It is with deep sorrow that we announce the sudden passing of Emily Ruston Mann, a recent graduate of the Faculty of Environment. Our condolences go out to her family and partner.
Emily completed her master’s degree in SERS in September 2016, completing her thesis on “Diverse forms of market engagement: Grounding food sovereignty in the experiences of Ontario's ecological grain farmers.” In the summer 2015, she carried out research on urban food security in Nanjing, China, where she conducted interviews and prepared a photo exhibition on migrant farmworkers and urban agriculture.
Yet, Emily did so much more than academic work during her time at Waterloo. She was a passionate volunteer for many organizations and events, including being coordinator of the Faculty of Environment’s ENVigorate student festival in 2016, attended by over 300 students, community members, faculty and staff.
Emily was an incredible young leader in Food Systems work and community engagement. She was blog editor for dozens of Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable posts, from 15 local volunteer bloggers. She led workshops about gardening and food preserving, while volunteering for USC, Sustain Ontario, and The Working Centre. She also worked as a labourer at Pfenning’s organic farm.
Emily helped establish the Decolonizing the Food System Book Club through the national student food organization, Meal Exchange. You may have even run into her at the University of Waterloo Grad House, where she was bartender, cook, and server in 2015-16.
After completing her master’s, Emily spent the spring and summer of 2017 as coordinator of the community greenhouse in Inuvik, and then moved to Winnipeg to take up a job at Food Matters Manitoba, as program assistant for the partnership programs in northern Manitoba. In September 2017, Emily was invited to address the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s International Symposium on Food Security and Nutrition in the Age of Climate Change, held in Quebec City, for a panel on innovative solutions to ensure food security and nutrition in the North.
Before her time at Waterloo, Emily earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick in 2013. She did a major in Environmental Studies and minor in French. For her honours thesis, titled, "Seed Saving and Food Sovereignty in the Canadian Maritimes", Emily explored rural food politics, and met and discussed food sovereignty and seed saving with dozens of farmers, NGO representatives, and government and policy representatives.
Her interest in this thesis topic stemmed from experiences she had in the Mount Alison and Sackville communities, and her experience volunteering on organic farms in New Zealand, France, Slovenia and Canada.
Emily touched so many people with her vision, joyful spirit, and compassion. She was enthusiastic, conscientious and humble. She was a talented artist and loved the outdoors. Emily helped to knit communities together by inspiring, connecting with, and supporting those around her. We’re honoured that Emily chose to do that in our Faculty.Emily’s obituary can be found here. A memorial service will be held at Budgell Funeral Home, 1105 Rest Acres Road, Paris, Ontario on Saturday, January 27- 2pm. Visitation: Friday, January 26- 2-4pm and 7-9pm.
The Emily Ruston Mann Memorial Scholarship, a graduate scholarship in food research, is being established through the University of Waterloo in Emily’s memory. Gifts can be made online through the Faculty of Environment here (under the heading "Designation", donors can select "Other Fund" and under the second tab they can indicate this gift is in honour of Emily Ruston Mann). Gifts can alternatively be made by cheque to the University of Waterloo and in the memo line the donor can note Emily Ruston Mann Memorial Scholarship. Cheques can be sent to the attention of Maryam Latifpoor-Keparoutis, Director of Advancement, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave. W., Waterloo, ON, CANADA N2L 3G1. Donations can also be made to a local food bank in Emily’s memory.