Bill Xu

Bill Xu is a full time Human Rights student at Carleton, and a part time climate justice activist, community organizer, coffee addict, foodie, outdoor enthusiast, and … plant lover? Before immigrating to Turtle Island at the age of nine, Bill spent most of his childhood in rural and suburban NanJing. With relations to Bill’s Chinese Name (Xu Jing Ze), meaning “to live peacefully by the river”, Cháng Jiāng (the Yangtze River) plays a significant role in Bill’s activism, as it is the river that gave and continues to give life to his city. As co-founder of the new OPIRG working group, Carleton Students for Climate Justice, Bill would like to shift approaches to climate justice activism in a way that centres anti-racism, Indigenous sovereignty/solidarity, and migrant justice; in doing so, creating a safer platform for BIPoCs to discuss climate justice without the influences of toxic-whiteness.

Throughout Next Up, community events, and his post-secondary education, Bill wishes learn more about the intersections between his roots/race and his queerness with hopes to further decolonize conversations around sex, gender, and sexuality in the Queer Asian community.

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Lindsay Kline

As a born and raised Calgarian, Lindsay has a profound appreciation for the natural surroundings that both our Province and country have to offer. In search of widening her perspective and experience, Lindsay attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where she earned a degree in Political Studies. Her passion for politics and environmental issues led her to explore interests in writing and debating through her involvement in the University’s newspaper and other publications.  

Shortly after completing her undergraduate degree, Lindsay moved to Ottawa to pursue an internship with Elizabeth May’s M.P. Office. Her experience working on Parliament Hill was valuable, as it introduced her to the inner-workings of Parliament and the decision-making process. Through this work experience, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy, which brought her back to Calgary. As a Master’s student, she focused on energy and environment issues affecting Canada and Alberta. Specifically, water management issues caught Lindsay’s attention, which is an area she continues to work in as a Research & Policy Analyst at Alberta WaterSMART Solutions.  

Fuelling Lindsay’s interest in environmental issues and policy is her constant desire to be close to nature and to protect Canada’s natural surroundings. Lindsay can often be found in the Rocky Mountains hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. 

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Emma Bugg

Having already walked this earth for 16 years, Emma was born in 2009 when she accidentally enrolled in the Outdoor School program. After throwing her teammate and canoe on shore to win the skills competition, she had solidified her passion for the outdoors and knew she needed to tackle tougher challenges. A seven-month trip to New Zealand and Australia following high school then turned into a travel addiction that she has fed by going to Nicaragua, Honduras, Denmark, and Israel/Palestine. This travel addiction inspired her decision to work towards a bachelor’s degree in International Studies as well as fuelled her passion for social and environmental justice. She has since attended Generating Momentum and IMPACT Sustainability Training and worked as a Recycling Ambassador for the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council. She is thrilled to be a part of Next Up and have the chance to be part of such an inspiring and mutually supportive community. 

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Aditi Garg

Aditi teaches high school math in French immersion and is passionate about youth engagement with nature in any subject. She is involved with the City of Saskatoon’s Environmental Advisory Committee and is a strong supporter of maintaining Saskatoon’s river valley as an ecological wonder. She believes that technology can enhance citizens’ experiences with nature and that this engagement will lend a powerful voice in new policies for the environment. She can be found on twitter @mmegarg – come say hi! Saskatoon, 2016.

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Abby Morning Bull

Abby Morning Bull – BA 

Natoyi Apohsoy Piikunakiik

From the Piikani Nation, member of the Blackfoot Confederacy. 

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Julian Wotherspoon

Julian is a doula, reproductive health advocate, and community organizer in Regina, Saskatchewan. She is currently attending the University of Regina in the Health Studies program and is interested in social justice and anti-oppression work as it pertains to improving the health of individuals, families, and communities.

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Joanne Ditson

Joanne has a Master’s degree in Social Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Regina. She is a sessional lecturer for Sociology 100. She is an experienced teaching assistant and seminar instructor.

Joanne is passionate about global inequality and local social justice issues. She is currently involved in a University of Regina project on local food, which gave her the opportunity to interview farmers, health inspectors, and policy analysts. Joanne’s diverse research interests include: studying the meanings behind social protest movements, reflecting on the conflicts within the fair trade movement, and analyzing public perceptions of corporate crime. Last year, she did a guest lecture on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for a Justice Studies course.

Joanne enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children. She also likes to draw caricatures and aspires to write a novel. 

“Self and society are twin-born.” —Cooley

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Landon Squires

Hello, I am a settler from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Treaty 6. I like biking, reading, cooking new things, and activism. The activism that I am interested in is environmental, municipal, community support and electoral politics. I have worked as a staffer on elections and I really enjoy foot canvassing. I hope in the future to continue to develop my skills and be able to facilitate and coordinate community action. If you are interested in getting involved in electoral politics in Saskatoon give me shout.

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Candace Lahoda

Candace was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 territory. She deeply connects to her prairie roots and loves spending time fishing in Saskatchewan’s many majestic lakes. She graduated in 2010 from the Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. While working in northern and urban centres she has cared for patients in many different stages of life, from labour and delivery to end of life care. She is a proud Registered Nurse and currently works as an RN on the Neurosciences ward in Saskatoon. She finds nursing both challenging and rewarding, and thoroughly enjoys working as part of a team of diverse and dedicated healthcare professionals. She strongly believes in the power of the collective, is active in her union on a provincial level, and currently serves on the SUN Constitution, Bylaws, & Resolutions Committee. 

Candace has begun volunteer work at several local non-profit organizations, and is exploring avenues to further her community engagement. She is elated to participate in the Next Up 2016-17 program, and to learn new skills that will further her ability to make a positive contribution to society. 

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Sahar Khelifa

Sahar is an individual that is sensitive toward nature and feels most inspired in its surroundings. From a beautiful prairie sunset to an autumn twig on the grass, Sahar plays with shapes and shadows that inspires her creations.  As a young urban planner, Sahar’s interest in urban design continues to grow as she realizes how layouts, design, and infrastructure have the power to bring communities together. Sahar’s outlook for life is always optimistic. She has a captivating smile and likes to be sharing of herself. In her free time, Sahar likes to enjoy a warm cup of London fog and write her thoughts away. 


Sahar strong beliefs in humanity and how we are all in “it” together drive and inspire her to volunteer and participate in activism movement related to poverty, international development and Islamophobia.

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Xochitl Hanson Pastran

Xochitl means flower in Nawualt, a language from the country where I was born, Nicaragua. Growing up Nicaraguan-Canadian, in one of Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods, has given me a global perspective on social and environmental justice, and motivated me to pursue volunteer, activist, and community organizing work most of my life. My sincere care for our Earth and compassion towards people motivates me to add my optimistic, enthusiastic personality to efforts towards social change. Initiatives I’m especially passionate about are poverty reduction, actions against violence against women, and building a more equitable and healthier society. I studied biology, social justice, and medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and I hope to pursue a career in public health and preventative medicine. Currently, I’m balancing teaching medical students and studying public health approaches to addictions, with my love of volunteering for non-profits, spending time with my friends and family, and practicing meditation and yoga. I’m honoured to be a part of Next Up Saskatoon, and I look forward to learning, applying leadership skills, and building new relationships and community. 

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Mia Bell

Mia is an artist, an older sister, a feminist, selenophile, and cat lover. She also loves lakes, trees, chocolate, meditation, and live music. Mia is currently attending the University of Regina where she is pursuing a degree in Psychology, minoring in Visual Arts. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, Mia plans to study Art Therapy. She is especially interested in humanistic and transpersonal psychology. Mia is passionate about mental health and how it intersects with other social and environmental issues. She feels strongly about advocating for those struggling with their mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness. She is especially concerned with youth mental health in Saskatchewan and hopes to contribute to better mental health education.

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Sofia Aman

Sofia is a self-described social butterfly and global citizen. Born in Greece, she and her family immigrated to Saskatchewan in 1993. Since then she (not so much her parents) has acclimated almost entirely to the brisk SK winters and has created for herself a strong sense of community. 


Sofia was raised by Eritrean parents who fled civil war in Ethiopia and thus, feels a bit like she grew up with one foot in two different worlds. She feels her diverse upbringing has provided her with a perspective that is uniquely valuable when addressing systemic oppression and challenges faced by immigrants and refugees. 


Sofia is currently completing a degree in International Affairs at the University of Regina and has volunteered and worked in various organizations on and off campus such as Amnesty International and WUSC (student refugee program) which have given her insight into a broad range of social justice issues. She has a particular interest in the challenges of immigrants and refugees as well as international students. She is currently serving in her second year as a board member at the Regina Public Interest Research Group at the University of Regina. 


In her free time Sofia enjoys dancing, the Arts (theater, visual etc.), and has an eclectic taste in music and food! She likes to make light of any situation and gain knowledge and lessons in every experience. Her favourite thing in the world to do is travel and interact with new cultures, languages and and, of course, food!

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Jordan Todd

Born in Hamilton and raised in Abbotsford, Jordan has recently moved to Saskatoon with the intention of developing deep local roots. With an MA in Sociology from Carleton University in Ottawa, Jordan is constantly applying learned critical thinking and action within the context of municipal, provincial, and federal politics, particularly with an interest in social research and policy. 


A former vice-president of the Atangard Community Project Society, an affordable housing development in Abbotsford B.C., Jordan is convinced that one of the most significant avenues to promote positive change is through local, community-focused, grassroots initiatives. 


An avid pipe smoker and scotch drinker, Jordan enjoys reading and discussing philosophy and engaging in various imagined dystopian futures. 

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Jessica Valois

Jessica Valois, native to Saskatchewan, is an inspired and compassionate Fransaskois. She is passionate about human and environmental justice issues, sustainability and the arts. Jessica graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ottawa in 2010, in Environmental Studies. She has travelled, worked, and volunteered widely across Canada, namely in areas of food security, permaculture, natural resource management, and holistic health practices. Her current pursuits in Saskatoon aim to help others learn to grow their own food, farm to table, and lead healthier lifestyles for themselves and the planet. She values cross-cultural competency, reconciliation of injustice, being an ally for others, and being a part of projects that change your way of being. She finds belonging in community, nature, hula hooping, yoga, and is proud to be a part of this year’s Saskatoon Next Up cohort, 2016-2017.

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Craig Friesen

Craig Friesen is a pop music enthusiast that recently graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies. The intersection of Craig’s faith and sexuality has inspired him to do research and activism in his home community, the Mennonite Church. He is passionate about discovering and creating spaces for gender and sexual minority people in the Mennonite Church. He also enjoys baking, as it is a great way to keep people around him happy. 

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Erin Gallagher-Cohoon

Erin is an avid traveler, board game junkie and history fanatic. She is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan with a Master’s degree in History. With a passion for education, she is continuing to push herself and is currently working on a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate. The dream is to discover even more of this precious planet and to network with people who are often left out of the conversation. 

Erin believes in the power of storytelling and the value of heart listening. Her work in historical research and teaching allows her to bridge her interests in sexual health, feminism, access to health care, and anti-oppression. Currently she is a mentor through the Open Door Society. In reality, she is mentored by a refugee family, who have graciously opened their home and patiently shown her that she does not know how to cook. 

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Carly Romanow

Carly Romanow is a proud prairie girl, having been born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. Carly attended the University of Regina and studied for three years, majoring in political science before being accepted to the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. Carly graduated from the University of Saskatchewan College of Law in 2014. During her final year at the College of Law, Carly participated as a representative of the University of Saskatchewan at the Aboriginal Rights Kawaskimhon Moot in Toronto. She was also the coordinator for the Pro Bono Students Canada University of Saskatchewan chapter and restored the Women in Law group at the College of Law. Carly is currently the CBA Section Chair for the Women Lawyers Forum South as well as a member of the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood Regina. 


Carly has always been an active, outgoing and passionate person. The inability to sit still has lead to constant learning, travel and active participation in her community. Carly loves comedy, politics, and spending the afternoon in her garden. 

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Evan Roy MacDonald

Evan hails from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and he has lived in Alberta since 2010. He is a third year Honours Political Science student at the University of Alberta. He primarily studies Indigenous-Canada relations, and a desire for a renewed treaty relationship drives his work. 


He has served on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, organized for union representation of student staff at the U of A, and has volunteered for Alberta’s NDP since he was a high school student. He currently works for University of Alberta Residence Services. 


When he’s not submitting research papers at the last minute, Evan enjoys being a friend to all dogs, listening to podcasts on public transit, and constantly improving the lenses through which he sees the world. 

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Molly Patterson

Molly Patterson is a trained wildlife biologist, and current Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student who is passionate about wildlife conservation and welfare. 

Molly believes in the inherent value of wildlife species, both big and small, and the value of the natural landscape. She has contributed to these causes through research with organizations such as the Alberta Conservation Association and Natural Resources Canada. She is also interested in anthropogenic impacts on wildlife and explored this interest through employment at Orcalab in British Columbia and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton. While focusing on veterinary school, Molly’s current projects are geared towards improving student life, and she recently helped plan and facilitate the first annual wellness weekend for veterinary students at the University of Calgary. Molly graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. in Ecology in 2010, gained a Masters of Science from the University of Saskatchewan in 2014 and will graduate from the University of Calgary in 2018. 

