A crowd of people in the Chan Centre reception area

Award Winners

The Nestor Korchinsky Award

In honour of Nestor Korchinsky, the founder of UBC REC, the Nestor Korchinsky Award recognizes one student who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to student leadership and service to their community. The recipient for the Nestor Korchinsky Award will be announced at the opening ceremony of the conference in January.

2020 Nestor Korchinsky Award Recipient 

Rachel Garrett

Rachel Garrett

In law school at UBC so far, Rachel has volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada to create an innovative Gladue Report Writing Clinic (the first of its kind in Vancouver) with the aim to improve access to justice for Indigenous people facing sentencing in Vancouver for years to come. She spent her second year of law school working with the International Justice & Human Rights Clinic conducting research for the United Nations Human Rights Committee both remotely from Vancouver and in Geneva, where she aided with solving human rights complaints and presented her innovative research to UN members on how the UN can better serve asylum-seekers, particularly survivors of sexual violence. At the UN, she saw Canada falling behind on the global stage in terms of environmental legislation, and took the initiative to spend the past year drafting new innovative Rights of Nature legislation. Her paper on this new draft legislation has been published by UBC’s Centre for Law and the Environment. During her undergraduate degree at UBC, Rachel served as President of the UBC Pride Collective, where she designed and facilitated workshops on Allyship, Intersectionality, Safer Sex, Healthy Relationships, Peer Support, and Allyship to the Trans Community, to educate the UBC population. She worked on Transgender Day of Remembrance events and helped to organize an academic conference for LGBTQ2+ scholars. She also fought for the funding of anonymous support groups, and personally facilitated weekly support groups to help students dealing with mental health and coming out. She led the group through tough times when the group’s rainbow flag was burned on campus, showing true leadership when she had to make tough decisions to postpone events to protect LGBTQ2+ students on campus when threats had been made.

The Faces of Today Award

The Faces of Today Awards recognize outstanding student leaders for their sustained leadership achievements and their efforts to innovate, improve and shape life on and off campus. Every year, eight student leaders are selected as the Faces of Today and announced as the recipients before the conference.

2020 Faces of Today Award Recipients 

John Michael (Njamba) Koffi, Faculty of Arts, 4th year

John Michael (Njamba) Koffi

Njamba has advocated for growing the African Studies Minor Program at UBC. During his time as president of the UBC Africa Awareness Initiative, he co-organized a one-day African Studies conference that brought together UBC Faculty, Staff and students, and a four-day conference that explored black-Iindigenous relations, mental health, and healing the museum – among many subjects related to decolonization. He also brought together an international team to build a resource centre for youth in Mpaka Refugee Camp in Malindza, eSwatini. The resource centre is under construction, and online courses for the youth through Amala Education will begin in January 2021.

Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, UBC Faculty of Medicine

Sukhmeet Singh Sachal

Sukhmeet has been working with Elders and Indigenous youth to develop the Break The Divide (BTD) program, which connects youth from around the world to have conversations around mental health, climate change, reconciliation and other critical issues. In addition to BTD, in partnership with the UN Youth Envoy and UN Global Indigenous Youth Caucus, Sukhmeet also co-founded an initiative called Translations 4 Our Nations, which provides COVID-19 information to over 40 Indigenous communities around the world in their respective languages. In continuation with his work around culturally-effective care, Sukhmeet has also created the COVID-19 Sikh Gurdwara Initiative that helps provide knowledge translation around COVID-19 to the South Asian community across Canada with evidence-based information provided by Fraser Health and support from the Clinton Foundation. In medical school, he is also planning the creation of an awareness campaign that highlights the injustices that Indigenous Peoples have faced and continue to face when attempting to access healthcare in Canada. His goal is to devise practical ways that medical students and future providers can reduce this type of discrimination. 

Astitwa Thapa, Allard Law School, 3rd year

Astitwa Thapa

Astitwa is a passionate social justice advocate who worked as a Legal Advocate for Prison Legal Services;  he assisted medically vulnerable prisoners in getting parole/early-release due to COVID. He also volunteers for UBCs Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP), where he helps clients with criminal, immigration, residential tenancy, and employment cases.  Astitwa chairs the Outreach Committee at Green College Residence, where he is responsible for outreach activities like organizing speaker series and clothing drives.  Astitwa advocates for the rights and well-being of people who use drugs and migrant sex workers.

