemocracy here:

Episode 45: Urban Intimacy — with Hilda Fernandez and Fernanda Souza

On this episode of Below the Radar, we welcome psychoanalyst Hilda Fernandez and clinical counsellor Fernanda Selayzin Souza who practice in Vancouver. Both Hilda and Fernanda dive into a discussion around urban intimacy and the good life, including how technology impacts intimacy and relationships, the potential mainstreaming of polyamory, and the differences across generations and cultures that change the way we relate to others and ourselves.

Hilda Fernandez Alvarez was born and raised in Mexico City. She practices Lacanian psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy in Vancouver, Canada, since 2007. With a solid clinical experience in the field of psychotherapy, throughout her clinical trajectory, she has worked in the medical and mental health fields alongside a private practice. Currently, she has a private practice in downtown Vancouver, and has worked for the past fourteen years as a psychotherapist at SAFER, part of Vancouver Coastal Health. In Mexico City she worked for eight years in the National Rehabilitation Program within the Central Hospital of the Mexican Red Cross.

Fernanda Selayzin Souza is a registered clinical counsellor with a Master’s Degree in Education (MEd) from the University of British Columbia (UBC), and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology (MCP) from the Adler University.  Originally she was trained as a Psychologist in Brazil (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais) where she is still apt to practice (CRP-MG).  She runs a busy private practice downtown Vancouver where she sees individuals and couples from diverse backgrounds, some of which in consensual non-monogamies, and all seeking support for better navigating postmodern relationships.

Episode 44: The World Health Organization and COVID-19 — with Dr. Kelley Lee

In this first episode of our Below the Radar conversations series, we hear from Dr. Kelley Lee, Canada Research Chair in Global Health Governance at Simon Fraser University. In this conversation, she chats with Am Johal about the World Health Organization and COVID-19. 

Dr. Kelley Lee is trained in International Relations and Public Administration with a focus on international political economy. She spent over twenty years at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, initially analyzing the role of the UN in health. She was a core member of two major donor-led studies on WHO reform during the 1990s. She co-established the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Change and Health, and chaired the WHO Resource Group on Globalization, Trade and Health. Dr Lee also co-led a major international initiative to secure public access to tobacco industry documents, and analyze their contents in relation to the globalization of the tobacco industry. She has authored over 100 peer reviewed papers, 50 book chapters and 13 books including Globalization and Health, An introduction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), The World Health Organization (Routledge, 2008), Global Health and International Relations (Polity Press with Colin McInnes, 2012), and Case Studies on Corporations and Global Health Governance (Rowman and Littlefield International with Nora Kenworthy and Ross MacKenzie, 2016). She joined the SFU Faculty of Health Sciences in 2011 as Associate Dean, Research and Director of Global Health. She is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Kelley Lee was featured in a Rolling Stone article entitled "Why the World Health Organization’s Response to COVID-19 Is Crucial to the Future of Public Health":…sponse-975543/

Note: This interview was recorded prior to the United States cutting funding to the WHO.

Episode 43: Andrew Petter on the Engaged University — with Andrew Petter

On this episode of Below the Radar, we are joined by SFU President, Andrew Petter. For 10 years, Andrew has led SFU in becoming Canada’s Engaged University. Prior to that, Andrew had extensive teaching experience as a faculty member at the University of Victoria as well as serving the province as an MLA with a variety of cabinet portfolios during his time in office. Am Johal talks to Andrew about the experiences he had prior to coming to SFU, what it’s been like to serve as SFU’s president, and why SFU will always be a big part of his life.

Andrew Petter, C.M., Q.C., is the President and Vice Chancellor of Simon Fraser University and Professor in its School of Public Policy.  Prior to joining SFU in 2010, he was Professor in the Faculty of Law of the University of Victoria where he served as Dean from 2001 to 2008.

From 1991 to 2001, Professor Petter served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia and held numerous cabinet portfolios, including Aboriginal Affairs, Advanced Education and Attorney General.

In 2018, he was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of his commitment and leadership in advancing university-community engagement and higher education throughout the country.

Since becoming President, Professor Petter has overseen the development and implementation of a Strategic Vision that seeks to distinguish SFU as a “leading engaged university defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting edge research, and far-reaching community engagement.”

Episode 42: Cowboys, Mermaids, and Interdisciplinary Art — with Barbara Adler

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Barbara Adler, interdisciplinary artist, programmer and SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts’ Professional Development Coordinator. Barbara’s artistic work has been presented at The Vancouver Folk Festival, Ballet BC, the Vienna Literature Festival and many more. She currently produces the weekly performance series Sawdust Collector, which showcases experimental and improvised works by established and emerging artists. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Simon Fraser University.

Barbara Adler is an interdisciplinary artist whose work brings together text, composition, performance, and event making. Her writing and music have been presented through multiple solo and band albums, theatre and dance productions and performances at major music and literary festivals. In her own work, Barbara is inspired by real life happenings that blur between authenticity and counterfeit, the wild and the cultivated. Her projects often combine speculative fiction, holiday-gothic imagery and field research –– she looks for masks in people and in the natural world. Since 2016, she has collaborated with artists Cole Schmidt and James Meger to program and produce Sawdust Collector, an interdisciplinary series presenting new, experimental and improvised performance. Her most recent project is Mermaid Spring, a sprawling work of music theatre tracing the connections between precarious human labour and environmental collapse, in creation with Kyla Gardiner/The Public Swoon. Barbara holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies and a BA in Art and Cultural Studies, both from Simon Fraser University. She is the Professional Development Coordinator at SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts. Somehow, she's a horse owner.

You can find out more about Barbara's artistic work here:

You can learn about Sawdust Collector here:

Episode 41: Advocating for Drug Policy Reform — with Scott Bernstein

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal is joined by Scott Bernstein, the Director of Policy at Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, a project based at the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. He has also done work with Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver and internationally with Open Society Foundations in New York. Together, Am and Scott talk about his work involving harm reduction, decriminalization and drug regulation policies, and discuss potential regulation models with studies such as North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) and Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME).