In her free time, Molly spends time trying out new vegetarian recipes, skiing, watching superhero TV shows, and cuddling with her rescue cat Bramble. 

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Simon Irving

Growing up in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, Simon had the opportunity to spend countless hours outdoors cultivating a strong relationship with the land. His relationship to land instilled in him a deep-rooted desire to leave the earth ecologically and socially improved for his grandchildren and their grandchildren after them. This, more than anything has been the guiding force throughout his life and informed and influenced Simon’s studies both as an undergraduate and graduate student. 


Simon completed his Business Management degree at the University of Alberta – Augustana campus in 2013. Simon’s graduate studies then took him to Sweden where he completed his MSc. in Business and Economics from the University of Uppsala with a focus on intersectionality. He is happy to be home now and working in Albertas environmental sector.

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Jenna Hildebrand

Jenna was born and raised in Edmonton, on Treaty 6 Territory.  She completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta, majoring in political science and minoring in international studies. During her time at the U of A, she had the opportunity to do two exchanges abroad, as well as travel to El Salvador as part of Students for Sustainable Housing, in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. After university, Jenna took part in the Reflections on Rwanda Program, an educational program that provides students and young professionals the opportunity to travel to Rwanda and meet with genocide survivors, rescuers and representatives from government, community, and international peace-building organizations to learn about the impacts of genocide on society and reconciliation efforts. Through these travel and volunteer initiatives, Jenna was exposed to the vast inequity that exists between countries and within countries and became highly critical of the ways in which current and past colonizers respond to these inequities. This spurred an interest in development studies, with a focus on exploring the ways individuals can assist abroad to empower communities to meet their own needs rather than creating systems of dependency and reliance—she’s still thinking about this. 

Currently, Jenna is trying to dismantle the system from the inside out, as she works as a policy analyst in the Ministry of Children’s Services. This work has further ignited her passion to focusing on issues of anti-oppression, decolonization, and reconciliation, and thinking about how empathy fits into all of this. When she’s not catching up on the Sunday links from her favorite Canadian feminist magazine—GUTS—she’s probably drinking a coffee or beer with a friend, out for a run, listening to some tunes or a podcast, or a combination of all three. 

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Roua Aljied

Roua Aljied is a biomedical engineering student and spoken word poet who is passionate about writing, social justice, and people. Born in Sudan and raised in London, Ontario she is currently living in Ottawa, Ontario. Her poetry focuses on issues such as anti-blackness, human rights abuses, gender-based violence, and Islamophobia. In 2014 she was crowned the Ottawa youth slam champion as well as the women’s Versefest slam champion. She has coordinated with Women in International Security Canada and the 16 Days of Activism Campaign as well as performed for the 2016 International Women’s Day ceremony in Ottawa to speak about issues of domestic abuse. Her work has been taught in classrooms, featured on CBC, as well as screened across Canada, the US, Ukraine, Germany, Ireland and Serbia. The summer of 2016, Roua gave a TEDx talk about intersectionality and accessibility in activism and the subject continues to be her main focus as she believes activism without intersectionality and accessibility is not productive or progressive. She is the cofounder of the Carleton Students for Climate Justice and hopes to create safer spaces for BIPOC, and especially women/femme identifying individuals. As a Black, Arabized, Muslim, immigrant woman she never runs out of words to write, but when she’s not performing, coding, or where she’s supposed to be, Roua can almost always be found in a coffee shop. Through story telling she hopes to connect with people in order to collectively cope and heal. 

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Fatima Barron

Fatima is a passionate and enthusiastic second-generation Flipinx-Canadian woman. She was born in Toronto and moved to up and coming Brampton, Ontario at the age of 11. She studied in Ottawa at Carleton University, having recently earned an undergraduate degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management, specializing in social policy. Fatima spent her undergraduate years volunteering with different groups at Carleton, primarily with the Carleton chapter of Engineers Without Borders Canada. She largely spent her time working with other youth across Canada to advocate for effective, sustainable international development policies and practices in and out of Canada. Having switched interests from international development to local community organizing and municipal politics, Fatima started volunteering with City for All Women Initiative in 2015 and is fortunate to be working as their communications and administration coordinator.

Still unsure about she wants to do with her life, Fatima hopes that she can spend time working to create an equitable and just world. She aims to find and create spaces in which marginalized voices are represented, amplified, and heard. In particular, she is interested in the intersection of mainstream and marginalized communities and finding ways to challenge the status quo. She firmly believes that complacency is unsettling and boring.

In her spare time, Fatima spends her time understanding the various ways in which race, gender, class, and age intersect in her life. She is also attempting to decolonize and focus on indigenizing herself with the Filipinx culture. You can also find Fatima trying new recipes, playing board games, making terrible puns, fantasizing about her future cat, and opening 20+ tabs on her browser and never getting back to them.

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Fa'Ttima Omran

Fa'Ttima was born on unceded Algonquin territory in Ottawa with a Libyan-Trinidadian heritage. She completed her undergraduate degree at Carleton University in the Law and Legal Studies program in 2014. Currently she is completing a masters in Women and Gender Studies researching disability and employment access through the AODA. Her research interests also surround accessibility, employment, criminal justice system responses to mental health, body politics, sexuality, and popular cultural representation of persons with disabilities. She has been actively involved in feminist projects at Carleton from broadening public education on sexual assault by confronting prevalent narratives to raising money for the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre. Promoting intersectional dialogues on marginalized identities experiences of gender based violence is her current work with the GSA. Previously, she worked as a research student for Planned Parenthood on building much needed sexuality and disability resources in the Ottawa area with the intention of developing peer based support.

Next Up provides the opportunity to engage with anti oppressive frameworks and learn best practices from community leaders engaged with social justice projects. Currently, Fa'Ttima is working with on-campus organizations to improve accessibility in mental health for marginalized students while promoting a policy for more inclusive event planning for service centres. Other social justice projects she engages with include: advocating for intersectional peer support programming; addressing Islamophobia; and providing more diverse narratives for mental health. In her spare time Fa'Ttima enjoys writing poems, reading, running, inline skating, art galleries, and exploring the local progressive arts scene.

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Sahar Ibrahim

Salaam, Bonjour, and Hello! Sahar is a first generation Muslim Canadian. Her parents are from Tanzania in East Africa, and her ancestry is South Asian (pre-partition). Sahar grew up in Treaty 7 territory, in the city of Calgary and now lives in Treaty 6 territory in Amiskwaciwaskahikan/Edmonton.

Sahar's background is in public health, specifically in areas of mental wellness and social trauma. Her current advocacy work focuses on issues of Islamophobia, anti-oppression, decolonization, and reconciliation. She is involved with The Green Room's Leadership team, anti-racism initiatives within the city, and a Youth Reconciliation Initiative leader with Canadian Roots Exchange.

Sahar enjoys practicing Kathak, dancing to her endless playlist of Bollywood music in front of her mirror, and using all of the snapchat filters!

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Hilary Kirkpatrick

Hilary Kirkpatrick is an inner city social worker with a passion for social justice, trauma-informed practice, harm-reduction practice and anti-oppressive practice. She loves to examine societal structures and think creatively about strategies to dismantle them. Hilary loves to learn and collaborate, and she finds great peace in communities of like-minded folks. Hilary loves reading and stretching her brain, being silly with friends and family, cuddling with her crazy dog Juno and crafting up a craft storm. 

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Holly Abt

Holly grew up in and around Ponoka and Wetaskiwin Alberta. Holly was home-schooled along with her five sisters until high school. Following high school Holly travelled, spending five months with an organization in the U.K., touring Europe with a friend, and proceeding to travel to the States and Guatemala with a humanitarian healthcare-focused missionary organization. During university Holly became increasingly critical of the ethics and sustainability of missions abroad. Holly studied modern languages at the Augustana campus of the U of A. She studied postcolonial literature and researched feminine figures and forms of resistance in postcolonial French African literature and film. These studies gave language to and inspired her to expand her work towards social justice. During her studies, Holly had the opportunity to spend one semester in Santiago de Cuba where she researched the Informal Economy and studied Cuban history, community development, agriculture, and coastal management in the community stream of the program. This experience influenced Holly’s personal obligation towards environmental and economic justice and sparked an interest in sustainability and alternative economies. After her undergrad, Holly spent nine months teaching English in rural Quebec. She returned to Alberta where she worked with gender and sexual minority youth at Camp fYrefly and LGBTQ people of faith in the Haven community. Holly worked for Boyle Street Community Services and is currently working for the city of Edmonton. Holly is passionate about building and contributing to vibrant communities. She is invested in seeing the inclusion of sexual and gender minorities in all facets of society, but especially in communities of faith. She is dedicated to anti-colonial and anti-oppressive practices and is learning what it looks like to practice allyship on a daily basis.

Holly spends her time with her partner and two pets, trying to get into medical school, and volunteering on a local distress line. She enjoys coffee, board games, roller derby, books, travel and time spent in nature. She is on a journey of unlearning and is always looking for ways to engage in community.

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Aliya Lakhani

Aliya recently graduated from the UofA with a degree in chemical biomedical engineering. She became passionate about social justice, international development, and food security during her internship in Ghana with Engineers Without Borders. Aliya is interested in reducing consumer food and petrochemical waste with improved engineering and behaviour change tools. 
She enjoys most outdoor activities and has a particular affinity for cross country skiing, biking, and hiking. In her spare time, Aliya knits, reads DC comic books, and builds Batman Lego sets. 
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Evan MacDonald

Evan hails from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and he has lived in Alberta since 2010. He is a third year Honours Political Science student at the University of Alberta. He primarily studies Indigenous-Canada relations, and a desire for a renewed treaty relationship drives his work. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, organized for union representation of student staff at the U of A, and has volunteered for Alberta’s NDP since he was a high school student. He currently works for University of Alberta Residence Services. When he’s not submitting research papers at the last minute, Evan enjoys being a friend to all dogs, listening to podcasts on public transit, and constantly improving the lenses through which he sees the world. I am in Edmonton Cohort 8!

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Amanda Deseure

Amanda was born in Chatham, ON and moved to Ottawa for university where she completed a combined honours degree in Communications and Women and Gender Studies.  While studying feminist history and theory, Amanda soon felt frustrated and isolated by the lack of pathways forward. She began volunteering in Niki Ashton's office on Parliament Hill where she found other progressive feminists struggling with these same barriers but working with an MP that fought for these issues. This supportive space allowed her to understand what barriers exist that hold social and institutional change out of reach for activists. This led her to a practical education in Canada's political systems. 
Amanda recently completed her Masters of Political Management where she struggled to balance her socio-economic and political goals for equity seeking groups within a system built by colonizers and entrenched in oppressive, patriarchal structures. She now dedicates her work to helping progressives form communications, policy and advocacy plans to help make them more effective when navigating public opinion, policymakers and government officials. Topics Amanda is passionate about include anti-racist and anti-oppressive feminism, precarious work in Gen Y, Inuit socio-economic development, and anti-violence.
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Gloria Song

Gloria Song is a human rights lawyer and researcher with a focus on access to justice, gender-based violence, international development and circumpolar research. She has a Master of Laws at the University of Ottawa where her graduate research focused on governance and access to justice issues in Nunavut. She also holds a juris doctor law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, and a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in political science from the University of Ottawa. 

Gloria practiced as the first full-time poverty lawyer to be based in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut for the Legal Services Board of Nunavut. She has also worked on human rights research projects on domestic violence laws in Guyana (through the International Development Research Centre's research award program) and Namibia (through the Canadian Bar Association’s Young Lawyers International Program).  She currently serves as the co-chair of the Law Society of Nunavut’s Access to Justice Committee.

Gloria also volunteers for her community to empower marginalized populations, administering the Osgoode Hall Korean Law Students Association Alumni bursary fund, facilitating legal rights workshops, and teaching keyboards at Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls. In addition, she is the frontwoman for the Ottawa-based indie dream pop band Scary Bear Soundtrack.

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Abeal Biruk

Abeal Biruk graduated from Carleton University for Human Rights with a minor in Philosophy. Born and raised in Ottawa in an Ethiopian family, he maintains a strong relationship with the Ottawa-Ethiopian community. He is Co-President of the Ethiopian Orthodox youth group and enjoys ethical discussions on the current and future use of technology. He is a firm believer in pursuing multiple interests to develop a better sense of both internal and external perspectives. Abeal spent a significant portion of his life working within a family-run convenience store where he developed the ability to communicate and understand the needs of the different demographics of the community. He joined the Next Up Ottawa to learn how to work within a social justice framework and better understand the social issues faced in the province. Along side his passion for social justice, he is in the process of attaining his personal training certification to help individuals maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

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Laura Dunn

Laura has lived and worked across Canada, including the high Arctic community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, where she created Nunavut-specific digital media education resources. She recently graduated with a Masters in Communications Studies from McGill University. Her master's thesis used community based research to explore social media and Indigenous economies. These experiences inform her current work as Communications Coordinator at Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada's national Inuit representational organization. Laura's passion for progressive politics was inherited from her grandmother and developed through her experiences as a white settler ally. Her feminism is based on a practice of cultivating strong relationships that act as a foundation for accountability and transformative justice work in her community. Laura spent high school choreographing intricate, angry ballets and loves nothing more than swimming in a lake. She believes in the nourishing power of land, food, and people.

