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SFU’s Vancity office of Community Engagement: A Look back on 2019

December 19, 2019
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By Rachel Wong

2019 was a busy year for SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. We hosted a number of diverse events and welcomed back many long-time community partners for other events. As we wind down 2019, we wanted to highlight some exciting events that we were a part of this past year:

March 7 – Empowering Informed Consent launch event

Folks at the Empowering Informed Consent launch event, including co-author Scott Neufeld (far right).

Since May 2017, member of the Downtown Eastside community began to meet on a regular basis at the Hives for Humanity Bee Space to have discussions around community ethics in the process of cultural production, and how to ensure that they are respected. Through the course of these discussions, a number of action items came to fruition, including the creation of Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside, an Empowering Informed Consent card, and the subsequent launch event on March 7, 2019. The Office helped design the materials and hosted a community launch event at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. 

The reach of Research 101 has been widespread, both locally and abroad, and is an important piece of work for researchers and community members alike. Take a listen to our episode of Below the Radar where we interview Scott Neufeld and Nicolas Crier, two members of the team who helped to put Research 101 together.

March 12 – A visit from Rita Izsák-Ndiaye

In March of this year, we had a special visit from Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. She is a human rights expert from Hungary and formerly served as the former Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues. During her talk and subsequent panel, we heard from Izsák-Ndiaye on what drove her to work for the UN and how to create a more inclusive, resilient and connected communities. Take a read through our blog post to learn more about Izsák-Ndiaye’s talk.

You can watch Rita Izsák-Ndiaye’s talk and the panel below.

July 9 – Amitav Ghosh visits SFU as part of the 30th Anniversary of SFU’s Vancouver Campus, Indian Summer Festival

As part of the 2019 Indian Summer Festival, acclaimed Indian writer and novelist Amitav Ghosh came to SFU to speak on his book The Great Derangement. During his presentation, Ghosh spoke of how fiction is complicit in shaping the priorities and consumer choices of our world today. 

Prior to his presentation, we got to sit down with Ghosh for an episode of Below the Radar. Ghosh talks about the interesting link between movement, the English language, and climate change, and he speaks how strong climate change denialism is in English speaking countries. We were joined this episode by Olive Dempsey, who co-hosts the podcast Big Bright Dark.

Take a listen to this episode of Below the Radar featuring Amitav Ghosh:

You can watch Amitav Ghosh’s presentation at Indian Summer Festival here:

September 25 – Decolonizing the City

All summer long, our office helped to prepare for “Decolonizing the City: The Future of Indigenous Planning in Vancouver”. This panel discussion, which was co-presented with the Planning Institute of BC-South Chapter and the Vancouver City Planning Commission, sold out in the first day, which was extremely exciting for us! 

This discussion provided a behind the scenes look on what it takes to strengthen relations and create new practices and policies with Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations and urban Indigenous communities from a City of Vancouver context. We heard from: 

  • Ginger Gosnell-Myers, a Decolonization Strategist, Urban Planner and Researcher;
  • Rena Soutar, Reconciliation Planner with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation;
  • Kamala Todd, Indigenous Arts and Culture Planner with the City of Vancouver;
  • Spencer Lindsay, Indigenous Social Planner with the City of Vancouver; and 
  • Khelsilem, spokesperson and elected councillor, Squamish Nation Council. 

This informative evening has provided a lot of insights that will lead to more discussions and events of similar topics in the new year – stay tuned!

You can watch a recording of the event below:

November 8 – Below the Radar celebrates one year!

November was a special month for our office. On November 5, 2018, we released our very first episode of Below the Radar. One year later, and we have 35 episodes released featuring guests with expertise in arts and culture, urban planning, social justice, environmentalism and more. The mission behind Below the Radar was simple: the amplify ideas that fly below the radar, and encourage the meaningful exchange of ideas and information across communities.

Glen Coulthard (left) with Am Johal at the Vancouver Public Library for the Vancouver Podcast Festival.

To celebrate this milestone, we had the opportunity to participate in this year’s Vancouver Podcast Festival and host a live recording! Am Johal sat down with Glen Coulthard, who is an assistant professor in the First Nations Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is also the author of the book Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. This episode will come out in January 2020, so stay tuned to Below the Radar for more!

2019 was another year for the books, and 2020 will certainly bring more exciting events that we hope that you can be a part of. Be sure to stay in the loop by checking out our website and following us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

From all of us at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, have a wonderful holiday and we’ll see you in the new year!

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