Victor Smith

Mayor, District of Hope

Victor was born and raised in Hope, BC. He enjoys travel but always comes back to his roots in Hope. Following a four-year term as District Councillor, Smith successfully ran for Mayor. Since taking on the role, his approach is focused on forming, maintaining and expanding relationships and mutual partnerships. Smith’s common-sense approach along with fiscally responsible manner, inclusivity and timeliness have served well in his volunteer positions in the past.  Smith carried this approach forward into his council roles and is now the foundation of his approach as Mayor.

As part of his commitment to the District of Hope, tax payers, residents and businesses Smith uses his broad knowledge and experience.  He has significant goals related to dyking, river health and safety leading to overall community safety; infrastructure upgrades throughout the district and region; and planning and budgeting for the future to allow for infrastructure improvements, replacements and growth.

Relationship building and teamwork are foundations in Smith’s volunteering history. He was the President and Director for the Hope & District Chamber of Commerce (10 years), the Coordinator for Hope Communities in Bloom (12 years), and the Chair, Vice-Chair and Director for Communities Future Sun Country (10 years).

Fiona Koza

Climate Accountability Strategist, West Coast Environmental Law

Fiona Koza is the Climate Accountability Strategist at West Coast Environmental Law, where she strives to help BC communities and local governments pay for skyrocketing climate costs while holding polluters accountable for climate damages through the Sue Big Oil campaign. Previously, Fiona has worked at Amnesty International, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and Greenpeace. Fiona has an MSc in Environmental Management and Policy from the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University in Sweden, and a BSc in Environmental Chemistry from Queen’s. She is grateful for the opportunity to live and work on Coast Salish territories.

Dr. Joy Masuhara

Co-Chair, Board of Directors, Women Transforming Cities

Dr. Joy Masuhara is Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Women Transforming Cities International Society, and has spoken about Women Friendly Cities at UN Habitat III, the World Urban Forum 9, and at the Commission on the Status of Women. She is a physician working in the area of Older Adult Mental Health, and is the Regional Medical Director of Equity Diversity and Inclusion at Vancouver Coastal Health. She/they is a settler, on the lands of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Tariq Tyab

Co-Founder, Foundation for a Path Forward

Tariq Tyab is a renowned non-profit leader and philanthropist with 25 years’ experience championing interfaith collaboration and empowering IBPOC communities. Co-founder of British Columbia’s Foundation for a Path Forward, Tariq focuses on breaking down barriers and promoting equality. His accomplishments include co-founding the Muslim Food Bank, Muslim Care Centre, and Islam Unravelled. A former BC Muslim Association executive, Tariq’s expertise and passion have left a lasting impact in the non-profit sector.

Yusuf Siraj

Co-Founder, Foundation for a Path Forward

Yusuf Siraj is a dedicated non-profit leader and award-winning public speaker with a decade of experience supporting IBPOC organizations. Co-founder of British Columbia’s Foundation for a Path Forward, Yusuf demonstrates commitment to social justice and empowering marginalized communities. His extensive background includes roles at the BC Muslim Association, Muslim Care Centre, and numerous non-profit organizations. With a background in psychology and business management, Yusuf develops innovative solutions to pressing social issues.

Dave Thompson

Councillor, City of Victoria

Dave practiced law in Ontario and BC as an environmental offences prosecutor, and as counsel advising on law reform. He holds Masters degrees in law and in economics, and has worked for governments, non-profits, and the private sector. Dave is currently a small business owner and a community volunteer.

Dave served on the Boards of Directors of several charities and non-profits, and has been a Director, Treasurer and Vice President of the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association. He currently sits on the Community Association Land Use Committee (CALUC) and serves as Chair of his Neighbourhood Improvement Committee.

Seth Klein

Director, Climate Emergency Unit, Climate Emergency Strategy and Team Lead

Seth served for 22 years as the founding director of the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Canada’s foremost social justice think tank. He is now a policy consultant, speaker, writer and author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency. Seth is an adjunct professor with Simon Fraser University’s Urban Studies program, and remains a research associate with the CCPA’s BC Office. He writes a regular column for Canada’s National Observer. For more about Seth, visit his website here.

