2014-2015 Board of Directors

The Board has full financial, legal and political responsibility for Food Secure Canada and is accountable to its membership. 

2014-15 Board Members (in alphabetical order)

Aart Schuurman Hess (BC)

David Askew (BC)

Elizabeth Abergel (QC)

Eric Chaurette (QC)

Kathleen Gibson (BC)

Lucia Stephen (NS)

Mandy Melnyk (AB)

Raquel Koenig (MB)

Sarah Archibald (ON)

Utcha Sawyers (ON)


Aart Schuurman Hess

Knowledge or experience working on food 

Aart will bring the voice of a large urban Food Bank open to change.The Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society has recently shifted  its' mission from 'emergency food and related assistance' to 'empowering people to nourish themselves by providing access to healthy food, education and training.' This is a difficult multi- layered shift for a 30 year old urban food bank. It is important for our national teams working on food security issues to understand and include the challenges and successes of how this can and will happen.
Aart also comes with years of experience with airline meal production.

Contribution to FSC 

Policy and governance.

David Askew

Knowledge or experience working on food 

Since 2007 David has been CEO of Askew’s Foods, founded by his grandfather in 1929. Askew’s operates 4 supermarkets in the Okanagan-Shuswap and is known for selling local and organic foods. They also use local professionals and suppliers, and purchase as much local goods and services as they can in order to develop and support the local economy. They endeavour to pay fair wages, and offer a comprehensive benefits package for all employees. Askew’s tries to ensure that everyone has access to fresh wholesome food at reasonable prices. They have a wide selection of organic and local foods but do not cater solely to those who are well off. David worked in the business from an early age and in 1974-75 was responsible for producing their own Kurosweet brand of cured meats. David was also active with the Council of Canadians in advocating for labeling GM organisms in the food chain.

Contribution to FSC 

In terms of the contribution David can make, he has considerable experience serving on corporate and volunteer boards. He was President of the University of Toronto Staff Association for eight years and as such a member of the Executive. As President he was able to improve wages, pensions and benefits for the 3600 administrative staff members of the University. He currently sits on the Board of Askew’s Foods and number of other related companies. He is connected with other grocers and Askew’s suppliers and this may enable him to assist in community development and fund raising.
He is a strong advocate of social justice and a reasonable distribution of wealth. He believes that everyone should have the means to eat a healthy diet and would like to assist Food Secure Canada’s effort to achieve this goal.

Elizabeth Abergel

Knowledge or experience working on food

Elisabeth is professor of sociology, specialized in the field of science and technology studies, at UQÀM. She is fluently bilingual, lives in Montreal, and has a broad and deep knowledge of both the academic and scientific aspects of the food system at the local and international level. She has academic and practical experience in biotechnology/genetic engineering - as a trained molecular biologist who worked in the biotechnology industry (agricultural and pharmaceutical fields) and one who studies the social and political impacts of agricultural biotech and life technologies. Her area of expertise is the use of science in public policy and regulations as well as the impact of technological change on the food system and ecological sustainability in general, as well as civil society mobilization around GMOs and food security.  Her work also focuses on GM contamination, issues of food safety, quality and availability. She is a long-standing anti-GMO activist and sustainable agriculture advocate.

Contribution to FSC

While her main contribution might be in the area of policy, she can also bring people from these networks into our work. She is knowledgeable, thoughtful, and communicates very well with a variety of audiences

Eric Chaurette

Knowledge or experience working on food 

Eric is a co-manager at Inter Pares, an international social justice organization based in Ottawa. Inter Pares, which means "among equals" in Latin, supports people's struggles for peace, justice, and equality overseas and here in Canada. Since 2005, when he joined the organization, Eric has worked to build greater linkages among social movements for systemic change. This includes active involvement and support for the International Ban Terminator campaign; coordinating public forums to raise critical awareness regarding science, technology and development policies, and their impacts on food sovereignty in Canada and in the Global South.

Eric is also a co-founder of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, where he was Chair from 2006 to 2011, and of the People’s Food Policy Project. Before joining Inter Pares, Eric worked in environmental education and community-based conservation in remote communities of Quebec and Labrador, and in Latin America. Eric lives in Gatineau, Quebec with his family.

Contribution to FSC 

As a Board member of Food Secure Canada, Eric would continue to provide his time and energy to furthering the goals of this wonderful organization, helping FSC to continue to grow, to be financially secure, to strengthen its work as a convenor and connector of the food movement, and also as a key voice for turning the Peoples Food Policy from a collective dream into reality. Eric would be pleased to continue to supporting FSC in the areas of governance, fundraising, network and alliance-building (connecting FSC to other social movements in Canada and internationally).

Kathleen Gibson

Knowledge or experience working on food

I have been involved in agriculture and food policy issues for 30 years, starting with the BC Federation of Agriculture in 1982.  I have pursued projects related to sustainable agri-food systems ever since.  I worked with FarmFolk/CityFolk in Vancouver 1998-2001 and am a founding member of food security organizations locally (in Victoria), provincially (in BC), and nationally through Food Secure Canada.  Since 2002, through my consulting company, I have been actively engaged in law and policy reform in BC for sustainable food systems, through projects on supply management, meat inspection and other issues, for clients including the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, the BC Food Processors Association and the Farm Industry Review Board.  I have also worked as a writer and editor, including four years as an op-ed columnist for Country Life in BC, the province’s farm newspaper.

Contribution to FSC
I am trained in communications, conflict resolution, process facilitation, and (since 2007 and ongoing) “Leadership for the New Commons” with the Whidbey Institute in Washington State (the curriculum derives from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government).  My experience and knowledge of policy analysis and development, conflict resolution, NGO governance and management, process facilitation, strategic planning, government relations, writing and editing will be of service to Food Secure Canada. I have a strong network of industry, government, academic and NGO contacts which can help inform FSC’s policy issues.

