Next Up Saskatoon 2012-2013

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Meet the current Next Up Saskatoon Year 3 group (2012-2013)!


Amanda Guthrie

Amanda Rae Guthrie was born in North Battle ford, Sk, but currently resides in Saskatoon and is attending the University of Saskatchewan. She is completing a bachelor of psychology degree and eventually plans on getting a social work degree as well. While she likes to keep her plans flexible and open to any opportunities that may arise, she hopes to have a fulfilling career within the NGO sector focusing on social justice or working with youth. She has a very optimistic view of our world and sees working with youth as a chance to help our generation and future generations create a better world for everyone.

Amanda is a very passionate and ambitious person with an awesome sense of humour. She loves poetry, loves to paint and hopes to improve and expand on her knitting and cooking skills. Inequality, sexism, capitalism, climate change and olives can be counted amongst her dislikes… especially if the olives have worms on them, which she also does not like. Amanda’s wonderful outlook on life and her drive to propel change and tolerance will be key to helping her make a difference in the fight against inequality and oppression - just like the superhero we all know she is. She envisions a world where people come together based on their similarities rather than fight because of their differences.


Amy Kirk

Amy is 32 years old and has been a nurse and a  member of the  Saskatchewan Union of Nurses for almost 8 years. As a nurse, Amy has worked with people of all ages and from many walks of life, but she has found her niche working in the Street Health department with clients who face many adversities such as stigma and discrimination. In her words, “it just seems like there’s so much to be done, the work is always important, there is never a dull moment and often times I find myself having fascinating conversations with genuinely amazing people late into the night.” The things she is most passionate about in her work are breaking down barriers, empowering people and communities, sharing and gaining knowledge, and advocating for harm reduction approaches. On top of her duties as a nurse, she has also been involved with Friends of CBC, AIDS Saskatoon, and worked on various NDP election campaigns in the past couple of years.

In her personal life, Amy lives by the mantra of “living simply, so others may simply live”. Her hobbies include biking, soup making and eating, watching documentaries, gardening, and sleeping in. She has great respect for her family and lives in an ever-evolving household with her 17 year old sister , her partner, and his two boys. Overall, Amy is a humble, grounded, caring individual with a passion for helping people– a great addition to the Next Up team



Chelsea Guest

Chelsea is a leader in the community and a risk taker who lets her heart take the lead. With a juxtaposition of love and action, she is a force to be reckoned with. She brings with her, a knowledge of community resources, creativity, and years of experience doing front line work with vulnerable youth in our city. She believes that youth who have support to step up in their community and around the globe are going to shape the future, and that it is important for them to find their path in their own terms. She is currently a Practicum Supervisor through Lethbridge College and on the Advisory Committee at SIAST for their Child and Youth Care Worker Programs, union steward, member of Saskatoon Hoop Community, Cinema Politica, and volunteer with the Canadian Mental Health Association art program. Chelsea has been a youth outreach worker,  a crisis counsellor, and a family activity coordinator just to name a few.  Her parent’s home is a therapeutic foster family and she credits her mother for deeply instilling in her, the importance of community and compassion. Chelsea is passionate about building a stronger community and dreams of grassroots cooperative workspaces, social enterprise and collaborating to make ideas unfold into reality. Occupy Saskatoon was an amazing connector to link with others, her desire to be a revolutionary.  You’re likely to find Chelsea cooking and hanging with friends in her kitchen, renovating her home DIY style, screen printing in her basement with a women’s printing collective, sharing her home as a community hub, and getting people into a hoop. By teaching others to hula hoop, she has learned that teaching is often just guiding and encouraging people to find their natural rhythm, and she has said that the positive energy created by encouraging people to be vulnerable and fearless is amazing.



Dan Leblanc

Dan is very passionate about the well being of persons and the natural environment. He thinks that economic justice is a necessary condition for human well being. Dan is committed to prophetic Christianity with its understanding of the inherent value of all persons, the sacredness of the earth, and the need to critique empire and unjust systems of oppression.

