Emily is a settler with German and mixed European ancestry who grew up on a small island in the unceded traditional territory of the Klahoose (ƛohos) First Nation. As a kid, she had eleven pet chickens and helped run her family’s kayak lodge. After finishing a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies back east at Queen’s, Emily returned to beautiful Coast Salish territory to apply her entrepreneurial spirit to running a non-profit. Emily lives as close to Stanley Park as possible with her partner, Edgar, and dog, Hazel. She listens to CBC radio on the daily and loves to knit socks, read novels, bake German cakes, swim in lakes, and spend time on the land.
Erica is 2nd generation Japanese on her mothers side and 6th generation mixed European on her fathers side. She grew up as an uninvited guest on the traditional territories of the Skwxwú7mesh First Peoples, where deep forests open to mountains and oceans in a place we now call North Vancouver. An upbringing on these lands inspired Erica to pursue a degree in Natural Resource Conservation at UBC where she deepened her love for trees, wildlife, and all things natural. After her degree, Erica and her partner Brennan hopped in their tiny two-door Honda Civic to explore, climb, hike, and camp in diverse and incredible natural areas. Upon arriving back on Coast Salish territory, they settled slightly North, in a place the Skwxwú7mesh Peoples refer to as “birth place of the wind”. Here she has completed a Masters in Education for Sustainability at UBC and set down roots. Erica can now be found in Squamish with her partner Brennan and wild dog Valley, where she spends her free time cooking Japanese food, falling off her bike, spending time with family, and endlessly weeding her garden.
David Palmer (he/him)
Manager, Fundraising & Communications
David is a dual UK/Canadian citizen who grew up in the urban-rural fringes of London. A recent settler on unceded Coast Salish territories, he landed on the west coast following a Master’s in Gender and Sexuality at University of London and a year-long bicycle journey across Europe and Asia. David is passionate about restoring ecological balance, food security, and environmental justice, and loves connecting with nature in and out of the city. He lives in a wannabe homestead in East Van where he enjoys sewing clothes, growing food, and petting the house cat, Margaret. With over seven years’ experience fundraising for nonprofits in the UK and Canada, David loves to connect people with the causes they’re passionate about.
Marika is a first generation settler with Chinese Singaporean ancestry on her mother’s side and Dutch ancestry on her father’s side. She grew on Stó:lō territory, where the mountain ranges of this valley meet to embrace the Stó:lō River. Marika has put down new roots in Coast Salish territories with her partner Chris, her feline familiar, River, and many plant friends. On her learning journey, Marika studied applied biology at UBC with a focus on native bees and floral ecology. She is a big bug nerd and recently co-founded the Native Bee Society of BC. In her spare time, you’ll find Marika moving and grooving, getting creative, growing and cooking nourishing food, and meeting new plants, birds, and bees in the wild.
Carmen Wong (they/them) Senior Program Coordinator
Carmen is mixed European and Secwépemc from High Bar First Nation on their mother’s side and fourth generation Chinese and Japanese on their father’s side. They grew up in the agricultural flats of Burnaby on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples. With a certificate in Heavy Mechanical Trades from VCC and a degree in Global Resource Systems from UBC, Carmen is a farmer by training and currently cooperatively cultivates and stewards a half-acre of land with BIPOC friends, minutes from the house they were raised in. They love building greenhouses, making dumplings, and catsitting for their friends. Carmen lives in Chinatown with their partner Arden on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ territory and can be spotted riding their motorcycle along the coastline or playing softball in East Vancouver in the summertime.
Deandra Atmojo (she/her)
Senior Program Coordinator
Deandra is a settler from Indonesia with mixed Chinese and Southeast Asian ancestry from both parents. She grew up in a small town called Malang in East Java and moved to the Coast Salish territories in 2015 to pursue a degree in Natural Resources Conservation at UBC. Deandra is a passionate educator and a life-long learner who enjoys gaining knowledge on horticulture and Indigenous medicinal plants. In her spare time she likes to hike, do plant walks with her friends, or bury her head in a book.
Jess is a third generation settler of mixed European and Trinidadian descent who spent her childhood and adolescence in and around Coast Salish territory, primarily on the Southern end of so-called Vancouver Island. She grew up exploring the rainforest and the intertidal zone and feels lucky to have developed a love of nature and science at an early age. Jessica recently finished a double major in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria where she found a deep love for talking to people about plants and a passion for making nature accessible to all. Jess now lives in the West End with her partner Chris and is rarely sitting still. She values her yoga practice, reading, riding her bike, climbing, knitting, dancing and looking for cool bugs.
Mahki is Indigenous and mixed-settler: Métis with Cree roots from Cowessess on their father’s side as well as Romanian and Irish on their mother’s side. Mahki grew up primarily as an uninvited guest on Stó:lō territory where they grew a love for trees and native plants, nowadays they live with family in the territories of Kwikwetlem, Katzie, and Qayqayt in Surrey. Their passion for ecology led Mahki to study Environmental Sciences at SFU; there they became an active member and later a Board Representative on the First Nation Student Association. If you suddenly hear the sound of galloping horses, don’t be alarmed – Mahki likes jigging – in addition to beading, longboarding, climbing, and fumbling their way to Michif fluency.
Maria Paula Serrano (she/her) Fundraising & Communications Coordinator
Maria Paula is an Ecuadorian citizen who grew up in the coastal city of Guayaquil. A recent settler in unceded Coast Salish territories, Maria Paula came to Vancouver in 2017 to study a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography, Environment, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. In addition to her Geography studies, she pursued a minor in Creative Writing. Maria Paula is passionate about climate action, communication, community engagement, and enjoys cooking, dog-watching, and practicing yoga and photography in her spare time.
