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KPU’s DigitaLENS Program Challenges Stereotypical Images of Surrey’s Youth



DigitaLENS is a digital literacy education program for young novice storytellers. The program creates a space for the youth of Surrey to share their individual interactions with the media, race, religion and social pressures of growing up in Surrey.

DigitaLens is in community partnership with The Visual Media workshop, The Surrey School District, Princess Margaret Secondary School and Kwantlen Polytechnic University with generous funding by Telus.

Youth are encouraged to challenge stereotypical images of Surrey’s youth – who are reduced to images of gang violence, cultural and religious conflicts. Students learn to create their own digital shorts on their experiences as well as bond in a community of diverse students from across the city. Once the digital shorts are completed they are presented at a film festival for family, friends and community members to watch.

I had the pleasure of attending the film festival and was blown away by their narrative and perspective on current social and political issues. The students demonstrated a very sound judgment on issues pertaining to body image, stereotypical judgments, bullying and misrepresentation of race in mass media.

Here’s how the DigitaLENS program influenced students in their own words.

How has the DigitaLENS program helped you share your truth?
– “Seeing the reaction of my family that witnessed my video really empowered me to think critical even more and get my message out further.” – Rahil Shafique

What impact do you wish your videos would have on your peers?
– “I want to show my peers that being bullied doesn’t always have an negative ending. Yah you’ve lost an unhealthy relationship but it also shows who’s going to stay with you till the end.” – Hafsa Patel

How has being a part of the DigitaLENS program and being around others who want to see social change impacted your daily life?
– This project has been an eye-opener for my friends and me. I [am] better equipped to put forward my word, as young minds can bring a revolution. This gave me the opportunity to work as a catalyst to transform society positively.” – Jyot Sandhu

Why is it important to share your message with your family, friends and the public?
– “Even though we are young we have a voice that deserves to be heard.” – Maleekah Ar-Rahiman

The program was brought to life thanks to the powerful efforts of Aisha Amijee. I was able to catch up with her and ask her about her experience on facilitating an open space for youth to express themselves and widen their perspectives on social issues in their local community.

How has creating a space for students to share their truth impacted you?

“It has been a very powerful and moving experience to see academic research come to life in a sense. It seems very simple when you read scholarly articles, as I did for two years during my Masters of Education degree, that students need a safe and caring space in which to grow in. But to see a dozen students come to life and grow by the space you create is something else. The space can be almost any; but it’s the atmosphere of care amongst peers and the instructor that make it a constructive space to engage and foster critical thinking skills, conversation and a sense of belonging with each other.”

How have you seen your students grow through the process of the DigitaLENS program?

“Overall, they have grown in their own ways to become more bold, inquisitive, assertive and unapologetic versions of themselves. This can be seen in the way one of my students barely talked and shared his thoughts in class to always sharing his opinions towards the end. Also, we have a weekly circle and at first most of them were apprehensive to share what they did over the weekend and what their interests and hobbies were and you could tell that they were afraid of being judged by their peers; but because of the safe and positive experience, they were excited to share their lives with each other not filtering what they wanted to express towards the second half of the class. They are also engaging with each other on class and non-related issues outside of class through social media and asking for more opportunities like field trips and extra classes to hang out together. Another example of how I saw them grow was changing and fine tuning their video topics to expose more and more of themselves and their own opinions. This took a lot of courage for them to share what they really thought and felt with the public and their families.”

What has your personal experience been with the media in relation to being a Muslim woman living in Surrey?

“It’s been a frustrating experience being misrepresented in the media in regards to my identity as a South Asian Muslim Woman. Muslim Women are almost always portrayed as backwards, uneducated and dominated by our male counterparts. In reality, I am a bold feminist who has used her religious and cultural upbringing to challenge patriarchal social norms that are present in all societies today, not just mine. People of colour are more likely to be misrepresented in the media; and negative events are tied to their ethnicities as a whole where as white people and negative events are not represented as correlated in the media. There is definitely a media bias at large when representing people of colour; but more so towards people belonging to the Aboriginal, Muslim and communities of Colour.”

After watching these phenomenal students express themselves through digital story telling and reading their phenomenal responses on creating a unified community, with the help of Aisha and Surrey604, I put together a round table to chat with the students on the impact of media in their daily lives below:

Aisha is currently enrolling students for “Social Justice Digital Storytelling Program for Muslim Woman and Girls in Vancouver”. The program is FREE with limited space and is available for all ages. The program will run for four consecutive Saturdays in April (8-29th) 9am-2pm. To apply you can apply online at For more information please contact

Thank you to all participating students: Jaeda Malawiya, Dawson Ho, Maleekah Ar-Rahiman, Jyot Sandhu, Fartun Hirsi, Wahiba Haddioui, Rahil Shafique, Rayhan Jackson, Hafsa Patel, Inaaya Buksh.

