Thursday, May 24, 2018

KSA Spotlight: Alicia Poon

There are some pretty amazing people that work to support students at the KSA. Every month we'll feature a staff member (and occasionally Council member) so you can actually put a face to the name/event/project. This month, I invite you to meet Alicia, the Student Service Coordinator for the KSA Benefit Plan!

Here are a few things about Alicia... 


1. How did you come to work for the KSA?
I was a student at kpu back in the fall 2005 and ended up spending time in the Grassroots (formerly The Fishbowl or The Oasis lol) and got a job in the KSA run cafĂ© for and a year later got the job as a part timer helper in the KSA Extended Health and Dental Office.

2. What is your position and can you provide a brief summary of what you do?
I am the Student Service Coordinator for the KSA Benefit Plan. I facilitate the plan for students. Help them understand what their plan is and how to best use it. I also do a lot of other jobs to help students utilize their plan.


3. What is your favourite thing about working here?
The environment. The people. I have been here for 13 years, 12 of which are in the health and dental office and I have always enjoyed it.

4. Best activity to do on the weekend?
Go to Whistler.


5. What is something that makes you unique?
I am fairly gutsy. I like to take on challenges, dares and am ruthless in competition. I once shoved a stranger is a glacier fed lake because he deserved it lol (if you find me on campus you can ask me the story-I swear I'm not mean)

6. What is your favourite food?
I love Asian food, most types.


7. What is one of your best memories at the KSA?
A few years ago at a staff retreat we got to go to a place I hadn't been since I was in grade 4 and I jumped in ice cold water with colleagues and we shared our life stories and it was a great time I wont soon forget.

Also every time Start Coordinator Steph Chee got pranked with a banana, that bit is classic.

Want to do more with the KSA? Volunteer with our START Program, Peer Support or the KSA Street Team. Looking to do more as a student? Consider attending a committee meeting or running in election next Spring. Want to work for us? Check out our job postings here.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

What does water have to do with Indigenous rights?

The war on Earth is a lot of things: it’s fracking, deforestation, mining, pipelines, and the ever-increasing cost of space itself in British Columbia, specifically Metro Vancouver. I could go on to talk about the raging wildfires that decimated roughly 4,260 square kilometres of British Columbia forest in the summer of 2017 or the ever-increasing list of endangered species. Violence against the Earth is not conventional, immediate, or overt but systemic and socialized, as well as government-sanctioned. All of this is immense and crucial not just to our survival on Earth but our ability to thrive. 

Photo via The National Observer

It’s easy to separate social injustice from environmental injustice. After all, what does water have to do with Indigenous rights? A lot, it turns out. Studies show that 400 out of 618 First Nations in Canada had water problems between 2004 and 2014. The 1876 Indian Act severely restricted Indigenous agency over their land, especially for women, and the effects have carried on until the present.

It is the impact of environmental injustice on Indigenous women that is so often left out of the conversation. In fact, violence against Indigenous women is often not even considered an environmental issue. In their latest update, the RCMP estimates the current number of missing and murdered Indigenous women to be 1,181 since 1980, making Indigenous women six times more likely to be victims of homicide than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous rights activists, however, dispute the RCMP’s claim. It is difficult to know the real number as the RCMP does not systematically track data

Photo via CBC

Why are Indigenous women at an increased risk of violence? The short but storied answer is Canada’s legacy of colonialism. Statistics Canada estimates that 80 percent of Indigenous reserves have median incomes below the low-income measure, with women falling at the lowest pay grade. Poverty makes women more vulnerable to the consequences of natural and human-created disasters like earthquakes and oil spills because they do not have the means to relocate or seek medical care. Given that women are often the sole caretakers of children, and responsible for the collection of both food and water, the aftermath is almost impossible to recover from for some. Often, women are forced into homelessness or occupations that put them at a higher risk of violence. A Globe and Mail study found that at least 18 Indigenous women were victims of convicted serial killers since 1980, most notably pig farmer Robert Pickton. Some of his victims have yet to be identified or located. In addition, Amnesty International notes that, with increased presence of non-Indigenous workers on Indigenous land, there is increased violence against women and girls. Where the land is exploited, women are exploited.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a female Indigenous activist.
Photo via Yes Magazine
Despite Canada touting its position as equal and fair for all, there is little to no incentive or space for female climate leaders, especially Indigenous. Among the honourees of Canada’s Clean 50 award in 2017, 43 were men and 7 were women (it is also notable that Clean 50’s slogan is “Outstanding Contributors to Clean Capitalism”). Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, the net worth of which is currently estimated at $143.9 billion, was awarded the United Nation’s highest environmental accolade, “Champion of the Earth,” in 2015. From Al Gore to Elon Musk, the face of sustainability is primarily male, white, and rich. Capitalism rewards production, not conservation.

