Wisdom Circle

The Wisdom Circle is an empowering circle of dedicated community members, strengthening each individual endeavour of the members while building collaboration and collective strength. The Great Turning, as Joanna Macy calls this time of culture change from an industrial consumer worldview to a life-sustaining society, is at a critical phase. The goal of this Wisdom Circle is to leverage our experience, resources, contacts, and understanding of the education system to create greater systemic change.

Members

Aaron Leung

Aaron is a public education advocate, an engaged resident of Champlain Heights and a locally and nationally recognized leader. He currently serves as the Chair of the City of Vancouver Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee which advises Vancouver City Council on matters related to this constituent community. In the past, Aaron has worked on projects that include the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference as one of its Founding Members and Youth4Tap, a proposal to ban bottled water and support new infrastructure in Vancouver schools. In 2014, Aaron received the City of Vancouver Greenest City Leadership Award for his work within the community and other national awards. His interests include inclusive community planning by including youth in the decision-making process, advocating for better public education for present and future generations, and supporting youth-led sustainability projects within the community.

Aaron is currently a fourth-year student at Simon Fraser University studying Global Environmental Systems with a Minor in Political Science.

Abhayjeet Sachal

Abhay is an inspirational figure who has used his gift of public speaking and superior application of social media to speak to the world as a young change-maker.  He is a ‘once-in-a- generation’ student whose transformative leadership approach to change has inspired many at an incredibly young age. Abhay created a foundation called ‘Break the Divide’ which creates global awareness about climate change and its impact on Canada’s Indigenous population in an attempt to incite collaboration, understanding and action. He frequently makes presentations throughout the Lower Mainland and has also travelled throughout North America to speak at a variety of conferences.  In March 2018, Abhay was a presenter at the 2018 Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA) Conference hosted by the League of Environmental Educators in Florida (LEEF) and also spoke at the World Religions Parliament in Toronto and the Eco-Sikh Gala in Washington DC.  He was also invited to be a feature speaker at the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference hosted by the North American Association of Environmental Educators in Spokane Washington. 

Due to his incredible efforts towards sustainability, Abhay has been named to Canda's Top 25 Under 25 and has been recognized by media across the nation. He also became Canada’s Vimy Ridge award recipient and was invited to travel to the 100th celebration of the Vimy Ridge memorial and meet the Prime Minister of Canada along with members of the Royal family. 

Andrew Humphries

Andrew has been a Science and Social Studies teacher for over 25 years and is now the Vice Principal at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School. He is passionate about teaching global sustainability and has done so through a science and social studies classes, a Global Sustainability course, and over 1,000 field study days. Andrew recently returned from the Education for Sustainable Development Conference at the United Nations Peace University in Costa Rica, where he shared his experience and research in global sustainability; engaged in dialogue on pedagogical approaches and lessons learned and discussed advancing transformations in education for sustainable development and global citizenship. Andrew is eager to collaborate with Be The Change to fulfill his goals, which include supporting the excellent work that is already being done by many individuals within the field of sustainability education; work toward a comprehensive inclusion of Global Sustainability within the BC Curriculum; and facilitating networking within, and between, various groups in Vancouver to advance sustainability education and initiatives.

Bryna Kopelow

Bryna, a member of JW Sporta: Health, Physical Activity and Sport Education Consultants, responsible for the initial development and implementation of Action Schools! BC (13 years) and the Premier’s Sport Awards Program (p.s.a.p.)(30 years). Bryna is a nationally respected leader and advocate for gender equity with a long history of involvement on issues related to physical activity, sport and recreation including: Past member of the Expert Panel as part of the Formative Evaluation of the Canadian Sport Policy and the Thematic Reviews of Physical Literacy and LTAD, past Chair of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), 2017 In Her Footsteps recipient, past Chair and current Honorary Board Member of Promotion Plus, member of viaSport’s Girls and Women Advisory Group. Past Board Member of Sport BC and BC Recreation and Parks Association and a current Board Member of BC Wheelchair Basketball Society, Be the Change Earth Alliance and Motivate Canada. Bryna is a Sessional Lecturer in the School of Kinesiology at UBC.

