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Below the Radar: A knowledge mobilization podcast
Amplifying ideas that are flying below the radar. 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 Mobilization Project @ 312 Main — encouraging the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.
Latest episodes of Below the Radar
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:
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: drugpolicy.ca.
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.
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: http://www.sfu.ca/communication/team/faculty/svitlana-matviyenko.html
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.
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: https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/red-skin-white-masks
Read more about The Fourth World here: www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/b…he-fourth-world
Read more about Glen Coulthard on SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement blog: http://sfuwce.org/glen-coulthard/
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: www.vanpodfest.ca/
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.
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.
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: http://bit.ly/R101Manifesto
You can also access a digital copy of the Empowering Informed Consent: Community Ethics and Cultural Production card here: https://bit.ly/2E1AiWn
You can read more about the processes of developing the manifesto on our blog: http://sfuwce.org/empowering-informed-consent-community-ethics-in-cultural-production/
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 Times, The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Walrus, The Baffler, n+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.
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, alt.theatre as well as a chapter in Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.lunagals.com.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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
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
"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.
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.
“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.
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!