Rise Vancouver

Meet our Fall 2019 Ambassadors

Ayan Ismail 

Writer, photographer, meaningful youth engagement, traveling, community organizer, basketball, in no order whatsoever. What keeps me busy is striving to challenge and dismantle oppressive systems, commitment to being in solidarity with Indigenous folks and supporting Indigenous sovereignty on their own terms, and working on collaborative community projects that center the experiences of Black and Indigenous folks.

 I admire that RISE is a program by youth and for youth. It centers the experiences of diverse youth including the voices of marginalized youth which showcases to me commitment to decenter whiteness which is something I center in my life and work. What I want out of RISE is to be able to create a project with my hub that reflects the communities we represent and the values and principles that I am committed to.

Reach out to me on Twitter:

Cherrie Lam 

Design, tech for peace, making things from scratch, traveling solo, muay thai, other people’s passion projects, other people’s dogs, giggling.

I’m inspired by the intentionality with which RISE centers youth voices and our diverse lived experiences, in creating a space that acknowledges the socioeconomic and cultural factors that make environmental work accessible or inaccessible for some. I look forward to learning from my peers on how we can navigate these deep rooted issues of environmental justice together and co-creating a community project that we’re deeply passionate about!

Reach out to me on Insta:

Jestinne Punzalan 

I am persistent, motivated, positive, and cheerful. What keeps me busy is school, being involved in community projects (Hey RISE!), and taking care of my sweet cat Dory.

I chose to be a part of RISE because I believe in centering youth’s voice in social changes. Youth have the responsibility of implementing changes in their community and I wanted to be a part of that change. What I want out of RISE is to grow the skills, abilities, and resources to be able to mobilize my own community project. I also want to be able to meet new people and grow my knowledge and perspectives on topics such as environmental justice.

Reach out to me on Insta:

Jocelle Refol 

An avid bookworm, poetry, writer, dancer, and explorer of her own city.

There’s a lot of opportunity to have dialogue about the topics we care deeply about, but RISE provides that space and opportunity to take ACTION. I want to work with the communities I live in to create positive change, but most importantly I want to discover myself and potential in the process.

Reach out to me on Insta:

Melissa Tang Choy 

I’m an avid learner that gets easily distracted by anything else there is to learn. What keeps me busy is work, paddling (I can’t swim), working more with my communities, and bread-making. I’ve successfully made my own sourdough starter.

For the past few years, I’ve been feeling more and more disconnected with my communities. RISE is a great way to make a tangible project with our diverse communities, co-creating it with other youth voices and breaking barriers that have kept the voices unheard. What I want out of RISE? I’d like to see other youth RISE in their communities.

Reach out to me on Insta:

Neha Strivastava 

I’m gonna follow Trisha’s formula and put out there that I have big fire sign Sagittarius energy. I’m an Asian Studies student at UBC and a dog walker/carer in my spare time, I also lose my mind if I don’t do yoga at least once every three days. That hardly sums me up but take what you want from it!

I’m hoping to get some direction and confidence about my passion for the environment, and some real experience working towards something I care about with like-minded passionate people. I’m also looking forward to all the connections I make here.

Trisha Barbarona

I have big Aquarius energy which means I go with the flow, I am organized chaos and I am a change-maker.

I have a part-time job that keeps me afloat but I love buying low-maintenance plants, writing poetry and watching movies.

I chose RISE because I wanted to be a part of a program that prioritizes youth to be at the forefront of change. I wanted to be surrounded by like minded folks who aim to create brave spaces and better futures motivated by their own lived experiences. I want a platform for my voice and my ideas to grow, survive and thrive.

Reach out to me on Insta:
@ trish_the_fishhh



SHADES OF SUSTAINABILITY is a community project in Vancouver that aims to unpack what it means to engage in environmental action as Black, Indigenous, People of Colour. Through digital storytelling and a dinner dialogue, our goal is to mobilize BIPOC youth to reconnect with other generations and reimagine sustainability in their own terms.

Check out their journey on Insta: @aisbrise_vbc and @shadesofsustainability

Meet the Vancouver Mentors


Emmanuela Droko

Emmanuela Droko, of the Ma’di and Acholi, came as a refugee to the unceded territories of the Coast Salish people. This fact informs everything she does and fuels the work she partakes in - namely through community-oriented facilitation and LGBT2QIA+ and BIWOC centered organizing. Her community work addresses the need for intersectional advocacy and focuses on the ways marginalized bodies are oppressed and how we can protect ourselves.

This is something she’s been able to navigate during the program, as VanRISE has centered the lived experiences of Indigenous and racialized communities and she hopes to continue to add to the ever-growing community AisB has created. She hopes to bring dialogue and an abundant thirst for knowledge to RISE, and to continue to learn from the amazing ambassadors.

Reach out to her on Insta:


Kimberley Wong (黄壯慈)

Kimberley Wong (黄壯慈) is a queer Cantonese diasporic femme whose work mirrors the intersections of her identity. She comes from a long history of organizing and art in Chinatowns in this region. Her ancestors collectively bare railroad spikes, sewing needles, knives for cutting veggies, a bow for playing music, and a pen for writing to the future. Her experiences working in the climate action and sustainability, social justice, and urban studies academic communities have given her the tools and opportunities to do work in the fields of youth education, advocacy, and film. She is finding ways to bridge her training in urban geography and feminist theory with historic and contemporary experiences of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Her past research with UBC focuses on telling underrepresented stories from Vancouver’s Chinatown through augmented reality. 

A is B's Rise program in Vancouver gives young bipoc space and tools which Kimberley wishes she could have had growing up. The support and encouragement that A is B's staff and programming provided is unique in its centering of experiential knowledge. It continues to morph and shape itself to the needs of its cohorts.

Reach out to Kimberley on Insta:

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