Stephen Dooley, For the Now-Leader
Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus recently became a gathering place for those supporting and furthering community-campus engagements, and looking to hone their relationships, share what’s working and what’s not, and move the dial in developing smart and caring communities.
Last week, the campus hosted a two-day ‘Community Jam’ to kick off an international event called C2U Expo 2017: For the Common Good. The event, which drew on 10,000 years of Aboriginal Peoples’ traditions, brought together more than 200 delegates from the Lower Mainland, across the country and from around the world to share ideas, experiences and practices, ask challenging questions, and explore opportunities for collaborations, partnerships and programming.
Among highlights of the Jam was the Kwantlen First Nations event opening and blanketing of three Surrey Aboriginal youth led by Chief Marilyn Gabriel, her son Michael Gabriel and husband Kevin Kelly. This set the tone for open and rich dialogue.
The Jam was a great way to introduce delegates from across Canada and around the world to the city of Surrey. Delegates participated in a ‘Community Journey’ (a series of site visits) throughout Surrey that provided for diverse and contrasting perspectives on community issues relating to First Nations, health, education, philanthropy, social inclusion and responsible urbanization.
It is also important that delegates got to bear witness to the strong partnerships that have long been established between SFU Surrey and the City of Surrey, Fraser Health, the Surrey School District, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the RCMP and the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.
Indeed, as an engaged research intensive university SFU puts high value on authentic community partnerships and nowhere is this more evident than at the Surrey campus.
Whether it’s ongoing social advocacy, or the continuing evolution of initiatives like Innovation Boulevard, the university works hard to walk-the-talk of community-campus partnership development.
The event’s lead partners, Community Foundations of Canada, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation RECODE program, VanCity, City of Surrey, Vancouver Foundation and SurreyCares, as well a vast crew of community ambassadors and students were integral to the design and development of the Community Jam and its success.
For more on this initiative, click here.
Stephen Dooley is SFU Surrey executive director and co-chair of C2UExpo 2017.