Aiyana Twigg, Faculty of Arts, 3rd year

Aiyana Twigg

Aiyana is an active leader in their home communitys language revitalization projects, working as an Arts Indigenous Student Advising Peer Advisor (AISA Peer Advisor for short) and main facilitator for the Indigenous leadership collective. As the child and grandchild of residential school survivors, she has articulated a passionate commitment to learning and revitalizing Indigenous language and culture. Aiyana created an Instagram account @KtunaxaPride to promote their language and culture among youth in their community. This project and their active, long-term commitment to Ktunaxa language revitalization, will be significant for the Ktunaxa-speaking communities going forward. Aiyana has a goal to decolonize linguistic study and strengthen the connections between linguistic analysis, language and culture. This winter, she will be working with UBC faculty to develop culturally appropriate lexicographic resources for Indigenous communities. Aiyana is also part of the Indigenous Leadership Collective which holds a friendly space for Indigenous students to build community.

Yuki Sathvik Fujiwara, Faculty of Science, 4th year

Yuki Sathvik Fujiwara

Sathvik co-lead/developed a workshop on the land acknowledgements for the tandem session participants at the Global Lounge, enabling attendees to draw on their own experience. Coming from a mixed-race background, Sathvik created a panel exploring mixed-race identities: Navigating Mixed Race Identities” with students and scholars to share their personal experiences. Leading a team of diverse students from across campus, he arranged a keynote from renowned mixed-race scholar Dr. Minelle Mahtani, Senior Advisor for Racialized Faculty, and facilitated this interactive event, among the largest at the Global Lounge. His efforts have undoubtedly changed the campus for the better for folks of mixed-race backgrounds and the experience has led him to pursue establishing a mixed-race club on campus.   

Deea K Dev, Faculty of Science, 3rd year

Deea K Dev

Deea won the #RisingYouth grant to lead a project assembling and distributing mental wellness kits for youth seeking help and services from Covenant House, a non-profit providing support for homeless and at-risk youth in Vancouver. She also organised a virtual fundraiser to fund the increased needs at Covenant House during the pandemic. Deea additionally won the Connect to Community grant for their proposal to implement nutrition education, through in-person workshops, for women living at the shelters at Atira Womens Resource Society. In response to the pandemic, she adapted the idea to a virtual community kitchen, and led a team of 10 volunteers, Atira staff, and professional dieticians to continue delivering this program.

Tamasha Hussein, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, 3rd year

Tamasha Hussein

As part of the WUSC-UBC community, Tamasha helps in supporting newly admitted WUSC scholars in their integration into the UBC community. She is also a recipient of the WUSC scholarship, which was issued to her in recognition of her academic achievements and her health and peer support initiatives in the Dzaleka Refugee camp in Malawi, where she lived for thirteen years. She has also contributed to UBC campus life as a Jump Start Orientation Leader, Wellness Peer, a Residence Advisor, and a Teaching Assistant in the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

Enav Zusman, Pharmaceutical Sciences, 4th year

Enav Zusman

As part of her work with the Acadia Park Residents Association, Enav has made a significant impact on the Acadia Park community this year. In response to the pandemic, she started a food security initiative, education programming and community engagement platforms in Acadia Park, for which she secured funds, coordinate volunteers, and collaborate with community partners, while abiding by COVID-19 guidelines. She also began coordinating a network of Acadia Park residents that support families in need. This group helps with grocery deliveries for families in isolation and helps in accessing social resources during the pandemic.

The Showcase Awards

The Showcase Awards recognize student-led organizations or initiatives on or off campus that have contributed positively to the UBC community and have the potential to significantly impact our community.

2020 Showcase Award Recipients: 

Kite Vancouver

Kite Vancouver

Kite Vancouver provides students with the platform to design, run and scale community projects from the ground up. The diverse team identifies opportunities for improving the community, assesses available resources, and then develops projects that have engaged hundreds of volunteers as active agents of change. Kite Vancouver is currently involved in tutoring at low-income schools, employment resources for the DTES and mental health advocacy. Rise Tutoring was started in September 2018 with the primary goal of providing one-on-one tutoring and mentorship to high school students in low socioeconomic areas of Vancouver



Created in response to the demand for climate change narratives that focus on hope and action rather than doom and gloom, YCAP offers free climate justice workshops supported by the UBC Climate Hub in partnership with Be The Change Earth Alliance. Young people’s voices are key in communicating the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to approach from a lens of climate justice. 



The KUS BIPOC Committee aims to create an inclusive environment for Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color in the KUS. They strive to create events dedicated to the needs of our Black communities and communities of color, and maintain an open dialogue that allows them to listen to and uphold the greater interests of these students. The BIPOC committee has laid the groundwork for systemic change and culture shifts by initiating conversations with staff, faculty and student leaders who have already begun reviewing current practices and determining actionable next steps to advance inclusion in the School.



The club aims to bring awareness to the gender gap in STEM through various outreach activities in the community and gives members the opportunity to be role models for the next generation of students. The club teaches high school students about the gender gap and the importance of diversity in STEM, helping equip them to both create and work in more inclusive environments. The club also fosters a more equitable community at UBC by supporting female-identifying students and hosting an annual conference.