VIU Graduate Student Joins National Advisory Committee

Felicia Fischer sitting on stairs

January 28, 2021 - 5:30pm

Master of Community Planning student Felicia Fischer will advise on initiatives that aim to advance sustainability and access at institutions across the country.


A Vancouver Island University (VIU) student will have the chance to weigh in on collaborative sustainable development initiatives taking place at institutions across Canada and make sure students are involved in them.

Felicia Fischer, a second-year Master of Community Planning student, has been selected to join the ImpAct Student and Alumni Advisory Committee (ISAAC). ImpAct was launched in Spring 2019 by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to advance social, economic and environmental well-being. The initiative, which uses the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework, focuses on three collaborative projects that aim to reduce barriers to inclusive access, promote social entrepreneurship, and improve campus sustainability. ISAAC, which meets once a month, provides strategic input and guidance into initiatives arising from these three working groups.

“We provide student perspectives and a diversity of experiences to the work,” explains Fischer.

“The SDGs offer valuable guidelines to help tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity in a healthy environment,” says CICan president and CEO, Denise Amyot. “As community hubs, where education, innovation, and entrepreneurship converge, colleges and institutes are ideally placed to help Canada reach these goals. ImpAct will give us an opportunity to share best practices, but also develop projects that will have tangible results all across the country.”

Pam Shaw, Director of VIU’s MCP program, is excited that the University will have representation on this national-level committee within CICan.

“This is an important committee and students from VIU now have a voice and opportunity to contribute as change continues to evolve at a rapid pace for post-secondary institutions across Canada,” she says. “This is a well-deserved appointment and I know Felicia will be a wonderful contributor to this work.”

Fischer’s acceptance letter from CICan noted that while there were a record number of nominees, her application “stood out” and the selection committee believes she will bring a strong voice and solid experience to the collaborative work.

“Pam suggested I apply because I’ve been both an undergraduate and a graduate student at VIU, and an international student who is transitioning to becoming a domestic student. She thinks having all of those different perspectives and experiences will help me make positive contributions,” says Fischer.

Fischer, who is half-German and half-Trinidadian, believes her background and experiences contributed to her successful application. Her father is a pilot and growing up she has lived all over the world, including Trinidad, Antigua, France, England, Scotland, Italy, Turkey and China. In 2015, Fischer moved to Canada from the UK, where she completed an International Baccalaureate Diploma, to start her undergraduate degree in Digital Media Studies at VIU. 

“I didn’t want to be student number 240 at the back left – I was looking for a smaller university,” she explains. “I also wanted to be close to Vancouver, which has a strong film industry – the industry I initially wanted to work in.”

Fischer immediately got involved around campus, becoming a Peer Helper and then getting an internship position with the Faculty of International Education, through which she met some planning students who had just arrived from Belize on Queen Elizabeth Scholarships. When they talked about what they were doing in the planning program, Fischer was captivated.

“In my media studies program, I was interested in digital communities and trying to understand how people are finding connections and building identity in virtual spaces like Minecraft and World of Warcraft,” she says. “My friend Eric explained to me the vital role planning has in building spaces that nurture people and social connections – or not.”

Fischer’s ultimate goal is to work in a role where she can bridge the gap between members of the public who want to be involved and those making urban design decisions.

“We are shaped by the buildings that surround us as much as they are shaped by us,” says Fischer. “Good planning and urban design can create an environment that brings out the best in us.”




Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Felicia Fischer in front of the Master of Community Planning program building

“I didn’t want to be student number 240 at the back left – I was looking for a smaller university.”

Tags: Master of Community Planning | Student Stories | Student Success

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