Meet the spring recipients of UBC’s 2023 Partnership Recognition and Exploration Fund

Panelists and organizers from the “Making Space: Asian Heritage Month” project.  

This year, the Partnership Recognition & Exploration (PRE) Fund opened in May and has already provided funding for 12 community-university projects this spring! 

Among the twelve community partners that received funding, Alyssa Sy De Jesus, the Program Manager at the Museum of Vancouver, graciously shared how the fund is supporting her work. “As somebody who inhabits an intersection of marginalized identities myself in Canada that includes being Asian Canadian, it was so meaningful for me to host those I am in community with and make them feel welcomed, represented, and safe in a space that historically was not intended to be any of these things for us,” says Sy De Jesus. “That I had the support of my UBC colleagues and partner [to host our event] gives me so much hope for how the university can also play a crucial role in generating more inclusive spaces that prioritize the agency of communities. That we are moving away from our extractive practices of working with communities towards one of support and reciprocity.” 

“That I had the support of my UBC colleagues and partner [to host our event] gives me so much hope for how the university can also play a crucial role in generating more inclusive spaces that prioritize the agency of communities. That we are moving away from our extractive practices of working with communities towards one of support and reciprocity.” 

— Alyssa Sy De Jesus, Program Manager at the Museum of Vancouver

Receiving up to $1,500 each, PRE funded projects continue to serve as outstanding examples of how communities and UBC are collaborating to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion; Indigenous engagement and reconciliation; health innovation and community wellbeing; sustainability and climate action; and teaching, learning, and research excellence. 

Join us in celebrating the recipients of the 2023 PRE fund this spring! Discover more about these inspiring partnerships between communities and the university below.

Click here to see quick facts about this spring’s projects

UBC Breakdown

  • 9 projects with UBC partners from the Vancouver campus and 3 from the Okanagan campus
  • 8 different faculties represented 
  • 4 projects co-led by students

Number of projects promoting the following:

  • 8 | Equity, diversity and inclusion  
  • 6 | Health innovation and community wellbeing 
  • 5 | Indigenous engagement and reconciliation  
  • 3 | Sustainability and climate action 
  • 3 | Teaching, learning, and research excellence

About the PRE Fund

The Community Engagement Partnership Recognition and Exploration (PRE) Fund awards up to $1,500 to fill small resource gaps and empower community partners to build reciprocal relationships with UBC students, faculty, and staff. Since 2017, the fund has invested more than $495,000 in 327 community-university partnerships, with approximately 50% of funding going to IBPOC-led community organizations. 

PRE funding is currently available until December 31, 2023, OR until available funds are exhausted. 

2023 spring funded projects

A two-eyed seeing mentorship: Opportunities to listen, learn, and witness ceremony with Elders

Click here to view the project description

Elder Lorelei Hawkins, Raven Wing, is A-ni-wa-yah, Secwepemc, Okanagan; on her mother’s side she is originally from High Bar, Alkali Lake, raised in Inkaneep, South Okanagan, and sang a shore to Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish. On her father’s side she is A-ni-wa-yah with connections to the Freedmen. She is a medicine woman and a bundle carrier who wants to share her Indigenous knowledges & tools with community members (CM) & UBC students through a mentorship program. Elder Lorelei is a Board Member of RayCam Cooperative Centre with connections to multiple organizations in the DTES where she lives; she will reach out to organizations and CMs to see about their interest in participating in the process.  

Within DTES context, there are few opportunities for CMs and UBC students to co-participate in shadowing and observing Elders in ceremony. Participants will have the opportunity to 1) listen, learn, and witness ceremony; 2) build up their knowledge base to take care of Indigenous CMs, and 3) become self-assured of their traditional knowledge base through support & mentorship. Through the creation of a sacred space, CMs can learn and apply the teachings ensuring intergenerational knowledge sharing, community witnessing, & leadership growth with positive presences for the long-term.  

UBC students who have a pre-existing relationship will learn from Elder Lorelei and CMs, creating a relational Two-Eyed Seeing journey. The activities will occur over 6 months. In December there will be an acknowledgement ceremony for all those involved. We recognize that the process of reconciliation and decolonization belongs to everyone. As such, we recognize that reciprocal and equitable learning partnerships need to be created between the university and CM, particularly between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples with an emphasis on how Indigenous knowledge systems are integral to all our wellness & well-being. We hope to 1) increase CMs and UBC students (e.g., graduate, nursing, medical students) awareness of Indigenous knowledges, practices, protocols, ways of being, relating, and doing; 2) foster new relationships through Two-Eyed Seeing between students, Elders, and CMs based on respect, reciprocity, & partnerships; 3) begin to support & strengthen CMs on their traditional knowledge & leadership journeys.

