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Capilano University honours extraordinary alumni change makers

Tune into the Capilano University Alumni Awards of Excellence livestream and be inspired by this year's award winners
CapU 2021 AA recipients
2021 Capilano University Alumni Award recipients (left to right): Juvarya Veltkamp, David Vertesi, Michèle Ross, Sean Aiken, Orene Askew.

When overcoming obstacles to optimism, look for the light in the darkness. Capilano University (CapU) graduates are change makers who offer hope and promise for the future through their contributions locally and beyond.

On April 15, CapU will honour five alumni who lead by example, drive environmental change, serve their profession, produce creative art, and inspire fresh thinking at the University’s Alumni Awards of Excellence.

CapU is pleased to recognize the 2021 award recipients: David Vertesi, Unified Award; Juvarya Veltkamp, Luminous Award; Orene Askew; Enduring Award; Michèle Ross, Confident Award; and Sean Aitken, Creative Award.

Mo Amir, host of the podcast, This Is VANCOLOUR, will MC the live-stream event and introduce the individuals behind the awards. 

Winners of the 2021 Alumni Awards of Excellence

David Vertesi is a Vancouver-based singer-songwriter and advocate for the arts. A graduate of CapU’s Arts and Entertainment Management program, Vertesi is a founding member of Juno nominated indie music group Hey Ocean!, as well as a producer, artist manager and community advocate.

Vertesi founded #SingItFwd, an annual event that has raised over $225,000 for youth music programs on the Downtown Eastside. He also co-founded Create Vancouver and the Vancouver Mural Festival. 

Promoting sustainability is what drives Juvarya Veltkamp. She developed a green economy strategy and delivered low-carbon economy programs for the City of Vancouver.

Under her leadership, the City created climate-awareness and corporate education tools to help accelerate small- and medium-sized businesses develop climate action plans. Today, as Director of the Canada Climate Law Initiative, Veltkamp equips business leaders with resources and tools to oversee climate-related risks and opportunities effectively. 

Orene Askew inspires others to pursue their dreams by being themselves. With a passion for music and a diploma in Business Administration and Management from CapU, she has built a successful DJ business under the name “DJ O Show.”

Askew draws on the strengths of her identity as an LGBTQ+ person of mixed Indigenous and Afro-Canadian heritage as an elected member of Squamish Nation council and a motivational speaker for youth who shares from the heart on anti-racism, social justice, inclusivity, diversity education and entrepreneurship. 

Michèle Ross is passionate about family law and helping clients navigate the legal system. She is a leader in her field who serves her profession as President of the BC Paralegal Association and educates others as a regular columnist for The Verdict magazine.

As the first designated paralegal in British Columbia, her professional dedication has increased the number of designated paralegals in the province, resulting in greater access to justice and more affordable legal services for those in need.

 What makes you come alive? Sean Aiken struggled to answer this question, discover his passion and find his career path. He created The One-Week Job Project, an experiment to try out 52 jobs in 52 weeks to find his way forward.

The journey showed him the value of seeking assistance and lending support to others. As an author, filmmaker and speaker, he now uses his voice and experience to help others identify and follow their passions. 

Attend the live stream awards show

Meet the award winners and be inspired by the impact of their actions. North Shore residents are invited to tune into the Capilano University Alumni Awards of Excellence livestream at 7 pm on April 15, 2021. Proudly sponsored by Neptune Terminals, the North Shore News, and DIALOG.

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