Scott Bernstein is Director of Policy with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, where he leads the organization’s work on legal regulation of drugs, decriminalization, and international drug policy. Through his own legal practice and with Vancouver-based non-profit Pivot Legal Society, Scott has participated in strategic litigation focused on advancing human rights of people who use drugs, including challenging municipal anti-harm reduction bylaws, advocating for access to prescription heroin treatment, and defending Insite, North America’s first sanctioned injection site in the Supreme Court of Canada and lower courts. Prior to joining CDPC, Scott was a program officer with the Global Drug Policy Program of Open Society Foundations in New York. There, he supported collaboration within a global reform movement targeted at the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session through grant-making, policy expertise and strategic planning, as well as supporting a nascent drug policy reform movement in Africa. Scott has a MSc in environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin and a JD from the University of British Columbia.

Learn more about the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and the work they do here:

Episode 40: Investigating Asshole Culture — with John Walker

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal sits down with John Walker, an award-winning Canadian filmmaker widely known for his documentary films, such as Québec My Country Mon Pays (2016) and Arctic Defenders (2013). He is also one of the co-founders of the Documentary Organization of Canada. In this conversation, John talks about his latest film, Assholes: A Theory. The film is based on the work of Aaron James, author of a book of the same name. Together, they investigate “asshole culture”, and the conditions of our contemporary culture that allows assholes to thrive.

John Walker is one of Canada’s most well-known documentary filmmakers. His films are personal, lyrical and express a deep understanding of the human condition. He has received over 60 Canadian and international nominations and awards. In 2018, he was honoured with a Hot Docs Festival Retrospective.

Learn more about the film by checking out the film's website as well as on the National Film Board of Canada website

Episode 39: Cyberwar and Revolution — with Svitlana Matviyenko

On this episode of Below the Radar, our host Am Johal sits down with Svitlana Matviyenko, an Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis at SFU’s School of Communication. Her work and research focuses around topics such as political economy of information, digital militarism, social and mobile media, infrastructure studies, history of science, cybernetics and psychoanalysis. In this conversation, Svitlana talks about digital militarism on a global scale, the impacts of cyberwar on users today, and what is in store for the future of cyberwar.

Svitlana Matviyenko is the co-author of Cyber-War and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism, which was awarded the 2019 STAIR Book Award

Svitlana Matviyenko is an Assistant Professor of Critical Media Analysis in the School of Communication of Simon Fraser University. Her research and teaching are focused on political economy of information, digital militarism, social and mobile media, infrastructure studies, history of science, cybernetics and psychoanalysis. She writes about the networking drive and user complicity; practices of resistance and mobilization; legacies of the Soviet techno-politics, including the Chernobyl catastrophe; information and cyberwar. Her publications include two co-edited collections, with Paul D. Miller, The Imaginary App (MIT, 2014)  and, with Judith Roof, Lacan and the Posthuman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). With Nick Dyer-Witheford, she is a co-author of Cyberwar and Revolution (Minnesota UP, 2019).

Learn more about Svitlana's work, research and teaching here:

Episode 38: Connecting Communities and Libraries — with Ebony Magnus

On this episode of Below the Radar, Am Johal sits down with Ebony Magnus, the head of the Belzberg Library at SFU Vancouver. Ebony came into the role during SFU Vancouver’s 30th Anniversary and has a focus on community involvement for this branch, both within the university and with the wider community. Together, they discuss some core questions related to libraries, including equal access to technologies, value distinctions between different types of archives, and continued community engagement. 

Ebony Magnus
 is Head of the Samuel and Frances Belzberg Library at Simon Fraser University's Vancouver campus. Prior to joining SFU, she worked as an assessment & user experience librarian at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, AB and at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. She holds a Masters of Library and Information Science (University of British Columbia, 2013) and a Master of Arts in English Literature (Carleton University, 2009) with a specialization in Caribbean diasporic literature. Her current area of research is critical library assessment, exploring intersections of power and positionality in library assessment and considering how assessment practitioners can incorporate feminist ideology, indigenous research methods, and critical data studies to challenge the status quo and achieve more just and equitable practice. She tweets infrequently @ebonymagnus.

Episode 37: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition — with Glen Coulthard

Glen Coulthard is Yellowknives Dene and is an associate professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is also the author of the acclaimed book Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition from University of Minnesota Press. On this special episode live from the Vancouver Podcast Festival, host Am Johal sits down with Glen to talk about who and what influences his work and research, the different projects he’s been involved in over the years, and what continues to inspire him to do the work he does.

Glen Coulthard is Yellowknives Dene and an associate professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Departments of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), winner of the 2016 Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Frantz Fanon Award for Outstanding Book, the Canadian Political Science Association’s CB Macpherson Award for Best Book in Political Theory, published in English or French, in 2014/2015, and the Rik Davidson Studies in Political Economy Award for Best Book in 2016. He is also a co-founder of Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, a decolonial, Indigenous land-based post-secondary program operating on his traditional territories in Denendeh(Northwest Territories).

Read more about Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition here:

Read more about The Fourth World here:…he-fourth-world

Read more about Glen Coulthard on SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement blog:

This episode was recorded live at the 2019 Vancouver Podcast Festival, and we’re grateful to them for their invitation to be part of their programming at the Vancouver Public Library. To learn more about the Vancouver Podcast Festival, please visit their website:

Episode 36: Blanketing the City with Arts and Culture — with Kamala Todd

In Vancouver, discussions surrounding arts and culture are imperative, especially in relation to continued efforts towards decolonization. Indigenous Arts and Culture Planner for the City of Vancouver Kamala Todd tackles this topic with her work, including her contributions to the new cultural plan: Culture | Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture. Kamala previously worked as the Aboriginal Social Planner with the City of Vancouver, and continues her work as a cultural advisor and filmmaker. In this episode, Kamala shares what steps the city has taken, and what more needs to be done, to combat the ever-present consequences of colonization.

Kamala Todd is a Metis-Cree mother, community planner, filmmaker, curator, and educator born and raised in the beautiful lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Skwxwú7mesh-speaking people, AKA Vancouver. She has a Masters degree in Geography (UBC) and is the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Arts and Culture Planner. Kamala’s film credits include Indigenous Plant Diva, Cedar and Bamboo, RELAW: Living Indigenous Laws, and Sharing our Stories: the Vancouver Dialogues Project. She is the author of “This Many-storied Land”, in In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation (2016), and Truth-Telling: Indigenous perspectives on working with Municipal Governments (2017) for Vancouver Park Board.