Academic symposium associated with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Equality Day 

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UBC, Chetna Association of Canada and the Ambedkarite International Coordination Society, in partnership with various departments of universities of BC, seek to host an international symposium to address social, economic, and political strategies to enhance inclusion. This will be done in association with a larger celebration of the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Equality Day on April 23, 2023. Any funding will provide support for a related academic symposium to provide an important landmark event in North America that explores the history and experience of caste both in Canada and in the world and ties this history to a discussion of concrete tools and strategies for addressing caste discrimination on a local and global scale. 
This symposium is inspired by social reformer and political leader Dr. BR Ambedkar’s embrace of both well-researched critique and informed action, joining scholarly engagement to community empowerment. It will bring together local and global leaders and thinkers to discuss the impact of caste on social, economic, and political lives, as well as the challenges faced by people belonging to Dalit communities in personal and public settings, such as academia and employment. The symposium aims to shed light on the realities of caste-based discrimination and to propose strategies and actions to create more inclusive societies. One of the topics of the discussion at the symposium, for example, is to review caste in academic settings and reassess equity policies, reflecting the recent recognition in many major universities of caste as a protected category. Several sessions have been planned on various topics, including caste and entrepreneurship, Dr. Ambedkar’s Buddhism, and women and youth empowerment. Several participants from Canada, India, the US and the UK, including students, have confirmed their participation.   

Such an event is of urgent need in Canada as more and more instances of caste-based discrimination among those of South Asian origin are being reported in the news media. As an increased awareness of caste-based discrimination is bringing the beginnings of systemic change in the US and Canada, including the Seattle City Council and the Toronto District School Board who have banned caste-based discrimination, it is necessary for other institutions, especially educational spaces to discuss how protections against this can be built here at UBC and other university spaces in BC. 

Bringing Social Thinking Curriculum to middle grade school students: Pilot project

Click here to view the project description.

Issue to be addressed by the project: Neurodiverse children, especially autistic children, often have very significant problems with social understanding and social skills. Once they reach middle childhood, their social environment has become more complex and confusing.  These children must acquire a higher level of sophistication and understanding to cope successfully with the myriad of social demands of school and friendships.  Such children can learn with direct, explicit instruction, which is difficult to access.   

Planned activities: We intend to bring in an evidence based social skills curriculum to classroom where there is a diversity of children with social skills challenges and provide direct explicit instruction over a school term. This will involve recruitment of interested teachers (already accomplished) and a 3-day training course of these teachers in the Social Thinking Curriculum.  We have secured agreement for the Social Thinking instructors to provide the training free of charge, and teaching materials will also be provided.  We have secured classroom training space. 

Intended Accomplishments: We will evaluate social understanding at commencement and outcome to see if we can achieve an effect.  We plan to introduce the curriculum to 3-6 classrooms as a pilot project. 

Benefit to partners: Benefits will be improved social skills and resulting student self-esteem and satisfaction.  

Affected community member involvement: Children receiving the intervention will benefit as will their families indirectly. 

Building capacity for decolonizing food systems: A train-the-trainers workshop

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Our proposed project involves developing and hosting a “train-the-trainers” workshop with the Secwepemc Circle of Advisors and Secwepemc Watchmen. The Secwepemc Circle of Advisors and Secwepemc Watchmen are integrally involved in directing our current collaborative research project to advance the conservation and governance of Secwepemc foodlands in Secwepemcul’ecw (territory of the Secwepemc; Chase, BC). 

The specific focus of the training will centre around building participants’ capacity to engage and train others on a Decolonizing Food Systems Framework created by the Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. The Framework provides a way to enter into cross-cultural conversations between settler and Indigenous food and land systems in Ethical Space, to ensure that Indigenous peoples can engage from a place of cultural safety and do not have to disproportionately carry the burden of cross-cultural participation. This work is critically important in Secwepemcul’ecw, where settler and Secwepemc visions for land and food systems interact in challenging ways (e.g., industrial agriculture, forestry, and oil and gas development continue to undermine Secwepemc governance over foodlands and negatively impact sensitive ecological landscapes and culturally important species). 

