A festival by community,
for community.

Event highlights

We look forward to seeing you at Connect Fest again next year!

News & Updates

Tending the Fabric of Relations

Tending the Fabric of Relations

BFOL Communications Team Uncategorized

I am excited to announce that you can now register for the full day of events in Edmonds at:  A Feast of […]

Sounds of community, sounds of life

Sounds of community, sounds of life

BFOL Communications Team Blog

By Tara Flynn Traditions, truths, places and voices are weaving together at this year’s Connect Fest. The full event lineup is now […]

Places Acknowledged: Placemaking in Burnaby’s Town Centres

Places Acknowledged: Placemaking in Burnaby’s Town Centres

BFOL Communications Team Blog

By Tara Flynn Home can be where you build community – let’s start with acknowledging where we are.  The City of Burnaby […]

Co-presented by SFU’s Office of Community Engagement and the City of Burnaby

Co-presented by Simon Fraser University and the City of Burnaby, in participation with many local Burnaby organizations, Connect Fest is a week-long series of free events, featuring performances, lectures, discussions, tours, and more, all designed to inform, engage, and spark creative conversations among Burnaby’s vibrant and diverse audiences.

At Connect Fest, we think of community engagement as an inclusive form of knowledge-making and knowledge-sharing characterized by respect and reciprocity. This doesn’t only happen at Connect Fest—the City of Burnaby welcomes your ideas and input all year round.

Simon Fraser UniversityCity of Burnaby

2024 Co-hosts

Headshot: Abhinaya Rao

Abhinaya Rao

Abhinaya Rao has over 10 years of experience as a communications professor and is known for her expertise in narrative-style presentations. With a profound passion for Indian mythology, Ms. Rao has turned her years of research into compelling narratives that enthrall the kids. Her love for storytelling helped her host a kids’ show on radio with her playing the voice artist many times. Her narrations of the Indian epics, Ramayana, and Mahabharata are favourites among the younger audience.

Join my event: Katha Corner Indian Mythology Storytelling

Headshot: Abhirami Senthilkumaran

Abhirami Senthilkumaran

Abhirami Senthilkumaran grew up in Tamil Nadu and lives on the unceded, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. She teaches Electrical Engineering and Technology at BCIT’s School of Energy. She has worked as a computer engineer in Silicon Valley, volunteered in public schools in California with children and youth aged 8-18, and helped run a sustainable agriculture nonprofit in India.

Join my event: Daybreak Climate Game

Guichon Creek

Adam Dickinson

Adam Dickinson, Manager –Transportation, Landscape and Grounds, BCIT Adam has been leading BCIT’s Landscape and Grounds portfolio for the last 7 years. Adam’s passion for horticulture and sustainability have led to the introduction of BCIT’s first Invasive Species Management Plan, BeeCIT pollinator programming, edible and interactive gardens, improved landscape standards and much more. Adam is a red seal chef, drummer and is always adding to his knowledge as a horticulturalist.

Join my event: Guichon Creek Restoration and Renewal

Alegria Soy Cultural & Community Society dancers sitting outdoor

Alegria Soy Cultural & Community Society

Empower and uplift the rich representation of our ethnically diverse communities of British Columbia. We aim to achieve this through various initiatives that promote cultural awareness, social justice, and community development. By organizing cultural events, educational programs, and advocacy campaigns, we seek to build bridges, foster understanding, and create a sense of belonging among diverse communities. Our mission is to inspire positive change, promote equality, and create a more inclusive society for all.

Join our event: Echoes of Resistance through the Celebration of Arts and Culture

Headshot: Alexandra Coates

Alexandra Coates

Dr. Alexandra Coates is an Assistant Professor at the Simon Fraser University Faculty of Science, Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology and Performance Lab.  Her research interests include exercise physiology, training monitoring, cardiovascular physiology, overtraining, energy availability, and wearable technology.

Join my event: SFU Cafe Scientifique: – Overtraining and the Everyday Athlete

Headshot: Bahareh Shahabi

Bahareh Shahabi

Bahareh Shahabi, an instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Communication Department and a Ph.D. student at SFU’s Educational Technology and Learning Design Program, focuses on how digital learning technologies can enhance educational environments to be more engaging, inclusive, and customized. She advocates for the use of educational digital tools to promote higher-level thinking through student-centered designs. Her work aims to improve learning experiences and critical thinking, with a special interest in self-regulated learning and the deployment of technologies in collaborative and authentic settings.