You can learn more about Culture | Shift: Blanketing the City in Arts and Culture here

Episode 35: Making Our Cities More Inclusive — with Tiffany Muller Myrdahl

When it comes to making decisions about how things happen in our cities, who has the power to make those decisions? Tiffany Muller Myrdahl, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the Urban Studies Program, asks this question along with a host of others in her work and research. From her work with Women Transforming Cities to teaching in the classroom, Tiffany spends a lot of time navigating the inequalities that exist and looking for ways to make spaces and cities more inclusive, particularly for LGBTQ2S people and women. In this episode, Am and Tiffany talk about why this work is necessary and the ways in which Tiffany challenges her students who do this work as well.

Tiffany Muller Myrdahl is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University on unceded Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw, Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilwətaɁɬ), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm territory, Vancouver, Canada. She completed a master’s in public policy, followed by a doctorate in geography with a certificate in feminist studies from the University of Minnesota. Her research examines urban inequalities and inclusion strategies, especially those targeting LGBTQ2S people and women. She serves on the board of Women in Cities International, a Montreal-based NGO focused on enabling all self-identified women and girls to lead in the creation of safe, inclusive, and equitable cities and communities.

Scott Neufeld (left) and Nicolas Crier

Episode 34: An Ethical Approach to Research — with Scott Neufeld and Nicolas Crier

The question of ethics should always be front and centre when it comes to doing research of any kind. For Scott Neufeld and Nicolas Crier, they aim to take this question even further. In collaboration with other folks in the Downtown Eastside and Hives for Humanity, they co-authored Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside to help facilitate a wider conversation on ethics in cultural production, such as research, media, and artmaking. On this episode of Below the Radar, host Am Johal talks to Scott and Nicolas about how this project came to be, the profound impact it has had for the community, and what’s at stake for ethical research in the Downtown Eastside.

Scott Neufeld is a white settler who grew up on the unceded territory of the Kwantlen people (Langley, BC) and now lives and works in East Vancouver on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. He is a husband and father to two beautiful little boys and feels so privileged to be involved in the Community Ethics in Cultural Production project with folks in the Downtown Eastside. He has an MA in Social Psychology from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and is currently completing a PhD in Social Psychology at SFU and the BC Centre on Substance Use, with a focus on representations of people who use drugs in anti-stigma campaigns. Scott’s work has been published in the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, Political Psychology, the Journal of Social Issues and the Journal of Social and Political Psychology. Other research interests include social identity theory, social representations, collective resistance, NIMBYism, and decolonization.

Nicolas Crier is an adoptee of Cree heritage. At 40 years old, he has spent approximately half his life surviving in the streets and more than a decade in the Downtown Eastside. It never occurred to him that being a drug user would ever be useful, but he has parlayed his street smarts and community connections into a successful career in  a variety of peer capacities: overdose response and rescue, outreach worker, freelance writer, actor, coordinator and facilitator for the Speakers Bureau at Megaphone Magazine, and he also sits as Secretary on the Executive Board of Directors for Pivot Legal Society and the advisory committee of the UBC Transformative Health and Justice Research cluster, and is a co-author of Research 101/A Mainfesto for Ethical Research in the DTES and proud and grateful to play a small role in the up and coming Downtown Eastside Community Research Ethics Workshop, a community effort to bring one word to the People: reciprocity.

You can access a digital copy of Research 101:  A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside here:

You can also access a digital copy of the Empowering Informed Consent: Community Ethics and Cultural Production card here:

You can read more about the processes of developing the manifesto on our blog:

Photo credit: Jalani Morgan

Episode 33: Music in the City — with Jarrett Martineau

How well do you know the local music scene in Vancouver? On this episode of Below the Radar, we sit down with Jarrett Martineau, a figure who is very well acquainted with the music scene both locally and abroad. On a local level, Jarrett works as the Music Planner for the City of Vancouver, where he works hard to support the Vancouver music scene and all aspects within that. He is also the host of Reclaimed, which is a weekly series on CBC Music that explores the many worlds of contemporary Indigenous music. In this conversation, we talk to Jarrett about how affordability affects available venues, the diverse array of music being created within the city, and the power of providing the platform of radio to early career musicians.

Jarrett Martineau is a leading voice in Indigenous media and cultural production. He works extensively at the intersections of music art, media, technology, and social movements and holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria.  He has been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and CUNY's Center for Place, Culture and Politics in New York and his academic research explores the role of art and creativity in advancing Indigenous resurgence and decolonization.

Jarrett is the co-founder and Creative Producer of Revolutions Per Minute, a global new music platform, record label, and artist collective for contemporary Indigenous music; and the host and producer of Reclaimed, a weekly series on CBC Music that explores the sounds of the Indigenous Next Wave.

Prior to hosting Reclaimed, Jarrett produced the documentary series RISE for VICELAND; hosted the CBC's Emmy-nominated cross-platform television series ZeD, for which he received a Leo Award nomination; and served as host and producer of Brave New Waves, an acclaimed late night music series on CBC Radio. He also co-founded the New Forms Festival, an annual contemporary art and music festival held in Vancouver.

His scholarly research and writing examine Indigenous art, music, and media as emergent forms of political communication. By exploring how Indigenous resistances to colonialism and neoliberal capitalism have changed under globalization, Jarrett's research pursues new pathways in Indigenous resurgence through the creative arts. 

Jarrett has worked with CBC Radio and Television, VICE Media, MTV World, NowPublic, Make Believe Media, Elastic Entertainment, and other media, to produce award-winning content for a global audience across all media (web, mobile, TV, and radio).

He is nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) and Dene Suline from Frog Lake First Nation in Alberta.

Milena Droumeva (left) and Brett Ashleigh.

Episode 32: Listening to the World Around Us — with Milena Droumeva and Brett Ashleigh

When it comes to understanding the world around us, we can look and observe change with our eyes. But what about using our ears to listen to the ways in which our environments change? This is the type of work that Milena Droumeva and Brett Ashleigh do. Milena is an assistant professor of sound studies and Brett is a PhD student. Both of them work and research at SFU’s School of Communication, which is quite world famous in the areas of sound studies and soundscape research thanks to the work of R. Murray Schafer, Barry Truax and others. In this episode, Am Johal sits down with Milena and Brett to talk about how listening can offer a unique insight into the ongoing change around us that we might miss if we don’t take the time to do it.

Milena Droumeva is an Assistant Professor and the Glenfraser Endowed Professor in Sound Studies at Simon Fraser University specializing in mobile media, sound studies, gender, and sensory ethnography. Milena has worked extensively in educational research on game-based learning and computational literacy, formerly as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University. Milena has a background in acoustic ecology and works across the fields of urban soundscape research, sonification for public engagement, as well as gender and sound in video games. Current research projects include sound ethnographies of the city (livable soundscapes), mobile curation, critical soundmapping, and sensory ethnography. Check out Milena's Story Map, "Soundscapes of Productivity" about coffee shop soundscapes as the office ambience of the creative economy freelance workers. 

