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Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.

April 12, 2018

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained sums up experience of students in the capstone course of Wilfrid Laurier University’s innovative Social Entrepreneurship Option.

Since September, nine undergraduate students in the arts-based option have worked to design, test, adapt and launch financially viable social ventures that address specific societal issues. The venture launches are the core requirement of SE400: Capstone in Social Entrepreneurship led by Edmund Pries, option coordinator and assistant professor in Laurier’s Global Studies and Religion and Culture departments.

“Students completing this program option are skilled critical thinkers who understand the depth and complexity of the societal issues they are seeking to address,” says Pries. “Their ability to take the additional steps to develop innovative and creative solutions defines them as social entrepreneurs and societal change leaders.”

Student-entrepreneurs introduced their ventures to the Laurier community during an open house on March 29. Eight unique and sustainable ventures that tackle a range of issues – from cultural integration to accessible waste management systems – were presented. Pries says some of the students will remain at Laurier this summer to participate in a mentoring program sponsored by the university’s C3 (Campus-City-Community) Innovation Labs to further develop their venture.

Laurier’s undergraduate social entrepreneurship option is the first of its kind in Canada. The university received the prestigious Ashoka U Changemaker Campus designation in 2016 for leadership in social entrepreneurship and social innovation education.

“We encourage more students to take up the challenge of social entrepreneurship,” says Pries. “We are certainly ready to assist them in their goals.”


Garden to Tables

Meat products can be costly. Not only can they run up a grocery bill, but a diet rich with meat products can have negative health implications, says Alexandra Smith.

Embracing a vegetarian lifestyle is the motivation behind her enterprise, Garden to Tables, which teaches people how to prepare nutritious and affordable plant-based meals.

Class menus are co-designed by Smith and chef Mirella Damiani. Longo’s grocery store has agreed to host Garden to Tables’ classes in their North York store location with Molisana Imports providing ingredients to Smith at no charge. Classes will start in September 2018. Class tickets will be sold online.

With little overhead to carry, Smith plans to use a portion of ticket sales to coordinate cooking classes for people experiencing food insecurity, teaching them how to prepare healthy, plant-based meals with ingredients sourced from local food banks.

Experiencing food insecurity can lead to feelings of isolation and embarrassment, says Smith, who hopes to restore feelings of hope and empowerment during the small group classes. Follow Garden to Tables on Instagram or email for more information.

Hungry Hippie

Venessa Richards and Amanda Nobile would like to see more vegan food options around Laurier’s Waterloo campus. To address the shortage, they created Hungry Hippie, an eco-friendly food service offering vegan dishes made from local ingredients.

Hungry Hippie’s menu features Richards and Nobile’s favourite vegan comfort food recipes, including eggplant parmesan and roasted cauliflower wraps topped with tofu tzatziki. To date, the student chefs have cooked in Richard’s apartment kitchen and sourced ingredients from local grocers. All of Hungry Hippie’s meals are packaged in compostable containers from GreenMunch.

Richards and Nobile will rent commercial kitchen space in downtown Kitchener three days per week beginning in September 2018 to fill orders received through their website. Meals will be delivered using the emissions-free delivery service EcoCourierKW.

Follow Hungry Hippie on Instagram.

Mid-Nite Market

Many students only call Waterloo home for eight months of the year, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking an interest in the community, according to Samantha Sharratt.

To encourage student-community engagement and neighbourhood pride, Sharratt is planning an open-air night market in the Northdale area of Waterloo. Northdale has seen considerable demographic change with an increased number of student rental properties. Sharratt envisions a market-like setting where students and city residents can connect, enjoy live music, eat and shop local vendors.

A food truck event will kick off Sharratt’s community-building efforts later this spring. Look for details on Mid-Nite Market’s Instagram account.

STIL: Sustainability Through an Inclusive Lens

Two years ago, Hillary Scanlon could see which recycling receptacle that her empty pop can belonged in. But Scanlon’s vision has declined since 2016, which makes it difficult for the green-minded student to locate public waste containers, much less distinguish recycling bins from those designated for trash or organic materials.

To make recycling and waste management at Laurier accessible to all students, Scanlon launched Sustainability Through an Inclusive Lens (STIL). Through STIL, she has developed a series of signage prototypes that will help individuals with limited vision locate and distinguish recycling and waste receptacles. Although braille is an alternative alphabet for people with vision loss, only one in 10 actually read braille, says Scanlon. And even if more people knew braille, reading it from a garbage receptacle is unsanitary.

Scanlon’s signage system consists of textured shapes that will be raised slightly from the floor and placed at the foot of appropriate waste receptacles. It’s a concept with benefits for sighted individuals, too. With many looking down at their smartphones, Scanlon hopes the floor signage will encourage more students to put their waste and recyclables in the proper receptacles.

Scanlon has received $32,500 from the Student Life Levy to support her project, which will be implemented across Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses in fall 2018. She plans to spend the summer months finalizing the communications plan and education materials for the signage system.

Eat Halal

Adeen Fayyaz is taking the guesswork out of finding halal restaurants and grocers in the tri-cities. She’s launched, a website with a helpful listing of halal-friendly locations in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

For those unfamiliar with halal, Fayyaz’s website offers an easy, straightforward explanation of the traditional Islamic custom of preparing food, along with its associated health benefits. The site also offers advertising options for halal restaurateurs and grocers.

Since its launch on March 11, the site has had more than 1,500 page views, a sign to Fayyaz that her project is making an impact. By fall 2018, Fayyaz would like to include halal restaurants and grocers in cities across southwestern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area on the site.

Crafts and Good Karma

Sophia McKernan can deliver creativity and happiness to your doorstep. Her venture Crafts and Good Karma is an in-home guided crafting service with a ready-made menu of environmentally friendly projects.

Websites like Pinterest offer lots of project ideas but can overwhelm the most experienced crafters. McKernan takes clients through projects step-by-step, breaking down barriers for those with limited creative experience.

Crafts and Good Karma features multi-media projects for all levels of crafters. The creative menu features fun and functional projects with long lifecycles to avoid them ending up in the trash.

Research shows that creative activities can improve mental health, making McKernan’s venture beneficial to clients of all ages. Follow Crafts and Good Karma on Instagram.

Yugo: The Cultural Knowledge Platform

Shinjni Sharma, who immigrated to Canada at nine-years old, says unwelcoming classrooms can lead to traumatic school experiences for newcomers.

To promote intercultural understanding and respect, Sharma has created Yugo, an online cultural knowledge platform. Yugo is a Japanese word for fusion, which is how Sharma sees Canada – a fusion of people and culture. The platform is intended for educational purposes, says Sharma and includes modules, games and simulations to teach about culture and integrated societies.

Sharma plans to make the platform’s content multilingual for its release in June 2018. Yugo has received interest from learning management software firms and Ontario’s Ministry of Education. For more information about Yugo, email

Ditched Equestrian Consignment

As an equestrian athlete, Tori Coon knows how expensive participating in the sport can be. Riders need proper attire for competitions, everyday riding wear, tack and gear.

To ease some of the sport’s financial constraints, Coon launched an online consignment shop,, featuring second-hand show, stable and street apparel. Coon is looking to expand her online shop to include tack, gear and a broader range of clothing sizes. In addition to offering quality second-hand apparel, Coon says consigning at helps divert unwanted clothing from landfills.

For more information, email or follow on Instagram.


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