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Sinda Garziz

Sinda is an African-Arab immigrant, born and raised in Tunisia, who came to Canada in 2013. She is a migrant justice activist abd completed her first BA in Psychology at the Human Science Institute of Tunis. She has been a part of the transnational network Afrique-Europe Interact advocating against borders, visa regimes, and providing support for migrants and refugees in different countries in South Europe and North Africa. She has also organized with No One Is Illegal both in Berlin and in Ottawa. She recently completed her second BA in Conflicts and Human Rights Studies from the University of Ottawa. She is currently involved in The End Immigration Network, The Sanctuary City Network and Refugee Welcome. She is also a youth program facilitator at the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO).

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Zaya Kuyena

Zaya is a first generation Congolese-Canadian settler. He and his family have migrated across 3 continents, making roots in Toronto and Montreal respectively. Zaya recently relocated in Ottawa where he’s currently a research associate in investigative journalism with a focus on corruption and organized crime. Prior, he was a parliamentarian staff with the Senate of Canada. Throughout the course of his life, he has focused his advocacy on marginalized youth, anti-poverty initiatives and more recently the intersection between mental health and community-development. A long distance runner, Zaya once joined a team that ran from coast-to-coast across Canada to raise awareness and fundraise on behalf of child poverty. Being the political type, he’s been involved at multiple levels of government with roles in communication and community outreach. His political scars show that he’s experienced both losing and winning sides of electoral outcomes.  Zaya is also a member of the first historically black fraternity in Canada, Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., which dedicates its efforts to mentorship initiatives and coalition-based community development projects across North America. Zaya credits his family and Toronto’s eclectic and always vibrant black community for cultivating his progressive politics.  Zaya can be found perusing record stores and used bookstores, he maintains that he is a wine snob and will find any excuse to dance.

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Natasha Beedie

Moving to Ottawa almost a decade ago from Barrie Ontario, Natasha is currently finishing a degree at Carleton University. She is majoring in Political Science with a specific focus on Indigenous Governance and Minority Rights. Her past employment includes positions at the National Association of Friendship Centres where she was tasked with annual reports on the state of the Indigenous Friendship Centre movement, as well as working at the Assembly of First Nations. Future goals involve continued work with Indigenous Groups, learning more of her Ojibwe language and heritage, and asking the perennial 'should I have another coffee?'.

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Sudesh Gurung

Sudesh was born and raised in Bhutanese Refugee Camp in Nepal. He lived at the refugee camp for 16 years of his life. He represents Nepali speaking Southern Bhutanese culture. He immigrated to Canada in 2011, and currently he is enrolled in his second year of social service work at Algonquin college.

He is passionate about working with newcomer/immigrants and refugee youths. He has been working at the Youth Service Bureau of Ottawa with the Ethno-cultural Youth Advisory Committee. He advocates on behalf of newcomer youth’s experiences and has a strong passion for developing community organizations. He engages newcomer youths and educates on the importance of preserving cultural identity in order to integrate in a diverse community. He uses his personal life experiences to motivate other youths and educate people with his perspective. His career goal is to dedicate his work to serving refugee populations in different countries and helping newcomers to integrate. 

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Amber Bramer

Amber has an infectious smile, compassionate, humbling persona with a fierce, independent, bold attitude that leads her in her pursuit for social and economic justice and activism. Being raised in a rural, fruit farm community just outside of Hamilton, Ontario has given her this small town, city girl outlook on life. Hamilton, the Steel City will always be her home as steel, labour and activism has been passed down through generations of Steel working family members. She was raised by a single mom and has 4 brothers, 1 sister and her family continues to grow with nieces and nephews, whom she adores . She is always surrounding herself with strong womyn - from her mother, to her Master's supervisor an amazing Marxist, feminist role model, to her inspiring fembot comrades, to now learning and embracing many unreal political opportunities with MP Niki Ashton and the Bernie Bus . Amber's main social and economic interests include: women and work; labour rights; youth and gender justice; ending sexual violence against womyn and creating a more accessible, equitable criminal justice system; decolonizing our education system and integrating feminist, Marxist, antiracism, voices and history into the Ontario curriculum; implementing basic income to abolish poverty; and eradicating capitalism with the development of socialism for the working class. When she is not researching, writing, or reading she is playing volleyball, eating and making pizza, trying new wines, painting, facetiming with family and friends back home, snapchatting or netflixing. Amber moved to Ottawa to complete her second Master's degree and in this time she has struggled to build a solid social justice network and connect to the community, but through NextUp she has been able to find solidarity with the activists in this network and is hopeful for the continued connections and activism to come with the numerous NextUpers.

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Joy Clarke

Joy Wall is a born and raised Calgarian with a passion for connection, education, and social justice. Joy has a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Lethbridge, where she was involved in various clubs, child development, and literacy programs.

Currently, Joy is working as a child development specialist, supporting children under 5 with disabilities. Previously she worked with an organization which supports families after the death of a loved one.

Joy has a strong passion for connecting with people and learning how people connect to one another. This passion comes together in opportunities to travel which Joy takes as every opportunity.

Joy feels strongly about storytelling being an important medium for discourse, and is involved in the storytelling and comedy communities. She has a strong interest in learning how to use comedy to connect individuals to social issues, ideas, and movements.

In the future Joy hopes to travel across the world, forming connections, and learning from everyone she meets.

 

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Tara Laverdure

Tara was born on Treaty 7 Land, in Calgary, Alberta,and has lived there ever since. After graduating they have decided to try their hardest to live a life lead by compassion and values. They are passionate about intersectional feminism, and environmental justice. Tara use's their free time doing art, or at least thinking about doing some art; or eating dark chocolate with a reasonably priced bottle of wine. In the future they hope to help make Calgary a safer, more sustainable, and generally cooler place to be.

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Nina Karimi

Nina Karimi is a born and raised Vancouverite living the Calgarian dream, minus the cowboy hat. She graduated from UBC with a Political Science Degree last year, and during her time there she was the President of the UBC New Democrats and elected to the Residence Hall Association, Senate, and Board of Governors. She moved to Alberta after its most recent provincial election to work for an NDP MLA as their Constituency Assistant.

She has been passionate about politics since she was very young, attending rallies at the Vancouver Art Gallery with her parents and annoying her father with a million questions. Her parents immigrated to Canada as refugees, and it has always been clear to her how lucky she is to live in a free and democratic society.

She often feels pulled in multiple different directions when it comes to causes she supports, but her main area of focus is trying to address poverty in Canada at the systemic level, particularly with affordable housing.

In her spare time she enjoys playing board games, dancing to funky edm, and eating potatoes. 

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Nicole Edmond

Nicole Edmond was born and raised in various rural Alberta communities, spending most of her childhood in Airdrie, Alberta. Most of her time was spent being curious about the ways of the world and biking around exploring the city. Moving to Calgary, Nicole attended art school and received a Bachelors of Fine Art degree in Print-Media from The Alberta College of Art and Design in 2014. Nicole’s curiosity continues to move her forward via her artwork, which explores the complex relationship between human beings and the natural world, specifically the relationship we have with microbes.

When Nicole isn’t focusing on her art practice she dedicates a portion of her free time as the Vice President on the board of directors at The Alberta Printmaker’s Society. Here she is often helping organize new events to spread the joys of art and printmaking with the Calgary community. Nicole is also passionate about feminism; specifically how intersectional feminism can help create a more fair and equal arts community. Nicole has pursued this passion by interviewing artists and being a part of the discourse on the feminist podcast Yeah, What She Said on CJSW.

Nicole’s dream is to one day open a non-profit gallery dedicated to showcasing artwork produced by female, non-binary and Trans artists.

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Meghan Durieux

Meghan is a quiet explorer and observer of the world, whose days are punctuated by emphatic hand talking. Meghan believes in practicing empathy, and that compassion has the power to be disruptive. 

 

Currently Meghan works at Spark, Calgary's Science Centre, creating experiences that challenge visitors and build skills. They believe in the value of risky play, authentic challenges, and the ability of children to construct their own learning. Meghan believes Spark, and other cultural institutions, have a critical role to play in building empathetic and resilient communities. Meghan is grateful to work in a role that allows them to take creative risks, fail often and brilliantly, and facilitate learning opportunities for others. Sometimes Meghan teaches toddlers how to use knives and teens to use butane torches, and they think this is pretty great. 

 

Meghan grew up in Calgary, and although leaving several times, they’ve always returned. Living and working in B.C, Washington, DC and Nunavut, allowed Meghan challenging and sometimes uncomfortable opportunities to grow. These days Meghan is thankful to be living and learning on Treaty 7 land, underneath the big sky and amongst the prairie grasses, which they have a lot of affection for.

As you read this, Meghan is slightly embarrassed by how earnest this bio is, but not embarrassed enough to actually change it. 

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Litia Fleming

Litia is an educator, a lover of birds, and ice cream enthusiast who desires more politically and socially like minded souls in her life. Born and raised in Vancouver, she moved to Calgary a year ago; though she has lived in many cities across Canada, this is her first time living in the Prairies and the geography amazes her on a daily basis. Litia loves to ride her bike and has recently started taking her dog, Maisy, along with her.

Litia completed an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Political Science at St. Thomas University, and a Bachelor’s of Education at UBC. She is interested in identity politics, critical pedagogy, intersectional feminism, and in creating social justice focused curriculum that is accessible to teachers and students of all experience levels. Her idols include bell hooks, Michael Jackson, and her mom – she knows this is an eclectic bunch and draws strength from it. 

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Lise Rajewicz

Lise was born in Calgary, but raised on the other side of the world (literally), on a sheep farm in New Zealand. Her early experiences helped to cultivate a relentless curiosity about the world. While traveling throughout the Global South in particular, Lise became interested in the systemic causes of injustice, and how she could contribute to change in her way. She feels that empathy, determination and self-reflection are the values that drive her to be part of the social and climate justice movements.

Lise is currently studying what she loves: Human Geography and Spanish at the University of Calgary. She is currently part of a collaborative research effort with the Parkland Institute and the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives that is examining the role played by the oil and gas industry in shaping Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. By communicating policy information in a way that is accessible to all citizens, the hope is to encourage more public engagement on climate policy issues. Lise believes conversation surrounding climate change and climate policy needs to be expanded to truly represent a diversity of voices.  

In addition to be being a bonafide nerd, Lise cares deeply about helping to minimize the language barriers that can lead to isolation within Calgary’s immigrant community. Building on personal experiences of integrating into foreign cultures, Lise facilitates an English conversation group at the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. She feels lucky to be able to meet new people every week who share their lives and perspectives with her.

Lise replenishes her soul by breathing mountain air, singing, pulling weeds in her garden, bike rides, or cooking for loved ones while enjoying a giant glass of wine. Her next challenge is to learn Indonesian in preparation for field work in the Spring!

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Lindsay Kline

As a born and raised Calgarian, Lindsay has a profound appreciation for the natural surroundings both our Province and County have to offer. In search of widening her perspective and experience, Lindsay attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where she earned a degree in Political Studies. Her passion for politics and environmental issues led her to explore interests in writing and debate through her involvement in the University’s newspaper and other publications.

Shortly after completing her degree, Lindsay moved to Ottawa to pursue an internship with Elizabeth May’s M.P. Office. Her experience working on Parliament Hill introduced her to the inner-workings of government and the decision-making process. Through this work experience, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy, which brought her back to Calgary. As a Master’s student, Lindsay focused on energy and environment issues affecting Canada and Alberta. Specifically, she worked on bringing awareness to water policy issues, an area of work she continues today. 

Fueling Lindsay’s interest in environmental issues and policy is her constant desire to be close to nature and protect Canada’s natural surroundings. Lindsay can often be found in the Rocky Mountains hiking in the summer, cross-country skiing in the winter, and travel planning in the off-season.  

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Krystal Northey

Krystal is a feminist, lover of wild spaces, and Oxford comma enthusiast. 
In her current role as Community Development Coordinator at the Women’s Centre of Calgary, Krystal works to organize community-building opportunities, and create capacity-development programs for women at a local level. At the Women's Centre Krystal works to apply a gender lens to community issues, and she is excited to be a part of current projects exploring the intersections between gender, climate change, and sustainability.

Krystal studied communications and political science at Mount Royal University. During her time at Mount Royal, she worked as a contributor for the Calgary Journal, where she explored the ways in which access to transportation, affordable housing and opportunities for political participation impact the lives of women in Calgary. This and other work sparked Krystal’s interest in the ways public policy can be used as a tool to create vibrant communities, and she hopes to play a small role in making Calgary a more equitable place to live.

