TEAM - ÉQUIPE
The Starfish Canada is a volunteer run organization working together to celebrate and amplify the Canadian youth conservation movement. Click below to scroll and meet our dedicated teammates.
Kyle Empringham - Co-Founder - Cofondateur
Kyle is a civic engagement specialist with a masters degree from Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environmental Management. He is a team lead with Thoughtexchange (www.thoughtexchange.com). Kyle hopes to bring guidance and mentorship to The Starfish Canada as it grows and develops into a common source for youth engagement for Canadians. In his spare time, Kyle likes to swim, run and cycle (although has yet to attempt a triathlon).
Kyle est un diplômé de l’Université Simon Fraser, à la maîtrise en gestion des ressources et de l’environnement.. La passion de Kyle réside dans les initiatives de conservation et il est heureux d’aider d’autres groupes à créer l’excitation à propos de leurs buts communs. Dans ses temps libres, Kyle aime skier, courir, nager et faire du bénévolat pour des organismes à buts non lucratifs en faisant avancer les causes communes de celles-ci
Sujane Kandasamy - Co-Founder - Cofondatrice
Sujane Kandasamy is a recent MSc (Clinical Epidemiology) grad from McMaster University. She also holds a BScH (Biology) and BA (Anthropology). Her research interests are in Aboriginal health and early life determinants of chronic disease (with a social determinants of health lens). Sujane enjoys working with youth on hands-on biology and biodiversity work and strongly believes that with every positive step (no matter how small), we can build a clean, healthy future.
Sujane Kandasamy est nouvellement dîplomée de la maîtrise en épidémiologie clinique de l’Université McMaster. Elle détient également un baccalauréat en biologie ainsi qu’un baccalauréat en anthropologie. Ses sujets d’intérêts pour la recherche sont la santé autochtone et les déterminants précoces des maladies chroniques (avec les déterminants sociaux sous l’angle de la santé). Sujane apprécie travailler avec des jeunes sur des travaux pratiques au sujet de la biologie et de la diversité. Elle croit fermement qu’avec chaque étape positive (aussi petite qu’elle soit), nous pouvons construire un futur propre et sain.
Josh Gordon - Brand Manager
Josh Gordon is a graphic designer, art director, illustrator, and an Earth enthusiast. After completing studies at Sheridan College and St. Lawrence College, Josh pursued his love for graphic design and the environment by working with clients such as Parks Canada, Royal Botanical Gardens, Friends of Algonquin Park, and Conservation Halton (to name a few). Josh has a intuitive sense for ensuring that brands, such as The Starfish, are presented consistently both visually and in the way they are communicated.
Tomasz Wiercioch - Community Manager - Gestionnaire de communauté
Tomasz is an aspiring environmental communicator with an interest in youth empowerment and effective collaboration. He has pursued his interests with various projects within his local community (Hamilton Harbour / Bay Area Restoration Council, Burlington Green), nationally (Canadian Forestry Service, Earth Day Canada, Parks Canada) and internationally (CoalitionWILD, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Wild10, the World Parks Congress). He aspires to connect people with nature and encourage a thoughtful collaboration on many scales that will better our planet. He also loves tea and travel.
Tomasz est un communicateur environnemental aspirant, avec un intérêt pour le développement de l’autonomisation des jeunes et d’une collaboration efficace. Il a poursuivi ses intérêts avec divers projets dans sa communauté locale (Hamilton Harbour – Conseil pour la restauration de la baie, burlington green) nationale (Service canadien de foresterie, le Jour de la Terre du Canada, Parcs Canada) et internationale (la CoalitionWILD, l’Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature, Wild10, le congrès mondial des parcs). Il aspire à connecter les gens avec la nature et encourage une collaboration réfléchie, à différentes échelles, qui permettra d’améliorer le sort de notre planète. Il aime également le thé et les voyages.
Steve Watts - Social Media Coordinator - Coordonateur des médias sociaux
Steve Watts is pursuing his Masters in Communication Studies at McMaster University. Steve is a lifelong Hamiltonian who is interested in promoting the natural beauty within the area and finding ways to keep it green. He enjoys hiking, camping, and a fresh cup of coffee. Hamilton has exposed him to many environmental issues and debates which has encouraged him to become an active environmentalist. Currently, Steve is exploring how Hamilton is transitioning from an industrial city to a more sustainable one.