Milena is a former board member of the International Community on Auditory Displays, an alumni of the Institute for Research on Digital Learning at York University, and former Research Think-Tank and Academic Advisor in learning innovation for the social enterprise InWithForward. More recently, Milena serves on the board for the Hush City Mobile Project founded by Dr. Antonella Radicchi, as well as WISWOS, founded by Dr. Linda O Keeffe.

Brett Ashleigh is a PhD student at SFU’s Department of Communication. Her research focuses on sex and gender inequity, and proposes feminist interventions through sound design, auto ethnography, and narrative methods.

Landon Hoyt (right) with Anna Godefroy and fellow binner, Philip. Photo credit: Landon Hoyt.

Episode 31: The Future of the Binners' Project — with Landon Hoyt and Anna Godefroy

​In August of 2019, The Binners' Project faced a new change. After 5 years, co-founder Anna Godefroy stepped back and The Binners' Project welcomed Landon Hoyt as their new director. As a follow up to one of the first episodes of Below the Radar, we welcomed Anna back to the studio for a conversation with Landon and our host, Am Johal. Together, we talk about the ways in which The Binners' Project helped to provide economic opportunities and reduce the stigma of waste-pickers, and what's next for the group.

Landon Hoyt moved to Vancouver in 2011 to complete his masters in Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University. Since then, he has worked in Community Engagement with the SFU Sustainability Office and SFU Public Square, and also served as Executive Director of Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association. ​Landon is passionate about bringing those with lived experience into conversations and actions toward making our city a better place for all. He joined the Binners' Project in August 2019 and is excited to return to the work of supporting local economic development and social inclusion.

Anna Godefroy is the co-founder of The Binners' Project and served as their director until September 2019. She has a track record of building partnerships, fundraising and working collaboratively with community groups, municipal staff, progressive businesses, academic institutions, and media.

Learn more about The Binners' Project.

Photo credit: Kent Nason

Episode 30: Build Communities Not Prisons — with Teresa MacInnes

On this episode, our Program Assistant Paige Smith sits down with Teresa MacInnes, one of the directors behind the documentary Conviction. Conviction is a powerful documentary that gives an inside look into what life is like for women in a provincial and federal prison in Nova Scotia. This film asks the women what they would have needed to prevent them from getting into prison. The result of this collaboration with the women in the prison shows another side of these women: products of a broken system, but with care and compassion, they have a chance at a happier life.

Over the last 30 years, Teresa MacInnes’ films have tackled some of the most crucial social justice issues of our time. Her passion and balanced approach to producing and directing have engaged television audiences around the world. She has won numerous awards and her films have screened at top festivals, including Hot Docs, VIFF, IDFA, the New York Film Festival and Thessaloniki. In 2015, her NFB documentary Buying Sex was named one of the top ten feminist films streaming on US Netflix by Ms. magazine. Her credits include Mabel (NFB, 2016, director), Trek of the Titans (CBC, 2014, director), Norm (CBC, 2009, producer, director, editor), Teaching Peace in a Time of War (CTV, 2004, director), Waging Peace: A Year in the Life of Caledonia Junior High (NFB/CTV, 2001 director), Lost (NFB/CBC, 2000, director, editor), The Other Side of the Picture (NFB/CBC, 1998, director) and Under Wraps (NFB, 1998, producer, director).

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week/Image: Thosh Collins

Episode 29: Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week — with Joleen Mitton

In this episode, the founder of the Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week Joleen Mitton sits down with host Am Johal to discuss how and why she started the fashion show. They touch upon Joleen’s experiences as a teenage model and Indigenous youth mentor, along with her previous collaborations with critically acclaimed Indigenous artist Beau Dick.

Joleen Mitton, East Vancouver born and bred, is no less proud of her Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Heritage. She began modeling at age 15 when a Vancouver talent scouts pulled her out of a crowd of people at the PNE. She feels extremely fortunate to have succeeded in her career as a model. She has a large portfolio created while traveling to exotic locations, working in a variety of mediums and meeting incredible people from across the globe. Joleen's passion for sport, art, fashion and design and social justice has lead her to focus on producing Aboriginal Fashion Shows and Basketball Tournaments across the city. Joleen has succeeded in raising awareness for local indigenous fashion and the Native Basketball community by hosting tournaments and producing fashion shows in Vancouver. She recognizes art and sport have a massive power in transforming and connecting people to their communities. She is dedicated to improving the lives of people in her community, working intimately with a number of local non profits, putting her PR, marketing, social media and producing skills to good use.

Joleen works with the Aboriginal Urban Butterflies Day Camp, a program for children in foster care, and the Mentor Me program which is for Native girl's aging out of foster care, and manages and plays on All My Relations women's basketball team.

Episode 28: On Andean Horror: The monster always represents the fear we repress — with Maria Cecilia Saba

On this episode of Below the Radar, our Communications Coordinator Rachel Wong sits down with Maria Cecilia Saba to talk about Andean horror films. Maria Cecilia currently is the Teen Programs Coordinator at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, but previously she worked as the Interim Program Coordinator for our office. We talk to Maria Cecilia about what got her interested in researching two Peruvian-Andean horror films for her Master’s thesis, what her personal experience with horror films are, and how she came to understand the viewing of horror films as a visceral journey and cathartic experience.

Maria Cecilia Saba is a Peruvian media artist, programmer and researcher who currently lives in the unceded and ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh First Nations. Before coming to Vancouver, she worked as a documentary film instructor at the University of Lima and earned a diploma in Arts & Cultural Management from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. She completed the MA program in Comparative Media Arts at Simon Fraser University, where she focused her research on Peruvian Andean horror films. In October 2015 she curated and produced the Andean Horror Film Fest in Vancouver. She has worked at the Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement. She currently works at Emily Carr University and the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF).

Episode 27: The Climate Emergency and Political Action — with Seth Klein

Seth Klein, adjunct professor at SFU Urban Studies, and former Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives in BC, sits down with Below the Radar to discuss what the Canadian government can do to combat the climate emergency. Seth discusses the proposed environmental policies of the major political parties running in the upcoming federal elections. Additionally, he chats about his forthcoming book which examines political actions the Canadian government undertook in reaction to World War Two, and how we may learn from these actions in regards to addressing climate change.