Mehar is a first-generation Pakistani settler, born and raised on the traditional unceded territories of the Katzie, Semiahmoo, and Kwantlen Nations. As a kid, she was always climbing trees and learning how to garden from her father, and in 2016 she moved to Coast Salish territories to pursue an undergraduate degree in Urban Forestry at UBC. Mehar is an advocate for community empowerment and equity and bringing people closer to nature and its gifts. These days you can find Mehar experimenting with new cake recipes, hiking with friends or daydreaming underneath her favourite tree.
Nasya is Nisga’a and Leq’a:mel and grew up among many plants and bears in the Nass Valley in Northern BC. She now studies Land and Food Systems on unceded Musqueam Territory, and is interested in learning about plants as medicine for people and the land. Nasya is excited to pass on the teachings of plants from her own Nations, as well as lessons people and plants have shared with her on Haida and Ahousat Territories. She spends her free time searching for places with strong coffee and funky lichen.
Niki is a third-generation settler of western European ancestry. She spent her childhood on Algonquin land, walking to school through suburban forests. Before becoming a Chartered Professional Accountant, Niki wrote a Master’s thesis in English Literature on the pedagogy of Indigenous ecological principles in fiction by First Nations’ authors. Inspired by the teachings of northwest coast Indigenous voices, Niki finally transplanted to Coast Salish territory in 1997 where she now enjoys counting the beans for EYA as much as she loves growing them in the community garden that she founded. She has unrestrained compulsions for sewing colourful pants, moving and singing with music, riding her bike in urban forests, and striking up random conversations with interesting creatures along the way.
Wendel is a first-generation settler from the Philippines who was raised on her grandfather’s rice farm on the traditional land of the Indigenous Aeta Magbukún. She grew up as an uninvited guest in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the scəw̓aθən (Tsawwassen), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and other Coast Salish Peoples where she was able to explore her expanding interest in nature and community. She is currently a student at KPU studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems learning about long-term sustainability and the injustices in our food system. In her spare time, Wendel loves to go on bike rides, make art, eat delicious food, and go on walks around her neighbourhood admiring people’s gardens.
Shogofa is a Hazara who was born and raised in Afghanistan. She sought asylum in Canada in 2017 and currently lives in traditional and unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. She is pursuing a BA in Environment and Sustainability and Geographical Computations at the University of British Columbia. Shogofa is passionate about community work and environmentalism and is currently involved in youth volunteer programs that focus on climate adaptation, conservation, and community engagement. She now works with non-profit organizations helping refugees and newcomers access settlement services across the lower mainland. Shogofa enjoys connecting with friends while exploring the city and the nature outside it. She also loves dogs, sourdough, coffee, taking pictures, and reading.
Max is a third-generation settler of Ashkenazi Jewish and German/Irish heritage. Prior to settling in Coast Salish territory for school at UBC, he was raised and grew up in Piscataway territory (so-called Washington, DC). Since graduating from university in Geography and Urban Studies, Max now works at a local First Nations administration as a research assistant analyzing land rights. In his free time, he camps on summer weekends, and occasionally DJs at CITR. At home, Max can be found planning his next getaway or drawing fictional maps while watching TV and eating M&Ms on his couch.
Njoki Mbũrũ is a grandchild of subsistence farmers who grow a variety of local fruits, vegetables, and trees in Kenya’s Rift Valley region. She graduated from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in International Development (June 2020). Informed by her experiences in her birthplace, and observations of the evolving political and environmental landscape in her birthplace, Njoki feels drawn to public policy & social impact, with a focus on land justice and food sovereignty for Indigenous communities across the world. She is an alumnus of the 2020/2021 cohort of the LEVEL Youth Policy Program at the Vancouver Foundation where she published and presented a comprehensive policy brief titled “Anti-racist Approaches to Effectively Address Food Insecurity and Social Isolation among Indigenous and Black Seniors in Downtown Vancouver.” She identifies as a Black settler with Kenyan ancestry living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
Patty is a second generation Canadian with German and Scottish ancestry. She spent her childhood on the traditional territories of the Pellt’iq’t and Tk’emlúps First Nations in BC’s Cariboo Region, where she loved being outside in nature. Patty now works as the accountant at PALS Adult Services Society. She is passionate about connecting youth with the outdoors and regularly seeks out nature as a way to relax, rejuvenate, and make sense of the world. Patty lives in southeast Vancouver on traditional Coast Salish territory with her husband and teenage son.
Amy Nugent is a sixth-generation Irish settler who grew up in Pembroke, Ontario. She was kicked out of high school and traveled many years until moving to Vancouver in 2005 where she studied corporate communications. She is the executive director of Urbanarium and serves as a board member for the Black and Indigenous Design Collective as well as EYA. Prior to this she was the executive director of Inclusion BC Foundation following a decade of work in development for arts organization including the Banff Centre, Western Front and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. As the former president of Artspeak’s board, she has been recognized with a Mayor’s Arts Award for Board Member of the Year from the City of Vancouver.
Joey is a Vancouver local and on-again/off-again Californian of mixed Indigenous and settler ancestry. He graduated from the Allard School of Law at UBC, and studied at the Peace Palace and Leiden University while living in the Netherlands; he now practices securities and corporate law downtown. Joey grew up immersed in the Canadian wilderness and spends as much time as possible scuba diving, sailing, hiking and skiing.