Join my event: Stories Untold by Generative AI

Logo: CityHive


CityHive is a youth-centered, youth-led non-profit organization on a mission to transform the way that young people are engaged in the planning, design and shaping of their cities. CityHive acts as a bridge-builder between cities and their young residents to create win-win-win solutions for youth, their communities, and cities. To learn more about our work, go to ca.

Join my event: Climate Action Stories with CityHive

Culture Chats BC Association - Children in classroom with instructors

Culture Chats BC Association

Culture Chats BC Association is a not-for-profit association promoting community connections through engagement with multicultural arts.

We have been participating in the Burnaby Connect Festival for three years and each year we are thrilled to bring exciting events and workshops for our community and our members. We offer programs such as writing workshops, performance workshops, craft activities for children. More information at http://www.culturechats.org

Join my event:

Tales of Dancers: A free Family Event

Multicultural Crafts for Children and Caregivers

Headshot: Ching Chiu Lin

Dr Ching-Chiu Lin

Ching-Chiu Lin is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of education at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Her research spans a range of interdisciplinary subjects, including the pedagogy of digital storytelling, community arts education, and the development and implementations of visual research methodologies. She is a strong advocate of practice-led research and artful community engagement.

Join my event: Digital Stories for Community Resilience: Voices of the Community II

Headshot: Hali Kil

Dr. Hali Kil

Dr. Hali Kil is the research director of the All Families Lab and a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University. She conducts research on how parents can raise happy, kind, and resilient children. She is passionate about promoting mental health and well-being in immigrant and multiethnic families of diverse backgrounds. With over 10 years of experience working with families and youth, Dr. Kil collaborates with clinicians and members of the community to make tangible positive change in our shared society.

Join my event: Connecting kids and elders through storytelling

Headshot: Emily Clarke

Emily Clarke

Emily Clarke’s scholarly pursuits are deeply rooted in the interplay between arts-integration critical pedagogy, emphasizing the transformative power of soundwalks and soundscape storytelling within educational contexts. Her research navigates the confluence of acoustic ecology, land-based inquiries, and the nuanced layers of historical and cultural narratives, particularly within marginalized communities. Emily’s commitment to re-envisioning music education manifests through innovative arts-based, digital methodologies that foreground diverse perspectives, environmental stewardship, and the rich tapestry of global community voices.

Join my event: Stoney Creek Soundwalk: Voices of the Community I

Headshot: Erika Ram

Erika Ram

Erika Ram is an Instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Computing Department and Chair of the EDCO Educational Technology and Learning Design Committee. With over nine years in higher education, her work combines pedagogical theory with practical technology applications, program development and creative problem-solving. Erika champions the “teaching in beta” approach, advocating continuous curriculum evolution. Her research focuses on eLearning, technological agency, STEM education, student self-efficacy, self-motivation, and self-regulation.

Join my event: Stories Untold by Generative AI

Logo: Familogue


“Familogue” is a non-profit organization registered in British Columbia, established in 2022. The founding members include a group of experienced education professionals/parents who recently immigrated from Hong Kong to Vancouver, Canada. Our vision is fostering family dialogue, empowering lifelong learning, and elevating children to their highest potential for a better world. (Website: familogue.ca)

Join my event: Interactive Immersive Storytelling Workshop: Story Across Cultures

Logo: Fraser Health

Fraser Health

Fraser Health is responsible for the delivery of hospital and community-based health services for nearly two million people in 20 diverse communities from Burnaby to Fraser Canyon on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish and Nlaka’pamux Nations, and is home to six Métis Chartered Communities.

Join my event: Poetry in Motion: A Multilingual Walk

Headshot: Heather McCain

Heather McCain

Heather McCain (they/them) is Executive Director of Live Educate Transform Society (LET’S), a non-profit they founded in 2005.

Heather’s own experiences as an asexual, disabled, neurodivergent, queer, trans person led them to become a well-known and respected advocate, educator, and speaker. Heather is proudest to be called a Crip Doula. This is a community given Disability Justice term for someone who helps disabled people navigate our complex systems, providing resources, support, and building community. This title was gifted by community members who have felt the positive effects of Heather’s work.

Join my event: Lived Expertise Matters!

