Our Team

EYA is committed to maintaining a staff team and board of directors who represent the youth who participate in our programs. We centre positionality and lived experiences and are working to nurture an equitable, anti-oppressive, and culturally-safe workplace.

Lupine_FullIllustration

Staff

Carmen Wong staff picture

Carmen Wong

Co-Executive Director, Fundraising & Operations
(They/Them)

Carmen is mixed European and Secwépemc on their mother’s side, and Chinese and Japanese on their father’s side. They were raised and currently live along the river on the agricultural flats of Burnaby on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), sc̓əwaθen (Tsawwassen), Qayqayt, q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Kwantlen, & Stó:lō peoples. Carmen has a B.Sc. in Global Resource Systems from UBC and nearly 10 years of experience working with nonprofits. They enjoy exploring the region on their motorcycle, cooking with friends, and spending summers on the softball diamond.

carmen@eya.ca
 236-334-0587

Erica Ellis

Co-Executive Director, Programs & Operations
(She/Her)

Erica is 2nd generation Japanese on her mother’s side and 6th generation mixed European on her father’s side. She grew up as an uninvited guest on the traditional lands of the Skwxwú7mesh Peoples in North Vancouver where she fell in love with nature. An upbringing on these lands inspired Erica to pursue a degree in Natural Resource Conservation, then a Master’s in Education for Sustainability at UBC. Erica can now be found in Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) with her partner Brennan and dog Valley, where she spends her time cooking Japanese food, spending time outside with family, and tending to her garden.

erica@eya.ca
604-318-1272

Portrait of Jess Duncan.

Jess Duncan

Manager, Sites & Stewardship
(She/Her)

Jess is a second generation settler who’s ancestors come from England, Scotland, and Trinidad. She grew up on traditional unceded lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territory and studied Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, where she found a love for talking to people about plants and a passion for creating accessible spaces for people to create personal connections with nature. When she isn’t talking about plants, you can find her practicing yoga, reading, riding her bike, knitting, or hiking, snowboarding, and exploring the natural areas of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ territory.

jess@eya.ca
604-689-4446

karmella is wearing a puffy yellow jacket, white scarf, glasses and a brown toque over their brown curly hair. They are standing in front of some bamboo.

karmella benedito de barros

Manager, Land-Based Education
(They/Them)

karmella is a two-spirit plant lover, gardener, occasional artist and co-founder of the art ecosystem collective. They are of mixed Afro-Brazilian and Mistawasis Nehiyawak (Treaty 6 Cree) decent, and were born and raised in diaspora as an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. In their free time, you can find karmella lazing around with their cat bell, wandering around the forest, working with plant medicines, playing with clay and sporadically making art/films with friends. karmella holds a BA in Psychology, Counseling & Human Development from Simon Fraser University, and is passionate about the relationship between land, people and intergenerational healing.

karmella@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Phin Drummond

phin

Manager, Employment Training
(He/Him/They)

phin grew up as a settler with Lebanese, Scottish, and Irish ancestry within unceded land of the q̓ə́yc̓əy (Katzie) and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) peoples. Over the past three years, phin has been engaged in land-based and frontline work in the DTES, and appreciates the generosity of relationships, teachings, and skills gained through this work. Drawing from both personal & professional experience, phin integrates trauma-informed practice, harm reduction, and land-based learning into his work. During his free time, you can find phin tending to tiny meadows, munching on clovers before his partner, Tanner, can intervene, and making medicine for his mobile herbal library. phin is grateful to be here, living on shared and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.

phin@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Vivian has long, straight, black hair and is standing in front of a tree and wearing a red, knit sweater with a grey coat and glasses.