Seth Klein served for 22 years (1996-2018) as the founding British Columbia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social, economic and environmental justice. He is now a freelance researcher, writer, consultant and speaker, and an adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University’s Urban Studies program. He is currently writing a book on mobilizing Canadian for the climate emergency.

Seth is a founder and served for eight years as co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a network of over 50 community organizations in BC campaigning for a comprehensive poverty reduction plan in BC. He is a founder and served for 10 years on the advisory committee of the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families campaign (and was co-creator of the methodology for calculating the living family wage, now used in about three dozen Canadian communities). He is an advisory board member for the Columbia Institute’s Centre for Civic Governance and is a founder, advisor and instructor for Next Up, a leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice.

Seth’s research deals primarily with climate policy and climate justice, fiscal policy, taxation, welfare policy, poverty, inequality, economic security, and job creation. His research reports can be found on the CCPA’s website; and his policy commentary can be found primarily on the CCPA-BC’s blog.

Jerry Zaslove (left) and Nermin Gogalic.

Episode 26: On Patriotism and Nationalism — with Jerry Zaslove and Nermin Gogalic

What are the similarities and differences between Nationalism and Patriotism? Simon Fraser University professor Jerry Zaslove and graduate student Nermin Gogalic discuss this question through the lens of personal identity and political transformation as seen in the former state of Yugoslavia. This in depth and easygoing conversation between our guests and host Am Johal explores the topic from a number of different academic thinker’s perspectives, digging deep to identify the core components of each ideology.

SFU Professor Emeritus Jerry Zaslove is a teacher and writer who studied Comparative Literature at Western Reserve University and the University of Washington. Since 1965 at Simon Fraser University he has taught Literature and Humanities, influenced but not limited by the traditions of the relationship of social radicalisms and the arts, the worlds of psychoanalysis and aesthetics. He is the Founding Director of the Institute for the Humanities and has published numerous essays and monographs on the subjects he loves and teaches. Currently Simons Fellow in Graduate Liberal Studies. A volume of his collected essays Untimely Passages: Dossiers from the Other Shore, 1965–2015 is in preparation.

Nermin Gogalic is a Vancouver based writer from Rijeka (Croatia) with a special interest in identity politics and the city. He is currently a student in Graduate Liberal Studies at Simon Fraser University.

Photo credit: Ivo Van Der Bent

Episode 25: The Great Derangement — with Amitav Ghosh and Olive Dempsey

Climate change is a very real issue that we as a society are grappling with. But interestingly enough, climate change denial is particularly strong in the Anglosphere — in English speaking countries. Indian author Amitav Ghosh found the link between movement, the English language, and climate change to be quite interesting, and that is the focus of his book The Great Derangement. This episode features Amitav in conversation with our host Am Johal and special guest host Olive Dempsey from the podcast Big Bright Dark.

Amitav Ghosh is one of the world’s top South Asian literary stars. He was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016. The Great Derangement was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2016 and was given the inaugural Utah Award for the Environmental Humanities in 2018. Ghosh’s most recent novel, Gun Island, is due to be published in 2019. (Read more)

Olive Dempsey co-hosts the podcast Big Bright Dark, which explores the questions we face, the fears that haunt us and the possibilities that rise before us in this time of great human and planetary uncertainty all while exploring how these things might be reasons to create, to be in community, to be honest and vulnerable, to find the bright spots, and become wiser versions of ourselves in the process.

Episode 24: Building Socialist Architecture — with Architects for Social Housing

There’s no denying that we are currently in a housing crisis. Regardless of whether you are a homeowner or a renter, the housing market is in a constant state of flux, making it difficult for people to find adequate and affordable housing for themselves. In this episode, we talk to Architects for Social Housing about housing and a potential solution: socialist architecture. Architects for Social Housing co-founders Geraldine Dening and Simon Elmer join host Am Johal to discuss the pillars of socialist architecture, housing as human rights, and why this is the way forward out of our housing situation.

Architects for Social Housing (ASH) is a Community Interest Company from London, England, that organizes working collectives for individual projects. Their unifying principle is that refurbishing and increasing the housing capacity on London’s council estates, rather than demolishing and redeveloping them as properties for market sale, is a more sustainable solution to the housing needs of London’s communities. The founding members are Geraldine Dening and Simon Elmer. Between mid-July and mid-August 2019, Architects for Social Housing hosted four public workshops at Pollyanna Library and drafted a manuscript for a forthcoming publication as part of a research fellowship with 221A.

Episode 23: Understanding the neoliberal personality — with Samir Gandesha

In the current neoliberal world order, is it possible for authoritarianism to return? When we look to the founding of Germany in 1949, a decision was made to follow the logic of ordoliberalism: to firmly regulate the state through the market so as to prevent a return of fascism and authoritarianism. However, according to Samir Gandesha, the opposite effect happened. In this episode, Samir and our host Am Johal discuss the ‘neoliberal identity’, what contributes to it, and how this impacts our current political world order.

Samir Gandesha is the director of the Institute for the Humanities at SFU and an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities. He specializes in modern European thought and culture, with a particular emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Recently, Samir has written about authoritarianism and the neoliberal personality, along with other theoretical work. He is currently editing a book entitled Spectres of Fascism (Pluto Press, 2020), co-editing (with Peyman Vahabzadeh) Beyond Phenomenology and Critique: Essays in Honour of Ian Angus (forthcoming, Arbeiter Ring, 2020), and preparing a manuscript on the “Neoliberal Personality.”

Episode 22: Working through a climate emergency — with Kai Nagata

There has been a lot of talk of how Canada is currently in a ‘climate emergency’. At the same time, the federal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline means that the expansion project will begin very soon. How does the construction of this pipeline impact the current state of our climate emergency, and what does this say about our governments’ priorities? Our host Am Johal talks to Kai Nagata of Dogwood BC about the implications of this expansion and how this shifts Dogwood BC’s efforts in holding our elected officials accountable.

Kai Nagata is a fourth-generation British Columbian whose roots are in the Shuswap, Gulf Islands, and Lower Mainland. His last name translates roughly to “everlasting rice paddy,” which was probably a lot to hope for in feudal Japan. In his spare time he enjoys archery, camping, fishing and hunting. As a journalist he covered an all-out mafia war, the rise of the Orange Wave, and a blind British lute virtuoso’s quest to set a world record jumping motorcycles. He held positions at CBC and CTV, and his writing appears in the Toronto Star, the Tyee, DeSmog Canada, the Vancouver Sun and elsewhere. He moved into digital content and strategy in 2012 and has advised candidates or elected officials across the political spectrum, as well as clients in advocacy, education, First Nations government and the private sector. Kai is committed to building democracy through nonpartisan citizen engagement. He believes in fact-driven debates and speaking truth to power. He currently is the Communications Director for Dogwood BC.