An avid hiker and amateur skier, Krystal spends as much time as she can outside. She has a long list of things that make her happy, but dark chocolate, strong coffee, off-beat humor, and mountain air are near the top. She recently returned to Calgary after time spent overseas – it was the magnetic pull of the Rockies that brought her back to Alberta, and she is looking forward to sticking around. 

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Khalil Alomar

Khalil Alomar is a Lebanese Canadian who has lived in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, The United States and has a background in Early Childhood Development. He brings unique perspectives to community building, social equity, and intersectionality. He engages these passions in a number of community organizations. He is a mentor to Queer identified youth through Camp fYrefly, and is one of the founders of VOICES: a coalition of Queer and Straight People of Color. He aspires to create a community based non-profit dedicated to the education, facilitation, and promotion of LGBTQ and anti-racist initiatives. He is also a critically-acclaimed stained glass artist and a life long Beyonce fan.

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Katie Klein

Katie was born and raised in Calgary and, after adventures traveling around the world and brief, temporary residencies in other cities, she has chosen to invest in this city as her home. Katie is a graduate of the University of Calgary, holding a Bachelor of Arts with a major in International Relations. Fascinated by the social sciences, human interactions and community development, Katie was drawn to the non-profit sector at the start of her career. As she continued to learn more about social justice in the Calgary context and how she could best contribute her strengths, she was inspired to return to school in pursuit of a Bachelor of Education. As a teacher, Katie feels she will have the platform from which to inspire youth, foster community and take positive action for change. In her spare time, Katie enjoys wearing many hats. She is the co-founder of local food waste prevention initiative Alternate Root YYC, a volleyball coach, live music enthusiast and proud Next Up participant. To survive, Katie runs on yoga, good coffee, mountain air and lots of laughs.

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Jacie Alook

Jacie is a Nihiyaw iskwew, child at heart, and member of Bigstone Cree Nation of Treaty 8 territory. She left home at an early age, attended school in Edmonton where she faced many milestones and rose to meet numerous adversities apart from her family and community. Her personal growths led her to understanding the importance of one’s connection to culture, land and community for success and well-being.

During her Post-Secondary education Jacie began her journey as a mother. Her two daughters further inspired her academic endeavours and reaffirmed her journey toward reconciliation for her people. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in International Indigenous studies with a minor in Geography at the University of Calgary. Her involvement with academia, the Native Centre and the greater student body revealed many truths about history, pedagogies, and her own past. Jacie served as External executive to the student club, the First Nations Students’ Association, Jacie enlarged her personal circles and ventured to the Peruvian Amazon. Introduced to local Indigenous groups, and participate in ceremony, this carved a deeper path on her healing journey toward reconciliation for a more culturally and spiritually based connection to land and people.

Her deepest strengths and inspirations are drawn from being a mother. Her daughters exemplify the importance of kindness, creativity, adaptability and playful nature to face the world in times of change. Combining her academic education, spiritual growth and experience she intends to dig up medicines written in land practices, and rekindle identities through reclaiming our stories, our songs, ceremonies and lifeways to reveal truths. To nourish enduring spiritual and cultural ties to guide understanding, unity and strength for the purpose of moving forward for future generations.

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Holliston Logan

Born and raised in Calgary, Holliston (Holly) is honoured to call Calgary home. Holly is a member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, and has a proud Saulteaux-Scottish heritage. Holly attended the University of Calgary, where after many degree changes she found her passion and graduated with a B.Sc. in Psychology. She continues to be involved in psychology research at the Addictive Behaviours Laboratory at the University of Calgary, where she is currently researching lay epidemiological perspectives of video game addictions.

Currently, Holly works as a Charity Relations Coordinator, Lead at Benevity – a locally founded B-Corporation. As a Charity Relations Coordinator, Holly assists charities world-wide in building relationships with a network of corporate giving, matching, and volunteering programs. She is passionate about supporting the non-profit sector, and has experience working within various non-profits herself, including the Native Ambassador Post-Secondary Initiative (N.A.P.I. Program), and Wellspring Calgary.

In her free time, Holly volunteers with a variety of charitable organizations around Calgary. She currently sits as a member of the Board of Directors at Pathways Community Services Association, and as the Social Media Team Lead for the Firefighter Stairclimb Challenge Committee at Wellspring Calgary. In her down time, you can often find Holly curled up under a blanket watching Netflix and crocheting.

Through Next Up, Holly hopes to explore the many diverse social and environmental issues facing our communities today, and intertwine these learnings into her current community involvements.`

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Emily Diaczun

Emily is a social worker and feminist. Right now she works in reproductive and sexual health at an abortion clinic. She is honored to offer compassion and respect to women and believes this work is about justice and liberation. She has also worked in areas of mental health, addictions, and pediatrics. Emily tries to find points of connection with others in order to understand their diverse experiences of human suffering and resilience within a justice context.

Emily’s background in feminism and women’s studies anchors her approach to relationships. Emily has experienced privilege, invisibility, and oppression. It has been immensely meaningful to use these experiences to learn and re-learn ways of acting in solidarity on Treaty territory.

Emily has discovered a passion for engaging groups of people around sensitive issues. It has been humbling to be involved in public dialogues about the influence of power systems on our lives and relationships -whether through sexual assault public education or small group discussions of poverty.

Emily enjoys extra long walks with her dog, cycling all over Calgary, film noirs, and trying to understand organized sports.

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Arielle Lessard

Arielle’s interests are built around self-education and waste reduction. She dreams of basic income, renewables, gross happiness, open-source tech, and a free world without waste. She supports arts and music by any means necessary, and enjoys acquiring skills that challenge her to learn patience like aerial arts and violin.

From Québec, Arielle explored the frozen and flourishing backwoods of Saguenay and Gaspésie with a little axe as company, until she moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where she graduated high school and learnt about the importance of good governance, diplomacy, compassion, and the many impacts of civil unrest and inequality. She learnt a trace of Arabic and Spanish during this time, and speaks French and English natively.

Subsequently, she spent some years with her nose in countless books and finished a Bachelors in English Literature and Psychology from McGill. After noticing a lack of effective and resilient sustainability initiatives while working as an urban planning researcher and writer, she sought further education and enrolled in a Sustainable Community Development program at Simon Fraser.

She currently works with Green Event Services, a social business dedicated to diverting waste from our landfills, and volunteers with Calgary Can, a grassroots recycling initiative in support of Bottle Pickers. Her efforts are focused on bolstering business practices and developing sustainability efforts to support local communities and the move towards zero waste. Garbage be gone!

She has every intention of enjoying the company of friends, getting a Master’s degree, perfecting groovy dance moves, and exploring the many linkages within sustainability. She’s a special fan of screwball humor, and innovative big-picture thinking.

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Chloe Saunders

Chloe is a born and raised Calgarian. She studied Painting at the Alberta College of Art and Design, and is currently working in the fields of waste management, arts, and human services. Though they are under multiple positions at the moment, she dreams of ways these areas of interest can intersect. Important issues for Chloe are improving waste and consumption practices, gender equality, environmental justice, vibrant communities and compassionate living.

Remaining in her hometown, a city with an evolving identity, she is determined to push the boundaries of the city’s ability to be a leader in social change. She wants to contribute to the growth of the city by engaging with communities that are as inclusive as they are innovative. With a belief that positive change is happening as a direct result of an individual action, as well as coordinated efforts, she places value in surrounding herself with people that can inspire and challenge her to question what contribution on an individual level can look like. She strives for progress through open communication, patience, and a willingness to prioritize mission over comfort.

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Charlene Campo

Charlene is a 1.5 generation Canadian, having spent her childhood in Makati and her formative years in Toronto. She earned an Honours BA in International Relations, Political Science, and Sociology from the University of Toronto, where she became interested in critical race and gender studies as well as qualitative research methods.

Charlene has been working in the field of public policy for several years. She has worked in both federal and provincial governments to analyze various policy areas including public health, epidemiology, Indigenous communities and engagement and currently, intergovernmental and international issues in labour. Her dedication towards equitable public policy has grown over time, as she begins to understand the profound consequences of programs and policies for everyone, especially marginalized groups. From this perspective, she is particularly interested in contradictions, intersections between theory and practice, gaps and areas of improvement within policies.

Charlene’s passion for social justice is rooted in and shaped by her experiences of violence, oppression and marginalization, as well as those of her loved ones. Growing up, she struggled with internalized racism and is in the process of forging a path and community for herself as a woman of colour from a working class family. She is a survivor of family violence and is now a volunteer and a Member of the Board of Directors for the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. In the near future, she hopes to further her education, become more involved in community and grassroots initiatives, and be a mentor to youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Charlene’s idea of success is to build upon the work and activism of her predecessors that has allowed her to navigate through her life’s challenges so far. Ultimately, her goal is to share her abilities and resources so that others may have a better chance of having a good quality of life.

During her free time, Charlene divides her time between Calgary and Edmonton. She likes to be with her loved ones, binge watch on Netflix (she is currently watching Naruto Shippuden), take care of her cat and her plants, and browse the furniture section of kijiji. Her proudest accomplishment is finally being an aquarist, something she’s always wanted to do. She raises pet shrimp and will gladly give baby shrimp to those who ask.

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Ashley Reyns

Ashley moved to Ottawa to start her undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa, a big change from the small hamlet she grew up in! Eager to explore the world of social justice she dove into student politics, becoming Co-President of the Society for Women's Empowerment, Director of Communications for the Development Student Association, an OPIRG board member and an elected representative of the SFUO's Board of Administration. As a new graduate she is looking forward to dedicating more time to her job as a community organizer at ACORN - a grassroots community group of low and moderate income people fighting for economic and social justice issues such as affordable healthy homes, disability/welfare rights and a living wage. Outside of work you can find her playing volleyball, sketching in her notebook,  dreaming of her next trip abroad, being a typical cancer (hit her up if you're a scorpio), eating nachos or hanging out with her cat Astro.

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Taylor Arnott

Taylor Arnott was born and raised in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. She moved to Winnipeg to pursue her studies, in which inhabited for job opportunities.  She is currently working a Boston Pizza location as a manager where she handles day to day operations, customer complainants and sales/labour initiatives. As well she is the LSM (local store marketer) in which ensures all in-store marketing including social media is well maintained and/or created. Taylor attended the University of Manitoba, where she graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree. The double major degree included classes in Sociology and Labour Studies, as those transformed into her passion throughout the years. Taylor enjoys hanging out with family and friends, watching sports, working out and relaxing with a cup of tea and a good book.

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Gary McLeod

Gary McLeod is a husband, father of four and a proud Métis. Gary is also an Advanced Remedial Massage Therapist, CrossFit Coach, Agatsu Kettlebell Instructor, Personal Trainer, Lifestyle consultant and an employee of Manitoba Justice. Gary grew up on a farm 15 kilometres east of The Pas, a Northern Manitoba community. When Gary wasn’t hauling hay, cutting grass or feeding animals, he was playing sports or enjoying Mother Nature.  Gary has seen the almost magical effects of living a healthy lifestyle in his own family and the many clients he has reached during his 10 years in the health and wellness industry.  Gary has a passion for teaching his fellow humans how to improve their microcosm. Gary is convinced that this is the key to creating a positive cascade effect toward improving the macrocosms we all share. 

“Listen to brother beaver, he will teach you.”

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Richard Farthing-Nichol

Richard was born and raised in Winnipeg’s West End, a place that taught him the value of a strong and diverse community. Richard graduated from the University of Manitoba in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Political Studies and History. While at the U of M, he explored a range of topics, including global governance in the Arctic, international development, and Indigenous politics. He pursued these topics through research positions, volunteer work, and an international development internship in Malawi. Since graduating, Richard has worked as a management intern with the Government of Manitoba. He is passionate about the natural world and likes to spend his leisure time exploring Manitoba’s backcountry.

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Reuben Van Gaalen

New to Winnipeg having moved from Iowa where he studied at Dordt College, a small liberal arts university. He graduated with a bachelors degree in political science and a minor in Spanish. Currently works at a restaurant as well as for a small wine agent. He has a desire to become more involved politically and communally in his new city and is looking for opportunities in public policy and elsewhere.

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Mitch Gusdal

Although currently living and working in Winnipeg, Mitch’s roots come from rural Manitoba. He was fortunate enough to grow up on-site at a summer camp which his parents managed, near Riding Mountain National Park.

Living and working at the summer camp (Camp Wannakumbac) gave him a strong set of values rooted in education and opportunities for youth. However, his passion for design and communication led him to the Graphic Design program at Red River College. After three years of school, he was hired at a small design studio who works with clients in the Arts & Culture sector.

Mitch is always looking for new challenges. He is passionate about using his talent as a communicator to convey his core values. Dedicating three years towards coaching a youth basketball team for Spence Neighbourhood Association is one example of this. An active freelancer outside his full-time job, he’s done some work for clients such as his home municipality of Clanwilliam–Erickson, Manitoba Camping Association, Manitoba Cooperative Association, and so on. It was his work with one of these clients that lead him to Next Up.

Through Next Up, Mitch hopes to become connected with the national network of current participants and alumni. He would like to get involved with short and long term projects aimed at key issues such as climate change.