It will no longer serve to avoid the truth, which is that human wellbeing must be included in the definition of a sustainable planet. Right now, it is limited to LED lights and solar panels. We have forgotten how to sustain human life. The climate crisis we face now is a reverberation of hundreds of years of stealing land, exploiting people, and taking more resources than can regenerate, borne from profiting from the Earth over respecting those who live here. Placing the fate of the planet in the hands of the rich, white, and male determines what the future of sustainability will look like: $100, 000 cars and the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women growing every year.

It is impossible to have justice for the planet until there is justice for women, who currently make up just over half of the worldwide population. If we cannot treat the women who create and define our society as sacred, how will we treat the Earth as such?


-- Tia (KSA Sustainability Specialist) 

Friday, April 27, 2018

KSA Spotlight: Nate Huggins

There are some pretty amazing people that work to support students at the KSA. Every month we'll feature a staff member (and occasionally Council member) so you can actually put a face to the name/event/project. This month, I invite you to meet our Active KSA Specialist, Nate!

Here are a few things about Nate… 


1. How did you come to work for the KSA?
I came to work for the KSA by joining the Grassroots team last September to pay for my tuition. It was my first job and I was welcomed into it with open arms by both the staff behind the counter as well as the folks down at the KSA. I'm really glad I worked at the Cafe first because not only did I get paid but I also got to meet so many cool new people within my first year at KPU.

2. What is your position and can you provide a brief summary of what you do?
My position is the Active KSA Specialist. So at Active KSA we organize events for students, and we give them an opportunity to explore and play within the community as well as go out and do things they normally wouldn't get to do on campus. We get to do all sorts of outdoor events such as canoeing, bike riding, hiking, stand up paddle boarding, and later this summer we plan to have a game of Quidditch at Stanley Park. 


3. What is your favourite thing about working here?

My favorite thing about working here is the people I work with on a daily basis, but also the people I get to meet on the events we run. Each event is different. The organization and execution of the event is more or less different each time, so it keeps me on my toes.

4. Best activity to do on the weekend?
My favorite activity to do on the weekend is hang out with friends or play video games with my brother.

5. What is something that makes you unique?
Something that makes me unique? I genuinely love to make people smile and laugh. Not to sound too cheesy, but I love to play in all aspects of my life. Be it on a screen, with cards, on a field with a ball, or just playing with different voices in an attempt to make people giggle. I've got a surplus of energy so this job is perfect for me. 


6. What is your favourite food?
My favorite food is Burgers. I could eat them for breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

7. What is one of your best memories at the KSA?
One of my best memories at the KSA was doing Open Mic Night with my Supervisor. We sang "This Kitchen is Not a Home" from SpongeBob. It was hilarious, I hope to be there for the next Open Mic as well. 


Want to do more with the KSA? Volunteer with our START Program, Peer Support or the KSA Street Team. Looking to do more as a student? Consider attending a committee meeting or running in election next Spring. Want to work for us? Check out our job postings here.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Waste Audit Part 2

In January, I introduced the idea of a waste audit and wrangled some of my coworkers into doing audits to share with you.

Waste isn’t exciting but plastic waste is leading to big problems. Just in the past few weeks, CBC found microplastic in Canadian bottled water, China doesn’t want our materials for recycling, and Canadians create a lot of garbage. Combating our reliance on plastic and getting away from the idea we can just throw things ‘away’ is getting more important every day.

We had three KSA staffers audit their homes for a week to look at the waste they generate. All of our auditors are recent graduates or current students living with a roommate in Metro Vancouver and have municipal or building wide recycling services available to them. As a comparison, we’ve included the USA average figures from the EPA (they’re newer), but in 2013 Canadians generate waste at the same, or higher rates!

Now, let’s talk numbers. (Or at least, read the nice chart).

The average American creates 1.9kg (about four pounds of butter) of waste each day. Of this, 0.68 kilograms (about 1.5 pounds of butter) is recycled or composted and the rest is sent to landfill. For a duo, as in our auditors case, this would be doubled to nearer 4 kilograms a day with 1.37 kilograms going to recycling and compost. Our auditors calculated over one week and we included everything even if it wasn’t typical of their weekly waste.



