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Concordia’s ambassadors of social and environmental change

10 members of the campus community were named this year’s Sustainability Champions
March 23, 2015
By Angela MacKenzie

From rooftop gardens to community kitchens, Concordians continue to support sustainability through their involvement in a broad spectrum of activities in their daily lives.

Recently, 10 student, faculty and staff honorees were recognized for their efforts at the fifth annual Sustainability Champions Awards Gala. The event, held on Thursday, March 12 in the Engineering, Computer Science, and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV), was organized by the Concordia Sustainability Hub Workgroup, an open-door collective of individuals and groups.

The 2015 Sustainability Champions pose with their awards The 2015 Sustainability Champions pose with their awards. | Photos by Concordia University

“Sustainability is not something that has just become fashionable, it is something that has been in the DNA of this institution for many years,” President Alan Shepard said in his speech. He recounted the numerous accomplishments made by the university in recent years, highlighting the school’s important involvement in the UN Future Earth initiative.

The event’s guest of honour was renowned environmental activist and author Vandana Shiva. In her speech she applauded the university’s involvement in Future Earth and praised the variety and diversity of sustainable movements on campus. “The beauty of sustainability is that it cannot stand in isolation,” she said.  

The gala was designed to be a model sustainable event. The food, catered by Vert la Bouche, was seasonal, local and vegan. The tables were decorated with terrarium centrepieces from the Concordia greenhouse. Reusable dinnerware was rented from R4, and the jazz band was hired from the university’s own music department. The awards themselves were handcrafted from salvaged wooden blocks and stained with eco-friendly walnut oil.

Nominators were each given a minute to present the recipients with their awards, and describe how they had worked to improve social, ecological or economic areas of Concordia.

Special guest Vandana Shiva Special guest Vandana Shiva

Gabrielle Caron, one of the student recipients, was nominated by three of her peers for her involvement in a variety of initiatives on campus including Sustainable Concordia and the Concordia Food Coalition.

“I feel really honoured and a little overwhelmed,” she said. “This award is not only mine, it belongs to others as well. So many people put effort into those projects.”

“Gabrielle always thinks with a sustainable mindset,” said one of her nominators, Mark Underwood. “She really lives it.”

Staff recipient Henry Lemmetti, a technical supervisor for the Department of Communication Studies, was thrilled to receive his award from colleague Mike Smart. Lemmetti has put his green thumb to good use for years, filling the entranceways and corridors of the Communication Studies and Journalism Building (CJ) with an amazing collection of plants that have flourished under his care.

“I’m retiring in April,” he said. “I’ll be coming back to Loyola once a week during the school year so I can continue caring for the plants as a volunteer.”

The full list of Concordia’s 2015 Sustainability Champions:

Gabrielle Caron (student) - Concordia Food Coalition, Rooftop Gardens Project, Sustainable Concordia
Mike Finck (student) - Sustainable Concordia, Climate Justice Montreal
Paige Hilderman (student) - Concordia Food Coalition
Cody Jacobs (student) - La Cooperative des brasseurs illuminés
Renée Obregon (student) - Sustainable Concordia, Concordia Safe Cosmetics Club
Ricardo Dal Farra (faculty) - Hexagram Concordia researcher
James Grant (faculty) - Professor of Biology
Henry Lemmetti (staff) - Technical Supervisor, Communication Studies
Adan Suazo (staff) - Coordinator, Loyola Sustainability Research Centre
Cloé Daguet (community member)

For more about sustainable initiatives at Concordia read up on the Sustainability Hub.

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