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Katina Cochrane

Katina Cochrane is from Peguis First Nation. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a bachelors degree, in Political Science and Indigenous Governance.
"I think the most valuable tools I've gained has come from my parents, elders and community members, in understanding the importance in who I am, where I come from and where I need to go in life to ultimately contribute to the betterment of my community."
Katina has dedicated her career choices to working with people with harsh realities in the Justice system as a Community Justice worker, as well as a Program Family Enhancement Facilitator dedicated to strengthening First Nation families. Katina spends her time facilitating meaningful workshops and presentations to young people aspiring to make positive changes in their lives.
Katina has a strong connection to her community and culture; she is a Jingle Dress dancer, enjoys sewing, and spending time with her two daughters and husband.

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Julia Lawler

Julia Lawler completed a B.ES at the University of Waterloo in Environment and Resource Studies, and is currently an M.Sc. candidate in the Bioscience, Technology, and Public Policy Program at The University of Winnipeg. Her research interests include community-based resource management, and social and environmental sustainability. 

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Fabian Suarez-Amaya

My name is Fabian Suárez-Amaya.  I am Ontario-born, Winnipeg-raised with family roots in Medellín and Cali, Colombia. I work as a middle-years teacher in Seven Oaks School Division. I graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 2015 and spent the final year of my degree teaching kindergarten in Thailand. I have a variety of personal and political interests, and enjoy finding areas where those interests intersect.

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Dana Connolly

Dana Connolly is a proud Anishinaabe women and mother of two. She is a member of Peguis First Nation and was raised in the inner-city of Winnipeg.  Dana is currently employed as the Team Lead of the Employment and Training Programs at Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc.  This is where she discovered her passion for social justice issues that affect the Indigenous community. It was her personal experiences growing up in the North End that fostered her desire for supporting and empowering Indigenous people to identify their gifts, achieve their goals and create a sustainable future for the community.    

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Chris Clacio

Christopher Clacio Born and Raised in Winnipeg, Mb. He is an up and coming community helper in the North End of Winnipeg. You can always find him every Friday's at 470 Selkirk Avenue helping the young people set up and organize Meet Me at the Bell Tower at 6pm. Another place you can often find him every week is at Neechi Commons at 865 Main St. at noon. Where he hangs out with fellow Aboriginal Youth Opportunities leaders to talk system and political literacy at what they call PolitixBS which stands for “BrainStorms” and not the other word you thought it was.

He is also apart of the AYO team and you can find his biography on the Ayomovement website as proof of his efforts helping in the North End. He helps with community outreach for AYO! He helps faciltate at various community meetings, welcome guests, create partnerships and positiviely represents the movement from a voice that is not First Nations, Metis or Inuit. His heritage is of filipino decent making him the one of the first non-indigenous youth to be recognized as part of the team.

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Chelsea King

Chelsea King was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba but has spent the last decade living and working between her hometown and Brisbane, Australia where her family now resides.

 Chelsea has a passion for social justice and women's community advocacy. After completing an Advanced BA in Global Political Economy at University of Manitoba, she has worked in the financial and non-profit sector. Chelsea is now the Mentorship Coordinator at West Central Women's Resource Centre, where she works in leadership and empowerment programming, in addition to coordinating volunteers and internship participants.

 Chelsea is involved in Community Economic Development as a staff person, board member and volunteer and hopes to continue contributing to the development of  Winnipeg’s inner city.

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Anny Chen

Anny is an educator and coordinator at the University of Manitoba, running experiential programs that get students involved in the community and thinking about their role in positive social change. After a stint teaching middle-schoolers, Anny found her true love in community education – first in settlement and language instruction for newcomers, and more recently in alternative youth programming and grassroots organizing around food, education, civic engagement, leadership, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations. When she’s not in a 9pm meeting with Red Rising Magazine or 13 Fires, you can find Anny relaxing with a good, ol’ 90s rerun. Full House, anyone?

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Alec Ruest

Alec Ruest is in his final year of the Bachelor of Business Administration degree program at Université de St. Boniface, the University of Manitoba’s satellite campus and the only French-language university in the province. Currently working with Guest Services at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Alec’s work experience has been in a range of industries—from hospitality and secondary education to banking and insurance—and has recently included volunteer stints with Reel Pride Film Fest, the Winnipeg Jazz Festival, Totally OutRight Winnipeg, and the University’s Academic Integrity Committee. Regardless of organization, his roles have often explored the recurring themes of procedural development and logistical organization while working both independently and in groups. When not juggling his work, school, and community commitments, Alec spends his time messing around in the kitchen, escaping the city to go camping, catching as many local events and performances as possible, and trying very hard to resist the temptations of hibernating through the Winnipeg winter. A NextUp generation 2015 participant, Alec hopes to find a niche in the fundraising, grant writing and revenue generating fields of community industry. You can reach him at Alec.C.Ruest (at) gmail (dot) com or on LinkedIn @alecruest

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Jenna Gall

Jenna was born and raised in southeastern Saskatchewan where she grew up farming, hunting, and fishing with her family. During her final year of high school she had the opportunity to travel to both the Arctic and Antarctica with Students on Ice. It was during these experiences that Jenna realized her passion for environmental and social justice wasn’t just a part of her life it was who she was. 

She chose to study a BSc in Environmental Science at UBC. During her degree she started many organizations that focused on local food and food security as well as sustainability and climate change. Through various experiences she became passionate about focusing on environmental issues through a social justice lens. She has lived and worked in Saskatchewan, BC, Yukon, Nunavut, Peru and Tanzania and she is excited to be in Saskatoon working in the renewable energy field. 

When she’s not installing solar panels or organizing creative climate actions, you can find Jenna outdoors. She loves hiking, cycling, backpacking, camping, skiing and bringing others to enjoy nature with her. When it snows she struggles between choosing a good book and a warm fire, or convincing her not-so-adventurous friends to choose winter camping instead!

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Cori Longo

Cori calls Edmonton “home” but has lived in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan. She’s proud to come from the prairies!

Cori was first introduced to the labour movement as a teenager when she started working as a postal worker. Little did she know, that it would become her passion and change the course of her life. She was instantly drawn to the power of the collective and developed strong skills as a union representative on the shop floor. Cori experienced the advantage of being a union member which led her to choose her next career. Working part time at the post office, Cori completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Grant Macewan University. In her third year, she studied abroad at the University De Holguin in Cuba. She was briefly employed as a Registered Nurse before taking a full time position in the labour movement. Cori currently works for the Canadian Labour Congress as the Regional Representative for Alberta. In her free time, Cori likes camping and spending time outdoors. She is excited to make climate justice a priority in her work!

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Ashton James

Ashton is currently moving and shaking in Edmonton, where she supports a non-profit organization that combines her interests in grassroots community organizing, sustainable food movements, and youth activism. As Program Director with Ceiba Association, she facilitates global education and community-led development internship opportunities for young people in Edmonton, creatin launching points for engaging in social and environmental change work. Through this role, she is committed to bridging local and global social justice concerns through sparking conversations on the roots of injustice, including histories of capitalism, colonialism, and land ownership. Currently supporting sustainable agriculture initiatives in southwestern Uganda, Ashton is motivated by a sense of urgency to act on the disproportionate influences of climate change on developing and marginalized communities. 

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Elizabeth Jack

Born and raised in Calgary, Elizabeth is a life-long learner whose studies in Philosophy took her to ponder life’s big questions in faraway places like Ireland, Belgium and Germany. She returned to Calgary in 2009, where it has been a privilege to participate in the discourse of a city exploring its identity and what it wants to be. She works in the fields of continuous improvement and organizational effectiveness. She is currently in a professional role with an energy company that combines her philosophical interests in learning and problem solving processes, experiential education and employee engagement.  

You can usually find Elizabeth on some sort of outdoor adventure – hiking, climbing, camping, cycling, x-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing are all treasured ways to spend her time. She also volunteers as a Ranger leader with Girl Guides of Canada, mentoring brilliant young women in outdoor pursuits and responsible citizenship. She is thrilled to be part of Next Up’s Climate Leadership Program, and looks forward to the challenge and community involved.

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Kalen Pilkington

Kalen Pilkington is the Director of the Office of Sustainability at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.  The Office of Sustainability strives to connect, engage and inspire MacEwan University’s campus and the community through sustainability leadership.  Utilizing a systems-thinking methodology, she strives to create a balanced approach to the environmental, economic, social, cultural and well-being dimensions of sustainability.  Through her work at MacEwan, Kalen oversees the creation and implementation of a sustainability strategy, complete with targets to achieve the long term vision of a resilient and equitable future.  Working alongside key stakeholders, the office provides guidance, fosters awareness, monitors progress, and promotes partnerships towards campus-wide sustainability. 

Originally from Ontario, Kalen holds a Masters of Environment and Sustainability and a post-graduate certificate in Green Architecture.  She has also obtained several professional designations related to public engagement, project management, sustainable events, and green buildings.  

Kalen enjoys spending time with her dog Fyfe, hiking, backcountry camping, canoeing, biking, yoga, listening to music and reading.  When Kalen can’t be found around Alberta, she can be found travelling, learning about different cultures, and how sustainability is done around the world.  She tries to continually build her skills and push boundaries.  Currently, Kalen is learning ukulele and slide guitar.  She dreams of starting her own consulting firm that focuses on well-being in sustainable, healthy spaces. Kalen likes to tackle global challenges through local action which connects participants with a larger community working towards positive change.  She believes in status-quo disruption, so let’s be troublemakers and make innovative, long-lasting impacts. 

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Corey Dekker

Corey Dekker has a passion for public policy.  Corey grew up in Metro-Vancouver and attended Simon Fraser University, where he completed an undergraduate degree in political science. Corey then headed off to London to complete a master’s degree in government and political theory at the London School of Economics. Following graduation, Corey found his way to Ottawa and secured a job with the federal public service, where he has worked since 2009.  As a federal public servant Corey has worked across four departments in three different cities (Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary) and is currently a Socio-Economic Specialist with the National Energy Board. 

A central theme of Corey’s work and personal interests is Indigenous peoples and Indigenous rights, and particularly how Indigenous peoples rights and interests affect public policy. Through his work, Corey leads engagement with Indigenous peoples across Canada and has had the privilege of meeting with members from over 100 Indigenous groups. One key takeaway from his work with Indigenous peoples is their concern about environmental sustainability and climate change. In that spirit, Corey is excited to participate in the Climate Leadership Program as a vehicle to better understand the challenge of climate change and to learn about (and contribute to) climate action. 

Corey is a status member of the Pine Creek First Nation in Manitoba and currently lives in Calgary with his wife Jasmine. 

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Christopher Lammiman

Chris was born and raised in Calgary and currently resides in the Rocky Mountain foothills about an hour west of the city. He and his partner Jodi live and work in an intentional community at a spiritual retreat centre on a 166-acre wilderness property on the Ghost River. Their work is centred on hospitality, inclusion, and creating safe space for all. 

Chris has an undergrad degree in theology, and recently graduated from Royal Roads University with a Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management. His major research project focused on the gendered dimensions of the 2013 Alberta floods. As he begins his career in emergency management, he is passionate about creating disaster resilient communities based on social equity, protection of vulnerable populations, community health, environmental sustainability, and climate change adaptation.  

You can usually find Chis out wandering in the woods, where he spends as much time as possible. He also enjoys cooking, writing, reading, and terrible puns.

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Sachi Kitazachi

Sachi is a trained bean counter (Chartered Professional Accountant) and holds a Master of Professional Accounting degree from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor of Management degree from the University of Lethbridge. She loves working as a Community Services Accountant for the City of Red Deer as it allows her to help improve the lives of Red Deerians, share her experience and knowledge, work collaboratively with and learn from passionate colleagues, and continuously improve business processes.  

Sachi was born and raised in Ritto, a small town in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. She grew up being surrounded by nature; she swam in Lake Biwa, a UNESCO Ramsar Wetland, as well as hiked and skied on mountains in her prefecture. These fun experiences combined with frequent visits to a local nature centre with her father cultivated her commitment to environmental conservation. She believes in taking small but steady steps in climate change actions. She has demonstrated her commitment by leading the implementation of the composting at work program for 2 divisions at the City of Red Deer. As a member of the City's Green Team member, she collaborates with other team members to inspire City staff to participate in organization-wide environmental initiatives. She hopes to continue supporting, increase her participation in, and/or inspire others to take climate change actions at the City, including neighbourhood planning, composting at home and work, recycling, and reducing energy usage. 

When she is not tweaking spreadsheets, making recommendations, or preparing budgets, Sachi loves spending time with her family and friends, playing piano, hiking, cross country skiing, playing with animals, learning foreign languages, and volunteering. 

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Tasha Roa-Yaremkowycz

My intent and desired outcome has always led to making a difference in the lives of others. Teaching is my passion, this is where I shine. I am currently a grade 4 teacher and Eco-Club leader at Andrew Sibbald school. Last year my colleague & I introduced a comprehensive waste management system at out school that includes all recyclables, as well as compost. I am an advocate for environmental & outdoor education.  

