Ela Esra Gunad is a long-time advocate for social justice and human rights. She created award-winning education programs and has run advocacy campaigns that transformed government policies and practices and informed institutional changes on issues relating to human rights, women’s empowerment, minorities, migrant justice, and democratic governance. Recently, Ela started the #LostVotes Campaign with young leaders advocating for permanent residents to vote in municipal elections in BC. She is the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Officer at Hospital Employees’ Union. Ela studied international relations, global advocacy, public relations and holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law.
Ken Melamed is a former mayor of Whistler in BC. He is a businessman, conservationist and former Green Party of Canada candidate in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country. Ken Melamed was first elected to the Whistler council in 1996, serving as a councillor until 2005. He was elected as mayor in 2005 and served in that position until 2011.
Seth is the BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social and economic justice. Seth holds a BA in international relations and a B.Ed from the University of Toronto, and an MA in political science from Simon Fraser University. He has been a social activist for over twenty-five years.
A former teacher, Seth is co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a board member of the Canada Without Poverty Advocacy Network, and an advisor and instructor for Next Up, a leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice. He is a frequent media commentator and public speaker on public policy issues. He lives with his wife and daughter in East Vancouver.
Cheeying is the Executive Director of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. She has worked in the non-profit sector in policy, planning and education on transportation, land use and smart growth for over 10 years. Cheeying was the Executive Director of Smart Growth B.C. – a province-wide non-governmental organization promoting sustainable land use and development and Executive Director of BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation).
Cheeying is a former high school and college teacher of science and mathematics. She served as a member of the Prime Minister’s External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities, as well as a term on the Board of Vancity Credit Union and currently sits on a number of other advisory boards and committees including the Mayor of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Team.
Michael writes, teaches, and works in the fields of adult education, community development, and social planning. He currently works as a private consultant and as a community volunteer. In the past, he has served as Director of the Carnegie Community Centre, Director of Programs for SPARC BC, Executive Director of SPARC BC, and as Executive Director of the Community Council of Greater Victoria.
Michael is the recipient of several notable awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Council on Social Development and the Thakore Foundation Award for Service to the Carnegie Community Centre and Vancouver Eastside presented by SFU. He has taught courses and workshops at UBC, SFU, Langara, and through SPARC’s Community Development Institute.
Michael is an active community member, having founded the Downtown Eastside Community Arts Network, and is currently the President of the Carold Institute for the Study of Citizenship in Social Change.