Democracy is a term that’s been used, misunderstood, and taken for granted by many — so what does democracy really mean? Am Johal sits down with activist and filmmaker Astra Taylor to explore how people interpret ‘democracy’ and how we can better understand it. Astra is the director behind the film What is Democracy?, a documentary that tackles this question, alongside celebrated theorists and a diverse cast of folks from different walks of life. Together, they try to understand who gets to participate in democracy and what that means for our society from a place of curiosity and a search for deeper meaning.

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of the philosophical documentaries What Is Democracy?Examined Life (TIFF 2008), and Zizek! (TIFF 2005); the author of the American Book Award winner The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age; and a co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York TimesThe London Review of BooksThe GuardianThe WalrusThe Bafflern+1, and many other outlets. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel. Her new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, will be out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.

Cover of "On This Patch of Grass: City Parks on Occupied Land".

What does it mean to use and enjoy a city park on unceded Indigenous land? Am Johal interviews co-authors of On This Patch of Grass: City Parks on Occupied Land (Fernwood Publishing 2019), Matt Hern and Selena Couture, who wrote the book with two of their daughters, Sadie Couture and Daisy Couture. As a white settler family, they have lived near and around East Vancouver’s Victoria Park (AKA Bocce Ball Park) for years. Interrogating the concept of urban parks as colonial constructs, they investigate the land politics of this small green space with such a multiplicity of overlapping users and sovereignties.

Matt Hern is a community-based activist and organizer who teaches urban studies at SFU, Cape Breton University, and UBC. He is the co-founder and co-director of Solid State Industries and has written books including What a City is For: Remaking Politics of Displacement (MIT Press, 2016), Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life (MIT, 2018 with Am Johal and Joe Sacco).

Selena Couture is an Assistant Professor of Drama at the University of Alberta. Her research and work examines intersections of performance and Indigeneity, particularly regarding uses of Indigenous perforamnces as a way to tell Indigenous histories eroded by colonialism with a parallel inquiry into colonial performance and the construction of whiteness. Her research has been published in Theatre Journal, Performance Research, Canadian Theatre Review, as well as a chapter in Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas.

Episode 19: Dismantling systems of harm — with Darcie Bennett

On this episode of Below the Radar, Am Johal sits down with Darcie Bennett, the co-author of the Pivot Legal Society report "Project Inclusion". This report draws on interviews and research conducted with people across BC and highlights the way stigma around drug use and poverty has become embedded into current law and policy. Am and Darcie talk about the report and what steps can be taken to reduce the stigma around these issues so that these systems better serve people.

Since completing her PhD in sociology at UBC, Darcie Bennett has worked at the intersection of non-profit management, legal advocacy, and social science research. In 2006, Darcie joined Pivot Legal Society as a community-based researcher and went on to hold several positions including Child Welfare Campaigner, Campaigns Director, and Interim Executive Director. She also spent two years as Director of Marketing and Communications for Ecojustice Canada. In 2018, Darcie completed a graduate certificate in executive coaching from Royal Roads University. Today, as a certified executive coach and consultant, Darcie supports individuals, teams and organizations to live their values sustainably and achieve their goals.

Episode 18: Telling difficult stories with compassion — with Baljit Sangra

This episode features Baljit Sangra, a Vancouver-based documentarian and filmmaker. Baljit's latest documentary, "Because We Are Girls", is a powerful film that follows three Indo-Canadian sisters from Williams Lake, BC, who experienced sexual abuse by an older relative in their childhood years. Through an empathetic lens, Baljit shows the sisters’ laughs and struggles, as they seek to break the cycle of abuse and redress the wrongs within their family. Am Johal and Maria Cecilia Saba talk to Baljit about her approach to a complex story in a way that highlights her heroines’ humanity and the power of true sisterhood.

Baljit Sangra is a Vancouver based filmmaker who has been working on documentaries, corporate videos, feature films and factual entertainment. Her passion is exploring social and cross-cultural issues. She has now directed/produced the documentary “Because We Are Girls” in association with NFB (National Film Board of Canada). She has also directed/produced Many Rivers Home a personal story that focuses on Seniors in assisted care and looks at the end story of life for OmniTV. In addition, she has directed/produced the documentary Warrior Boyz in association with NFB and Canwest which examines the long running gang scene unique to the Indo-Canadian enclave of the Lower Mainland. Warrior Boyz premiered at Doxa and was nominated for three Leos. Baljit also directed an A&E for CityTV and Channel M called VIVA! for several seasons.

Photo by Fernando Alvarez

Episode 17: Psychoanalyzing love and desire — with Hilda Fernandez

This episode features Hilda Fernandez, a clinical psychoanalyst and a grad student at SFU. Hilda was also the former president of the Lacan Salon, a group that meets bi-weekly to read and discuss the work of Freud and Jacques Lacan. On this episode, she talks to Am Johal about love and desire from a psychoanalytical perspective — the stages of love, how it is sustained and reinvented, and break-ups and the hatred that can come along with it.

Hilda Fernandez Alvarez was born and raised in Mexico City. She practices Lacanian psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy in Vancouver, Canada, since 2007. With a solid clinical experience in the field of psychotherapy, throughout her clinical trajectory, she has worked in the medical and mental health fields alongside a private practice. Currently, she has a private practice in downtown Vancouver, and has worked for the past fourteen years as a psychotherapist at SAFER, part of Vancouver Coastal Health. In Mexico City she worked for eight years in the National Rehabilitation Program within the Central Hospital of the Mexican Red Cross.

Photo by Josh Berson

Episode 16: A political life: from grassroots to parliament — with Libby Davies

Episode 16 features Libby Davies, an activist and former Member of Parliament for Vancouver East. Libby spent the past four decades advocating for the Downtown Eastside community as a grassroots organizer, and an elected representative at the municipal and federal levels. She was also the first publicly out woman to be elected to parliament in Canada. On this episode, Melissa Roach and Jamie-Leigh Gonzales interview Libby about her newly released memoir, “Outside In”, covering her early days of community organizing, her experiences as a woman in politics, and representing her community’s concerns in Ottawa.