Vivian Cheung

Manager, Fundraising & Communications
(She/Her)

Vivian is a second generation refugee Chinese-Canadian, with ancestors from Guangdong and parents born in Vietnam. Born and raised in East Vancouver on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and  səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, she earned her BSc in Biology at UBC. She discovered her passion for community stewardship through years of working within nonprofit operations, fundraising, and engagement. When she’s not geeking out over spreadsheets and data systems, she is an award-winning filmmaker, passionate about telling underrepresented stories in the Asian diaspora. Vivian also enjoys playing guitar, bass, and cello, and has a hedgehog named Boba.

vivian@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Aril Yeo

Aril Yeo

Program Coordinator
(They/Them)

Aril is first-generation Chinese Malaysian, with parents being born close to Kuala Lumpur. They love to connect to their cultural roots through food, community, and conversations. Aril comes from a culinary background and is a recent UBC graduate from the faculty of Forestry. Aril was born and Raised on traditional, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) first nations. Their focus in this role is to show a fun approach to ecology in a low barrier and trauma informed setting. Aril specializes in fungi and plant ID so if you see them around they would love to chat about it! Outside of work, Aril loves cooking Malaysian food and organising mushroom events around the city.


604-689-4446

Cy Cho

Fundraising & Communications Coordinator
(He/They)

Cy is second generation Taiwanese-Canadian, born and raised in BC on the unceded territories of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, and Tsawwassen First Nations. With a deep passion for creative arts and nature & wildlife, Cy pursued a Graphic Design degree in Toronto before moving back to BC and completing a Fish, Wildlife & Recreation program. Cy’s goal is to synthesize the fields of art and science and to use the power of storytelling to make a meaningful difference. In his spare time, Cy is usually playing video games, drawing, walking his dog (Somi), or cuddling his cat (Boki).

cy@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Emily is framed by shrubs and is standing in a grassy area with rolling mountains in the background.

Emily Hodgson

Indigenous Program Coordinator
(She/Her)

Emily is Métis with Cree, Dene, and European ancestry. Emily grew up on traditional Sahtu Dene & Métis territory in Tłegǫ́hłı̨ (Norman Wells). Today Emily is grateful to be living on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) territory. Emily relocated here to attain her Bachelor of Commerce from UBC, but has since been dedicated professionally to youth empowerment. Emily enjoys being outside whether it be walking, skiing, or indulging in a picnic at the beach! Emily loves connecting through food; you can often find her cooking a new recipe for her loved ones or trying out a new restaurant.

emily.h@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Keenan Marchand

Indigenous Youth Program Coordinator
(They/Them)

Keenan Marchand is of Syilx, Secwepemc and Mixed European heritage and grew up on traditional, ancestral and unceded land of the q’ʷa:n̓ƛ̓’ən̓, q̓ic̓əy̓ and səmyámə peoples as well as summers on Nkmapelqs, Head of the Lake in Syilx territory in the Interior. They are currently living on səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and Stó:lō land. They are a multidisciplinary artist with a deep love of nature and revitalizing Salishan cultures and languages and can often be found compulsively making art, music and writing. They are grateful to be able to learn, create and work on traditional, ancestral and unceded land of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

keenan@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Portrait of Mahki Pelletier.

Mahki Pelletier

Program Coordinator
(They/Them)

Mahki is Indigenous and mixed-settler: Métis and Cree descent with roots in the Qu’Appelle valley on their father’s side as well as Romanian and Irish descent through their mother. Born and raised primarily on Stó:lō territory, their love for trees and native plants led Mahki to pursue a degree in Environmental Sciences at SFU. Nowadays Mahki lives with family on Katzie, and Qayqayt territory in Surrey where they volunteer with the Surrey Indigenous Youth Advisory Council. An artist by blood, Mahki spends freetime beading, crocheting… and jigging – so don’t be alarmed if you hear sudden horse gallops!

mahki@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Trisha Barbarona

Program Coordinator
(Any pronouns)

Trisha is a non-binary immigrant settler from the Philippines. They settled on Musqueam territory (Richmond) in June 2010 and have since called these territories home. Their pedagogy is to have the land and water as our teacher and to always centre community, decolonial practices and Indigenous ways of knowing and being. Their knowledge and experience lies in native plant horticulture, agriculture, food systems and child and youth education. When not working, Trisha takes nature walks with their dog, Tanya, cuddling their cat, Momo, and fiddling about in their balcony garden like a garden fairy.

trisha@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Youth Support Specialist Varsha is paddling a canoe with a piece of a log in front of a background of trees.

