Class of 2021
Hailing from Montréal, Brian Fung works for Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and is currently pursuing his Masters in Sustainability.
He sat down with YMM and chatted about accomplishments, motivation, and measuring success.
YMM: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
BF: I don’t know that I’d qualify accomplishments in the same way as most. I think what I’d say that I am most proud of is that I have actively, especially since arriving in Fort McMurray almost eight years ago, worked to change my perspective both internally and externally. What this has allowed me to do is respond and interact in various, and sometimes challenging, environments with openness and tolerance. I’d like to consider that I am somewhat of a mobile safe space that people can approach without fear of judgement.
YMM: What is the most rewarding part of your career?
BF: This is such a great question. I work in government relations for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, and in that role, I am responsible for interfacing with government and other organisations in the protection of Treaty rights for ACFN. To that end, one of the most rewarding parts of my career is being able to work closely with Elders, land users, and Members at large that have provided me with such a different perspective from the one I was taught going through a colonial, western academic system. It has fundamentally shifted the way that I understand and see our (meaning humans) connection to Mother Earth, and the ways in which balance and sustainability can be achieved; motivations that favour constant economic growth above all else will result in a failed system.
YMM: What motivates you?
BF: Growing up in an immigrant family (my parents were born in Hong Kong) of four boys, there was definitely a motivation of wanting to be significant and recognised in my actions and outcomes. With large decisions, I still consider heavily how my actions will reflect on my parents and family, and that does play a role in what I pursue. At a baser level though, having had the privilege of travelling and visiting over 60 countries so far, including many that hold global south perspectives, I’ve witnessed an enormous degree of disparity across multiple spectrums. This stark contrast to my privileged, cushy life in North America makes it difficult to maintain inaction, and has resulted in me adopting a ‘world citizen’ perspective and approach to both my personal and work lives.
YMM: How should success be measured?
BF: I think we need to refocus our ideas around success. This has been personally challenging for me, as success in my culture is often measured by the amount of money I earn, or the size of house I own. However, I believe that we collectively need to shift our attention to a culture of care, and that success should be measured by the positive change and impacts that we impart. This makes me think of something I once learned about: lollipop moments. These are moments in which something you say or do, which is inconsequential to you, has a profoundly positive impact on someone else’s life or perspective. I may be a bit of a dreamer and idealist, but maybe one day we’ll find ourselves in a world where success, in part, can be measured in lollipop moments.