Headshot: Ian Linkletter

Ian Linkletter

Ian Linkletter is an Emerging Technology and Open Education Librarian at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Vice-Chair of the EdCo Educational Technology and Learning Design Committee. Prior to becoming a librarian, he was a Learning Technology Specialist, having worked for over 10 years at UBC’s Faculty of Education. Areas of specialized interest include accessibility, student privacy, academic freedom, academic surveillance, and online learning.

Join my event: Stories Untold by Generative AI

Headshot: Ida Niksirat

Ida Niksirat

Ida Niksirat is the founder and president of the Society For Homeless Health, a student-led organization dedicated to taking initiative in response to the homeless crisis in our communities. Through community projects, fundraising efforts, and educational seminars, the Society For Homeless Health has created an accessible and impactful way for students to engage with the homeless crisis. Interested in contributing? Email societyforhomelesshealth@gmail.com to learn more about volunteering opportunities.

Join my event: A game of life

Headshot: Julia Alards-Tomalin

Julia Alards-Tomalin

Julia Alards-Tomalin is an instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), in Burnaby, Canada. She studied Forestry and Ecological Restoration at BCIT and recently completed a Master of Education at Simon Fraser University. Her background is diverse, including horticulture, arboriculture, invasive species management and ecological restoration, but is united by a common theme of plants. Starting in 2019, Julia began to work with her students to create an Open Education textbook focusing on the winter identification of plants entitled Buds, Branches and Bark: A Guide to Winter ID in the Pacific Northwest. Buds, Branches and Bark is free to download, and the 3rd edition is currently available on the BCIT website. In 2022 Julia was awarded the Teaching Excellence in Open Education Employee Excellence Award at BCIT for her involvement in this Open Education Resource and several others. In 2023 the 2nd edition of Buds, Branches and Bark was awarded the Open Education Global Award for Excellence in the Open Pedagogy category and the BCcampus Award for Excellence in Open Education.

Join my event: Plants in our Urban Places

Headshot: Khoa Dang Vo

Khoa Dang Vo

Khoa and his family fled Vietnam, survived several years at Paula Paula Bi Dong and was sponsored by the Canadian Government to come to Toronto. With this Art Installation, he hopes to tell the story of the Boat People who left their home for a better future. The inclusion of art forms like paintings and poetry not only provides a medium for expression but also makes the narratives of these communities accessible and relatable to a wider audience.

Join my event: The Boat People Art Installation

Logo: Lamenting for Ukraine

Lamenting for Ukraine

“Lamenting for Ukraine” is conceived and developed by Pickle Underground and Ukrainian Cultural Society. Pickle Underground is multi-disciplinary artist-run organization based in Greater Vancouver dedicated to the development and promotion of Ukrainian art and artists working in Canada. Ukrainian Cultural Society aims to connect Ukrainians from different waves of emigration through art projects and performances exploring cultural phenomena in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.

Join our event: Lamenting for Ukraine

Headshot: Laura Walker

Laura Walker

Laura Walker is the Undergraduate Academic Advisor & Recruiter in the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University. She has a passion for student-centered advocacy and is dedicated to empowering undergraduate voices during their academic journey. Laura is also a trained archaeologist and will be starting her MA in the fall of 2024, where she will focus on Indigenous archaeology, rites of passage, and scanning electron microscopy.

Join my event: SFU Exploration Day

Lisa Codd

Lisa Codd is an SFU alumnae who received an M.A. in History in 2000. She has been working for the City of Burnaby since 2005. She was the author of Collecting Riverview: A Visual History of Photographs in Objects (published by the City of Coquitlam in 2021) and is a co-editor of Rooted: Chinese Canadian Stories in Burnaby (published by the City of Burnaby in 2023).

Join my event:

Film Screening:
All Our Father’s Relations

Roots and Redress

Headshot: Merrill Farmer

Merrill Farmer

Merrill Farmer is the Manager of Academic & Administrative Services in the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University. She joined the department in 2007 and holds a Masters in Education from SFU. Her research focuses on rural and Indigenous access to postsecondary education and indirect recruitment through community engagement and outreach.

Join my event: SFU Exploration Day

Headshot: Michael Bourne

Michael Bourne

Michael Bourne is the author of Blithedale Canyon, published by Regal House in 2022. He has written for the New York Times, the Globe & Mail, The Economist, and Salon, and is a long-time contributing editor at Poets & Writers Magazine. He lives in Vancouver and has been an instructor at BCIT since 2016.