 I live an engaged life with passions for the arts, the outdoors and healthy living. Good food, museums, theatre, reading & galleries are always on my to do list. Likewise, I try and get out the the mountains for hikes or snowshoeing as much as I can. I feel whole when I am outside.  

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Daniel Fipke

Dan Fipke is a young professional from Calgary, Alberta and has 5 years’ experience in Alberta’s electricity industry. He currently works at the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) as a Commercial Analyst, tasked with the procurement of operating reserves and other ancillary services to maintain Alberta’s reliable grid. Previously he worked in Forecasting and contributed to the development of an annual 20-year load and generation forecast for the province of Alberta. Dan has also worked for the Alberta Department of Energy in Resource Development and AMIS Inter- Ag, an international management firm focused on sustainable agriculture development.  

Dan completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Calgary in Political Science and Economics. Currently he is pursuing a Masters of Environment and Management from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. He also volunteers his time with Student Energy, a global non-profit focused on educating ad connecting students to address the challenges of the global energy system.  

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Ty Steinhauer

Ty Steinhauernehiyaw from Saddle Lake, Treaty No 6 territory, acknowledges the ancestral teachings handed down from generations past. Where there is an understanding that we have succeeded against great odds and incredible challenges to be present here in 2016. This foundation leads us to become our highest and best selves to prepare for the next generations yet unborn.  Ty’s spark is connected to this generous spirit of being; becoming a true warrior. Re-establishing once more, using the strength from kindness and compassion, a place for everyone to unfold their truths in a plan larger than ourselves. When we acknowledge spirit and human, we live life the way Creator intended for us to live. There are every day pleasures that Ty participates in for joy and sharing; things like dancing, drumming, guitar, volleyball, and language learning.  Upon graduating from high school, Ty chose to mentor with nehiyaw and Anishnaabe knowledge keepers. 

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Thana Boonlert

Born in Gatineau, Quebec, Thana spent his early years living in Ottawa where he was raised speaking French, English and Thai. He attended the University of Guelph, where he was actively involved in student politics and graduated with a Bachelors of Engineering Degree. 

Thana currently works in Calgary as an Environmental Engineer with a company that specializes in stormwater management and wetland designs. His role is strongly focused on engaging politicians and stakeholders on removing barriers to innovative technologies in Alberta. Thana earlier worked in environmental compliance and oil and gas air emissions analysis. 

Thana was a candidate in the Calgary Centre riding for the Green Party of Canada in the 2015 Federal general election. He also ran in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway Provincial by-election, representing the Green Party of Alberta. Furthermore, Thana is the Director of Sustainability for the Marda Loop Community Association, an Ambassador for the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, and a Shadow Cabinet Member of the Green Party of Alberta. He volunteers frequently at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, and attends meetings and discussions throughout the city on homelessness, sustainability, energy, and other local initiatives. 

From a young age, Thana has been passionate about politics and the environment. Having been raised in an ethnic community, he understands that it is important to include all cultural and socio-economical groups when developing policy.  

In his spare time, Thana plays hockey, is an avid snowboarder, writes music, dabbles in photography, learns about anything space related, and is often in the mountains enjoying Mother Nature. 

 

 

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Julia-Maria Becker

Julia-Maria is originally from Germany, lived, studied and worked for over five years in Latin America (mostly in Mexico) and is a now part of the Inglewood/Calgary community for soon to be two years. She currently works for two wonderful organizations, both of which are making strides that influence our future: Student Energy creates the next generation of energy leaders that are committed to changing the future of energy and Alberta Ecotrust focuses on capacity building and funding in Alberta’s environmental sector. She enjoys being able to do local environmental work through Alberta Ecotrust, while also serving the global community through Student Energy. 

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Kass Forman

I have been serving as Coordinator of the Alberta Green Economy Network since August 2015. As a former member of the Alberta NDP's research staff, I have a special interest in the intersection of the environment and economy. My environmental work began several years ago as an Outreach Coordinator for the Toronto Environmental Alliance. I subsequently worked on arctic issues for a few years with the Youth Arctic Coalition while living in BC. Since moving to Alberta, I have been searching for an opportunity to reconcile the imperative of climate change mitigation with economic justice. I hope to gain some insight into this challenge through the CLP. 

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Jerry Toews

Jerry has worked in the Labour movement in Alberta for the last six years and is currently the Executive Liaison with the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), responsible for the Governance and Communications teams. He is committed to increasing progressive activity within union settings and ensuring that our public services remain strong. 

Prior to his work in Labour, Jerry was very active as an organizer with the NDP. He worked for four years on Parliament Hill for an NDP MP from BC as a Parliamentary Assistant. He also worked on a number of high profile local election campaign in various roles, including as campaign manager. He also served for one year as the Chief of Staff for the Alberta NDP caucus. In the 2015 provincial election, he acted as Director of Organization for Alberta’s NDP. 

During his time in Ottawa, Jerry’s MP was the critic for the environment and he worked very closely with many of the national environmental NGOs in creating significant legislation on the environment. While little of this legislation was ever enacted, that work certainly changed the conversation around the environment on a national level. Finding a just transition from a non-renewable to a sustainable basis for our economy was a major focus of their work. 

Jerry sits on the Advisory Committee for Next Up Edmonton, owns a 90-year-old house in Old Strathcona in Edmonton and is a red wine aficionado. 

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Teigan Kopec

Teigan is a born and bred Calgarian - but she doesn't view this as limiting! Adventuring and communicating is Teigan's method of discovery, of self and others, and sharing. Currently, you'll find her working as an Executive Assistant in the Office of the Councillors in Calgary City Hall. Her past work experience include natural gas, non-profit, institutional sectors - and their intersections. She's looking for win-win situations in matters of social justice, the environment, and within our larger cultural paradigm. She's been fortunate enough to travel, and even gave it a go living in France. In these experiential circumstances, she gained invaluable learnings that affect how she lives and shares here back in Alberta. 

Teigan brings humour, lightheartedness, and a genuine capacity and interest in working with others. She believes that quality exists in details, in preparedness, and in the ability to encourage people's strengths to foster a collaborative environment. She believes that emotional and rational validation are the true power couple. She believes in the synchronicity of people and experiences - and cannot wait to see what the Climate Leadership Program has in store! 

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Julie Wiseman

Julie Wiseman lives in a trailer, but it wasn’t always that way. Born and raised in suburban Calgary, to outdoor enthusiast parents, she eventually crept south to complete a Management Degree from the University of Lethbridge. After spending two weeks post grad, in Corporate downtown Calgary, she fled the prairies for the fluidity of ocean living in a small Vancouver Island community. It was Alberta who taught Julie to love the outdoors, but it was British Columbia who showed her how to make it a lifestyle.   As grateful as Julie is to BC, to her a landscape hits you only as hard as the depth of your memories in that scenery. So Julie happily ran home after five years and doubled down further, by joining the family business.  

Working in Business Development for an oilfield service company, Julie spends her days’ consistently conflicted. She is divided between a professional gratification from economically viable decision-making and a personal awareness that those decisions can effect climate change. The good news is Julie really likes bridges. 

Oh and birds too. 

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Wayne Gong

Working as a transportation planner, Wayne enjoys collaborating with local residents and stakeholders to design a more walkable, bikeable and liveable community we can call home.  Born and raised in China and having moved to Canada in 2008 to attain his bachelor degree in University of Alberta, Wayne happily calls himself a global citizen and proud Edmontonian. He is interested in exploring cities on bicycle or public transit and helping to shape Edmonton’s transportation network with more sustainable modes of transport. He believes in diversity and that everybody can and should make their voice heard in a vibrant and democratic society.  

In his spare time, you will find Wayne with his girlfriend either volunteering in multiple organizations (Institute of Transportation Engineers, his community garden, art festivals, community bike shop, etc.), cooking fresh and local, or losing himself in the mountains. He is excited to become part of Next Up ‘s Climate Leadership Program and endeavours to give back to the community with his leadership and professional skills. 

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Parker Leflar

Parker is an educator and community builder who facilitates workshops and other learning spaces on a wide variety of topics, including gender-based violence prevention, support skills, risk assessment, and gender & sexual identity. Having grown up as a white settler on treaty territory in Albertan cities, Parker is passionate about learning to act in solidarity with Indigenous communities and other justice movements. As part of this learning journey, he is currently a part-time student in the Bachelor of Native Studies program at the University of Alberta. With a growing career as a university services professional, Parker has worked in a number of roles at the U of A since 2011, including positions with the Office of Sustainability, the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services (iSMSS), the Sexual Assault Centre, and currently, the Helping Individuals At Risk program. Parker is fond of dogs, folk music, macgyvered solutions, lists, and the art of thrifty decorating.

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Stephanie Kot

Stephanie Kot is a graduate of the Glendon School of Public and
International Affairs at York University. She is excited to join Next
Up Climate Leaders. Stephanie sees a tremendous opportunity in the
green economy, and is ready, with her Program colleagues, to change
hearts and minds on climate change and renewable energy in Alberta.
This is the biggest issue of our lifetime - Stephanie vows not to let
future generations down because of inaction.

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Julia Frohlich

Julia spent summer months growing up at a little cabin on a lake in Central Alberta. These small town summer experiences and spending time in nature inspired her to pursue a degree in Conservation Biology at University of Alberta. With many areas of interest in social justice, Julia has volunteered and worked in the non-profit sector. She finds stories inspiring and currently works in industry to engage the public in providing input on development projects. These developments include energy generation, oil and gas extraction, electrical system upgrades and pipeline projects where she is able to advocate for responsible development and community values. 

 At home in Calgary, she can usually be found cuddled with her two cats and full focus on a good book or research on her computer. Julia enjoys a good thought provoking film, gardening, yoga and learning a bit more everyday.

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Jana Boehm

Jana is a feminist, advocate, and critical thinker who loves to learn, challenge herself and explore the unknown. Originally hailing from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Jana graduated with a Bachelor degree in Social Work from the University of Calgary in 2011 with her senior practicum taking place in Pune, India. While living in Calgary, Jana worked on the frontlines of the homelessness sector and volunteered at the Distress Centre on a crisis line. Jana then traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2013 to complete her Master of Social Work degree where she engaged in anti-oppressive practice and (un)learning. During her time out east, Jana worked with the Nova Scotia Advisory Council Status of Women where she researched for development of their provincial sexual violence prevention strategy and assisted in organizing a Campaign School for women. Currently, Jana works as a Social Worker at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, volunteers for the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, and is a board member for Starfish Family Resources. Jana enjoys reading, being active, and engaging in dynamic conversations around dominant social discourse. She hopes to continually be a part of anti-oppressive change within herself, community, and society.

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Stacey Gomez

Stacey is passionate about building inclusive social movements and creating an equitable world. Her work has included: calling for Canadian government accountability for its policies in Latin America; advocating for corporate accountability in Canadian mining operations abroad; providing peer support to womxn who've experienced sexual violence; and engaging in ecumenical & multifaith social justice initiatives. She is particularly inspired by thinking and actions by Indigenous womxn defending their territories from transnational mining in Guatemala. Currently, Stacey lives in Montreal, on the traditional territory of the Kanien'kehá:ka people.

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Celeste Alcena

Interested in community and student organizing, Celeste focuses her activism on high school outreach and student mobilization on campus. During her time at the University of Waterloo, Celeste was the VP Youth Engagement for Engineers Without Borders launching a high school chapter initiative. This allowed her to work closely with high school students through workshops, debates and guest speakers aimed at politicizing and educating the youth. Celeste is a firm believer in systemic change and is excited to gain some insights as to how colonial histories have shaped the way we learn and ways in which we can work to overcome this. 

Recently transferring to Carleton, Celeste is now successfully working towards a BA Honors in Political Science. Celeste is a Ravens Figure Skater who loves playing music, board games and exploring the world through various forms of art (mostly because travelling is expensive). When Celeste isn’t studying, skating, or radicalizing the youth she enjoys watching Doctor Who over anything else. Celeste is not interested in cats, cat videos, cat pictures or student loans. 

On top of tearing down capitalism and cooling down the planet in the process, Celeste aims to build and embrace community wherever she goes.

 

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Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose was born in London, ON but considers Windsor, ON her home. She moved to Ottawa in 2014 for a fresh start. Tiffany is passionate about making a difference in issues regarding homelessness, addiction, mental health, sex work, women's abuse, and child abuse (specifically, Shaken Baby Syndrome).

Currently, her work consists of community-based research. Her ideal job would be working with youth and women in the community on harm reduction and drug use. Her work and passion is motivated by personal lived experiences. Some of Tiffany’s influential female role models include Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, and Rola Osman. When Tiffany isn’t working and pursuing community initiatives, you can find her watching Orange is the New Black, Wentworth, and Dexter. She loves the colour purple as well as Greek and Caribbean food, and considers coffee and chips her vices.

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Rachel Urban Shipley

Rachel was born in Madison, Wisconsin and moved to Ottawa when she was seven. She was raised Quaker which was her entry into activism because of the community's progressive history. 