Steve Watts poursuit actuellement ses études à la maîtrise en communication à l’Université McMaster. Steve est un Hamiltonien de longue date qui est intéressé par la promotion de la beauté naturelle. Il aime la randonnée, le camping et le café frais. Hamilton l’a exposé à plusieurs enjeux et débats environnementaux qui l’ont encouragé à devenir un activiste environnemental. En ce moment, Steve explore la façon dont Hamilton se transforme d’une ville industrielle vers une ville durable.
Ashley Mitton - Outreach Team Lead, Southwest Ontario
Ashley Mitton recently graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Wildlife Biology (minor in International Development). She has been involved with the Natural Leaders Alliance of Canada, Parks Canada, No Walls, and the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress to find new ways to inspire young people to get outdoors and be passionate about the environment. Her interests include environmental education and public outreach, and she enjoys hikes with her dog followed by hot chocolate.
Joyce Yan - Administrative Assistant
Joyce is a recent M.A. (Global Development Studies) graduate from Queen's University and holds a B.A. (Political Science, International Studies) from Simon Fraser University. Her research interests focus on social and environmental justice issues and her Masters research focused on the intersection of climate change adaptation and the political economy of development. In her spare time, she enjoys everything that the B.C. west coast has to offer, but also loves to travel.
Jas Nanda - Administrative Assistant, Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25
While completing a BSc at McMaster University, Jas minored in Environmental Sciences and was introduced to biomimicry, spiking an interest in nature’s (already existing) solutions for a healthier planet. Jas is currently an MBA student at DeGroote and plays an active role on the DeGroote MBAs for Impact team. She thanks the family dog (Logie Bear!) for getting her to enjoy the great outdoors, even during the grizzly Canadian winter.
Melanie Fox-Chen recently finished her undergraduate degree in biology at McMaster University. Her undergraduate thesis focused on cancer research but she is also interested in sustainability and conservation projects. In her spare time, she likes to volunteer with animals and travel. Through The Starfish, Melanie hopes to inform her peers on relevant environmental issues and inspire them to protect their planet.
Josh Brooks has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Geography and Environmental Management from the University of Waterloo. He has previously worked for the City of Hamilton's Community Outreach department working on waste diversion strategies for Hamilton Region as well as educating elementary students about environmentally sustainable practices. Passionate about history and the environment, Josh has travelled from Amsterdam to Istanbul in his never-ending quest to experience all that our planet has to offer.
Audrey Morin - French Community Manager - Gestionnaire de communauté francophone
Audrey Morin studied leisure, culture and tourism at the University of Québec in Trois-Rivières. Born and raised in the countryside, she has always cared about the environment. This passion became more concrete while she was in university where she focused on sustainable tourism. She aspires to convince her generation to travel in a more sustainable way, while being in harmony with the communities and the environments they visit. This mission is what earned her a place on The Starfish Canada's Top 25 for 2015. Fervent promoter of the French language, Audrey has chosen to invest herself with The Starfish Canada to facilitate access to the programs offers by this organization for others French Canadians, whom, as her, want to share and amplify their passion for the environment.
Audrey Morin a récemment complété son baccalauréat en loisir, culture et tourisme à l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Ayant grandi à la campagne, elle a toujours eu un important souci pour l’environnement. Cette passion s’est finalement concrétisée davantage lors de son parcours universitaire où elle a mis l’accent sur le tourisme durable dans la plupart de ses travaux et implications. Elle aspire à convaincre sa génération à voyager de façon plus durable, tout en étant en harmonie avec les communautés et l’environnement des lieux visités. Cela lui a d’ailleurs valu une place dans le top 25 de 2015. Fervente promotrice de la langue française, Audrey a choisi de s’investir avec The Starfish pour faciliter l’accès aux programmes offerts par l’organisme pour les autres franco-canadiens, qui comme elle, ne demandent qu’à partager et amplifier leur passion pour l’environnement.
Sarah Jokhu holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto with a double major in Biology and Psychology. It was during that time she discovered her passion for sustainability purposes through leadership roles with Oxfam and Help Fight Ebola Canada. She is a member of ECO Canada as an Environmental Professional in training (EPt). Her passion for the outdoors is often experienced through runs in the park and biking.