Lucia Stephen 

Knowledge or experience working on food

From her academic experience at Dalhousie University (Honours in Social Anthropology) and the University of California (Centre for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems) and through her involvement and activism with numerous regional and national grassroots initiatives, Lucia has over a decade of experience supporting the vitality and growth of local organic food systems, and finds deep fascination in the fundamental relationship between people and food/plants– as well as from the joys of growing food (and flowers) herself.

Since December 2010, she has worked for the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) as the Maritime coordinator for the SOIL Apprenticeship program; coordinated the 2011 ACORN Conference and Trade Show in Halifax; and has most recently worked as the co-founder and coordinator for the region's first farm-based, curriculum guided apprenticeship and mentorship program: ACORN's Grow A Farmer Apprenticeship and Mentorship program, which hosts the annual Beginner Farmer Symposium - a regional gathering uniting new and aspiring farmers from across Eastern Canada.

Her primary work and interests lie in finding ways to promote, recruit and support new entrants to agriculture.

Contribution to FSC

She serves on: National Advisory Committee for Young Agrarians, National New Farmer Coalition Advisory Committee, Atlantic Regional Coordinator for the National New Farmer Initiative and Board Member to FarmWorks Investment Cooperative Limited. She is also actively engaged with the planning, promotion, and development of the 2014 FSC National Assembly. She is happy to offer input and engagement with discussions surrounding fundraising, community building, agricultural awareness and more!

Mandy Melnyk

Knowledge or experience working on food

I am a direct market farmer in Alberta focusing on Organic Vegetables and hormone free poultry and pork production.  I sell my product in Edmonton and North East Alberta.  I am in year 3 and am learning and growing each day.  Education is  key to sustainability and I feel very strong that we have a long way to go in Education.  I have been developing a education program for schools in Edmonton and Fort McMurray and feel I have a great deal to learn and contribute to and from Food Secure Canada.  I will be speaking all winter in schools and communities across Edmonton and North East Alberta and feel that will be incredibly valuable to your organization. www.meadowcreekfarms.ca

Contribution to FSC

I have been a member of the NFU since I was 14 and sat on the board in a variety of positions.  I am a political candidate with a food focus and work to lobby politicians on all level of government on the importance for local food policy. I am a mover and a shaker passionate about educating eaters. I feel everyone should have a farmer as they do a doctor.

Raquel Koenig

Knowledge or experience working on food

Raquel has knowledge and experience working with northern and First Nation communities with implementing food self-sufficiency projects such as garden initiatives, greenhouse projects, community foods program, backyard chicken production and traditional foods projects. She has a good knowledge on the complex issues related to the high cost of food in northern Manitoba.Raquel has been a part of the planning committee for Food Matters Growing Local Conference, primarily the Indigenous stream as well as the Sharing Our Food Stories event . This event offered participants from northern and First Nations communities an opportunity to gather and share traditional food stories and knowledge.

Contribution to FSC

Raquel would be a great contribution to FSC as she brings a northern and First Nations perspective. As the Northern Liaison she was able to build strong relationships with northern and First Nation communities. She is aware of the historical experience of Aboriginal people.

Sarah Archibald

Knowledge or experience working on food

Farming: Apprenticeship (Sackville,NB 2009) WOOFing (Costa Rica,Nicaragua,Italy,Spain,BC, NS,NB,ON,QC).

Studies: B.Sc in Global Food Systems & Ag at McGill, focus on ecological agriculture (studied food systems from lens of economics,anthropology,environment,geography & biology with emphasis on field experience).

Seeds: Worked with USC Canada in Honduras on seed research in 2009, spent 4 months at the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome helping finalize their Global Systems Project


  • Coordinated McGill Food Systems Project for 3 yrs
  • Developed Sustainable Seafood Applied Student Research course, leading McGill to become Canada's first Marine Stewardship Council Certified University
  • Founding member of Out of the Garden Project at McGill (helped create a closed food system thru composting+ initiatives)
  • Now supports students doing this kind of work across Canada as coordinator of CFSP

Contribution to FSC

  • Sarah would be keen to help in community building, education and outreach.
  • She would bring with her a vast network of young food activists, young farmers and students interested in food issues from across the country and is keen to act as a youth liaison to the board and promote youth involvement in FSC. Sarah has been the other key leader keeping the youth caucus going in recent months (along with Brynne).
  • She would also support building relationships between FSC and universities for research, events and other initiatives
  • Keen interest in and knowledge of ecological agriculture
  • Would also welcome taking on new roles and gaining new experiences in her time on the Board

Utcha Sawyers

Knowledge or experience working on food

Utcha Sawyers is a creative, charismatic leader, successfully giving voice and structure to the movement for many groups currently excluded from food organizations and the food movement. As FoodShare’s first Food Justice Manager, Utcha is leading FoodShare to better understand issues of racism that affect first nations, communities of colour and new Canadians. Working with all these diverse communities in Toronto and increasingly across Canada, Utcha is building an Alliance Strategy for a diverse and inclusive Food Justice Movement.

Contribution to FSC

Utcha would advance FSC's food justice agenda. Utcha is also an experienced fundraiser, community builder with a great deal of experience on non-profit boards and also would bring governance and policy development experience to the FSC Board.Utcha sits on many Advisory Boards: Growing Food Justice for All Initiative, Toronto Food Policy Council, Community Based Catering Network, Malvern Revitalization Committee, Scarborough Food Action Network, Migrant Dreams Documentary Initiative and is the FoodShare partnership representative on Black Creek Community Farm, Let's Get Growing, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, Intensive Leadership Facilitation Training (Dismantling Racism workshops).