Article, Arts & Culture, Community

Wrapping up the Below the Radar Spring Season

June 06, 2023

As the weather gets warmer and SFU campuses get a bit quieter, we at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement have just wrapped up the spring season of the Below the Radar podcast! This season has consisted of seventeen conversations with community builders, artists, and academics about dynamic research initiatives, new projects, and engaging stories. The podcast will be on a break over the summer, but we encourage you to join us in reflecting on and diving back into the past season. 

Artists were central to this season of Below the Radar. We opened with our conversation with Marianne Nicolson, and the ways that Marianne uses her art practice to uphold Kwakwaka’wakw philosophies and resist settler-colonial fictions about Indigenous peoples. 


We also had the chance to speak to five artist-scholars who have taught at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA)! Professors Nadia Shihab, Erika Latta, and Nini Dongnier each discuss their pathways into film, theatre, and dance creation respectively, as well as ongoing projects and pedagogy. Curator and PhD student Joni Low talks about the publication of What Are Our Supports?, the various contributors to the anthology, and the modes of support local artists find and create. Doctoral candidate and SSHRC Fellow Yani Kong discusses her graduate research exploring enchantment and how she got into writing arts criticism.

In addition to these members of the SCA, we also spotlighted three other members of SFU faculty from other departments; Cliff Atleo, Dr. Svitlana Matviyenko, and June Francis. Cliff Atleo is a scholar and professor in SFU’s School of Resource & Environmental Management. Our host Am Johal and Cliff discuss prioritising Indigenous communities' perspectives in environmental and economic movements and Cliff’s past work with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, and Iron Dog Books.

In March, we released a timely interview with Svitlana Matviyenko, Associate Professor of Critical Media Analysis in SFU’s School of Communication and Associate Director of the Digital Democracies Institute, about the war in Ukraine. Svitlana talks about her experiences living in Ukraine over the past year, documenting a rising militarization and being attentive to the social changes that war imposes.


June Francis is a professor in the Beedie School of Business, and Director of the Institute for Diaspora Research and Engagement at SFU. Her episode dives into how gathering data about racism can be an important step toward equity and racial justice. June also describes her work connecting Black and African Diaspora communities with institutions and legislators to enact systemic change.

Continuing discussions of community building in diaspora, we were joined by Lama Mugabo, founding director of Building Bridges with Rwanda, a campaign manager with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, and a member of the Hogan’s Alley Working Group. Bill Sundhu also shared the remarkable story about his parents' arrival in Canada following the partition of India, and how an interview with his mother led to them reconnecting with her sister in Pakistan.

Dialogue around community development is at the foundation of Below the Radar. This season we got to share in that dialogue with Michael Clague, Sirish Rao, and Jorge Amigo. Michael is a community developer who has spent decades connecting underserved people to much-needed supports and programming, whilst Sirish and Jorge both chat about their work in public programming, at the Indian Summer Festival and the Vancouver Public Library correspondingly, as well as big ideas and friendships.


We’re always excited to speak to people about their research. This spring, we got to learn more about critical hope and Coyolxauhqui imperative with Dr. Kari Grain, the colonial relationships of property law with Dr. Brenna Bhandar, as well as how patients and medical practitioners experience surgery differently and the relationship between neuroplasticity and human resilience with Dr. Gary Redekop, Am’s own brain surgeon!

Check out a playlist of the whole season below.


Below the Radar will return at the end of August to present another season of ideas at the intersection of politics, art and social change! Stay tuned!

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