Graeme Reed - Indigenous Initiatives Leader
Graeme Reed holds a BES (International Development) and Diploma in Environmental Assessment from the University of Waterloo and a MSc (Natural Resource Sciences) from McGill University. In his day job as a Senior Policy Analyst with the Assembly of First Nations, he enjoys advocating for the inclusion of First Nations in the climate change - and broader environmental - policy dialogue. While at home, he likes thinking about new ways of getting youth (particularly First Nations, Inuit, and Métis), more involved in climate action both at a grassroots and national level. He enjoys reading, cycling, and travelling.
Alice Cheng - Contributor
Having just entered her second year of the IB program at Victoria Park Collegiate Institute in Toronto, ice is sustainability enthusiast and lifelong lover of the natur. ide from ervin as a write it The Starfish Canada, Alice is a self-professed political aficionado, environmentalist, and serial entrepreneur, having founded a not-for-profit enterprise, Global Figure, in March of 2016. When she’s not planning the next big initiative for social change or contributing to the improvement of youth volunteer opportunities in the city, you can find her vicariously debating politics or enjoying local food at farmers’ markets. Ideally, she gets to do both at the same time.
Sarina Clay-Smith - Writer
Sarina is a born and raised west coaster, growing up on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver. She did her Bachelor's degree in Biology at UBC specializing in marine conservation and working with the IUCN and Project Seahorse during her final project. She finished her Masters in conservation and biodiversity at the University of Exeter in the UK, and her thesis was focused on building a statistical model to predict the conservation status of data deficient mammals as outlined by the IUCN. She has worked as a field biologist tagging red squirrels in the Yukon, and collecting insect larvae in the cloud forest of Costa Rica. She is committed to conservation, and believes that the greatest asset to the success of any conservation project is the cooperation and engagement of the public, especially youth.
Anna Dahonick - Editor
Anna is an interpreter currently working in Waterton Lakes National Park. She is prepared to do all kinds of silly things to help connect people to the natural world and help them appreciate their role in it. Anna has a B.A. in sociology from the University of Victoria. She loves to get outside and hike, camp, run, bike, swim and compete in a triathlon or two.
Shailyn Drukis - Editor
Shailyn Drukis is living in the Yukon Territory and has a particular interest in the role that protected areas can play in protecting biodiversity, especially protected area connectivity. She is also passionate about intergenerational conservation policy and connecting people to nature, and is one of the founders and Steering Committee members of the Global Youth Biodiversity Network - a network that she helped to establish through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity negotiations. Shailyn also has leadership roles within a variety of other organizations, including as a youth member of the Canadian Committee for IUCN Board of Directors. Shailyn’s research interests focus in the Kluane region of the Southwest Yukon, looking at obstacles to better addressing cumulative effects assessment on wildlife, and exploring the possibilities of capturing baseline wildlife data from park visitors and local citizens.
Hakim Elayday - Contributor
Hakim Elayday recently graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Life Science. In the past he has been an executive member and president of the People for Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and is interested in animal welfare and research. To this end, he has provided surgical care for small animals in a veterinary clinic and in laboratory environments. Animals behave differently according to their internal and external environments and Hakim believes that through objective reflection we can learn from these interactions. By contributing to The Starfish, he wishes to provide everyone with a chance to develop a kind of sensitivity towards the subtleties of animal behaviour and to develop a long-term relationship with nature."
Kirsten Falkenburger - Writer
Kirsten is an outdoor enthusiast with a passion for environmental education and communications. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia in Environment and Sustainability. Her love of the mountains has recently brought her to Alberta, where she spends every spare moment hiking and exploring the beauty that her new home has to offer.
Jenna Hassan - Editor
An energetic, ambitious individual committed to bridging communities through meaningful communication, Jenna aspires to work on cultural and environmental development projects. She is currently working as a social media guru in Vancouver. Jenna graduated with an Honours B.A. from Western University where she studied sociolinguistics and global development. You can usually find her hiking, rock climbing, or making a mess of someone else's kitchen.
Steve Kux - Editor, Sketchy Science Writer
Steve Kux is a masters student at Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management, as well as an avid hiker, climber, and canoeist. He likes to think of himself as a woodsman but everyone who knows him understands that his adventures are thinly veiled attempts to indulge the nature-nerd that lurks within. In his spare time, he enjoys reading about biology and physics as part of a diabolical plan to know enough to pass for a scientist. Steve has a healthy curiosity about the world around him and usually tries to avoid writing in the third-person.