  • Nicki’s household generated an average of 1.07kg of waste each day. Over the week their waste broke down as 25% for the organics bin, 19% for paper recycling, 47% for their recycling bin and most of that was heavy glass bottles. Nicki’s landfill amount was very small at only 0.77 kgs. They’re looking for ways to reduce plastic food wrapping. 
  • Steph’s household generated more landfill bound waste, about 84% of their weeks waste, though they acknowledge that they had some things this week that wouldn't be in their usual week’s waste. Steph found the biggest challenge knowing what went where and has set out to set up a recycling station at her place to make sure what can get recycled does. 
  • Tonya’s household generated 7kg of waste, but 65% of this was recyclable glass containers and more than 80% of their weekly waste was recycled or composted. One of their biggest changes is eliminating single-use coffee cups. 

If you haven’t done an audit yet check out our last post to find out how to do your own!

Okay, math over. Now, what can you do?

Don’t stress or panic! Making changes towards reducing the waste you create shouldn’t make your life miserable. Some things might happen easily and others might take some trial and error. Still, other things you might decide not to change and that’s okay. What works for you and your roomates or family is where you should start. Our auditors sat down and we talked through their burning questions.

1. What can I do without changing how I shop or eat?

  • Make sure you’re properly sorting what waste you do generate and recycling as much as possible by looking at your Municipality’s website, using tools like Metro Vancouver Recycles
  • When you go out, stop and make sure you’re sorting you waste correctly. If there’s no compost bin, take your compost home to your bin. 
  • What small changes can I make when I grocery shop: 
  • Purchase whole fruit and veggies without plastic wrapping, and reduce your reliance on processed (pre-packaged) foods. 
  • Bag your groceries (and any other shopping) in a reusable tote bag. 
  • As you run out of things, look for a lower waste alternative like a bar of unwrapped soap instead of a plastic pump. 
  • What else can I do? 
  • Drink tap water and use a refillable bottle. On campus, the Waterfillz machines filter the water so it’s cool, clean and tastes great. Metro Vancouver has good tap water
  • Avoid purchasing items wrapped in plastic. 
  • Eat your leftovers and store them in reusable containers. 
  • Get in the habit of carrying a reusable bag. 
  • Ask for no straw when you’re out for drinks or getting a smoothie. 

There are loads of folks on social media sharing the changes they’re making to reduce their waste. They share about making DIY cleaning products and makeup, tricks for eating out, and making a paper sack for your compost bin. To find resources that work with you, find someone whose voice resonates with you, who has a similar lifestyle, or whose advice meets your needs most.


You’re going to have loads of questions so look for groups on Facebook, ask the companies you buy things from if they can reduce the waste they create or for solutions like makeup or grocery shopping. There are also quite a few good books that most libraries have that can help you out. Find us on Twitter (@sustainableksa) or comment on the blog to ask questions or share things you find help reduce your waste at home!

--Mairi

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Club of the Month: Kwantlen Music Students Association

Every month we (try to, yes sometimes it just doesn’t end up happening, we’re sorry, please forgive us) feature a KSA club and highlight the fun/cool things that make their club different from the others. It’s a chance to get a little inside information, and see what events and meetings they have coming up.

Our April Club of the Month is the Kwantlen Music Student’s Association. Hear more about the club from the Club President, Emma.. 

Club Executives:  Amy Wack (Treasurer), Alexa Reimer (Coordinator),
Emma Dotto ( President / Founder), and Jeremy Laity (Vice President).

“I started the Music Students' Association because I had a real interest in musician's health as I was dealing with some performance injuries myself. While researching musician's health, I happened upon the McGill University's Musician's Health Club Instagram account and realized that this was something I could bring to KPU. 

From there, the club has grown into a multi-faceted association targeting not only musician's health, but also funding masterclasses, organizing social events and providing performance opportunities for the music students. 

Some events the KMSA have hosted include an Alexander Technique workshop, a Performance Anxiety Workshop, a Spring Formal (featuring the KPU Music Big Band and Jazz Combos), a Jazz Jam night, and, a Piano Masterclass with one of KPU Music’s top 25 alumni.”

 "All You Gotta Do Is Swing" Night    

“What makes the KMSA unique is that it is a club that recognizes the areas in which music students need more support and then takes action to help that by hosting workshops, masterclasses, social events, and jam nights. The executive team is compromised of music students helping music students.”

 "All You Gotta Do Is Swing" Night    

“We are currently getting our monthly Jazz Jam Nights off the ground! These nights are the best because it gives everyone a chance to let loose and just play music with friends and have a good time.”

 "All You Gotta Do Is Swing" Night    

“As the semester is winding down, so are we. However, we have some big plans for the next Fall and Spring semester! Some more masterclasses, workshops, and hopefully another Spring Formal!”

Learn more about the Kwantlen Music Student’s Association or join as a member by checking out their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kpumusicstudents/