Dennis Thomas “Whonoak”

Councillor, Tsleil-Waututh Nation

Dennis Thomas “Whonoak” is a member and an elected Councillor of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (People of the Inlet) in Deep Cove, North Vancouver. Dennis began working for his community in 2007 as the 2010 Coordinator for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Since then, Dennis pursued business with his Nation and managed several band-owned companies, including Takaya Tours, an internationally recognized Indigenous tourism business. This is where he connected with his cultural roots and now is a cultural ambassador in his community. He strives to embed his Nations’s culture in all areas so that the ancestral knowledge is awake and alive. He also led new business ventures, including implementing the largest Solar array project to date in the North Shore, which inspires him to practice and implement green energy. As a consultant, he was TWN Cultural Liaison for MST Development Corporation, where he ensured Tsleil-Waututh Nations’ history and culture are at the forefront and rooted in the building structure, architectural design, and the overall public realm. He holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University specializing in Indigenous Business Leadership. He is also a recipient of Business in Vancouver’s 2021 Top Forty under 40.

Lacey Mesley

Manager, AVI Health and Community Services, Community-Led Crisis Response Team

Lacey Mesley (she/her) is an uninvited settler, living on the Unceded Lək̓ʷəŋən-speaking people’s territories. Lacey is originally from the lands of the Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples, of the Dish with one Spoon Treaty. 

Lacey has been working in harm reduction and mental health care for the last 11years, with extensive experience in both frontline mental health and substance use services, as well as program development and management. Lacey is a former research assistant with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, and a graduate of the Masters of Public Health Program at the University of Victoria. 

Currently, Lacey is the Manager of the Community-Led Crisis Response Team, at AVI Health and Community Services. This team is part of the peer assisted care teams model, developing across BC. Alongside the Canadian Mental Health Association, Lacey is supporting the development of peer assisted care teams and the reform of crisis care across the province. 

Vaidehi Gupta

SFU student, Surrey Shapers alum

Vaidehi is a 3rd year Human Geography and Urban Studies student at SFU and a recent alumni of CityHive’s Surrey Shapers program. Recently, she has developed a love for urbanism, planning, and cities, and is interested in how we can shape our cities for a more sustainable future. Vaidehi is passionate about policy, research, and urban design to create cities that are inclusive and incorporate multi-modal forms of transportation. Additionally, she cares about getting involved in her local community, and has engaged through volunteering activities on and off campus through non-profit organizations. In Vaidehi’s free time, she enjoys swimming, taking film photos, and going on long walks while listening to jazz. 

Monica Cheema

Researcher, filmmaker, Surrey Shapers alum

Monica Cheema is a researcher, filmmaker and arts facilitator based out of the Unceded Lands of Surrey, BC, and a recent alumni of CityHive’s Surrey Shapers program. She currently works for the South Asian Cultural Redress project with the City of Vancouver, which aims to address historical discrimination and erasure through community-informed research. As a filmmaker, she spends much of her time exploring cultural memory and community archives for her most recent project, which tells the story of a historical mill settlement turned ghost town fighting to stay alive on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. Monica works with youth in various capacities, previously as a mental health & harm reduction facilitator in the Punjabi community; addressing the gaps in equitable access to care within marginalized communities. And now, as an artist-in-residence with the Vancouver School Board. She is passionate about storytelling as a tool for research creation, knowledge mobilization, and community building. Especially when combined with land-based learning, she believes that storytelling can equip youth to feel a greater sense of personal & collective agency; to remain critical of the systems and institutions they exist within, and resilient enough to find joy within this criticality. She is especially interested in how youth can help us move towards a more emergent, less policed, future.

DJ Pohl

Paralegal, Chilliwack Crown Council

DJ Pohl is a community and labour leader as well as lifelong advocate for justice, fairness, and equality. She is currently the 1st Vice Chairperson of the Administrative Professionals Component 12 of BC General Employees Union (BCGEU) and is appointed to the Climate Solutions Advisory Council to the Premier. She is the current Fraser Valley Labour Council (FVLC) Treasurer and has led the municipal election labour endorsement program for FVLC since the 2014 election. 

DJ has a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of the Fraser Valley and is currently completing her Paralegal Certificate at UFV. She is an employee of the BC Public Service where she is a paralegal with the BC Prosecution Service. Being politically active, she strives to bring positive growth and change while empowering others to do the same and was the Federal NDP Candidate for Chilliwack-Hope in the 201 Election. In her free time, she plays roller derby and enjoys spending time with her family in her home community of Yarrow.