Podcast, Social Justice, Urban Issues

The Trip Diary: Geographies of Identity — with Lori Macdonald and Sadia Tabassum

July 05, 2022
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On this first episode of The Trip Diary, Steve Tornes speaks with Lori Macdonald and Sadia Tabassum about their research on transit-based mobility through an equitable lens.

Lori discusses how recent migrants to the City of Vancouver learn and familiarize themselves to a new public transportation network, while Sadia describes how transit spaces affect women of colour in different ways, pushing back against the concept of the “universal transit user”. Both Lori and Sadia discuss their research methods and how they approach the study of personalized experiences. The episode ends with a series of policy recommendations.

About Our Guests

Lori MacDonald

Lori MacDonald is a white settler on the traditional, stolen territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations where she aims for a future surrounded by justice, dignity and reciprocal relationship-building.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Contemporary Dance and a Masters in Urban Studies from Simon Fraser University. During her thesis research: Mapping Daily Mobility in Metro Vancouver: An Ethnography of Regional Transportation for Newcomers Studying within the Service Industry, she was witness to the emergence of mobility as settlement and belonging in the region. In her professional role as the Executive Director of the Emily Carr Students’ Union, she has spent over a decade, advocating, lobbying and when necessary – protesting – for the development of Metro Vancouver’s deeply affordable post-secondary transit program, U-Pass BC. She has spent time during the pandemic questioning everything she has ever accepted as normal.

Sadia Tabassum

Sadia Tabassum currently lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where she grew up. It’s supposed to be one of the most “unlivable” cities in the world, but Sadia finds that livability is about as simple as the bus routes and schedules in Dhaka.

Sadia studied Architecture as an undergraduate student in upstate New York in the US and later worked as a cost estimator for a rebar supplier company near Syracuse, NY. When she returned to Dhaka, Sadia worked as an architect for a few years before eventually working on the first light rail project in Dhaka, the new MRT line, drafting electrical and mechanical system drawings for its stations. She left that role to join the Urban Studies graduate program at SFU, during which time Sadia worked briefly as a designer/researcher for a non-profit organization in Vancouver where she helped create toolkits for social procurement among developers and suppliers in ongoing development projects.

Sadia’s current projects in Dhaka continue to be inspired by her love for architecture, sustainable design and innovative transit-oriented city planning that help create more accessible, equitable, sustainable and livable urban spaces.


Host & Producer - Steve Tornes

Cover Artist & Audio Editor - Kathy Feng

Audio Editor - Paige Smith

Copywriter - Melissa Roach

Secondary Copywriter - Alyha Bardi

Music Composition - Alex Masse

SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement Director - Am Johal

Cite This Episode

Chicago Style

Tornes, Steve. “Geographies of Identity — with Lori Macdonald and Sadia Tabassum” The Trip Diary, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, July 05, 2022.


The Trip Diary is an original Below the Radar podcast series examining how we move through urban spaces. SFU Urban Studies alum and host Steve Tornes invites transportation enthusiasts and policymakers into conversation about the social and political factors that impact how transportation policy plays out on the ground.

Over the course of this series, we will explore how different commute modes — walking, cycling, transiting, driving — impact daily life and why we need to think about transportation in our urban design. 

The Trip Diary and Below the Radar are recorded on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. These conversations draw from data and lived experiences related to moving through urban spaces on these lands and beyond.

Each episode of The Trip Diary is timed to the duration of a different commute across the Metro Vancouver region. We hope you’ll listen along with your own commute as we investigate and reflect upon the future of moving through cities.

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