We hope that the benefits of this train-the-trainers workshop will be two-fold. First, we hope that the participants will be better prepared to engage in cross-cultural conversations about the ways in which settler and Indigenous land and food systems interact in challenging ways. We aim to provide participants with tools to engage in and facilitate these conversations that support them in feeling culturally safe to do so. Second, we aim to build participants’ capacities to train yet more people on how to use the Decolonizing Food Systems Framework to advance constructive and critical conversations around decolonizing research and relationships in the food system. In addition to benefitting the participants, it will also benefit the research team by deepening our collaboration, enhancing our capacities to engage in ethical research relationships, and furthering our work to decolonize food systems in Secwepemc territory. The Secwepemc chapter of the WGIFS will lead this process, and the Secwepemc Circle of Advisors and Watchmen will be involved throughout the planning, design, and evaluation of the workshops.  

Commemorating our own history for ourselves: Mowchaht Muchalaht histories of Yuquot 

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The Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) proposes to create a collection of essays that addresses the 100 Year Commemoration and Celebration of the original Historic Sites and Monuments Board (HSMB) designation in the Province of British Columbia of Nootka Sound (the other being Fort Langley) of 1923. Throughout this century of acknowledgement of this Euro-vision of history, the MMFN has been friendly and hospitable in recognizing this notorious history of colonialism and its commemoration. The community has participated in the government recognitions with grace. Archaeological excavation in 1966 determined 4300 years of continuous human habitation at Yuquot, the original site and centre of the Mowachaht world. At that time, the typical rock cairn was erected acknowledging the designation, but the text made no reference to Chief Maquinna nor his people.

In 1992, the MMFN began its own venture into economic development. The Elders at the time decided that Yuquot was one of its key assets and identified it as a focal point for tourism. They developed a plan that identified accommodation (cabins), transportation (water taxi service), site interpretation/public information (tours); and an annual celebration (Yuquot Spirit Summerfest) to be initiated. In developing the tour program, it was noted the lack of Indigenous history and acknowledgment with the HSMB plaque be changed. A request by Chief Ambrose Maquinna to amend the plaque resulted in the presentation of the Yuquot Agenda Paper to the Board. It was accepted in 1996.

The Mowachaht/Muchalaht are creating their own history and this Collection of Essays will be an avenue to writing their own version and canvassing others to share their stories of the truths and untruths. Indigenous history has been defined by others through visitors, guests and settlers and governments. This collection is an opportunity to share and present the MMFN story of humanity and provide a venue for building awareness of this special place at Yuquot. Since the TRC mandated 94 Calls to Action, many have noted the lack of action. With initiatives such as this project, if completed, this collection can provide teaching for those looking to participate and collaborate. It brings community engagement internally for those left with the legacy. It is this continuous learning, evolving to growth and knowledge that brings the full story. And yet that story will never be final and so like Indigenous circles, will be never-ending.

Indigenous public safety conference and national firefighting competition 2023 

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The National Indigenous Fire Safety Council is planning the Indigenous Public Safety Conference, scheduled to take place in September 2023. This conference serves as a pivotal platform for Indigenous leaders in the field of fire safety and prevention, aiming to foster a robust community of practice. 
The funding allocated to this initiative plays a crucial role in supporting various activities planned for the conference, particularly in terms of ensuring the availability of essential supplies necessary for the event’s successful execution. These funds will be utilized to cover a wide range of conference-related expenses, guaranteeing a seamless and professional experience for all participants. 
The significance of this conference is addressing a pressing concern within Indigenous communities. Fire mortality and morbidity rates among Indigenous Peoples are almost ten times higher than non-Indigenous individuals. By facilitating meaningful dialogues and knowledge exchange, this event aims to stimulate concrete actions toward preventing burn injuries within Indigenous communities. 

The Indigenous Public Safety Conference is a pivotal opportunity for industry professionals, stakeholders, and policymakers to exchange insights and explore effective strategies to combat this deeply concerning issue. Through collaborative efforts and shared expertise, we aspire to establish a safer environment for Indigenous Peoples, mitigating the devastating impact of fire-related incidents.

Making space: Asian Heritage Month 

Click here to view the project description

From 2020-2023, the Museum of Vancouver had the privilege of hosting the exhibition “A Seat at the Table”, which was done in collaboration with UBC faculty and students from UBC ACAM and INSTRCC. Now travelling to Cumberland, B.C. and launching in summer 2023, this exhibition celebrates Chinese Canadian Heritage identities and experiences through the lens of food and restaurant culture. 

