Fall 2016 Cohort

James Arteaga


Viacha, Bolivia

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Since his undergrad in Urban Planning at the University of Waterloo, James has been interested in learning and putting-into-practice different approaches that address the sustainable development of cities. Because of this interest, he chose to pursue a master’s in Canadian Studies (now Indigenous & Canadian Studies) at Carleton University, where he specialized in the Heritage Conservation stream. James was interested in the role that cultural heritage played in forming and sustaining sustainable communities. It was this interest that brought him to this program.

Being born and raised in Southwestern Ontario to a Nicaraguan mother and a Salvadorian father, James’ interest for Latin America was always present. He never had the chance to live in Latin America; yet, he had the opportunity to live abroad in Sheffield, U.K. as part of a year-long exchange program, and Bologna, Italy as part of a summer SSHRCC research grant internship. These experiences abroad enhanced James’ passion for cities, their landscapes, and the role identity and culture play in sustainable communities.

In the Future, James hopes to work in social and/or cultural policy-making, where the knowledge, perspectives, and approaches he’s learned in the Autonomous Municipality of Viacha can provide him with a better perspective on the challenges facing Canadian urban centres today. He hopes to use his knowledge, and experiences to support the current work being done in the community; and hopes to engage with Indigenous and Latin American knowledge/perspectives that relate to the concept of sustainable cities to further explore the interconnectedness between the four pillars of sustainability.

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Ruth Casanova


Colima, Mexico

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Ruth was born/ lived in Valencia, Venezuela until the age of five. From the ages of five to ten, she lived in Panama until her immediate family immigrated to Canada. They lived in Quebec for several years then made a more permanent move to Ottawa. Her mother tongue is Spanish and she learned to speak French while growing up in Quebec. She had started speaking English while studying in Panama and leaned the rest going to school in Ontario.

Ruth was inspired to do her University degree in International Politics and Modern Languages by her stepfather who was a young diplomat in Venezuela. She wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the state of affairs in the world- always with a specific focus on Latin America given her roots. Ruth graduated in the Spring 2016 with a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa having completed her last year at the University of British Columbia. Given her affinity for languages, Ruth decided to do her degree in French Immersion (taking French as second language courses) as well as taking Spanish courses in literature and culture. Her degree in International Studies has explored a wide range of global political topics giving her a thorough understanding of economics, public policy, comparative politics, policy management, food politics, Latin –American politics, globalization, and some solid political research and writing skills.

Ruth is working as an Urban Marketing assistant at the Planning Institute for the city of Colima (IPCO). Her project consists of creating a plan for the development of a brand for the city of Colima. Currently, the city of Colima does not have an official image, logo, or city brand to represent and promote it. For this reason, the city is seeking to development a management tool to capture its identity under a defined vision, mission, and philosophy that will enhance the existing strengths and generate new opportunities for improvement.

On a more personal level, Ruth loves : traveling & exploring new places, the beach, and swimming in the ocean and she has strong interest in: film photography & fashion.

Layla Clarkson
Layla Clarkson

Durban, South Africa

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Originally from Victoria, Layla graduated from Simon Fraser University in Communication and International Studies. While at SFU and on exchange to Sciences Po University in Paris, France, Layla focused her courses around international communication, comparative world politics, research, and public engagement.

Applying her academic background into the professional world, in May 2015 Layla concluded an internship with the Embassy of Canada to Burma (Myanmar) as their Political Intern. During this eye-opening experience she worked directly with the Embassy’s Ambassador monitoring the political landscape in Burma and drafting reports on Canada’s foreign policy in the region.

Additionally, Layla has strong communication skills which remains a foundation in all of her work. Interning at both the CBC radio station in Victoria BC and the BC Tech Association, Layla strives to find the most efficient and effective ways of communicating in the workplace and with the public.

Layla looks forward to supporting and facilitating ways for government departments, academics and community members to come together on city issues in Durban, South Africa.

Nicholas Curry 


Viacha, Bolivia

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Nicholas is a graduate of UBC’s Political Science department in the Faculty of Arts.  During his studies he focused on environmental policy and became involved with many advocacy groups pushing policy initiatives to battle the negative impacts of climate change.  The groups and the campaigns he worked for led him to see the connection between, and become passionate about environmental issues and social justice.   Beyond being a student, over the past couple years Nicholas has been; an improviser, active outdoorsman, silviculture foreman, community program planner and most recently beverage manager of a restaurant.   

After having a year off post graduation Nicholas is excited to focus his energy back into social justice and environmental issues.  While in Bolivia, Nicholas will combine his passions for design and photography with sustainable community development as he embarks on his next venture acting as the Municipal Branding Advisor for the Municipality of Viacha.