Rachel graduated from the University of Waterloo with a peace and conflict studies degree, with minors in music and psych. She is now working part-time at causeway foundation, volunteering at Shawnjeagamik drop in centre and Ten Thousand Villages AND taking a fundraising course at Algonquin.

Being an activist, Rachel’s interests include intersectional feminism, LGBTQIAP issues, Indigenous rights, disability rights and way too much more to list. Rachel has also worked and volunteered with organizations like the Canadian Friends Service Committee, KAIROS Canada, Project Ploughshares, and the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

After all of that, in her free time, Rachel likes to knit, go swing dancing and sing. 

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Braydon Dunn

Meet Braydon Dunn! Born and raised in Aurora, Ontario (just north of Toronto), Braydon has been active in expanding and shaping his progressive politics through constant open-minded learning and unlearning. He is currently working on his BA Honours degree in Human Rights at Carleton University. In his time there, he has been expanding his activist efforts through his involvement with groups on campus, like SAIA-Carleton (Students Against Israeli Apartheid), of which he's a committed member.

As a firm bottom-up grassroots believer, Braydon hopes to strengthen and build genuine solidarity with various communities. He has a special interest in refugee rights, rights of displaced persons, and water provision rights.

In his spare time, Braydon enjoys reading as many books as he can (particularly non-fiction), creative writing, as well as perspective and macro photography.

Above all, Braydon believes in taking down capitalism along with the Oxford comma!

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Jennifer Comrie

Although Jenn now calls Calgary home, she is grateful for learning experiences in British Columbia’s interior and along its west coast, the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and the cape flats of South Africa.  She works in a professional role that combines her interest for public policy, the environment, and indigenous people and is motivated by a sense of urgency to act on the issues that matter most to her.  Jenn believes that growth happens when we move outside of our comfort zone and strives to create meaning not only in her life, but also in the lives of others.

Jenn enjoys cycling, reading, and listening to podcasts.  She dreams of beginning a community garden behind her downtown apartment and remains inspired by the power of storytelling and the importance of understanding history.  She is an advocate for recycling and waste reduction and using her plant press whenever she is out on a hike.  Jenn is committed to working towards a better world and believes that the best conversations are had over a piece of dark chocolate.

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Joseph Mosca

Joseph is a multilingual, musically talented, science-loving Calgarian who is passionate about creating an empathetic Canada. He pursued his passion for music and travelled across Canada in a band. This opened his eyes and gave him pride, faith, and optimism in Canadians. His studies in zoology, or the "art school of science" as he puts it, from the University of Calgary led him to job in a veterinary parasitology lab and the opportunity to travel to Nunavut to collect samples and do community outreach to schools there. After graduating, he spent 8 months in Italy travelling and connecting with his family to learn more about where his parents grew up.

Currently Joseph spends his time playing music, learning languages and working at Spark, Calgary’s Science Centre, creating environmental and water based school programs. Joseph wants to promote the Canada he believes in, our unique caring qualities and to restore Canada's compassionate and caring reputation in the world.

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Cortney Steinwand

Growing up on a small farm in rural Alberta, Cortney developed a love for the natural world and experienced the value of being connected to a strong and supportive community. Largely inspired by her parent’s compassion and community involvement, Cortney fostered an unwavering passion for justice-based issues at a young age. This passion led her to a Community Development studies degree at the University of Calgary, where she had the opportunity to work with subsistence farmers in Ghana and Uganda, Calgary-based nonprofits, and indigenous communities in northern Alberta. While Cortney is passionate about ending all forms of oppression, issues related to sexual violence, mental health, indigenous people and immigration are especially close to her heart. She loves reading, creating art, delicious local beer, being in her garden, traveling and spending time with people she loves.

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Aiyana Lauridsen

Aiyana Lauridsen grew up on a farm near the village of Rosebud, Alberta, and found herself thrown into the fight for social and environmental justice from an early age after her water was affected by fracking activity nearby.  The documentary about her family, Burning Water, filmed during her teenage years, became hugely influential in pushing her to social justice.  Aiyana is looking forward to her time in Next Up to grow the community around her.  She speaks of an epiphany where she realized how much other peoples stories have resonated with and inspired her,  which motivated her to share her story in hopes inspiring others. Aiyana is hopeful having seen how attitudes towards fracking in her both home province, and the global community, have shifted over the past ten years since she began speaking out against it.   
As a result of her early initiation into social and environmental causes, Aiyana became a legal assistant with hopes of learning about how the law could be used for positive change.  While that experience was educational, she recently left the legal world behind  to focus on her uncorruptable passion, animals.  When she isn't fighting the good fight, Aiyana can be found building on her many passions which include: writing, photography, swimming, riding horses, hiking and generally enjoying the company of nature and animals. She likes to photograph landscapes, and find herself particularly drawn to reflections in the water. A homebody at heart, she can often be found curled up with a book and her bunny, Cedric Diggory.
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Alèthe Kabore

Alèthe is in her last semester at the University of Alberta, where she is pursuing a Master's degree in Public Health with a specialization in Global Health. After taking a class on Advocacy in Public Health, she is even more confident about challenging social injustices and bringing positive changes into the world. Since she's not a fan of seeing blood, she specializes in preventative approaches to medicine in order to empower vulnerable populations. Her dream job would be to work towards improving the accessibility and effectiveness of Burkina Faso's health care system.  While, she considers Edmonton to be her 2nd home, Alèthe is an experienced traveler who has been across Canada, Australia, Africa, and Europe, and speaks an impressive three languages. When not doing the salsa, tango, or practicing her contemporary dance moves, she finds time to knit, watch soccer, and catch up on The Good Wife. Though she wants her next trip to be in Asia or South America, Alèthe will settle for Montréal, where the next Canadian Conference on Global Health is being held.

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Taylor Rubin

Born and raised in Edmonton, Taylor completed her elementary education degree at the University of Alberta with a Certificate in Community Service-Learning. An advocate for education for positive social change, Taylor currently works as a Cultural Liaison with Edmonton Public Schools and Coordinator for the Journeys Cultural Exchange Program through Aboriginal Studies in partnership with the Global Café. Taylor is passionate about working with youth in building community through a social justice lens. 

 

Taylor also has a love for theatre and collective creation. She was an improviser with Rapid Fire Theatre and a member of the GeriActors and Friends Intergenerational Theatre Company. She was part of the artistic team for a play based on a collection of stories called Inner City Voices.Through these experiences, Taylor learned about the power of story-sharing and the importance of experiential, community-based learning.

 

Taylor is a soccer and volleyball player, vegetarian/crappy vegan, barely-fluent french speaker, avid book-reader and podcast-listener as well as a passionate traveller and explorer. She is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Next Up 7 Edmonton cohort. Taylor lives from the heart and strives to continually be challenged in her lifelong learning journey.

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Eric Grehan

Born in British Columbia but raised in Edmonton, Eric has seven years of French immersion in his pocket and cannot wait to try his French while visiting Montréal in a few months. Eric loves the oceans, mountains, and prairies, and anywhere you can get good vegan food. Contrary to popular orthodoxy, he doesn't really mind the Edmonton winters, and recommends hunkering down with a good story. Eric enjoys a good graphic novel and reading novels in translation. He currently works at a wine store, and likes the prospect of putting his chemistry degree to use by getting paid to drink wine. Eric likes discussing structural change in society from a feminist and queer lens, and wants to learn more about vegan activism and prisons. He wants to get off the academic sidelines and challenge everyone (himself included) to be positive change agents in the world.

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Christina Hardie

Christina Hardie was born in Edmonton, Alberta and raised in the southern neighbourhood of Mill Woods. After graduating from Grant MacEwan University in 2005 with a diploma in Theatre Arts, Christina spent five years touring across the prairies showcasing her dramatic skills in a variety of theatre productions. Favorite productions include Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Feste in Twelfth Night and Penny in the Canadian premier of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog. But it was her work performing for children that brought her the most joy and eventually led her to work for the City of Edmonton in natural & human history interpretation. Christina is currently the Programs Coordinator at the John Walter Museum where she aims to make history engaging and accessible to young people and Edmontonians. She is currently completing her Certificate in Museum Studies and is the project lead behind Mill Woods Mythologies, an oral history project that explores the childhood experience connected to natural areas in Mill Woods. Christina volunteers her time to a number of organizations including the Edmonton Heritage Council, Edmonton Regional Heritage Fair, the Flying Canoe Volant Festival, and is a Girl Guide leader with the 76th Holyrood Sparks. Passions of Christina’s include encouraging everyone to cherish their weird side, exploring Edmonton's history, and partaking in the lost art of traditional skills. As well, Christina is an advocate for play and the enrichment it can bring to all of our lives.

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Mili Jobanputra

Born and raised in Edmonton, Mili is delighted to be part of the Next Up 7 Edmonton Cohort. Mili discovered a passion for sexual health and gender education while taking sociology and psychology classes during her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta. As such, she switched from a design major in pursuit of an education in Social Work at the University of Calgary where she completed her program. Mili enjoys working directly with others in her social justice efforts and strives to use her privilege to provide spaces for those whose voices are silenced. Her dream job involves working with youth to promote positive personal identities through sexual health education by challenging the scare tactics often present within gender and sexuality issues. Through Next Up, Mili hopes to continually be challenged as she grows in her understandings and abilities as a leader and ally. In her meantime, you may find her spending time with her family, outside on a walk or weeknight dancing. The character Mili most identifies with is her idol, Tina Belcher. (If you haven’t already seen Bob’s Burgers, you need to.)

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Daniel Hackborn

Daniel Hackborn is a young comic book artist, activist, mentor and writer whose interests include speculative fiction and Afro-Futurism. His artwork and activism challenge harmful and simplistic narratives by centering marginalized folks. His deep appreciation of the complexity of our lived experiences drives him to empower youth through stories and comics. You can find him mentoring youth at iHuman in hopes of helping them build a foundation where they can tell their own stories.

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Matt Ayache

Matt Ayache (pronounced like "eyelash" without the l) is the founder of the In Arms Queer Theatre Company, an Education Facilitator through fYrefly in Schools, a teacher, and an avid X-Men fan. Born in Lebanon, Matt grew up in Oyen, Alberta, before coming to Edmonton for university in 2008 (where he has remained ever since). He studied Education with a focus on drama, and in 2014 he started the In Arms Queer Theatre Company which performed the play Unknown Stories at the 2015 Edmonton Fringe Festival-- a play which he cowrote and co-directed. The theatre group plans to create a drama community engagement program along with two plays for the 2016 season.

Matt loves comic books, singing, and science. He is currently working as a substitute teacher, and hopes to return to school to study science or further his Ed Education. He is interested in traveling to Amsterdam, as well as touring the Middle East.

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Franki Winters

25 year old Franki was born in Vancouver but grew up in Edmonton. Their educational journey ended in 2013 when they graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of English and a creative writing minor. In 2007, Franki and a friend felt that LGBTQ youth in the Sherwood Park area had limited access to resources, which resulted in the founding of the AltView Foundation. What began as an LGBTQ youth group has grown into a multi program foundation that offers all ages discussion nights, writing courses for queer writers, and support services for schools developing a Gay Straight Alliance. In April of 2012, AltView hosted Status of Queer, a conference highlighting the current situation of queer folks in Alberta in the hopes of connecting LGBTQ service providers province wide.

Franki is also an avid reader, a lover of Sci-fi (The Fortunate Fall by Rafael Carter is one of their favorites!) and an ambitious writer. They are currently looking for an adult job but the prospect of getting their master’s in creative writing in the UK is not far off. Franki would like to live in Vancouver, maybe with a cat.

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Todd Houseman

Todd Houseman is a local artist and activist of many talents.  He performs and teaches improv with Rapid Fire Theatre, and co-hosts the segment “Folklords” which improvises Chekhovian tales, Cree creation stories, and a third genre chosen by the audience. Todd engages in activism through his art, which is informed in part through his identity as a Cree Mixed-Blood individual, and his desire to explore the intersections and nuances of social justice.  His work aims to resist and challenge dominant social structures, and create constructive dialogue around Indigenous rights and sovereignty.  Beyond his craft as a performing artist, Todd is also engaged in visual art, music, and writing.  In addition to being a blacksmith with skills in knife-making and forging, he engages in anti-oppressive art through his role as member of the feminist punk-rock band Skunk Coat, and through storytelling. One of his notable works is the graphic story “Ayannisach”, which is featured in “Moonshot: The Indigenous Comic Collection”.

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Marin Thomas

Marin loves love and passionate people. After completing her undergraduate degree in education, Marin decided to fulfill her dream of volunteer teaching in a school in Arusha, Tanzania. There she came face to face with the depths of colonialism and the cycle of poverty, which inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in Theoretical Cultural and International Education with a focus on social justice. Currently, Marin teaches grade 6 French immersion in St. Albert. She believes in the power of children and loves getting them excited about learning. Her goal as a teacher is to instil love, acceptance and compassion in her children and empower them to effect change in what they are passionate about.