In this “Making Space” panel event, the MOV asks what we have learned from the exhibition, and how we can continue to work with Asian Canadian communities in the future. In the context of curatorial practices and beyond, how can the institutions of academia, culture, and heritage intentionally make space for the responsibilities and reciprocities of representation? 

Since 2002, the City of Vancouver has also acknowledged and celebrated Asian Heritage Month in May. “Asian Heritage” is a term meant to capture a multitude of ethnic experiences and cultural identities in Vancouver. In this program we will also ask: what does it mean to designate an entire month to the celebration of these various identities? What possibilities does it open for social justice – and where, if any, are its potential limits to this work? 

The panel will feature four individuals and activists who are working for their communities in mindful and intersectional ways through cultural food justice: 

  • Anne Claire Baguio from Sliced Mango Collective 
  • Jag Nagra from the Punjabi Market Collective 
  • Miki Konishi from the Powell Street Festival Society 
  • Wendy Au Yeung from Servant Partners and Happy Woman Kitchen. 

Guest Speaker Dr. Amanda R. Cheong from UBC’s Department of Sociology will be giving a brief presentation at the beginning. 

The panel will be moderated by Bill Yuen from Heritage Vancouver Society – an organization that centers heritage on people and their ways of living, and the meanings they connect to place. This program is in partnership with and supported by the UBC Public Humanities Hub – a UBC initiative with a mandate to help facilitate reciprocity between communities and institutions. 

A Q&A will follow the panel. Light snacks will be served from Potluck Cafe Society, a social enterprise that works to employ and create job opportunities for the DTES community. Event Capacity: 100. 

Learn more about the event here:

Navigating sex work spaces: An arts-based participatory research project to delineate pathways beyond criminalization 

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In the context of my collaboration with PACE in developing the arts-based component of my dissertation research (nested within CGSHE/AESHA), PACE identified the need for sex worker-made and non-stigmatizing stock images to accompany news stories about sex work. Currently, stock images generally perpetuate harmful stereotypes rooted in the conflation of sex work and violence against women and disregard the autonomy of workers and diversity within the sex industry.   

PRE funding will support building on the arts-based component of my dissertation research to collaboratively develop creative knowledge translation (KT) products, including stock photography, that challenge the stigmatization of sex work. The arts-based component of my dissertation research was developed in collaboration with PACE and invites participants to create an arts-based submission (e.g., photography, visual art) that depicts their work environment and how it is shaped by criminalization, stigma and/or censorship. After completion of their artwork, I will meet participants for an “art-elicitation” interview, that draws out connections between the artwork and experiences with sex work, online spaces, community mobilization and criminalization. During project development, members of PACE identified the need for better sex work representation, including stock images used by media. We hope with the support of PRE, we can scale-up the production and dissemination of empowering, community-produced representations of sex workers in all their diversity. The stock images produced will inform my thesis work and generate an accessible KT product in the form of a photobook, as well as be used by PACE as part of their communications and advocacy strategy. 

The community-led production of stock images will directly support PACE and their members and increase the long-term impact of my thesis work. Participation in the project offers community members an opportunity to learn new arts-based skills or build on a portfolio of work, paid opportunities as peer analysts and artists-in-residence, and experience as project advisors. The project will also build capacity within PACE, as team members learn about participatory research methods and the role of research in supporting advocacy. As well, PACE will be able to leverage academic resources to produce empowering and transformative photography that they will have full access to for their social media, advocacy campaigns and media releases. 

Queerstory podcast with Kelowna Museums Society

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UBCO Library and Kelowna Museums Society will partner to host a live recording of Okanagan Queerstory podcast at the Laurel Packinghouse during Pride Month, on June 15 from 6:00-7:30 pm. The purpose of the podcast is to “Uncover the queer history of the Okanagan. One story at a time.” By hosting a free live recording, participants have an opportunity to participate in diverse history making, foster connections and enhance understanding. 

The event will be opened by a Syilx Elder or Knowledge Keeper who will provide a territorial welcome. 

Ella Lamoureux and Sasha Zamolodchikova are the special guests who will be interviewed in a live recording hosted by Donna Langelle, Community Engagement Librarian and podcast host. 

Ella Lamoureux is one of the founding performers of the Kelowna drag scene. From Kelowna’s Next Drag Superstar drag competition, Embodiment, #2muffs1collr, to recent star on Call Me Mother, Ella has carved out her place as one of the most influential and stunning drag performers in Kelowna. Ella and Donna will explore the history of drag in Kelowna, the experiences of being Two-spirit in Kelowna, the current rise of anti-2SLGTBQIA+ protests, and the importance of art in queer communities. 