Varsha Gill

Youth Support Specialist
(She/Her)

Varsha is a second-generation Indo-Canadian settler with family roots in northwestern India. She was born and raised on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ territories, and is deeply passionate about reimagining a world where people and land are good medicine for one another. Varsha holds a bachelor’s degree in Gender & Indigenous Studies from Quest University Canada, and is currently completing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Victoria. You can often find her riding her bike around East Van, cooking with foraged ingredients, naturally dyeing with plants, and cuddling her loved ones.

varsha@eya.ca
604-689-4446

Portrait of Niki Westman.

Niki Westman

Accountant
(She/Her)

Niki is a 3rd/4th generation settler of western European ancestry. She spent her childhood on unceded Anishinaabe Algonquin territory. 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 transplanted herself to Coast Salish territory in 1997 where she enjoys growing beans in the community garden that she founded, as much as she loves counting beans for EYA.

niki@eya.ca
604-872-7745

Amber Grant

At-Large
(They/Them)

Amber Grant is a white, queer, non-binary settler with mixed Ukrainian and Irish ancestry. They grew up on Treaty 20 territory, the traditional territory of the Michi Saagiig and Chippewa Nations, collectively known as the Williams Treaties First Nations (includes Curve Lake, Hiawatha, Alderville, Scugog Island, Rama, Beausoleil, and Georgina Island First Nations). Amber is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia in the Urban Natures Lab. Their research explores how environmental justice is prioritized and neglected in urban forest planning and practice , as well as the socio-political and institutional conditions that influence community-based urban forest stewardship. You can often find Amber playing basketball, cycling around the city, exploring the outdoors, or dancing to techno with friends.

Board of Directors

Portrait of Amy Nugent.

Amy Nugent

At-Large
(She/Her)

Amy Nugent is a sixth-generation Irish settler who grew up on the Algonquin territory known as Pembroke, Ontario and has lived as an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations for 18 years, currently near Cottonwood and Strathcona Community Gardens with her family. Amy works as the Executive Director at Urbanarium, serves as a board member for the Black and Indigenous Design Collective, and enjoys growing The Sculpture Fund, gardening, and taking off swimming.

Madi Bourette-Knowles

Co-Secretary
(She/Her)

Madi is a white queer settler with English and French ancestry entangled in local food on Lək̓ʷəŋən lands where she lives on sxʷeŋxʷəŋ family lands. Her tired, full, silly days in the dirt started as a youth in the juicy berry fields of Ka’tarokwi on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee lands. These days, Madi works as one of the Co-Executive Directors at Growing Chefs while her two doggos lie at her feet. If she’s not mid-culinary indulgence, catch her biking, jumping into water, or in full lizard-mode soaking up the mid-summer sun.

Portrait of Max Kittner.

Max Kittner

Co-Chair
(He/Him)

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.

Portrait of Njoki Mburu.

Njoki Mburu

At-Large
(She/Her)

Njoki Mbũrũ is a grandchild of subsistence farmers who was born & raised 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. Informed by her experiences and observations of the evolving political and environmental landscape in the places she has lived, Njoki feels drawn to public policy & social impact, focusing on land justice and food sovereignty for Indigenous communities across the world. She currently lives on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Portrait of Paula Hay.

Paula Hay

Co-Chair
(She/Her)

Paula is a 12th generation settler with European ancestry, grateful to be living and working in the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ Nations. She currently lives on Nexwlélexwm (also known as Bowen Island) in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh territory. Paula has lived in several countries, including South Africa where she explored her interest in community-driven solutions to climate change. She loves her current work as a community planner with Indigenous communities and she is passionate about engaging Indigenous youth in planning. Paula spends much of her free time supporting various environmental initiatives and also loves hiking and dancing.