Join my event: How to Get Published in Nine Million Easy Steps

Headshot: Mimi

Mimi Xia

Mimi has more than 8 years of experience with 3D printing and has been heavily involved with the local maker community. She is also familiar with the latest creative technology and new media practices.

Join my event: 3D Printing with Mimi

Headshot: Naomi Steinberg

Naomi Steinberg

Artist and storyteller Naomi Steinberg has over 20 years experience performing traditional folk and fairytales with diverse communities in contexts such as schools, theatres, forests, festivals and conferences. As an educator, Naomi believes that to explore a story deeply is to embark on a journey of discovery and play. She uses movement, clown, contemplation, and vocal dynamics to enhance storytelling performance and workshops, all while encouraging awareness of the planet, intercultural sensitivity, and the inclusion of diverse learning styles. www.naomisteinberg.ca

Join my event: Storyteller’s Brew: A Nourishing Tea Circle

Logo: Open Science Network

Open Science Network

Open Science Network is a grassroots not for profit organization with the aim to bring science to the people.  We operate a community science lab in the Strathcona neighborhood in Vancouver, allowing curious minds to learn about molecular biology and more.  We also host community science events in the Metro Vancouver region, including our flagship event at Britannia Community Centre every September.  We look to inform and inspire people that science is fun and connects to many aspects of our lives including transportation, food security, health care and climate change.

Join my event: The STEM and Maker Jamboree

Headshot: Pok Man Tong

Pok Man Tong

Pok is an international student from Hong Kong who is currently pursuing an MA in Urban Studies to explore better approaches to community development. He is a social worker with a focus on ethnic minority well-being and social integration.

Join my event: The Boat People Art Installation

Logo: posAbilities


At posAbilities, our mission is to assist persons with developmental disabilities to lead meaningful and healthy lives by partnering with the community to provide a comprehensive range of person-centred services for individuals and the families who care for them. We are committed to building an inclusive community characterized by diversity, hospitality, belonging and respect; where all persons are welcomed and valued for who they are and for the contributions they make.

Join our event: Taking care

Publik Secrets instruments outdoor

Publik Secrets

Publik Secrets is the umbrella for a constellation of multi-disciplinary art projects. Currently in residence at the Hadden Park fieldhouse, our work includes a variety of public space interventions, performances, installations, and ephemeral gatherings. We support and enable artist-led initiatives that spark critical conversations and risk-taking through new configurations of artists, audience, and community. Within our projects we seek to assert music as always much more than a time-based medium of aesthetic interest, but as a material extension of our thinking and interaction with the world, and thus as a form of world-building that can bring new communities into existence.

Headshot: Richard Van Camp

Richard Van Camp

Richard Van Camp is a proud Tlicho Dene from Fort Smith, NWT. A recipient of the Order of the Northwest Territories, he is the author of 28 books these past 28 years in just about every genre. Mahsi cho!

Join my event: Author Talk: Richard Van Camp

Logo: Child Research Group

Simon Fraser University Child Research Group

The Simon Fraser University Child Research Group (https://www.sfu.ca/child-research-group.html) is a research team consisting of faculty members in Education, Psychology, and Linguistics, who are interested in child development. We study children from birth to 17 years old, focusing on understanding child emotional well-being, language development, family relationships and parenting, as well as parental engagement in child mental health treatments.

Join my event: SFU Child Research Group: Exploring How Kids Grow and Learn

Mountain and water scenic view

Still Moon Arts Society

Still Moon Arts Society inspires vibrant and connected communities by creating artistic experiences and nurturing a passion for nature. Since 2004, we have used art to raise awareness and bring about positive change by mobilizing the local community to restore Still Creek and the Ravine. Our belief in the power of artistic experiences to move and engage people guides us as we bring together art, environment, and community.

Join our event: Our Water Conversation: Stories & Natural Dyes | Still Moon at Connect Fest

Headshot: Theresa Lalonde

Theresa Lalonde

Theresa Lalonde started working for CBC Radio in the late 1980s when she was a teenager, hosting CBC North’s Saturday Night Request Show. She’s also been a reporter and producer and host in Ontario and Nova Scotia before joining the Vancouver newsroom in 2000. She’s worked most recently on CBC Gem’s “Planet Wonder” and the podcast “10 Minutes to Save the Planet”. Lalonde’s been teaching in the Broadcast and Online Journalism department since 2017 where she passes on her passion for storytelling.