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Danielle DeVries


Durban, South Africa

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Danielle is a sustainability enthusiast thrilled to be gaining international experience in the field. She graduated from SFU with a BSc Hons in Health Sciences and a Sustainable Community Development certificate. Throughout her degree Danielle studied health and the built environment by looking at the connections between how we design our living spaces and their influence on our health. She also had the opportunity to work with CityStudio over four different semesters on sustainability projects including the Everett Crowley Outdoor Learning Project.

Outside of school, Danielle works at a socially sustainable non-profit promoting the rights of people with disabilities, the Family Support Institute of BC. Through this job she has developed project management and presentation skills to bring to new ventures. After a hard day’s work, she loves to relax with her friends over a board game, glass of wine, and hilarious conversation.

international youth internship event held by centre for sustaina

Ingrid Garcia


Viacha, Bolivia

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Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Ingrid moved to Canada in 2011. As an architecture student in Colombia, researched on the cities along the Magdalena River, Medellín and Bogotá. She  holds a bachelor degree in architecture and has more than 7 years of professional experience as an Architectural Designer in Canada and Colombia. Eager about social urbanism and public policies, she has worked on the design and implementation of small to large ­scale projects in architecture and urbanism. She is interested on the role of planning in healthy communities and passionate about social interactions.

At the Municipality of Viacha, Ingrid interns as an Urban development Planning Assistant and she is helping the planning department update the Urban Development Plan.

international youth internship event held by centre for sustainaChantal Gougain


Los Cabos, Mexico

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Chantal Gougain is originally from Chile but grew up mainly in Vancouver, Canada. She graduated from SFU in 2014 with a BA in Communications and minor in Sociology. Chantal has always been very interested in areas of development and plans to work in internationally in the future. She would like to get her masters degree in Urban Planning next year to focus on the connection between our urban environment and the influence it has upon self-identity and sense of belonging. She would like to study the uneven social support systems that create inequitable urban settings and examine housing policies that have led to the racialization of regions. She is interested in the politics of forced global migrations, the redistribution of resources for different communities, and the way social and spatial identities are formed or lost, as a result of these changes. Chantal is currently interning at IMPLAN Los Cabos, Mexico. Her project consists of creating a methodology using urban indicators that will measure the strategies and objectives of the institute’s Development Plan of 2040.

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Madison Mackenzie


Durban, South Africa

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Originally from Vancouver, Madison graduated from the University of Victoria with a double major in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. During her degree, she conducted research on community and regional coastal-marine conservation in both the Gulf Islands and the Pacific Rim National Park. Her interest in food security led her to Cuba for a self-directed study on community-based urban agriculture through the Anthropology department. Madison also worked as a project manager with the international NPO Mosqoy, which promotes educational and cultural rights for Andean communities in Peru. These opportunities have helped to cultivate her interest working in sustainable development.

Madison’s greatest passion in life is travel. She has lived, backpacked, worked, and studied in over thirty-two countries across six continents. She is excited for the opportunity to explore more of Africa during her internship and to broaden her global perspective.

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Lisa Mak


Viacha, Bolivia

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Lisa first became interested in international development during her undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology. However, feeling the need to see and learn more of the world, she then traveled through Central America, where her interests in the environment, food security, sustainable livelihoods, and Indigenous cultures, knowledge and rights were further peaked. Afterwards, she headed to Australia, where she continued to explore these interests, earning a masters degree in International Urban and Environmental Management from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University.

She is passionate about traveling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures and ways of life. In particular, she is interested in examining and creating solutions for reconciling our relationship with the environment, in order to lead more sustainable lifestyles, especially in light of growing concerns and impacts of climate change. Therefore, in addition to her role in developing and implementing projects for more effective waste management in Viacha, she is also working to create a Climate Change Action Plan to address and mitigate the effects and risks of climate change for the municipality.

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Caroline Morrow


San José del Cabo, Mexico

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Caroline Morrow has a Master of Planning from Queen’s University, with a specialty in Environmental Services and a BA in International Development from McGill University, with minors in Environmental Studies and Field Studies. Her primary academic interests involve land management, food systems, community engagement and planning with Indigenous peoples.

Through her studies, she has done research in Panama, Mexico and India. In Panama, she worked with coffee farmers to investigate the potential for agro-tourism to offset the extra costs associated with organic farming. In Mexico she studied links between communal land management and food sovereignty. In India, she led a team of 10 students through a multi-faceted research project to develop a community participation framework for the town of Auroville.