Dan is studying law at the University of Saskatchewan. He hopes to use his degree to work at the intersection of human rights and land rights – arguing for “right to use” easements for nomadic persons and groups in East Africa, and for the right to property ownership for women and lower-socioeconomic class persons the world over. He hopes to be a strong advocate for those oppressed by unjust systems such as patriarchy and capitalism. He also hopes to work for progressive human rights and environmental legislation.

Dan is currently involved with numerous activist projects, including advocating for tuition freezes or reductions with Make Tuition History, and seeking to arrange sponsorship for two men from East Africa with the refugee committee at Redeemer Lutheran Church. He is a member of the Socialist Students Association, Green Legal, Canadian Lawyers Abroad, Aboriginal Law Students Association, and Interfaith Ambassadors.

He also really likes grilled cheese.


Grace Schenher

Many things in this world inspire Grace Schenher, including music, poetry, the changing seasons and the people in her life. As a student studying Linguistics and Political Studies at the U of S, Grace is interested in formulating a better communication network between the different groups on campus that would connect and inspire people to be more engaged. She has been involved in the Saskatoon Anarchist Bookfair, Cinema Politica, and other various movements. A primary social justice issue that concerns Grace involves economic inequality and the prejudices that stem from it. She believes in the notion of thinking globally and acting locally, especially since she sees there is a lot of work to be done in her own community of Saskatoon. Grace admits she has a long way to go and much to learn, but leapt at the opportunity to apply for the Next Up program. She stated, “As soon as I heard about Next Up, I felt like I would be disrespecting myself if I didn’t apply.” Also, if Grace were a piece of furniture she would be rocking chair. Her grandmotherly old soul lends well to her tendencies to knit, sew, play cribbage and partake in other “golden age” activities.



Haley Gordon

Haley was born in South East Saskatchewan where she grew up on a small mixed, cattle and grain farm. She grew up being surrounded by progressive philosophies as her family was involved with the NFU and NDP, and there were frequently issues of Briarpatch lying around, as well as the chorus of CBC radio which could frequently be found echoing throughout the house. This led Haley to start asking “Why?”. For example, why are there social and economic injustices in the world and what are the root causes? To begin this journey of understanding, Haley attended the University of Regina where she convocated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with distinction.

Haley loves to learn and travel and she tries to find ways to do them together. For example, she participated in a youth tour with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to Honduras; she went to Cuba on a 50th Anniversary of the Revolution Tour; in El Salvador she visited prisons where she met members of the MS-13 and the 18th Street gangs; and she participated in an intensive food sovereignty course in Mexico.  Haley has found her travel experiences have increased her desire to work towards building a more just world.

Haley has also traveled extensively within Canada.  She has traveled from Coast to Coast and spent a lot of time in the Rocky Mountains as a competitive downhill ski racer with the Ochapowace Ski Club and the Saskatchewan Provincial Downhill Ski Team.  Haley has just returned to Saskatchewan after living and working in Victoria, BC for the past 2 1/2 years. Haley loves the outdoors and living on Vancouver Island with easy access to the ocean, the rainforest and the mountains suited her active lifestyle. For example, this past June Haley ran her first half-marathon in Ucluelet, BC.

One of Haley’s main interests is food and agriculture, which no doubt stems from growing up on a farm, being involved in 4-H, and helping her parent’s grow and process their own food.  Also, growing up on a small mixed farm in the 1980s and 1990s, she has seen the effects of neo-liberal agricultural policies; such as, the loss of The Crow Rate and the free trade agreement.  Haley recognizes that these policies coupled with globalization have not benefited the farmer, rural Saskatchewan or the consumer.  She sees the recent XL beef recall as a sympton of the sickness of a globalized food system.  And then there is the recent undemocratic elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board…Haley could go on!

