ABOUT COMMUNITY ASCENT NETWORK
The Community Ascent Network was founded for a specific purpose: so that attending high school could become a reality for the students of a remote village in the mountains of Ecuador. Working with the community at every stage of the project, we achieved this goal and in the process learned three foundational lessons:
1. Access to education will empower an entire generation of youth to make a difference in their own community
2. Access to education gives women and girls an equal opportunity to benefit from community developments
3. Community participation is the key to sustainable and impactful development
For this reason education for all youth, gender inclusion and community involvement are our organization's goals.
Our organization takes a community guided approach, involving community participation from the planning stage to the execution and analysis of projects. This ensures that all of our funds and efforts meet the specific and localized needs shared by the entire community, creating impactful, gender inclusive projects with sustainable outcomes.
Each community knows their own way forward and the Community Ascent Network is here to provide the organization, support and funding to help them get there.
Working with communities to make them leaders of their own development through education and empowerment.
We envision resilient Indigenous communities with equal access to local education, empowering them to build the futures they dream and deserve.
Education is a right and a world of opportunity!
In rural areas of Ecuador, this right is often not a reality. Many rural communities in Ecuador either have no access to local education, or a very a very poor quality of it, due to geography and a severe shortage of resources and teachers. This problem is only compounded for indigenous people, women and girls.
Since 2018 the Community Ascent Network Has been working closely with the community of Piñán in Northern Ecuador to help them overcome this problem, and this continues to be our focus. For Piñán their vision is to have access to public education for all of their youth so they can start to bring meaningful work and developments into the community.
Our project is all about helping the community to achieve their vision. We have helped provide the coordination and resources to build and furnish classrooms, install computers and an internet connection, provide teachers, and build a working relationship between the community and the local School District.
We will continue to work with the students to ensure they receive a quality education. Access to education is just the first step in this community's goal to bring work opportunities and sustainability to their remote village.
As our project focus now shifts to include funding and logistical support for students to participate in post-secondary studies, we're excited about the possibilities that will arise for local work and sustainable initiatives, lead by the youth of Piñán.
We hope to be able to offer similar projects and opportunities to other communities in the future based on this model.
MEET OUR TEAM
Meet the CAN board of directors, a group brought together by a shared interest to work alongside with communities and a commitment to social welfare wherever in the world they may be.
Robert holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree from Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC and a Diploma in Agriculture from Kemptville, Ontario Agricultural College. Now retired, Robert had a 30 year career with the federal public service. He served as Head of Natural Resources in the Department of National Defence where he was responsible for environmental programs for the department’s lands. Previous to that, as a certified arborist, he served with Agriculture Canada as Supervisor of the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa. Robert is a recycling pioneer, having been a member of Port Moody Recycling, one of the first recycling operations in Canada. Throughout his life he has been an advocate for social justice. As well as Treasurer of the Community Ascent Network, he is also a fundraiser and volunteer for Child Haven International. For the past 30 years he has lived in the village of Appleton, Ontario.
Sarah grew up on a farm Quebec but was exposed to Latin culture at a young age while traveling to places such as Honduras and Nicaragua. She received a Diploma in Social Sciences (North-South Studies) from Dawson College in Montreal. She now lives in the Kootenay region of British Columbia and still enjoys traveling to Central and South America whenever possible. Sarah has worked as a coordinator for the Trans Canada Trail organization and is currently working with the Parks and Trails Society in Castlegar, BC. She is interested in exploring the living and working conditions of the developing world and seeking to contribute to the development of sustainable communities lead by the local people. Being part of the CAN is her way of helping people one small community at a time.
Sage currently splits her time between the University of Alberta, where she studies the ecology of urban coyotes at the graduate level, and a remote valley in southeastern British Columbia, where she does paperwork, watches the river, looks for bears, and goes for lots of hikes and paddles. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biology through Thompson River’s University and a diploma in Recreation, Fish and Wildlife through Selkirk College. Sage has seen the benefits that sustainable ecotourism can have for small communities firsthand, having worked as a senior bear viewing guide in BC’s inland temperate rainforest for five years. Sage is also an accredited wildlife tracker, a certified wildlife technician and an all-around nature nerd. She sees the work that CAN does as a beautiful example of the positive outcomes that ultimately develop when we prioritize both people and the environment.
Gordon has spent 35 years as a pioneer in the natural products industry with experience and expertise in brand marketing, product sourcing, business development and distribution strategies.
Gordon was born in the metropolitan Vancouver area where he has lived, aside from a year in 77 where he met his partner of 40 years, Isabel. He has studied at SFU, UBC and Universite Lyon II in english and french languages and literature. Gordon has been sole-proprietor, part owner and manager of several highly successful marketing companies including Horizon Marketing, New age Marketing, and Indigo Natural Products Management, He currently operates his own consulting firm, GT Consulting. He describes himself as a natural foods life-styler and environmentalist and is an avid soccer player with 30 years as a league player. Gordon has held board positions on various co-op and community organizations from 1980 to present.
Alison Stadnyk is passionate about this project as a result of her travels in South America. While traveling in Ecuador she witnessed the most beautiful culture including music, art and colourful craftsmanship she had ever seen. She noticed the incredible talent of the Ecuadorean people as well as their welcoming and loving demeanor. It was this experience that inspired Alison to contribute to CAN and give back to the people of rural Ecuador, helping them to have the opportunity to develop their skills and keep their culture thriving.
Alison is a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner and acupuncturist, an entrepreneur currently running her second business, as well as a musician, dancer, and traveler at heart. She resides in Rossland, BC where she hosts her TCM clinic Pine & Needle Wellness.
Though Aylen considers herself at home in the Kootenay mountains, she is originally from Córdoba, Argentina and therefore feels deeply connected to the lands and people of South America. Aylen has received her diploma as Social Service Worker and works in the Human Services Field.
"This is why I resonated so deeply with the project CAN, I believed that I collaborate with the projects by bringing in my understanding of the social dynamics that are in play in South America and a professional lens that I have acquired through my studies and work."
Aylen is passionate about social justice and has a strong belief that mutual collaboration between humans in the answer to some of our current social dilemmas.
Founder/ Exective Director
Simon was introduced to community development in 2007 through a 6 month youth program in Benin, West Africa with Canada World Youth. Simon now has a joint degree in international development and environmental studies from Trent University, one year of which was spent studying in Ecuador at Universidad Andina and working with rural community organizations on the north border with Columbia. Since, Simon has studied development project management at the E2E foundation in Medellin, Columbia.
Simon routinely travels to South America to stay in touch with the communities and friends who he works with there. When he is not fuelling his passion for travel and culture Simon coaches circus youth programs through various schools and organizations. He lives near Nelson, BC where he has planted nearly one million trees.