The Association of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon is pleased to recognize Priyanka Krishna, a co-op student at SFU who has won an award for her story about facilitating virtual community conversations around equity, diversity and inclusion topics for Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (DSBIA). Priyanka worked closely with her supervisor, Bonnie Burnside, manager at DSBIA. 

The story Priyanka submitted to Impact 2020 was:

In Summer 2020, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (DSBIA) wanted to engage in the conversations that were happening within the community around ideas of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. As a Communication Co-op student, and the Community Engagement Intern, I helped create an initiative called Community Conversations. Since COVID-19 regulations limited the ability of community engagement in person, I designed the series to be fully virtual so that it was accessible. The series created a space where people could come together to educate each other and themselves around these ideas, feel empowered and connected so that the sense of community was reinforced, and have their voices amplified. I hosted four different sessions during my term which were attended by a diverse 80 people. The Community Conversation initiative is still going on, and has covered topics such as housing vs homelessness, mental health, education, and environmental justice.

Meet Priyanka & Bonnie

The community conversations took place online and covered different topics that deal with BIPOC specific issues. “Some topics we covered is like houselessness and homelessness, how race plays into climate change, food security and BIPOC within the classrooms, which was a big hit with a lot of the teachers in the community.” notes Priyanka. 

Bonnie says that DSBIA is a big supporter of hiring students as a way for projects to get off the ground and take shape in innovative ways. “ I can’t do everything and we have a very small staff at our organization. The good thing about going through co-op or work-integrated learning is that you’re working with young students. The first thing they think about is using technology. And that’s not my go-to.”

This project has certainly left a legacy with attendees from across the lower mainland region, Canada and the US. It is still ongoing and will be a continued legacy with the other work-integrated learning students hired onto DSBIA. 

Congratulations Priyanka Krishna & Bonnie Burnside!

Read & watch the other IMPACT 2020 Stories

If you’re an ACE-WIL Member, you can also view all 70 story submissions on the project page:

IMPACT 2020 Project Page