She received her Bachelor of Physical and Health Education from the University of Toronto and Teaching Certification and Masters of Physical Education from University of BC. Bryna and her husband have two adult daughters.

George Radner

George is passionate about climate justice, gender equality, and quality education for all (especially in the early years). He is currently studying economics and math at the University of British Columbia and hopes to use his knowledge and skills from his degree to become a more effective advocate for the issues he cares about.

George was born in Washington DC and grew up in Toronto. He loves bird watching, vegan cooking, and meditation.

Kevin Lyseng

Kevin has been supporting Environmental Stewardship within the Richmond School District for the past 25 years. He has worked at Elementary and Secondary levels as teacher, teacher consultant and systems leader working alongside Students (K-12), Teachers, Educational Assistants, Custodians, Managers, Principals and Senior Administrators. He has also worked with numerous outside agencies to promote behaviour / systems change including Be the Change Earth Alliance, City of Richmond, David Suzuki Foundation, BC Hydro, Science World, BC Sustainable Energy Association, Learning for a Sustainable Future, Think Eat Green, Destination Conservation and others.

Kevin draws from a diverse background of skills and experiences including: being a Medical Assistant in the Canadian Navy, Fossil Preparator and Interpreter at Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaentology, Dinosaur fabricator and Public Relations for a world travelling dinosaur exhibition, Researcher and Facilitator for a travelling medical imaging exhibition to name a few. Currently, Kevin is working as a Environmental Steward / Teacher of grade 5/6 at W.D. Ferris Elementary in Richmond and proud husband and father of 2 teenage daughters.

Kristen Sawatsky

Kristen is currently a Spanish, French and Social Studies teacher at Burnaby South Secondary School and is just beginning maternity leave with her second child. She lives in East Vancouver, grew up in Ladner, B.C., went to school in Victoria, and have spent lots of time on Saturna Island as well as travelling in Latin America. She has also taught in the Surrey school district, as well as led an middle ages outdoor program at the democratic school Windsor House in North Vancouver for one year.  She is one of the teacher sponsors of our school's sustainability club as well as Outdoor Adventure Club, and recently connected with Maureen at a Burnaby District Conference on microplastics my students planned. She is very passionate about helping students to become more connected to their environment through going outside; learning about plants, gardening, and food; incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and connection to the land in the classroom; and understanding how they can affect change through their consumer choices and daily habits.

Lori York

Lori York has been an outstanding secondary school teacher in the Vancouver school district for 19 years fueled by a big vision to make environmental education available to all secondary school students. Choosing to work with at-risk youth in alternative schools for eight years, Lori re-engaged students by providing an integrated learning approach to environmental education, teaching Math, Science, English, Social Studies, PE, Visual Arts and Outdoor Ed for grades 8, 9, and 10. Lori’s inspiration to become a teacher happened in 1998, while she worked as a volunteer tour leader of the “Native Uses of Plants” program at the Richmond Nature Park.  Interacting with kids outdoors through place-based, experiential learning catalyzed her goal to become a teacher. For the last seven years Lori has led a cohort of teachers at Lord Byng Secondary to develop an outstanding program called LEAF, Leadership – Environment – Action – First People’s Principles of Learning and has created several courses including: Global Sustainability 11, Environmental Leadership 10, and Outdoor Education 11. The LEAF program will culminate in an Environmental Leadership certificate/designation for students who complete a mentored Capstone Project.

Maureen Jack-LaCroix

Maureen is an inspiring speaker, workshop facilitator and environmental educator with over 15 years of experience delivering engaging ‘sustainability’ programs for adults in community and workplace as well as teachers and students in secondary schools. As the Founding Director of Be The Change Earth Alliance, she has activated thousands of individuals to make positive environmental behaviour change by connecting the big global issues to personal lifestyle choices. Through BTCEA Maureen developed an adult education program of symposia and action circles, wrote the Be The Change Action Guide and produced The Great Turning community engagement events. She went on to collaborate with secondary school teachers on the iterative design and development of ‘SLS: Student Leadership in Sustainability’ EE learning resources and teacher aides. Maureen is also working with a wide variety of businesses to bolster employee engagement through sustainability programs in the workplace. Maureen was honoured as the ‘2017 Outstanding Individual in an Organization’ by EECOM, the Canadian Environmental Educators Association, nominated as the 2018 YWCA Environmental Woman of Distinction and received the Hidden Hero award from MP Joyce Murray in 2018 for her work in environmental education.

