Crecien Bencio, 2016 Finalist

Crecien Bencio, 2016 Finalist

CRECIEN BENCIO
AGE: 22
HOMETOWN: Vancouver, BC (Unceded Coast Salish Territories)

Crecien Bencio identifies as Indigenous-Filipino. He first became interested in the relations between food, environment and identities on a trip to the Philippines, when he noticed his parents wanting to bring home as many food items as possible. Crecien sees food as a visceral connector to the environment for many communities, and as something we all participate in and celebrate. Since we all eat, he says, “we all have a stake in global food systems, our local environment and how we produce food.”

Crecien works in community development with nonprofit organizations and community groups in Renfrew-Collingwood, a neighborhood of Vancouver that is historically known for being working class and absorbing newcomers to Canada. He believes that community-centered environmental activism can bring forth change that benefits all Canadians regardless of power or privilege. Because his family came to Canada as cleaners, laborers, live-in caregivers and temporary foreign workers, Crecien is extremely motivated to create food and environment related justice that includes members of society that are historically, traditionally, and presently placed at the most marginal positions.  

At Still Moon Arts Society (SMAS), he works with youth to build community connections to art and the environment, through projects such as watershed restoration, pollinator gardens and Indigenous environmental-art workshops. At Collingwood Neighbourhood House, Crecien helps bridge the gap between newcomers to Canada and neighbourhood based environmental initiatives such as community gardens, rewilding projects and organic gardening workshops.

Crecien is also involved with Renfrew Collingwood Food Security Institute (RCFSI), which aims to overcome food insecurity through learning, leadership, food sharing, organic growing and food sovereignty. Currently, he is leading a collaborative storytelling project with this organization, where he encourages youth to ask questions such as “who buys sustainable, local food and why?” and “who remains invisible?”

This project is meant to challenge stereotypes and expose who has power in environmental movements and sustainable economies. It also examines the working conditions of agricultural laborers in Canada and their immigration status. Through this project, Crecien and other youth will created a presentation for the BC Food Systems Network Gathering in June 2016.

Crecien is hoping to go back to school to study how gender, race and social justice pertain to local food systems. At work, he would like to develop a program to help connect Indigenous cultures and local food systems.

Crecien would like to thank the community and employers that helped him grow and learn on the job, as well as his parents who worked extremely hard to build a life for him and give him opportunities that they did not have.


HIGHLIGHTS

  • Crecien is currently serving as the President at Still Moon Arts Society (SMAS), where he has been involved since 2009.

  • In 2015 Crecien collaborated with youth to establish the Vancouver Youth Food Policy Council, to advocate for a city where youth can participate in an equitable food system and where everyone has the agency to develop healthier relationships in food.

  • Crecien is the Community Development Organizer at Collingwood Neighborhood House.


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