Episode 66:

Food for Thought

We centre food insecurity in the Lower Mainland with Zahra Esmail, Executive Director of South Van Neighbourhood House, and Upkar Singh Tatlay, Executive Director of Engaged Communities Canada Society in this very special podcast. While food insecurity is the theme, Zahra, Upkar, and podcast host Rowan discuss how racial biases impact the lives of immigrants, refugees, and street-entrenched individuals and how ECCS and Neighbourhood House support the work to meet their needs.

Presented by Humanity Financial Management

From our Vantage Point is brought to you by Humanity Financial Management, a Chartered Accounting firm dedicated to helping Canadian not-for-profit, charitable and social enterprises build capacity for strong internal financial management.  Humanity Financial Management’s part-time controllers and CFOs provide support for budgeting, reporting, audit preparation, policies and procedures, and internal controls. Their results: Financial risk reduction and asset protection. Visit Humanity Financial Management online at humanityfinancial.ca.

Zahra Esmail has been the Executive Director of the vibrant South Vancouver Neighbourhood House since 2016, and is the first Executive Director of the Marpole Neighbourhood House, which opened under her leadership in 2019. With a background in community development, her current portfolio includes food security, settlement and integration services, licensed childcare, children and family development, youth leadership, seniors wellness, and Adult Day Programs. Prior to her current role, Zahra was the General Manager of Eva’s Phoenix, a transitional shelter and training program in Toronto. She has also worked in international development with Street Kids International, Haven Haiti and BRAC with responsibility for programs in Haiti, India, the Philippines, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. Zahra was recognized as one of Business in Vancouver’s Forty Under 40 in 2019.

About South Vancouver Neighbourhood House

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH) is a community-based organization that focuses on connecting people and strengthening the neighbourhoods in South Vancouver. Located at Victoria Drive and 49th Avenue, SVNH serves the Sunset, Victoria-Fraserview, and Killarney-Champlain neighbourhoods. Programs and services are determined by conditions within each community and by the needs and interests of the people living in that community. Current programs and services include Seniors’ Wellness, Youth Leadership, Licensed Preschool and Out-of-School Care, Parenting and Family Resource Programs, Settlement Services for Newcomers, Food Security, Literacy, and Adult Day Programs, Community Engagement Events, and more. Each year, over 7,000 individuals participate in our programs, which are run in partnership with almost 700 volunteers.

Upkar smiling at the camera, in front of branches of a pine tree.

Upkar Singh Tatlay resides and works on the unceded territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation where he oversees research, data-collection, and the development of health care innovations and experimental development R&D projects at Oxus Machine Works Ltd. In addition to this, he is an academic supervisor who provides research consultancy services to government, health authorities, academic institutions, and centres for disease control. Upkar is also the Executive Director of Engaged Communities Canada Society, and has delivered targeted solutions on climate change, substance use, homelessness, food security challenges and youth challenges. His academic credentials include certifications from the Justice Institute of BC, degrees from the University of Victoria, and the University of British Columbia where he helped establish the Scientific Creative Quarterly. Upkar is the current Vice President of the DIVERSEcity Board of Director and one of the Founder’s and current Treasurer of the South Asian Community Hub. He is the host of the “Hypatia Talks“ podcast, Co-founder of Sundar Expo 2022, a Commissioner with Vital Statistics BC, and a member of the Radius SFU social innovation hub.

About Engaged Communities Canada Society

Engaged Communities Canada Society aims to address the systemic gaps that exist for underserved communities across British Columbia’s lower mainland region in accessing equitable solutions to complex health challenges. Our efforts are targeted to the community’s most vulnerable, including IBPoC populations, those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, children and youth, and individuals experiencing challenges related to socioeconomic factors and addiction.

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