Libby Davies is a former Canadian politician from British Columbia. She moved to Vancouver in 1968 and served as a city councillor from 1982 to 1993, then represented the federal riding of Vancouver East from 1997 to 2015 under the New Democratic Party banner. She was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2016 and was Canada's first openly lesbian MP.

Episode 15: A feminist career — with Madeleine Shaw

This episode of Below the Radar features mother, entrepreneur, creative, feminist Madeleine Shaw. Many of us now find the topic of menstruation significantly less taboo thanks to the work of folks like Madeleine. As one of the cofounders of Lunapads, Madeleine has been normalizing menstruation for nearly three decades. Led by her creativity, she has more recently embarked on new projects including G Day, a national event series that celebrates the transition between childhood and adolescence in female-identified tween youth, and Nestworks, a work friendly family space that will shape a better understanding of a healthy work-life balance.

Madeleine Shaw is a social entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Lunapads, a founding Canadian BCorp that specializes in sustainable menstrual products. She is also founder and Board Chair of United Girls of the World Society, a registered charity that produces G Day, a national event series for tween girls and their adult supporters. She is also the founder of Nestworks, a family-friendly shared work/life space launching in 2019/2020. Madeleine blogs about her adventures in social entrepreneurship at

Episode 14: Indigenizing the City of Vancouver — with Ginger Gosnell-Myers

Episode 14 features Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a Nisga’a-Kwakwaka'wakw urban planner, researcher, and policy expert, who was the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Relations Manager. Ginger is currently completing a master’s degree in public policy at Simon Fraser University. She is in conversation with Am Johal and Jamie-Leigh Gonzales, reflecting on her work for the City bringing Indigenous policy-making to Vancouver, speaking to a need for greater access to services for Indigenous folks in the city, and for more meaningful engagement with — and acknowledgement of — First Nations’ governance at the municipal level. She shares her thoughts on building understanding of urban Aboriginal identity and Indigenizing Vancouver through increased political representation and the sustainable funding of Indigenous community planning.

Ginger Gosnell-Myers, of Nisga’a and Kwakwak'awakw heritage is passionate about advancing Indigenous rights and knowledge, while breaking down barriers between Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. Ginger was the City of Vancouver’s first Indigenous Relations Manager where she was central to advancing Vancouver as the world’s first official City of Reconciliation, and from 2013-2018 worked to bridge Indigenous policies, programs and relations. Through her work with the City, she identified tangible opportunities across all City departments to advance reconciliation. Guided by Ginger’s leadership, more than 75 initiatives were launched in the first four years. Key to this work was Vancouver recognizing that it was on unceded Coast Salish territories – the only government in Canada to officially recognize this. Also integral was implementing the 28 out of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action, and strengthening the relationship between local First Nations, the urban Indigenous community.

Episode 13: Keynesian economics and the hope for climate X — with Geoff Mann

Political Economist and SFU Geography Professor, Geoff Mann, joins Am Johal in episode 13 of Below the Radar. They discuss two of Geoff’s recent books: In the Long Run We Are All Dead and Climate Leviathan, which was co-written by Joel Wainwright. For those who may not be familiar with Keynesian economics, Geoff Mann has a way of communicating concepts that makes them easily digestible for all audiences — even without a degree in economics. Learn more about the books and about the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives at the links below:

Geoff Mann is a professor and undergraduate programs chair in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University, where he also directs the Centre for Global Political Economy.  His most recent books are In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynesianism, Political Economy and Revolution(Verso, 2017) and Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future, co-authored with Joel Wainwright (Verso, 2018). He and his family live near Trout Lake, in Vancouver.

Episode 12: Discussion on Trans Rights — with Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith joins Am Johal and Melissa Roach in conversation for episode 12 of Below the Radar. A poet and human rights lawyer, Adrienne has a passion for social justice and advocacy. They work to protect and uphold workers’ rights, seeking justice for trans and non-binary people. In this episode, they talk about the issues of misgendering folks in the justice system or in a workplace, and how the conflation of sex and gender can have dangerous repercussions on those who may not be out in their workplace. They also speak to the policy and accessibility issues of being a trans person within a healthcare system and what the geographical implications of healthcare can be for trans folks. Adrienne works pro bono for the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre providing legal support to trans and gender diverse folks.

Adrienne Smith is a transgender human rights activist and drug policy lawyer. They recently settled a BC Supreme Court case which guaranteed access to opiate replacement therapy for prisoners in BC jails. Adrienne appeared at the BC Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada where they argued about the deleterious effects of mandatory minimum sentences for women, indigenous people, and drug users. At the CLC, they advocate for transgender inclusion in our unions and workplaces.

Episode 11: Housing justice for Vancouver: affordability, inclusion and redress — with Stephanie Allen

In this episode Am Johal and Stephanie Allen discuss affordable housing, the pros and cons of not-for-profit real estate development, the nature of ownership and property, along with a look at the fight for Hogan’s Alley and the recognition of the erasure of black culture from Vancouver through city development.

Stephanie Allen is the director of the Hogan's Alley Society, and Vice-president at Catalyst Community Developments Society and #46 on the 2018 VanMag Power 50 List. In this episode Am Johal and Stephanie discuss affordable housing, the pros and cons of not-for-profit real estate development, the nature of ownership and property, along with a look at the fight for Hogan’s Alley and the recognition of the erasure of black culture from Vancouver through city development.

Episode 10: Tirelessly advocating for child care in BC — with Sharon Gregson

Episode 10 of Below the Radar features Sharon Gregson, who works with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC as the provincial spokesperson for the successful $10aDay Child Care campaign. Sharon Gregson and Am Johal discuss policy change and what is needed for sustainable child care in BC. Twice elected as a Trustee to the Vancouver School Board, Sharon’s advocacy for affordable child care stretches back over three decades.

Sharon Gregson is the provincial spokesperson for the popular $10aDay Child Care Plan in BC. She works with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC travelling throughout the province presenting the $10aDay Plan as the solution to BC’s child care chaos. She is a former two-term elected Vancouver School Board Trustee with 30 years of experience in the child care sector. Sharon is a feminist, passionate about the rights of women to access affordable child care services, the rights of children to high quality early years experiences, and the rights of early childhood educators to be well-paid for the important work they do.

