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The GARDENS Advisory Council

We are a collaborative grassroots group made up of residents, agencies, and community college and faith groups living in and around the South Etobicoke Community. The project team has an extensive educational background in areas such as health promotions, health and nutrition, food security, and urban studies. Partnerships have been formed on a number of initiatives. Some of us have had considerable experience working together (at least 15 years) on various projects.

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Elizabeth Dove (Co-Chair)

Elizabeth Dove is the Director of Humber College’s Centre for Social Innovation.  Elizabeth joins Humber from Volunteer Canada where she was the Director of Corporate Citizenship. Elizabeth is also a lecturer and mentor in the post-secondary environment. She previously taught Adult Learning & Training and NGO Management in Humber’s Longo Faculty of Business and at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Graduate Diploma program. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in International Development and Consumer Studies from the University of Guelph and a Master of Management (MM) with a social impact concentration from McGill University in the McGill-McConnell Program for National Voluntary Sector Leaders. Elizabeth is also a proud recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work on social justice issues. 

Passionate about the power of collaboration, throughout her career Elizabeth has focused on bringing together actors from varied organizations and sectors to generate social impact and innovation. She has worked as senior staff and consultant for companies and non-profits to advance strategic approaches to health challenges, empowerment of women and youth, allyship for Indigenous Peoples, resourcing the Arts, practices to create better engaged global citizens, and policies to address extreme poverty in the Global South. 

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Travis Milnes

Travis has spent the last 12 years in various post-secondary studies and has earned Master’s degree from Colorado State University in Sociology, with a specific focus on environmental sustainability and community resiliency. He is driven to projects that spark change in some of the world’s most disruptive systems that threaten the sustainability of our future. He currently works as a specialist in developing high-impact projects that both advance community climate resiliency and enhance student sustainability leadership competencies through experiential learning. He looks forward to supporting the GARDENS in enhancing community collaboration, food security, resiliency, and sustainability.  

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Isha Green (Interim Co-Chair)

Isha Green is the Health Promoter and Community Health Worker (Youth Focused) at LAMP Community Health Centre (CHC) and currently serves as Co-chair on the Garden’s Education Team. She has over 10 years experience working with various populations and demographics within Etobicoke. Isha oversees LAMP Good Food Markets which ensures healthy food security for seniors and families within the South Etobicoke area. She is also actively engaged in the planning and development of LAMP CHC’s Youth programs and other major events such as the annual Back to School Health and Wellness Fair. Isha’s passion for serving the community in which she was raised has allowed her to take a compassionate and empathetic strength-based approach to providing her community with resources necessary to combat systemic barriers such as food insecurity, homelessness, inequity in education and Anti-Black racism.

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Ayesha Amin

Ayesha has worked as the Global Learning and Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at Humber College since 2020, supporting the Faculty of Social and Community Services’ internationalization efforts and special projects emerging from the Office of the Senior Dean and Principal’s Office at Lakeshore Campus. With a range of expertise in non-profit and public institutions, including postsecondary student supervision, communications and marketing, facilitation, and training and development, she previously worked in international and community development in Canada and abroad. She holds a Master of Education from the University of Toronto/University of Glasgow in Adult Education and Community Development.

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Gabi Hentschke  

Gabi loves gardening, community engagement, and hands-on learning opportunities. She worked for the GARDENS Project in 2020 and 2021 and is excited to put that experience towards supporting the GAC. Gabi believes that urban gardening has the potential to fundamentally transform how community members relate to one another and to the food they consume. She is also an advocate for food justice and climate action.  

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Carly Spragg

Carly Spragg has been a resident of South Etobicoke since 2018. Looking to get involved with the community as well as support social and environmental initiatives, she was welcomed on to the Gardens Advisory Committee in 2021. Carly has a background in nursing and is passionate about gardening, local food and biking around the city.  

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Vanessa Keall-Vejar

Vanessa has been a resident of Central and South Etobicoke since 2005 and has had extensive capacity-building experiences from partnerships within the TDSB, Youth Sports, and The Gardens Lakeshore. Currently, she is an Honours Bachelor of Community Development and Global Citizenship student, having previously studied at UBC and Ryerson. A mother, small business owner, and outdoor/gardening enthusiast, she is particularly interested in research surrounding housing access and affordability inclusive of green space and food security development systems. South Etobicoke community sustainability and how we can collectively work with existing community stakeholders is a passion she is grateful to be a part of within this advisory research group. 

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Karen Weishuuhn, MSc RD

Karen has lived in the community of Long Branch for over 15 years.  As a registered dietitian she has spent her career focused on health and wellness both during and after pregnancy.  Through her master's degree and her current role at Mount Sinai Hospital she has focused on the unique nutritional needs of extremely premature infants.  Throughout her career she has had firsthand experience dealing with the inequities experienced in both the pregnant patient as well as infancy in those who are food insecure.  This has led her to work to alleviate food insecurity within her own community.   

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Shirali Ruparelia

Shirali Ruparelia is a South Etobicoke resident interested in community building initiatives. She has been a schoolteacher for the past 10 years and is a member of the Eco-Committee where students are engaged in environmental issues and practices at school. Shirali has a passion for gardening and is committed to food security initiatives. Shirali is a life-long learner and has made it her goal to educate herself about gardening and building community. Shirali supports the Vision of the GARDENS Advisory Council where community members work together on issues of food security, housing, employment, and poverty. Shirali lives in the Lakeshore area and is looking forward to being part of the GARDENS Advisory Council and building relationships with the community. 

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Jim Sanderson

Jim Sanderson is one of the original members of the GARDENS project.   He helps with the construction of the raised garden beds among other things.  He has been pastor of Mimico Baptist Church (MBC) since November 1994.  He is married to Jennifer and they have three grown children.  His family is a great source of pride and joy.   Jim enjoys the outdoors, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and snowshoeing.  He loves his church and community.  Jim trained four years to be an illustrator, served one year with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, and three years as a director of a ministry to young offenders and troubled youth.  He completed his M.Div. at Tyndale University.  Jim was instrumental in establishing the Annual Mimico Party in the Park Festival, the Mimico Residents Association, Mimico Children’s Choir, the Christmas Tree Lighting service and an Annual Remembrance service for the Guiding and Scouting groups of south Etobicoke.    

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS

LAMP CHC is a multi-service, community based charitable organization that provides a wide range of programs and services to improve a person’s health. LAMP uses a coordinated approach to connect people to medical services and other programs that build personal resources. By providing services that improve physical, emotional, social, and economic well-being, people can better control their health and environment. 

LEGS is a gardening and environmental society that aims to create and maintain harmony between the land and the people. They strive to create and protect beautiful landscapes while also protecting the wildlife that surrounds us. They also advocate for healthier, stronger, and vibrant neighbourhood ties through gardening.

A community group of local residents and park users dedicated to protecting, enhancing and preserving the naturalized areas of Colonel Samuel Smith Park in South Etobicoke, Ontario.

The Humber community is comprised of 27,500 full-time and 56,000 continuing education registrants across three campuses. Our students, faculty, and staff contribute to the local communities and there are many volunteer opportunities and ways to celebrate Humber’s diversity.

Quest Brands is a manufacturer of fencing and garden products. The company made a generous donation of supplies for the 2018 season that enabled us to build trellises and supports for all of our vine and climbing plants. Thank you Quest!

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