Samantha McBeth - Contributor
Sam is a native of the Ottawa Valley, and has lived Montreal for work and school. Strangely in love with the ocean for such a landlocked Quebecois girl, she tries to get herself to one of Canada’s three coasts as often as possible. Now back home and working for a Foundation that leads educational expeditions to the Arctic, she’s sharing her experiences and passion for Canada’s incredible wildlife. Biologist trained at UQAM and Bamfield Marine Science Centre, she’s a science communicator and educator by trade, using varied mediums to engage folks young and old into protecting and enjoying nature. She is a strong believer that understanding and experiencing the environment is the key to protecting it. Building the next generation of stewards will be a labour of hope, brought forth by love. She loves scuba diving, the hum of beehives, the smell of the High-Arctic tundra and working to raise science literacy in Canada.
Aileen McKeown - Contributor
Hello! Aileen here, and I am a contributor to The Starfish Canada. I work full-time as a head lifeguard for the Vancouver Parks Board, and study emergency management at the Justice Institute of BC on the side. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of British Columbia. I am inspired by the outdoors, and the creative ways in which people share their outdoor experiences with each other. I hope to do the same through my contributions to The Starfish Canada.
Jenna McNeil - Editor
Jenna is committed to evolving organizational governance and culture in service of a thriving, regenerative and decolonized future. Currently, Jenna works as an Event Animator at the HiVE, as a project coordinator at Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, and as a member of the founding team at Unleash Network. Jenna is a graduate of the Master of Science in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability program in Karlskrona, Sweden. Like many folks who choose sustainability as their career, Jenna finds solace in the outdoors through hiking, climbing, skiing, and more recently, sailing.
Melissa Ray - Editor
Melissa Ray is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with over 10 years experience in the field. She possesses a B.A. in English along with various diplomas and certificates and has over 5 years proofreading/editing skills. Melissa enjoys reading, listening to music and learning new languages (French at the moment). She fluently speaks two languages and is conversational/beginner level in two.
Emily Rendell-Watson - Contributor
Emily Rendell-Watson has a BJH degree in journalism and international development studies from the University of King's College in Halifax. Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Emily is currently living in Jasper, Alberta. She works as a social media/website manager and content creation specialist. Emily is also a freelance journalist and photographer. She can often be found exploring the backyard of her beautiful mountain town—backpacking, skiing, canoeing and mountain biking. Emily is passionate about encouraging youth to get outside and explore nature. She also enjoys storytelling, the outdoors and reading a good book.
Gabe Senecal - Writer
Gabe Senecal has a BA in Regional and Urban Planning with the distinction of High Honours from the University of Saskatchewan. Originally from a farm near Melfort, Saskatchewan, he now calls Vancouver home. Formerly involved in student union politics, Gabe served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union for the 2015-16 school year. Gabe enjoys reading extensively about public policy issues and unwinds by playing sports.
Jas Brown - Governance Officer
Jas often thinks about how to address conceptually complex problems with impactful, local solutions. In her past work, she used this focus to obtain her B.A. (Honours) in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Victoria, teach creative technology skills to children and youth, and work in politics and governance as a BC Legislative Intern. In her current work as a policy nerd and sustainability enthusiast, Jas supports communities to affect change through innovation, systems thinking, and respect for younger generations. She is particularly interested in food, and enjoys supporting the resiliency of local food systems, advocating for equitable food security, and cooking delicious meals inspired by her French and Trinidadian heritage. Jas has lived for most of her life on the territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Lekwungen peoples in the Victoria, BC area. On weekends, you can find her riding her bike, bouldering, kayaking, hiking, and eating a lot of brunch.
Alan Chen - Director
Alan is a keen intrapreneur with an eye for good questions and a lens for systems thinking. Raised in Vancouver and educated in Montreal, he embodies a gentle masculinity and an anti-oppressive approach in his interactions, politics, and work.
Alan’s pool of working experience comes from his time with McGill University’s sustainability community. Having completed a B.A.Sc. in Sustainability and Urban Systems, his personal diary of initiatives includes chapters on a leading a student-led placemaking group, living in an urban sustainability collective, as well as sitting on a committee to help seed-fund community-led sustainability initiatives on campus (all, he’d like to add, on rollerblades). In recognition of his efforts, Alan was awarded with the McGill University Emerald Key Catalyst Award in 2015 and was named onto the Corporate Knight’s 2016 Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Champions in Canada List as well.
Currently, Alan works as an excitable assistant social planner with the City of Vancouver on the Vancouver Immigration Partnership, as well as a Program Liaison with Growing Chefs!