In her free time, Haley enjoys traveling, learning Spanish, yoga, gardening, hiking and reading. She has a soft spot for animals, and enjoys working with rescued animals. She is trying to live in the moment as her grandpa did until he passed away at 103 years of age.



Jessica Fisher

Jessica Fisher is a young woman with a commitment to positively impacting and meaningfully engaging young people.  She convocated with her B.A in Psychology from the U of S in October 2011.  Since then she was the Youth Coordinator in Martensville for the Martensville Community Access Centre (MCAC), until a lack of funding cut the program short.  Currently she is working in sales at Richardson Lighting.

She became interested in social change while working as the Youth Coordinator for MCAC.  There she formed a summer youth project that involved youth giving back to their community through doing volunteer landscaping, development and maintenance  of the local flower beds, parks and tree nursery.  Jessica is excited to be in Next Up to expand her knowledge, become exposed to different social justice issues, learn new skills and challenge herself toward a life involving social justice.  She wants to make a difference in the world we live in and feels Next Up is the starting point to do just that!



Keane Plamondon

Keane Plamondon was born into this world with a name that has left the majority of people tongue-tied. So let’s lay it out right now for you: KEY-EN PLA-MON-DON.  Name confusion aside, Keane also has quite the collection of doppelgangers, including Dallas Green of City and Colour, as well as Kevin Porter. He also owns a dog names Kia, which sounds insanely close to Keane, once again adding to the identity confusion. Doppelgangers and dogs aside, Keane Plamondon was born and raised in the north end of Saskatooon where he completed his Bachelors Degree in Social Work through the University of Regina, and then attended Dalhousie University where he completed his Masters in Social Work. His focus is now on counseling through working towards ending relationship violence, and supporting harm reduction in terms of addictions. During our interview, Keane stated that his career in social working essentially fell into his lap unannounced. However, after talking to Keane, it is blatantly obvious that he has found his passion and is determined to make a huge difference in the lives of many.

When Keane isn’t working he can usually be found playing some sort of musical instrument or out taking photographs – both are a major passion for him. He also greatly enjoys running, nature, travelling, reading non-fiction, and sarcastic humor – which is obviously the best kind of humor. Keane’s open mind will be a great asset while in the Next Up program where he hopes to highlight and hone his strengths, learn from others, and broaden his abilities. Keane never wants to be satisfied with the status quo and desires to be influenced by hope, positivity, and a never-ending source of curiosity. Last, but certainly not least, Keane’s arch nemesis is Cilantro, but that’s something that you’ll have to ask him about face to face!



Leah Solheim

A few words to describe Leah are cheerful, funny, laid-back, honest, sincere and hardworking. Leah has always had an instinctive awareness for activist work which is visible through her efforts in Latin America. She has volunteered in El Salvador, Columbia, Costa Rica and Guatemala, to name a few. Within these countries Leah has engaged in various programs, such as teaching English with a social justice perspective to introducing sports or cooking to underprivileged children.

Currently Leah is living in Saskatoon working and enjoying such things as reading, playing soccer, dancing and relaxing with friends. In the future she plans on spending lots of time in Latin America and using her experience as an entrepreneur to create h own enterprise to help people become more financially independent and to raise awareness of social justice issues. Leah is a great addition to Next Up by bringing an international social justice perspective along with her amazing personality and eagerness to share ideas with new and diverse people.



Sarina Gersher


Sarina Gersher is a 24 year old passionate about sustainability, water security, climate change, environmental and social justice, and community capacity building. This spring, she completed her BSc Honours in Land Use and Environmental Studies with minors in Geographic Information Systems and Physical Geography, and soon after landed her current job as a GIS Analyst and Mapping Technician at the Meewasin Valley Authority.  She is also involved in the Saskatchewan Environmental Society as a member of the Eco Book Club and the climate change committee.  Outside of her environmental work, she is vice president of Hillel, the Jewish students’ association, volunteers at AIDS Saskatoon, and loves soccer, reading, and board games. She draws on her family as a great source of inspiration and support in all of her activities.  Her global perspective has been shaped through her extensive travels all over the world, including a term abroad in Denmark and jaunts throughout Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Northern Europe.  She is excited to start Next Up, engage in a community of inspiring people, and find more ways to put her impressive knowledge base into action!