Join my event: Everyone Is More Interesting Than Me!

Headshot: Zaena Tesfa

Zaena Tesfa

Zaena (she/they) is Programs Manager of Embark, pepperoncini enthusiast, and a cook to many. After going vegan in 2019, she’s been on an expedition to explore the plant-based cuisines of different cultures, and adores, more than anything, surprising folks with how delicious plant-based dishes can be!

Join my event: The Story of Food: A Community Kitchen event with Embark Sustainability

Headshot: Candy Zazulak

Candy Zazulak

Rattle Woman (Candy Zazulak) is descended from Manitoba Swampy Cree and Seauteux Anishnaabe ancestors mixed with Scottish and Welsh. She was born in the Purcell Mountain Range at Kimberley in the south-east corner of British Columbia. Her childhood was spent in Winnipeg, teenage years in Ontario and adult years in Vancouver. Rattle Woman (Candy) received her Associate of Arts Degree from the Institute of Indigenous Government in 2000.

Join my event: From There to Here: A Poetry Reading with Rattle Woman

Headshot: Karima Karimi

Karima Karimi

My name is Karima Karimi, and I am a co-founder of the Hamsoo Foundation, which was established in 2023. I hold a bachelor’s degree in law and have amassed approximately 17 years of experience working as a human rights trainer and activist with the Human Rights Commission and various civil society organizations in Afghanistan.

I have also completed facilitation training with the ISS of BC. Furthermore, in my pursuit of gaining a deeper understanding of community culture and acquiring valuable work experience, I have volunteered with Burnaby Family Life and served as a facilitator with ISS of BC.

My passion lies in working with people and effecting positive change. The diversity present in British Columbia’s society is particularly intriguing to me, and I am confident in my ability to achieve my goals through dedication and hard work.

Join my event: Women’s Triumph, Artistic Narratives of Immigration, and Integration

Logo: The Long Long Table

Long Table Society

We live in Burnaby and are passionate about the health and well-being of our neighbours. Our Long Table Society was born from the idea that “if you are more fortunate than others, it is better to build a longer table than a higher fence.” How? We combat isolation and food insecurity by bringing people together through our events and programs. We listen to our neighbours to understand what challenges and barriers they are facing.  We tailor our services to address existing and growing needs.

Join my event: Flavours of Edmonds

Natalie Warkentin painting wall

The Neighbourhood Church in Partnership with Natalie Warkentin and Makers and Murals

The Neighbourhood Church has been in, with, and for the Edmonds Neighbourhood since 1992. From A Taste of Edmonds block parties to The Intercultural Language Learning Centre, to The Food Pantry and The Task Force to End Homelessness in Burnaby, the community at Neighbourhood Church has sought to pursue peace, justice, and unity in the neighbourhood. We believe God is present among people in this place. We purpose to partner with the passions of people of Edmonds, Burnaby in order to see our community unified and transformed!

Join my event: Pursue Peace Mural

Headshot: Poonam Singh Gautam

Poonam Singh Gautam

My name is Poonam Singh Gautam. I’m from India. I have been in Canada for 3 years. I enjoy learning to paint; it’s my hobby.

Join my event: Mandela Making Workshop

Headshot: Shokouh Farshidfar

Shokouh Farshidfar

I’m a proud Iranian/Canadian single mom with a wealth of life experience that has shaped me into the person I am today. My academic background includes a degree in Psychology, a field that has fueled my passion for understanding and connecting with people. always eager to learn new things. I find immense joy in working with others and offering support to those in need.

Beyond my personal and professional endeavors, I am the host of the “MaAdama” Podcast, where I explore spiritual and real-life experiences of immigrants in Farsi. This platform allows me to share my insights and connect with a diverse audience. Additionally, I am the founder of the Hamsoo foundation, an organization committed to serving newcomers in Farsi/Dari and English. Through close collaboration with other organizations, we aim to minimize the challenges faced by newcomers, empowering them to communicate and integrate seamlessly into their new society. I am dedicated to fostering understanding, love, and support within our communities.

Join my event: Unity Quest: Online Cultural Game