Episode 9: Call it what it is: a look at the opioid crisis — with Sarah Blyth

Sarah Blyth joins Jamie-Leigh Gonzales for a conversation about the politics of illicit drugs. With an understanding of what it is like to make change from her experience as both a policy maker and a frontline worker, Sarah uses her voice to advocate for access to safe drugs for community members in the DTES. In this episode we take a closer look at what our politicians can do to acknowledge and respond to the opioid crisis. We also discuss the implications of legalizing cannabis for low income or homeless folks, and the importance of discussing these topics with youth.

Sarah Blyth is former Chair of the Vancouver Park Board Commission and Founding member of the Overdose Prevention Society, an organization that has inspired many overdose prevention sites across Canada and around the world and saves lives every day. Read more about the Overdose Prevention Society.

Episode 8: Megaphone: changing the narrative — with Jessica Hannon and Peter Thompson

Our longtime partner, Megaphone Magazine, is featured in episode 8 of Below the Radar. Megaphone creates meaningful work for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. Each month they produce a magazine that looks at issues and events happening in our city with a local perspective. Along with the monthly magazine, the annual Hope in Shadows calendar is produced and sold by low-income and homeless vendors on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria to earn income and build community. This episode features Executive Director, Jessica Hannon, along with vendor, Peter Thompson in conversation with Jamie-Leigh Gonzales.

Megaphone creates meaningful work for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. We produce a high-quality monthly magazine and annual calendar that low-income and homeless vendors sell on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria to earn income and build community. Read more

Episode 7: Connecting to community through the bees — with Sarah Common and Kevin Sleziak

Hives for Humanity creates and supports opportunities to connect people back to the land through community and pollinators. They’ve been providing opportunities for people to engage in the therapeutic culture of beekeeping while supporting at-risk populations of people and pollinators since 2012. Episode 7 features community beekeepers, Sarah Common and Kevin Sleziak, in conversation with Am Johal.

Hives for Humanity is a non-profit organization that encourages community connections through apiculture, more commonly known as beekeeping. Through mentorship based programming we create flexible opportunities for people to engage in the therapeutic culture that surrounds the hive. Read more

Episode 6: Binners’ Project: an origin story — with Davin Boutang and Anna Godefroy

The Binners’ Project is a Vancouver-based initiative dedicated to advocating for waste-pickers in the city. Am Johal interviews Binners’ Project staff members Davin Boutang and Anna Godefroy about their beginnings and evolution as an organization. They discuss their Universal Carts Initiative, the Coffee Cup Revolution and how the project has grown in its capacity to create opportunities for binners, destigmatizing the work they do in diverting waste from landfills.

The Binners’ Project fosters social and economic inclusion, builds community resilience and stronger networks, and engages on sustainability issues. Through our programs, they empower binners as part of the circular economy — building a community from the bottom up. Read more

Episode 5: On horizonless futures — with Patricia Reed

"The way that I rationalize spending so much time in the theory world is because I think it helps train your intuition." Berlin-based artist Patricia Reed talks to Am Johal about the relationship between theory and practice in her work.

Patricia Reed is an artist, writer and designer based in Berlin. As an artist, selected exhibitions include: The One and The Many, CUAG, Ottawa; The Museum of Capitalism, Oakland; Homeworks 7, Beirut; Witte de With, Rotterdam; HKW, Berlin; and Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart. Read more about her work and experience.

Episode 4: A history of community-building in BC — with Bob Williams

From 312 Main and the future of public infrastructure in Surrey, to his “mad socialist period” in Dave Barrett’s NDP government. Am Johal interviews former city planner, MLA, and cabinet minister Bob Williams about his long and storied history of government work and community development in BC.

Bob Williams is an urban planner and former provincial MLA and cabinet minister. His leadership, inspiration and action over the past 60 years have helped to improve and transform B.C.'s rural and urban communities, and the lives of its citizens. He has also been involved with BC’s forestry industry for five decades, including as Minister of Lands, Forests and Water Resources in the Dave Barrett government. 

Episode 3: Giving women a seat at the table — with Ellen Woodsworth

“We don’t have time not to have women at the table.”  Ellen is a former Vancouver city councillor and founder of Women Transforming Cities. She is interviewed by Jamie-Leigh Gonzales. They talk about the invisible labour of women, how women experience different social and environmental issues, the inclusion of women’s voices in governance, and how to make our cities women-friendly.

Ellen Woodsworth is a writer, organizer, and international speaker and consultant on urban issues. A former Vancouver City councillor, Ellen is passionate about working for social justice, economic equality and environmentally sound planning. Ellen is also the founder of Women Transforming Cities International Society and Co-Chairperson. She works to make cities work for self identified women and girls working all over the world from local neighbourhoods to global gatherings like UN Habitat 3.

Episode 2: The flip side — why vote ‘No’ to Proportional Representation?  with Bill Tieleman

With as little as 3.7% of referendum ballots returned as of last week, our discussion of electoral reform in BC continues. Last week, we heard from Maria Dobrinskaya, advocating in favour of Proportional Representation. This week Am Johal is in conversation with Bill Tieleman from the 'No' side. A political commentator and former NDP political strategist, Bill argues for a rejection of PR in the 2018 referendum.

Bill Tieleman is one of BC's best known communicators, political commentators and strategists. Bill is a political panelist regularly on CBC Radio and TV in BC and with other media. Bill has been Communications Director in the B.C. Premier's Office and at the BC Federation of Labour. Bill owns West Star Communications, a consulting firm providing strategy and communication services for labour, business, non-profits and government.

Episode 1: Why vote ‘Yes’ to Proportional Representation? — with Maria Dobrinskaya

With a referendum on Proportional Representation looming, BC will decide whether or not to move to a new way of electing our provincial government — or stick with our current First Past the Post system.

Our first guest is Maria Dobrinskaya, BC Director of the Broadbent Institute. Maria shares why she is advocating for BC residents to vote ‘Yes’ to PR when they mail in their ballots this month. She is interviewed by your host, Am Johal, the director of SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Maria Dobrinskaya is the BC Director, overseeing the work of the Broadbent Institute in British Columbia. A creative political strategist and effective communicator, Maria is committed to expanding the political arena and increasing the access and involvement we can all have with our governments. Maria has over fifteen years of political experience; she’s worked for government, she’s run a governing political party, and she’s been involved in numerous campaigns at the local, provincial, and federal levels, in both electoral and issue-based politics.

Maria is a regular media commentator on both municipal and provincial politics. Before working in politics and government, Maria spent over a decade in Vancouver’s hospitality sector.

Find out more about the work of our partners & join the online discussion in SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement Facebook group!