RELATED: DigitaLENS – KPU Surrey Youth Film Festival Gives Students a Voice

Vancouver-based content creator, Summan Kandola talks about what we think about. Summan talks art, creativity, media, social justice and more. If you can't find her covering a story - you'll find her dressing you in her XOANDHUSTLE clothing line of custom-hand painted jackets. Join the conversation on her YouTube channel: @summankandola. Drip in custom swag:

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Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Secondary opens new expansion for incoming students



Sullivan Heights expansion
The expansion adds breakout rooms, lifestyle labs, a science super lab, an outdoor basketball court, and so much more. ( / Surrey Schools)

Students at Sullivan Heights Secondary will be learning in 28 new classrooms this school year. Construction on a four-storey, $34.3-million expansion has finished and is ready to welcome students for the fall semester. 

“Our board is so excited to welcome Sullivan Heights students into this new addition,” said Laurie Larsen, chair of the Surrey Board of Education, in a press release. “Students and families in the community have been waiting patiently for this additional space, which will allow staff and students to move out of a portable and into a bright, open, and engaging learning space.”

The expansion includes a new outdoor basketball court alongside a gym and a connector to the existing building, so there is a shared main entry and admin workplace. There are also additions to align with 21st-century learning objectives like breakout spaces, education preparation areas, lifestyle labs, a science super lab, large multi-purpose spaces that can be used by the community after hours, and a group of computer labs organized to maximize collaboration and innovation.

Sullivan Heights expansion

The new outdoor basketball court ( / Surrey Schools)

This new space brings the total number of classrooms at Sullivan up to 68, the most of any school in the district, and will provide seating for up to 1,700 students. 

The expansion has been needed for a while—the school had a capacity of 1,000 students but enrolled 1,646 students in October 2021.

The high school was using 14 portables to accommodate all the students, but those will now be removed. 

This expansion will also allow Sullivan to move away from the staggered scheduling system it was forced to adopt to accommodate the growing number of students. 

In the same press release, principal David Baldasso said, “This 700-seat addition means that we are no longer on an extended day, students and staff will more easily be able to collaborate, and extracurricular activities are no longer impacted by the length of the day. These new modern learning spaces such as the tech lab, maker spaces and foods labs will also allow us to offer more choice and opportunities to students for years to come.”

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Surrey Libraries Offers Access to O’Reilly eBooks and Videos



Surrey Libraries is excited to announce the addition of O’Reilly eBooks to its list of online resources. This platform offers over 35,000 eBooks and 30,000 hours of video courses on technology, business, design, science, engineering, travel, hobbies, health and more, all free with a Surrey Libraries card!

O’Reilly has books and videos for makers, gamers and tinkerers. There are more than 100 hobbyist titles including a STEAM Lab for Kids and The Lego Build-It Book, Volumes 1 & 2. More than 900 books from the “For Dummies” series are included, as well as over 150 titles on job-seeking and career development.

The resource also has technology learning paths like SQL Fundamentals – SQL for Data Analysis and Database Design, case studies like “Pinterest’s Journey to the Cloud,” and countless hours of video instruction on topics like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Linux Fundamentals, or Amazon Web Services.

O’Reilly is one of many online resources Surrey Libraries offers its members. No library card? No problem! Sign up for a card online or visit any one of ten branch locations.

We’re excited to welcome you back to our branches! Check our website for information on hours and available services and what we’re doing to keep everyone safe.

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Canada’s Top Digital Marketing School Partners with MNBC to Launch Scholarships



online scholarship

Métis Nation BC and Jelly Academy collaborated in order to provide growth within New Collar Employment for Indigenous people and together provided 20 scholarships to Jelly Academy’s digital marketing course. Thanks to this partnership, there will be more Indigenous people with the skills and know-how when it comes to online and digital marketing. 

The Indigenous skills training that have previously been available have typically focused on great blue collar jobs such as construction and trades, but this collaboration provides a chance to diversify the available training for Indigenous people with a new focus within varying industries.

Increased demand for digital marketing

Online marketing has had a huge rise in demand especially since COVID-19 and the increased job opportunities opening up in Canada. Indeed reports that by February 2021, jobs in media, marketing, and communications jobs had clicks higher than the economy average per posting, which is why having the necessary skills and training will give job seekers an advantage. Additionally, Indeed reported 28.9% job growth for digital advertising during a forecast period of 2019-2024. 

Jelly Academy has been operating for 5 years with over 600 grads with a successful hiring rate. Over 82% of grads who come with an existing employment get a raise or promotion within 6 months of graduating the course and over 94% of grads who are students or without employment get a job within 4 months of graduation. This is due to in-depth training within the course as well as the additional skill-enhancing certifications provided through Jelly Academy. 

The program focuses on equipping students with the certificates that hiring managers from agencies and individual brands are looking for. Jelly Academy grads will leave the course with evergreen Hootsuite, Google, SEMRush and Facebook certifications that each have transferable skills.

While these additional certifications can be taken online through providers such as Udemy; data shows about 96% of Udemy students don’t finish a course whereas an official curriculum from Jelly Academy will aid students in completing relevant courses.

By providing these new scholarships for a course that has a successful hiring rate, it allows for further career opportunities for Indigenous members of Métis Nation BC.

