Our team and values
Community Engaged Learning works to cultivate your community mindset—a set of attitudes that value the knowledge and expertise of communities, broaden your notion of partnership and relationship-building, and orient your personal, academic and professional lives to serve social change.
We help to connect students to community—both a community of practice with like-minded students and a community of action with members of the wider community. Through engagement and action, you will develop and deepen your sense of identity, purpose and belonging, and become aware of your agency and capacity to contribute to social change.
Our team ensures these values are the foundation of our programming:
We believe that life on Earth is interconnected and interdependent, and that we each have the responsibility and capacity to create safer, healthier and more equitable communities, and to take care of the land, water and air. The University of Manitoba also has an obligation to serve communities, and we believe our impact is greatest when we support the visions of resource-scarce communities.
We believe that the real and pressing challenges that we all face today—from the myriad of negative effects of climate change to finding ways to move toward truth and reconciliation in our lives and institutions—cannot be addressed as individuals. We need collective action.
What does collective action look like? As members of a culturally diverse, globalized and colonized society, it is essential that we understand, relate and work together in anti-oppressive and de-colonial ways. We need to cultivate self-awareness and compassion, identify and develop our gifts, and find ways to build solidarity and contribute to community vision.
In order to unlearn limiting values and relearn or develop healthier ways of relating to each other, we need to learn with and from communities where anti-oppressive and de-colonial values are not only recognized and practiced but often part of long-standing traditions, cultures and knowledges. In Canada, this means valuing First Nations, Métis and Inuit ways of knowing and being.
We believe that working with communities involves an active commitment that goes beyond the traditional, institutional understanding of partnership and reciprocity. We respond to our community partners’ requests for “whole relationships”— we build and maintain relationships without the expectation of a partnership, relate to people as whole individuals and provide holistic supports to enable good relations and project success.
We are accountable to our partners and their communities. We understand our place and our responsibility to work in good ways within these relationships and spaces. We work with communities and follow their lead to determine the direction and form of our work, from student learning and community engagement to project implementation and evaluation.
Global perspectives, local connections
We believe that the scale of collective action needed transcends the separation of local and global communities. Our responsibility to each other and the home we share goes beyond political and geographic borders. We also believe that as inhabitants of this land and members of Canadian society, we have special obligations to support and work with local communities. In the end, local and global communities are inextricably connected by virtue of living in the same ecosystem, and we are stronger and more effective when work together.
We endeavour to work in culturally appropriate ways to ensure that the students and communities we work with have a culturally safe experience. We do this by understanding and respecting codes of conduct and cultural protocols established by the communities, and by honouring culturally based approaches to community development and pedagogies that meet the distinct needs of students and community partners.
Anny Chen is second-generation Chinese-Canadian, strongly shaped by her upbringing as a child of refugees from Southeast Asia. Born in northern British Columbia and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she continues to live and work in Treaty 1 Territory and is grateful to be involved in community organizing in the city and supporting Indigenous media as part of the Red Rising Collective.
Anny’s love for experiential learning and community engagement started during her work with Katimavik and was nurtured by a Master of Education in adult education and community development. Anny is particularly driven by the need for anti-oppression education and Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations-building, and she believes in the importance of showing up and getting your hands dirty when it comes to building healthy, safe and inclusive communities.
Gera Villagrán was born and raised in Mexico. His family immigrated to Canada in 2006. before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Treaty 1 Territory, Gerardo lived in Edmonton, Halifax and Toronto.
Gera has a Master of Arts in Philosophy and is especially interested in questions of intergenerational democracy and climate change. Upon finishing his graduate degree, he joined Global Affairs Canada and the Young Lives Research Lab (UPEI) in southern Chile to support the creation of an Indigenous-led intercultural school on the Island of Chiloé.
As a Latin American man, Gera is committed to using his privilege as an academic and Canadian citizen to support the capacity-building goals of vulnerable communities in Latin America. His other passions include minimal running, intelligent electronic music, developing emotional intelligence through mindfulness practice and camping with his dog, Barley.
Nicki Ferland is a Two-Spirit Red River Métis Sundancer from the Lorette and Îles-des-Chênes communities in the heart of the Metis homeland.
Nicki has a background in human, Aboriginal and Indigenous rights; Indigenous and anti-racist education; and Indigenous research. She is completing her Master of Education in Indigenous land-based education at the University of Saskatchewan.