Shannon Lester, aka Sasha Zamolodchikova has been performing in drag for over 12 years now. He is the co-founder of drag-based performance art collective Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (now known as KKBB Collective) formed in Osaka, Japan and has performed internationally in Japan, Canada and the United States. He has performed in various art films, and theatre productions. He is also the co-founder of Embodiment Drag & Burlesque Show with his co-star Ella Lamoureux. 

Participants will be invited to mingle over refreshments before and after the event, to collaborate on an art project to be displayed at the Okanagan Heritage Museum, and to learn about queer history in the Okanagan. To ensure accessibility the event will be offered for free. The Laurel is accessible to people living with mobility issues. 

Previous episodes of Okanagan Queerstory can be listened to at

Residence move-out donation rooms

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At student move-out time each term, UBC Residence Life has been partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central and Southern Interior of BC. Together, we run a program designed to keep student items out of the landfill. In April of each year, approximately 2,100 students in residence move home for the summer or move to a new residence. This movement results in many students disposing of their accumulated household goods. We currently run several programs to divert these items from the landfill. The largest of these programs is the Residence Donation Room program that features a staffed location to collect, process and donate clothing and household items to Big Brothers Big Sisters. The program relies on Big Brothers Big Sisters sending trucks and staff to collect and transport the massive quantity of donated items. This past year, we estimate that five moving trucks full of items were collected and donated through this program.

Riparian ReAnimation

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In Kelowna, the Okanagan watershed’s largest city, an entirely channelized waterway by the name of Brandt’s Creek, runs from an agri-residential district to the valley bottom, where it once opened into a marshy floodplain. While it is not currently possible, nor perhaps desirable, to return this channel to its former marshy self, this creek requires care, attention, and room to roam in order to accommodate floodwaters in times of swell, an increasing concern for this habitat and neighbouring communities. As a way of inviting community members to expand and explore their relationships with Brandt’s Creek, and the riparian habitat in general, we have created a large-scale, mobile puppetry project that moves within the historic floodplain currently occupied by the city. 

As a collaboration between UBC Okanagan researchers, the Rotary Center for the Arts, Syilx elder and teacher Pamela Barnes and her daughter Jasmine Peone, Runaway Moon Theatre, and interested community members, this community-based art project, “Riparian ReAnimation,” is being co-created with, about, and for the Okanagan’s riparian communities. Riparian ReAnimation brings disparate stories together to re-animate these habitats and communicate the importance of riparian habitats in the Okanagan watershed. 

We hold open workshops every Monday evening (from March through August 2023) to create riparian character puppets. Anyone above the age of 13 (and under with a chaperone) is welcome to join in the making process. These puppets will go on to be agents of story available to community members for years to come. To introduce them, the puppets will be present at various local events throughout the summer: Siyaten Festival (WFN), Multispecies Storytelling Workshop (Woodhaven Regional Park), Arts on the Ave. (downtown Kelowna), Kelowna Made Festival (downtown Kelowna), and Woodhaven Summer Arts Festival (Woodhaven Regional Park). 

Our hope is to also be able to take these puppets on the road. A few are slated to join Annie Furman (MFA student) and myself, Madeline Donald, to present at the conference for the Association for the Study and Literature and the Environment, in Portland, Oregon, this July. We have also been invited to perform at the annual conference of the American Studies Association, which will be held in Montreal, November 2-5, 2023. If we are to travel to Montreal however, we will need additional funding to do so.

STEM workshop for underprivileged youth

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Working in collaboration with Science World, the Edith Lando Virtual Learning Centre ( would like to develop a three-part virtual Microbits workshop for youth whose families cannot typically afford to pay for this type of programming.  The workshop would be offered by the Edith Lando VLC virtually at no cost.  Funding from the grant would be used to purchase Microbit starter kits and other supplies for each of the participants (these supplies would be sent to the participants homes prior the workshop start date) and to pay an honorarium to an external partner who will be helping develop the program and facilitating a portion of it. 

We have partnered with Science World in the past to bring STEM programming to students and teachers at no cost. We are now looking to expand our partnership to include the creation of new programming based on community needs, and with the hope of reaching underserved or underprivileged communities. In this case Science World and a second external partner, Nathan Lott, who is a Learning Coordinator for School District 20 will be working with us to create a Microbits workshop for youth. 

Want to learn more about any of the 2023 Spring PRE Fund projects? 

Contact our Fund Manager Shayla Walker (