Portrait of Pravallikha Samuthirarajan.

Pravallikha Samuthirarajan

Co-Treasurer
(She/Her)

Pravallikha is a third culture kid from Chidambaram, India. Her social confidence and ability to thrive alongside people convinced her to pursue MBM in Aotearoa. Her passion for creating a fair and equitable world led her to become a policy advisor, helping with economic recovery efforts from the pandemic in NZ. Now, she works as a senior policy analyst in BC. On top of her involvement in environmental and climate justice initiatives globally, she promotes low impact living through her social enterprise. She is often found snorkeling, swimming, diving, or dreaming about her next backpacking adventure.

Sahar Zandieh

Co-Secretary
(She/Her)

Sahar is a second-generation settler with ancestry from Iran; joining the EYA Board is an extension of her eagerness to learn how to live well on these lands. As an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the Tsawwassen, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, her training and work are continually shaped by the remarkable landscape and complex history of these territories. With a background in Sustainable Agriculture, Sahar’s work has ranged from farming to ecological restoration, and teaching students from K-12 and beyond. Currently, she is the Instructional Associate for the Department of Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Sahar loves sharing meals around a table, and being in nature—especially the ocean.

Raymond Au

Co-Treasurer
(He/Him)

Raymond is a first-generation settler from Hong Kong with ancestry from China. He is grateful to be living and working on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. As a Chartered Professional Accountant, Raymond enjoys working with people in the not-for-profit sector. He has been in various leadership roles and is currently the Finance Manager at YMCA BC, working on financial planning and analysis, scenario modeling, and performance reporting. Raymond can be found biking or exploring new restaurants in the city, and possibly playing badminton with his friends during Sundays.

Portrait of Shogofa Alizada.

Shogofa Alizada

At-Large
(She/Her)

Shogofa is a Hazara who moved to the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations in 2017. She is pursuing a BA in Environment and Sustainability and a minor in GIS and Geographical Computations at the University of British Columbia. Shogofa is passionate about community development and is currently involved in youth volunteer programs focusing on climate adaptation, conservation, and community engagement. She currently works with non-profit organizations to support refugees and newcomers with their settlement process across the lower mainland. Shogofa enjoys connecting with friends while exploring the city and the nature outside it.

Portrait of Wendel Vistan.

Wendel Vistan

At-Large
(She/Her)

Wendel is a first-generation settler from the Philippines who was raised on her grandfather’s rice farm on the traditional lands of the Aeta Magbukún peoples. She grew up as an uninvited guest on the unceded territories of the Tsawwassen, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, 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. In her spare time, Wendel loves to go on bike rides, make art, and go on walks around her neighbourhood admiring people’s gardens.

Shambhavi Arora

At-Large, Legal Specialist
(She/Her)

Shambhavi Arora is a fourth-year student at the University of British Columbia. Born and raised in India, she hails from a small village with a farming family, fostering a deep connection to the land of her upbringing. Shambhavi is pursuing a degree in Political Science and Law, with a strong focus on environmental advocacy. Her academic journey is complemented by her active involvement in activism and technological research, aiming to create sustainable solutions for environmental challenges. When she’s not immersed in her studies of environmental law, Shambhavi enjoys exploring dierent parks and beaches, and indulging in the diverse culinary delights the city has to oer. She feels a deep sense of gratitude to live and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəyəm (Musqueam), Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

A group shot of EYA's team wearing t-shirts with the EYA logo. They are sitting and standing outdoors and posing.

Youth Advisory Circle

EYA’s Youth Advisory Circle consists of 8-10 youth who have previously participated in our programs. Youth Advisory Circle members meet four times each year, and offer their skills, knowledge, and lived experiences to advise EYA on various aspects of our operations and programming.

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