LEEJOO HWANG, 21
HOMETOWN: SURREY, BRITISH COLUMBIA / TERRITORY OF THE SEMIAHMOO, KATZIE, KWIKWETLEM, KWANTLEN, QAYQAYT AND TSAWWASSEN FIRST NATIONS
Community partnership, sustainability in business, and leadership are three concepts that resonate strongly with Leejoo Hwang.
Leejoo’s passion for environmental sustainability started at an early age. He founded the Local Development Group (LDG), an organization aimed at fostering community partnerships through grassroots projects.
Through LDG, he and his peers collectively started two gardens while in high school – the Fraser Heights Secondary School Community Garden, which later expanded to the Fraser Heights Recreation Centre.
Now, in addition to providing locally grown produce to the community, the garden also serves as a collaborative learning space. It is a welcoming classroom enabling the community to better understand the relationship between local produce and a sustainable environment.
He continued his efforts by promoting his school’s beehives and partnering up with the Canada Wildlife Federation to plant certified pollinators throughout his community.
Leejoo expanded LDG’s impact on community sustainability by initiating a Little Free Library in his community, mitigating the issue of inaccessibility to literature and promoting the recycling of books. With many students from different schools interested in joining the network and the work that he does, LDG initiated four Local Development Clubs to get students involved more actively.
For Leejoo’s leadership in Local Development Group, he was awarded Surrey’s 25 Under 25, GoodWall’s Achieving Student, Clarence Heppell Scholar, Leadership through Service award, District Authority Community Service Scholarship and Surrey Now-Leader Community Leaders Award.
In addition to pursuing environmental action through leadership, Leejoo believes strongly in the impact of youth engagement in social issues. He volunteers his time as a youth facilitator gathering youth voices for input on policies and collaborates with youth of diverse backgrounds on the Privy Council Office’s Youth Secretariat.
Leejoo has facilitated workshops for youth on Canada’s new food guide, healthy relationships, employment & volunteerism, and environment, creating policy proposals. His efforts helped guide the first draft of the Canada Youth Policy released earlier this year.
Today, Leejoo is an Associate for the Vancouver Social Value Fund, which invests in social and environmental purpose organizations that address local gaps in communities across Canada.
In the future, Leejoo hopes to run a social enterprise while also influencing government policy in creating a more sustainable future. Pursuing his lifelong aim of community engagement, he also hopes to teach at an educational institution on sustainable businesses and entrepreneurship.