Before dedicating her life to environmental sustainability, Maureen was the CEO and Creative Director of Jack of Hearts Productions, creating the annual Slam City Jam skateboard championships, the annual Music West Festival, managing the Tears Are Not Enough Liveaid fundraising enterprise and producing several TV music specials.

Michael Iachetta

Michael is a leading force for environmental sustainability in Delta where he has taught Socials Studies for 11 years. After completing his Masters of Education at UBC in Sustainability Leadership he helped found the Delta District Green Team in 2009 which has been instrumental to the establishment of Green Teams in Delta schools. Michael is well known in the local environmental educators circle for his model work in his school’s Environment Club (Operation Green) and for initiating and leading his District’s Student Leadership Environment Club (Delta Youth Sustainable Network).  In recent years, Michael worked with his students to lead the ‘Ignite a Spark 2014’ and ‘Delta Green 2016’ and 'Delta Action 2017' Environmental Symposiums. As a result of his environmental stewardship, Michael was presented the 2017 B.C. Hydro Award for his commitment to promoting sustainability throughout the lower mainland and named as a finalist for the 2018 Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education in the Social Equity Category.

Sandra Nomoto

Sandra is a writer and aspiring world traveller. At the age of 25, she founded Conscious Public Relations Inc., an award-winning public relations agency that focused on telling the stories of purpose-driven businesses. Nomoto is also the author of The Only Public Relations Guide You’ll Ever Need, a mentor with Women’s Enterprise Centre, and on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Mural Festival. In addition to practicing Transcendental Meditation daily and eating vegan since 2018, she blogs at SandraNomoto.com, lives in East Vancouver with her husband, and sells a line of bold journals on Amazon.

Shannon Leddy

Shannon Leddy (Métis) is a Vancouver based teacher and writer whose practice focuses on decolonizing education and Indigenous education within teacher education. She holds degrees in Art History and Anthropology from the University of Saskatchewan (1994), an MA in Art History (1997), and a BEd (2005) from the University of British Columbia. Her PhD research at Simon Fraser University focused on inviting pre-service teachers into dialogue with contemporary Indigenous art as a mechanism of decolonizing education and in order to help them become adept at delivering Indigenous education without reproducing colonial stereotypes. During her time as a public school teacher with the Vancouver School Board, Shannon worked at several high schools as a teacher of Art, Social Studies and English.  She is now an Instructor in Indigenous Education at the University of British Columbia.

Shelan Markus

Shelan Markus is a social justice advocate with a passion for education and providing individuals with the necessary preventative and integrative tools to live positive and socially empowered lives. Shelan completed an undergraduate degree at McGill University in sociology and gender studies. She then completed her law degree at Western University, where she was involved in community initiatives to provide accessible Canadian legal education to marginalized and at-risk youth. Shelan attended a semester abroad in India, focusing her studies on international human rights law.  After law school, Shelan practiced at a boutique litigation firm in Toronto, mainly in the area of human rights in employment. Pursuing her passion for education, Shelan moved into the public education sector at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She negotiates legal partnerships between UBC, non-profit organizations, government, and multinational companies in order to advance ethical and environmentally sustainable research. Shelan is continually involved in pro bono legal services for marginalized groups and she is the founder of a philanthropic print business, CityandShe.com, which supports human rights and environmental initiatives worldwide.

Tyee Bridge

Tyee is a renowned writer and passionate environmentalist. His essays and journalistic features focus on ecology, religion and urban culture. He has won four National Magazine Awards and seven Western Magazine Awards since 2007, and his work appears in The Globe & Mail, Swerve, Vancouver magazine, BC Business and the Vancouver Review. He is the founder of Nonvella, a publisher of short nonfiction books, and of Arclight, a custom publishing firm for values-aligned organizations. He is also the coauthor of the 2017 book The Clean Money Revolution.