She has also worked in the planning departments at the City of Guelph and City of Kingston. She spent the 2013-2014 school year coordinating after-school programming for at-risk youth in a Cree community in Northern Quebec. Caroline is considering continuing her studies, but would first like to gain experience planning internationally and in Northern Canada.

international youth internship event held by centre for sustaina

Pascale Laliberté


Guadalajara, Mexico

Pascale is undertaking her time at IMEPLAN (Planning Metropolitan Institute) in Guadalajara, Mexico, as an opportunity to deepen her understanding of urban challenges and how metropolitan governance can be part of the solution to these. Her experience in the 4,3 million inhabitants Mexican city will complement her master’s degree she just completed at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, in ‘International Planning’.

Her passion for cities and planning has arisen from various professional and personal experiences throughout the years. As part of her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Canadian Studies at the University of Ottawa, Pascale had the opportunity to intern at the Canadian Embassy to Chile in the Trade Section. Her time in Santiago made her aware of how cities can be alienating and lack valuable opportunities, especially in underserved communities.

Her work at the Embassy also introduced her to the mechanic of public policies and international affairs.

After returning to Canada, she took part in the non-partisan Parliamentary Internship Programme in which she had the chance to work for two Members of Parliament, one from the government and one from the opposition for a ten-month period. Serving in Parliament reaffirmed her interest for politics and policy making while also confirming her preference for the city-level side of the practice. In order to pursue her ambitions in the field, Pascale was honored to receive a Global Grant Scholarship from the Rotary Foundation that allowed her to study her master’s degree in England and advance community development through urban planning.

Pascale speaks fluently French, English and Spanish. She is delighted to be part of the SCIYI’s 2016 Fall cohort and contribute to creating vibrant environment in which there are opportunities for learning, growth, engagement, and access to services as part of her work experience in Guadalajara.

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Wendy Ly


Colima, Mexico

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Wendy graduated from the Global Management Program at Ryerson University. She interned abroad in Seoul, Korea implementing an Adult English Curriculum for the Engineer department, lived in Vancouver, British Columbia working at a boutique real estate development company, and recently completed an intensive full-time program in UX Design in Toronto.

Her experiences and travels to magnificent regions and landscapes where she witnessed sublime vegetation and diverse ecosystems ignited a passion for her to do meaningful work in sustainability. UX Design has taught her to develop solution based designs where she can create intentional and meaningful experiences for users to make it easier for people to live more eco conscious, full, and healthy lives.


international youth internship event held by centre for sustaina
Jessy Rajan

Guadalajara, Mexico


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Jessy Rajan is the Research Development Assistant at IMEPLAN, the planning institution for Metropolitan Guadalajara. Her research project was originally designated to risk mapping, but based on her previous experience and skills, IMEPLAN has been keen to incorporate her into current Agriculture and Waste Management projects.

Jessy is a recent graduate of the program Master’s of Natural Resources Environmental Studies from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). Her research focused on Municipal Solid Waste Management and conducted additional food waste research for UNBCs main eatery. In addition to research, Jessy’s role in the Green Centre, as the Sustainable Research Engagement Assistant allowed her to connect with much of the university community.

Through all her experience (travel, graduate school, employment), Jessy has learned that her role in working toward sustainable, healthy environments is through community engagement. She hopes to carry that into her current internship.

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Brenna Walsh


Dakar, Senegal

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Brenna Walsh has had a lifelong love for the outdoors, and grew up next to the ocean in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She is also a lover of long distance running, and thoroughly enjoys going out for a run and getting lost in the woods. Due to this love of the natural environment she has begun exploring different avenues of influence in sustainability and conservation, and hopes to use this internship to start to see where she best fits into working in this sector.

Brenna holds a BSc and PhD in physical chemistry, during which she worked on two research projects with broad scopes in sustainable initiatives, the first driven by the desire to use wood pyrolysis to create efficient biofuels and the second trying to understand inefficiencies in light absorption materials for next generation solar cells. After nine years of fundamental research, Brenna is ready to switch gears with Dakar’s waste management project and is excited to help with directly implementing sustainable initiatives at a community level.

Brenna Walsh will be working on three projects for the Insitut Africain de Gestion Urbaine (IAGU), an NGO founded in 1987 in Dakar, Senegal. The first is a collaboration between Luxembourg and Senegal with a focus household waste management. As part of the project, landfills will be built in six communities in Senegal. The best practices of landfill construction and operation will be facilitated by the IAGU team. The second project is Africain Biowastes for Energies and Fertilizer, and Brenna will be conducting interviews with current players in biogas production in Senegal to prepare policy briefs to transfer knowledge on biogas to those who could benefit from this technology. Additionally, Brenna will be continuing with a project started by the previous two SCIIP interns in partnership with IAGU to implement a composting site for organic waste from one of the largest permanent farmers markets in Dakar.