The year’s big stories: People
Remember, we’re the ones that are encroaching on bears’ traditional habitat — not vice versa. It’s a message Drake Stephens shares often. He is the Coquitlam co-ordinator of the B.C. Conservation Foundation’s Bear Aware program, designed to reduce the number of incidents of bear-human conflict via education, innovation and co-operation. And as development creeps further up the mountainside, including Burke Mountain, which will soon house some 24,000 people, the importance of Stephens’ job is appreciated. Whether it’s working with the public, conservation officers, city staffers or talking to the media, Stephens is dedicated to finding solutions to bear-human confrontations and isn’t afraid to speak up when people don’t do their part.
As the owner of Pasta Polo in Coquitlam, Fred Soofi uses food to make the community around him, and around the world, a better place. Soofi sponsored several “meal with a message” events this year, starting with the second annual Taste for Justice in June and a Human Rights Day dinner earlier this month. Both supported Amnesty International. It was Christmas in July at Pasta Polo when Soofi created several new dishes to support the Share food bank. Half the retail price of each dish was donated to Share, and Soofi matched the financial contribution to help support Share’s goal of raising $20,000 and 20,000 pounds of non-perishable food. And in October, Soofi helped bring Afghanistan politician Malalai Joya to Port Moody, saying he hoped to foster a sense of understanding through education. Most recently, he agreed to donate 10% of all gift card purchases between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31 to a “positive pass” program for youth.
Known as the “youth whisperer,” Jerome Bouvier works tirelessly to challenge young people to become positively involved in the community. He created Project Reach Out, a mobile drop-in centre and outreach program for youth that offers advice, referrals and friendship. This year, a second bus will be added to the program. Bouvier, executive director of PoCoMo Youth Services Society, also recently launched a positive pass program, whereby young people are rewarded for good actions with free meals, movie passes and more. Known for his easy-going, optimistic attitude, Bouvier loves to say: “They say it takes a whole village to raise a child, but I have discovered it takes the troubles of youth to raise a village.”