SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement
SFU VOCE is based at the SFU Vancouver campus, primarily working and programming out of the SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (GCA) in the Woodward’s complex.
Our team also works out of a satellite office at 312 Main, alongside other SFU departments. We record the Below the Radar podcast at 312 Main as part of our Knowledge Democracy Project.
Director, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement
Co-Director, SFU's Community-Engaged Research Initiative
Am Johal is Director of SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Co-director of SFU’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative. He is the author of 'Ecological Metapolitics: Badiou and the Anthropocene' (Atropos Press, 2015) and is co-author with Matt Hern (with contributions from Joe Sacco), of "Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale" (MIT, 2018).
He is the co-founder of UBC's Humanities 101 program and has been a Visiting Professor with SFU's Centre for Dialogue and an associate with SFU's Institute for the Humanities. He previously served as chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition, as a board member with the Vancity Community Foundation, the Or Gallery, 221A Gallery, the Vancouver City Planning Commission, the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House and many other organizations. He has graduate degrees in international economic relations and media philosophy.
Julia Aoki is an administrator, writer, researcher, and advocate. She has served as the Executive Director of Megaphone magazine, General Manager of VIVO Media Arts Centre, and General Manager and Programming Director of the Powell Street Festival, where she prioritized developing community centred programs.
Julia currently sits on the board of 221A Artist Run Centre Society, and has volunteered with advocacy organizations such as the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres and DTES SRO Collaborative. Her writing on cultural expressions and community formations that are overlooked and underserved by commercial and political mechanisms and practices can be found in TOPIA, Space and Culture and a collection by Lexington Books.
Steve Tornes has an inexhaustible passion for all things related to urban planning, data, politics, and literature. With a Master of Urban Studies degree from Simon Fraser University and a thesis on the Vancouver Bike Share Program, they look at the region through an environmental and equitable transportation perspective. Besides being a founding member of LightWork, a workers co-op focused on fostering justice and belonging through safer, inclusive, and more diverse work environments, Steve also worked as a data specialist at a tech company focused on augmented reality. He is currently working to publish a collection of short stories.
A North Vancouverite on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, Steve currently sits on the City’s Advisory Planning Commission after having served as Chair of the Social Planning Advisory Committee. He can usually be found at their local library reading or getting immersed in some new subject, such as R Programming or wildlife photography.
Alyha is a passionate Sociology & Labour Studies student. Her areas of interest include capitalist critiques, social movements, environmentalism, and human rights. Throughout her academic career, she’s written essays that focus on immigrant workers, women in work, settler-colonial Canada, and ritualistic practices of consumer capitalism. Her recent Spring 2021 Honours Essay, ‘Front of House Experiences During COVID-19: An Analysis of a Coffee Shop in Vancouver’, explores how work-related changes due to COVID-19 have been felt and experienced by Front of House Coffee Workers throughout the pandemic.
Outside of SFU, she's worked as an Office Manager & Tour Coordinator for Whistler Tasting Tours, Marketing Specialist for Guusto, and Office Administrator at the BC SPCA. She was born and raised on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Interim Program Assistant
Samantha Walters is an emerging interdisciplinary performer, writer, and creator based on xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) lands. As an artist, she mostly works between contemporary theatre, directing, and video making. Their most recent works examine ecological relationships and post-human spiritualities, with a heavy favour towards the weird, the dark, and the camp. Collaboration within communities and alongside the non-human lies at the heart of her process. She grew up in England and Hong Kong and holds a BFA honours in Theatre Performance with a minor in English and a certificate in Performance Studies from SFUs School for the Contemporary Arts.
Kathy Feng (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, born in Guangzhou, China, and is a guest living and working on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. As an immigrant and child of immigrants, she grew up between cultures in a constant process of learning, unlearning, and relearning. This framework informs the central themes to her work: in which memory and nostalgia are expressed through images, text, and the aesthetics of the temporal.
Kathy holds a BFA in Visual Art with a minor in Art and Performance Studies from SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts. She began working at SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement January 2020 as a Research Assistant for the Below the Radar podcast.
Debbie C. is an artist from Singapore whose practice is informed by their time working as a graphic designer. Their creative process involves photographing items they own and the places they dwell in, in an effort to anchor themselves through those objects and spaces. Their artworks minimize the importance of the object, replacing it with the importance of an idea or a social relation. Debbie bases their ideas on Shinto, a religion rooted in Japanese culture, with a focus in particular on Tsukumogami, a collective term given to household objects that have existed for at least a hundred years and are believed to have become sentient.
Program Assistant – on leave
Paige Smith (she/her) is an experimental filmmaker and visual artist on xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territories. She holds a BFA in Film from SFU and is currently pursuing a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Visual Arts. Paige has previously worked with a variety of local arts organizations before joining the SFU VOCE team in 2019 as the Program Assistant. She enjoys utilizing her technical experience to produce the Below the Radar podcast and her event management skills to support our community partners’ events.
Outside of her work with the Office, Paige also produces the podcast Film Formally and creates her own artwork. Recent presentations of her artwork include the Audain Gallery (21), Vines Art Festival (20), Dawson City International Short Film Festival (20), and the Victoria Shorts Film Festival (19). Her most recent short film Watching Us is currently being distributed by Video Out Distribution.