Devon Deckant - Member Relations Officer
Devon Deckant is a Vancouver-based educator and steward aspiring to make outsized contributions to social & environmental causes. Spanning various disciplines, formats, and audiences, Devon's experience includes public education and outreach, curriculum development, natural resource management, and volunteer coordination. He completed his Masters studies at the University of British Columbia in social-environmental interactions, analyzing ideas which have kept him intrigued for many years. His greatest joys in life include a good breakfast and sleeping outside,
Jennifer Deol - Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Jennifer graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and currently is a Program Coordinator with the David Suzuki Foundation. Jennifer didn't grow up spending winters in a cabin or summers camping near a pristine lake, but she didn't have to to value the protection and preservation of nature. It was during her studies at UBC that she realized she couldn't not actively work at the intersections of race, identity, class and the environment and shake up the status quo of white, middle class people dominating the table in the environmental movement. That passion and unwavering desire to create balanced justice structures on all fronts in the environmental movement led her to join the Canadian Youth Delegate with the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition where she attended COP 22, an international UN climate change negotiation, in Marrakesh Morocco. That work led her to coordinating the next youth delegation to COP 23 in Bonn, Germany and empowering the next set of leaders. She hopes her efforts will continue to support the necessary capacity-building of empowered leaders in BC and across Canada to challenge English-dominated power structures and spaces that aim to build environmental movements yet lack and fail to include those most vulnerable to the climate crisis at the table.
Quirin Hohendorf - Secretary-Treasurer
Quirin Hohendorf is a MSc student in Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria where
he is involved in the Graduate Student Society and is a teaching assistant for a third year
restoration course. During his undergraduate degree in Forestry from Germany, he did an
internship in British Columbia where he fell in love with the West Coast and knew he had to
come back. His current research focuses on community driven forest restoration. He is
interested in the local and sustainable use of forests and its products. In his spare time, Quirin
loves to explore the coast, go rock climbing and he is on an ongoing quest to taste every cuisine
Camille Mohn - Editorial Officer
Camille is a recent Environment and Sustainability graduate from the University of British Columbia’s Geography Department. Aside from writing and editing, she is also a local film and television actress and jewelry artist. Camille has done environmental restoration and raised native plants with the Galiano Conservancy Association in B.C.’s Gulf Islands, volunteered on an organic farm, food forest and vineyard in Italy, tutored children for French and taught an array of art and nature related summer camps. In her spare time Camille can be found immersing herself into different cultures abroad, kayaking, hiking and skiing on B.C.’s coast, indulging in tea, growing and preparing her own food, drawing t-shirt graphics featuring birds and trees of B.C. and delving into the craft of acting.
Camille vient d’obtenir son baccalauréat en viabilité environnemental dans le programme de Géographie à l’Université de la Colombie Britannique. Elle est aussi actrice de cinéma et de télévision et fabrique des bijoux. Elle a fait de la restauration de l’environnement avec l’Association de Conservation de l’Environnement sur l’ile Galiano, du bénévolat dans une ferme, un vignoble et une foret alimentaire organiques en Italie et à enseigner plusieurs camps d’étés. Quand elle a du temps libre Camille aime explorer d’autres cultures, faire du kayak, de la randonnée et du ski sur la côte ouest, boire du bon thé, faire pousser et préparer sa propre nourriture, dessiner des oiseaux et des arbres comme graphiques de t-shirts et plonger dans l’artisanat du théâtre.
Tesicca Truong - Chair
Tesicca Truong is a sustainability activist, a serial changemaker, and an engagement innovator born and raised in Vancouver. Her passions lie at the intersection of youth empowerment, citizen engagement, and community building. She kick-started Vancouver Youth4Tap, a city-wide movement to promote tap over bottled water and co-founded the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference. She has served on the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force, the Simon Fraser Student Society, SFU Senate, and as board chair of Embark (formerly Sustainable SFU). She was named as the Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist twice, before she became a judge for the program. She was also awarded Vancouver’s Greenest City Leadership Award in 2015 and has been named on Corporate Knight’s Top 30 Sustainability Leaders under 30 in 2016. Her latest work, CityHive, is to engage young people in the planning, design, and shaping of their cities! She loves kayaking on the West Coast, going on midnight adventures in the city or escaping the city to explore the mountains.
Want to make a difference with The Starfish Canada?
We are looking for passionate, creative volunteers that can develop their skills while contributing to our cause. See our opportunities page for details.