Jelly Academy was created by industry expert, Darian Kovacs, in order to have a course that provided the foundation in digital marketing. The course is taught by other industry professionals who provide clear understanding in online marketing topics such as social media, PR, SEO, Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Facebook Ads. Learn more about Jelly Academy here.

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Surrey Students Awarded Scholarships, New Scholarship Created By Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.



CLOVERDALE, BC: In June 2020, while the world came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair postponed, one of the things that didn’t stop was the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation annual scholarship. Seven grade 12 students from across the city of Surrey were awarded $1000.00 scholarships for post-secondary education by the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.

“As a Board we collectively agreed to proceed with awarding scholarships during the pandemic, whether there was a rodeo or not, because people are in a time of financial need more than ever, and this is not a time to hold back, but to give and lend a helping hand”, says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader.”

The recipients, all of whom were part of the graduating class of 2020, will use their $1000.00 scholarships for a variety of post secondary institutions across British Columbia.

The 2020 Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Foundation recipients:

  • Vincent Labador – Johnston Heights Secondary
  • Nisha Niijar – Fleetwood Park Secondary
  • Aashna Thapar – North Surrey Secondary
  • Natasha Kalinic – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
  • Alexander Thornton – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
  • Taya Suttill – Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary
  • Skye Graham – Clayton Heights Secondary

“Each of these graduates are incredibly deserving of these awards,” says Foundation Chair Nicole Reader. “The entire community should be proud of these young people.”

The foundation adjusted its scholarship criteria, so applicants did not require having previous volunteer experience at the Cloverdale Rodeo in order to be eligible, as long as they had volunteer experience with another organization.

The Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation will also be awarding scholarships this year under its new criteria. The application deadline for the 2021 scholarships is Friday, May 21st, 2021.

Scholarship applications can be found here.

Not only has the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation continued to support the youth community throughout the pandemic, but the organization has also been provided the opportunity to establish an additional scholarship through its organization called The Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above”.

The “Rising Above” scholarship was established in loving memory of a Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student, Isabella Olson, on behalf of her loving family. Isabella was an extraordinary and inspirational young individual who strived to ‘Rise Above’ the various obstacles she faced while always remaining determined to succeed.

To honour Isabella’s legacy a $2,000.00 scholarship has been created to recognize an inspiring Lord Tweedsmuir grade 12 student who is “Rising Above” obstacles, whether personal, mental health, bullying, or family related complications.

A student who has the determination to continue doing well in school, who may participate in school activities community services and/or may have work experience.

“Isabella’s inspiring spirit was a source of strength to all who knew her, and it is our esteemed honour to be able to present this award and assisting inspiring students in achieving their dreams, says Foundation Chair Reader.”

The application deadline for the 2021 Isabella Olson Scholarship Award “Rising Above” is Friday, May 21st, 2021.

Scholarship application can be found here.

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Fossil Discovery Deepens Snakefly Mystery



Fossil discoveries often help answer long-standing questions about how our modern world came to be. However, sometimes they only deepen the mystery—as a recent discovery of four new species of ancient insects in British Columbia and Washington state is proving.

The fossil species, recently discovered by paleontologists Bruce Archibald of Simon Fraser University and Vladimir Makarkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, are from a group of insects known as snakeflies, now shown to have lived in the region some 50 million years ago.

The findings, published in Zootaxa, raise more questions about the evolutionary history of the distinctly elongated insects and why they live where they do today.

Snakeflies are slender, predatory insects that are native to the Northern Hemisphere and noticeably absent from tropical regions. Scientists have traditionally believed that they require cold winters to trigger development into adults, restricting them almost exclusively to regions that experience winter frost days or colder. However, the fossil sites where the ancient species were found experienced a climate that doesn’t fit with this explanation.

“The average yearly climate was moderate like Vancouver or Seattle today, but importantly, with very mild winters of few or no frost days,” says Archibald. “We can see this by the presence of frost intolerant plants like palms living in these forests along with more northerly plants like spruce.”

The fossil sites where the ancient species were discovered span 1,000 kilometers of an ancient upland from Driftwood Canyon in northwest B.C. to the McAbee fossil site in southern B.C., and all the way to the city of Republic in northern Washington.

Archibald at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park
Archibald at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park

According to Archibald, the paleontologists found species of two families of snakeflies in these fossil sites, both of which had previously been thought to require cold winters to survive. Each family appears to have independently adapted to cold winters after these fossil species lived.

“Now we know that earlier in their evolutionary history, snakeflies were living in climates with very mild winters and so the question becomes why didn’t they keep their ability to live in such regions? Why aren’t snakeflies found in the tropics today?”

Pervious fossil insect discoveries in these sites have shown connections with Europe, Pacific coastal Russia, and even Australia.

Archibald emphasizes that understanding how life adapts to climate by looking deep into the past helps explain why species are distributed across the globe today, and can perhaps help foresee how further change in climate may affect that pattern.

“Such discoveries are coming out of these fossil sites all the time,” says Archibald. “They’re an important part of our heritage.”

Archibald fieldwork at Mcabee

About Simon Fraser University

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change.

We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems.

With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey—SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 165,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.

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