University of the Fraser Valley

UFV Future of Food event features visiting African scholars

UFV Future of Food event features visiting African scholars

Cherie Enns crosses the Abbotsford campus green with African Queen Elizabeth Scholars (l-r) Veronica Mwangi, Mariam Genes Shirima, and Stephen Otieno.

An international roster of experts will serve up serious food for thought at UFV on October 25.

Billed as a global food systems and food security conversation, the Future of Food event features UFV Canada Research Chair Lenore Newman and Agriculture Centre of Excellence director Garry Fehr along with Dr. Alex Awiti (Aga Khan University East African Institute) and Sharmaarke Abdullahi (UN Habitat).

While the concept might sound complex, organizer and moderator Cherie Enns, a faculty member in Geography and the Environment at UFV, says an open format makes information easily digestible.

“There’s no getting around the fact that food security and sustainability impacts all of us,” says Enns, who recently returned from a conference in Kenya tied to the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program, which is co-sponsoring the Future of Food event with UFV and Aga Khan University (which has six locations in multiple countries).

“This is a great chance to learn more about what the future holds while showcasing what’s been delivered through the last round of funding.”

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship program, which UFV receives funding from for some of its international initiatives, fosters a dynamic community of young global leaders who create lasting impacts at home and abroad. Through professional experiences, the program provides international education opportunities.

Throughout the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program’s three-year cycle at UFV, eight Africans have conducted research here, with 30 UFV students travelling to Africa as interns.

UFV’s three current African scholars will also speak to their work Wednesday.

“Based on research involving six different crops, I’m looking at the different environmental performances of food systems in Bolivia and Kenya,” explains Stephen Otieno, a PhD candidate in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University in Nairobi, Kenya.

“It’s quite a huge amount of work.”

Otieno is joined at UFV by fellow Africans Mariam Genes Shirima and Veronica Mwangi. Each has their own focus: Shirima is researching the contribution of stock markets on local economic development, while Mwangi is researching the impacts of wheat, dairy, and beef food systems on food security, reduction of poverty, and inequality in Kenya.

Future of Food runs 2-4 pm on Wed, Oct. 25 inside the Student Union Building on UFV’s Abbotsford campus. UFV representatives will also join Queen Elizabeth Scholar partners from SFU and Aga Khan University at a Vancouver screening and panel for the film The Invisible City [Kakuma]. A bus from UFV is available for this free event, which runs Monday, Oct 23 from 6:30-10pm.

For more information contact Cherie Enns at