United We Can — with Ken Lyotier

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Ken Lyotier
Am Johal
Downtown Eastside
United We Can
Building Community
Below the Radar

Ken Lyotier tells stories from his early days in the Downtown Eastside and how he came to found United We Can, an initiative by binners, for binners. United We Can creates economic opportunities for those who rely on collecting and returning recyclables for their income.

In this episode of Below the Radar, Ken is in conversation with host Am Johal about building community in the neighbourhood, advocating for policies and resources to benefit binners, and reaching across difference to support our neighbours and make progressive change.


Ken Lyotier has lived and worked in the Downtown Eastside since the late 1970s, and is the founder and former Executive Director of United We Can. Ken founded United We Can, a non-profit bottle depot, in 1995 in order to provide work experience opportunities and income for residents of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. A community leader, Ken has advised the city of Vancouver and many other groups on social issues, such as medical and housing services and poverty alleviation in Vancouver's inner-City.


His work has been well recognized. He is a recipient of the Medal for Meritorious Service by the Governor-General of Canada, an Environmental Citizenship Award by the Province of British Columbia, the Civic Merit Award by the City of Vancouver, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of British Columbia.



— United We Can: www.unitedwecan.ca/
— Binners’ Project: www.binnersproject.org/
— CBC IDEAS documentary on Ken Lyotier: www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/meet-ke…l-kennedy-1.5188962

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Johal, Am. “United We Can — with Ken Lyotier” Below the Radar, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, November 16, 2021. https://www.sfu.ca/vancity-office-community-engagement/below-the-radar-podcast/episodes/144-ken-lyotier.html