Sasha Hanson-Pastran

Sasha Hanson Pastran was born in Nicaragua to a Canadian mother and Nicaraguan father but has spent most of her life in Saskatoon.  Sasha is a student at the University of Saskatchewan and is in her last year of an honors degree in International Studies – Latin American Studies Stream.  She is passionate about social justice issues, community development, peace and sustainability.  At 21 years of age Sasha is already an experienced leader and activist in her community.  Her volunteer activities both at home and abroad with the Global Youth Assembly, Rights Action,, Oxfam Canada, Canada World Youth, the Sierra Youth Coalition, the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association, the Saskatoon Peace Coalition, and the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (to name a only a few) show Sasha’s commitment to community building and social change.

Sasha is a passionate supporter of the co-operative model for equitable and sustainable development locally and globally.  This past summer Sasha participated in the Canadian Cooperative Association’s You-LEAD program in Ghana.  Sasha would like to take what she learned from her experience in Ghana and apply it in a Canadian context.  For example, she would like to implement the model of Youth Savings Clubs in Saskatoon schools.

Although Sasha is a busy leader in her community, she still finds time to share her Latin American culture.  At the 2011 Saskatoon Folk Fest, as a member of the band Sabor a Salsa, she played piano and synthesizer for a large audience.  She has also found time to tutor Spanish language students at the University of Saskatchewan.



Suzy Zimmer

Suzy Zimmer is a passionate woman with a social activist background. Her activist work began in 2000 when she got involved with Solidarity Works, a youth activism/ labour movement program with the SFL and CLC. Through this program she spent two weeks working with the Council of Canadians. The next two summers she helped with the coordination and facilitation of Solidarity Works. Suzy also facilitated an SFL youth conference, and attempted to start a union at Earls.

Suzy graduated from the U of S’ College of Physiotherapy in 2005, and has since worked as a physiotherapist in Saskatoon. While in school Suzy remained active by organizing other physiotherapy students to support striking healthcare workers, as well as through raising issues of racism and poverty in her classes and interactions with classmates. Her current focus in working towards environmental and social justice is trying to live her life in an eco-sensitive way and encouraging others to do the same.

Suzy is excited for NextUp and the opportunity to be reintegrated into Saskatoon’s activist community with likeminded people. She is excited to promote social justice in our community and contribute to the fight towards greater equality.



Yuki Tanaka

With the belief we are at a point where tides can truly change for the better, Yuki is a revolutionary icon in the making.  Yuki consistently emerges as a leader at whatever she endeavors and as a Japanese-Canadian she brings a needed lens of diversity to everything she approaches. Intersectionality rules the world view of this wise being.  She embraces the opportunities to increase understanding of social interactions across cultural, ethnic, gender and class boundaries and is dedicated to strengthening cohesion and support.

Yuki received her B.A. Honours in Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan in 2012. While obtaining her degree, she participated in North2North student exchange at the University of Helsinki, Finland.  She is currently employed with the FASD Support Network of Saskatchewan, where she strengthens the community, parents, and people living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder by coordinating and facilitating training sessions on support strategies.  Previously, she was involved in researching student alcohol use patterns and made recommendations for implementing a student-led binge drinking prevention campaign on campus.  Some of her experiences include being involved with the Saskatoon Women’s Community Coalition, International Student and Study Abroad Centre, USSU Women’s Centre, and Aboriginal, Rural, and Remote Health Group.

Yuki is trained in classical ballet, plays several instruments to varying degrees of success, and loves photography in all forms.  Mention owls within her earshot you’ll be sure to hear about her passion for saving the magnificent creatures

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