When Marin isn’t teaching or thinking about social justice, she spends her spare time in the mountains or on her yoga mat. She recently completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification and jumps at opportunities to teach and share the practice of yoga wherever she can.

Marin is so excited to be a part of Next Up. She cannot wait to connect with like-minded people, learn more about social and environmental justice and further develop her leadership skills in order to better effect change and develop stronger communities. YAY!

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Fatima Adar

Born in Italy and immigrating to Canada two years later, a tone was set for Fatima's life, one of travel and exploration. Her early years were spent in motion, moving all over Canada, before coming to Edmonton in Grade 7. Her mind, however, never settled. She began to write and to discover the writing of others, like Emma Goldman & Dostoevsky. The hierarchy of schooling isolated her, but she kept writing and eventually found another kind of liberation in celebration, in partying and sharing joy with others. And it was then that she returned to her family's roots in Somalia, living in Bosaso for over a year. Her life changed and, upon her return, she began to throw her own parties, to treat celebration as an act of creation, where positive, joyful spaces could be made. With a couple close friends she began renting venues and playing music once a month. The practice grew.

Fatima continues to write stories, about people, the basic things that connect them, and the complexity within those basics. She feels compelled to write because there is so much that doesn't reflect her life. Most recently, she has begun working at Boyle Street Community Services as a winter emergency response supervisor.

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Damien Lachat

Damien Lachat is a first generation settler and a recent graduate of the University of Toronto with a double major in Philosophy and Equity studies. In his studies he expanded his knowledge of current race, gender, class, and sexuality education which he continues to use daily in his discussions on social justice.  Damien is a proud member of a forward thinking community and his passion for social justice is recognized by his peers. His education also includes studies at NAIT, studying Materials Engineering Technology which extended his curiosities regarding practical crafts. When he’s not engaging in conversations on social justice politics, Damien enjoys his time reading, watching movies, exploring pop culture, and playing the ukulele. His favourite movies include but are not limited to, Amelie and The Dark Knight. Damien Also has an incredible and deep love of small mammals in the family Leporidae, particularly bunnies.

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Kristen Rivers

Above all, Kristen Rivers is a proud mother of an amazing nine-year-old. She is grateful and honoured to be born an Indigenous woman during this era of transformation. Kristen comes to the Next Up program with a background in Accounting. Currently, she works with Reconciliation Canada - a charitable organization based in Vancouver, BC - as Executive Assistant to the CEO.
Kristen believes in the power of simplicity. Creating opportunities for Indigenous peoples is a simple act that can change many socio-economic indicators for Indigenous peoples. Core to Kristen's values are empowering others, embracing differences and sharing prosperity. There are many people who helped shape the woman she is today. Two women who were especially influential  are her grandmothers - Audrey Tiyalelot Rivers (Skwxwú7mesh) and Marie Tlakwagilaogwa Baker (Kwakwaka'wakw). She is grateful to Next Up for the opportunity to develop her leadership skills in a meaningful way.

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Yvette Thompson

(Dara) Yvette Thompson spent the first half of 2014 fostering the creation of a Climate Adaptation Strategy for the Government of Alberta, and is an advocate for meaningful environmental action. She still works with the provincial government, flexing her communication muscles within Environment and Parks. While completing her MSc. in Agricultural and Resource Economics, focussing on the impacts and possibilities of REDD+ policies in the Congo Basin Rainforest, she spent much of her time contemplating purpose, life and how to truly make a difference. That led to completing her 200-hour YogaWorks yoga teacher training, spending time setting goals in the happiest place on earth (lululemon) and getting to know herself, beyond academia.

A skilled communicator, she spends her time considering behaviour around consumption and values, identity politics and how to eliminate jargon from the English language. As a former news radio storyteller and environmental advisor, Yvette is looking forward to launching a podcast about self- and eco-awareness (likely including her Prius named Bambi) after she finishes exploring Calgary with her fiancé Connor.

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Sarelle Azuelos

Sarelle Azuelos grew up in Unity, Saskatchewan before moving to Calgary to attend university.  She completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and a minor in Communications at the University of Calgary and has continued to live in the city ever since.

During her time at university, Sarelle became involved in student journalism, which launched her interest in social justice issues. She worked her way up to the position of editor and chief at The Gauntlet, the U of C’s campus newspaper. Despite graduating, she’s still often found on campus working on episodes of Yeah, What She Said, a radio show focused on feminism and women’s issues on CJSW. 

Currently working at the Women’s Centre of Calgary as the Communication Coordinator, Sarelle enjoys working in the peer model and getting to know women who come to the Centre. 

In line with her passion for social justice, Sarelle has worked at the Discovery House in the past. During her free time, you can find Sarelle enjoying a good book, going for a hike, or riding her bike.

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Lauren Minuk

Lauren grew up in Calgary and has always been mindful of building community. She was in the final year of her studies at the University of Calgary when she took the Women’s Studies class that made her realize she wanted to pursue social justice seriously.  Sweatshops caught her attention first and she found the issue to be a gateway into feminism and environmentalism.  She was struck by a Suzuiki quote “what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves” and began to live with this in mind.  During University she volunteered at the Women’s Resource Center, and Green Calgary, and later went on to work for Green Calgary as an Educator.  She currently works for The City of Calgary in Waste & Recycling Services with a focus on diverting and reducing waste for businesses.  Lauren loves to “trash talk” with anyone, any day of the week!  Being able to speak to the public and educate others about waste reduction is her favourite part of her job.  She loves running and is currently training for her second ½ marathon, and loves to use cycling as her primary form of transportation.  Lauren also loves reading, writing, and music; she sings, plays piano and guitar, and is learning the Mandolin.  In her spare time she is a self-professed “festival fanatic“, watching as many films as she can, and making sure to go to Folk Fest each year.  She lives her life with the motto: “I will do the best I can.”

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Ana Lucia Lobos

Ana Lucia was born in Argentina and came to Canada at a young age with her mother and grandmother. She completed her degree in Anthropology, French and Spanish at U of C before moving to Ukraine, Toronto and then back to Calgary. Ana Lucia is a pen pal to a dentist in New York, her former neighbour in Toronto, and several long-time friends in Ukraine. She sees the world through a storytellers lens and finds inspiration when connecting with people from various walks of life. 

Ana is a self-described vanilla-over-chocolate, cats-over-dogs kind of person.  She has worked within the non-profit sector for eight years and attributes her motivation for social change to the personal connections she has to issues. 

She believes in working towards a world in which everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and admires most the people in her life that turn their ideas into action.  

Ana Lucia is an avid cyclist on the road and in the spin studio. She also enjoys photography, cooking and going for walks. 

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Katie Curtis

Growing up, Katie spent most of her time at school or at church. Both of these places continue to play a large and influential part in Katie’s life. Katie is a proud member of The United Church of Canada and her passion for social justice and activism is deeply rooted in her faith. She truly believes that Jesus was a radical and a revolutionary who not only lived with extreme compassion and empathy, but also sought justice and equity for all. Katie’s involvement with the church has taken her to many different places and has allowed her to meet many different people – she believes that the first step to breaking down barriers of injustice is learning about and opening ourselves up to the stories of others. Within the church, Katie works with groups of youth and young adults and has found a passion for youth engagement and involvement in social justice issues. After completing a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Regina, Katie entered the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan and recently graduated with her B.Ed. She is now exploring teaching as a career and is interested in the intersection of mainstream education and social justice work. Often referred to as a ‘professional student’ by those closest to her, it is unlikely that Katie will ever leave school or learning behind.

When Katie is not hanging out with groups of youth and young adults, she can be found with her head in a book, spending too much time watching crime shows or laughing loudly. She is a firm believer in the transformative power of a road trip, is fascinated with the moon and stars and is most proud that her best friends are beautiful children who call her Auntie.

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Mandy Chen

Mandy (Yatong in Chinese) is a community builder, caring and philosophical individual who believes in creating and reshaping both her own world and the world at large. She has been very active in the Saskatoon Chinese community, and she has been a host of a heritage language radio program at CFCR for 8 years.  Her recent passion has been around anti-racism and anti-oppression while her job as the Coordinator of Stakeholder Engagement involves a wide array of community building subjects at United Way Saskatoon and Area. She was trained in regional and urban planning and endeavors to think in holistic ways, in finding solutions to bring about better public good so that everyone has the possibility to thrive. She is also an active mental health peer support worker, she sees the power vested within each individual, as well as the effectiveness and importance of self-care through meditation and mindfulness practices.   She’s shy at times but has great laugh and loves to be around people, especially honored to be among this year’s Next-Upers!

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Nicole Barrington

Nicole Barrington is a recent grad from the University of Saskatchewan, where she majored in Religion and Culture with a focus on ecology, gender, and art.

Nicole has co-organized various events at her hometown university to engage the public in contemporary issues in religion. She is also a radio DJ at CFCR, a visual artist, and a public sector employee. Nicole hopes to further her education in environmental anthropology as a grad student, exploring the social effects of resource development and Indigenous-settler relationship.

Nicole is currently creating a graphic novel about the supernatural, and also just walking around and thinking.

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Matt Hammer

Born and raised in Calgary, on Treaty 7 territory, Matt is deeply passionate about fighting for climate justice.

While studying at the University of Victoria he broke his teeth on campaigns by campaigning for and being elected as Director of Finance and Operations for the UVic Students’ Society. In this role he helped to organize the youth climate justice conference “Power Shift BC” that drew over 1000 youth to develop their skills and grow the movement. He also worked to increase student engagement because he believes that change comes from engaged communities.

Currently Matt is fulfilling his call to climate justice activism as a core coordinator of the Calgary Climate Action Network as well as attending COP21, the climate talks in Paris, as part of the Canadian Youth Delegation.

When Matt is not participating in conferences, rallies, or doing climate activism, he bikes, plays board games, and watches way too much nerdy TV (anything by Joss Whedon).

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Syma Habib

Syma is fairly new to Calgary but grew up just three hours north in Edmonton, where after she obtained a degree in Philosophy began to advocate on behalf of vulnerable populations. Alongside her advocacy work, she was heavily involved with edmonton’s activist community, particularly around issues of food justice, feminism, accessibility, and trauma, and connecting these ideas to create impact in at-risk communities. Since moving to Calgary, Syma supports adults with disabilities in self-advocating and finding meaningful employment and volunteer opportunities in their communities. Syma also (seasonally) works towards creating more knowledge in communities about healthy eating, growing your own food, and traditional methods of food preservation.

Syma’s focus in all the work she does is to create an atmosphere where change making is accessible to anyone. She strives to be relatable, and believes that lasting revolution lies in sharing our stories through art and over meals. In allowing ourselves as activists to be radically vulnerable and open to all the people we encounter, we are able to consider their stories as well, and can lead with love first.

As an avid maker she also believes in the power of arts and crafts not only in telling our stories, but in bridging the gap between our minds and bodies. Syma loves walking everywhere, writing for children, learning to make anything, dancing, mountains, trees, feasts, and spices. 

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Nav Jassar

Since childhood, Nav Jassar has been drawn to social and environmental justice issues. Growing up experiencing different forms of injustice has helped shape her worldview. With “hard core anti-establishment” roots, she is most interested in issues of structural violence, power and privilege, and holistic grassroots development.

Today, Nav is a Lodge Keeper at Mahmawi-atoskiwin, a local indigenous agency that advocates for client families and provides culturally relevant resources for healing trauma. She completed her Development Studies degree at the University of Calgary with a focus on Indigenous Studies and Political Science and was very involved in the campus community.

Nav has previously worked and volunteered with various agencies around the city including the Distress Centre, Big Brothers and Sisters, the Boys and Girls club and the YMCA in a variety of positions including front-line crisis work, afterschool programs and youth mentorship. She has also worked overseas on a number of projects spanning Asia and Africa, including a CIDA internship at a local radio station in rural northern Ghana. Through her involvement with NextUp, she hopes to find her social justice niche, gain new skills, and move toward a future in policy and critical analysis.

In addition to her pursuits for creating a more just world, Nav loves to travel, play sports, have philosophical discussions about life, and hopes to improve her poetry writing ability.

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Matthew Black

Matt is originally from a small village in Ontario. After finishing high school, he went on to study Canadian social history (with a minor in Russian) at university. Upon graduation, Matt travelled to South Korea to teach English and save money for graduate school. When he returned, he went on to complete a Masters of Information at the University of Toronto (also know as Library Science). This is significant to him as he has many fond memories of spending hours at the library in his community as a child and student. He is very passionate about matters of anti­poverty, equity, workers’ rights and public transportation. He is currently enjoys reading about linguistics and urban planning and learning Korean through a combination of self­directed learning and podcasts. 

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Mariam Masud

Mariam spent her formative years in Pakistan (learning to walk and teaching elementary school), Texas (doing interfaith work and coaching at-risk youth) and Montreal (where she commenced her studies in economics at Concordia University). Her affection for ‘data’ grew as she grappled with ideas of permaculture, social innovation, participatory planning, collaboration, communities of knowledge and design for the 99%. As these ideas percolated, she discovered her tribe at Sustainable Concordia, advocated for sustainability in higher education (at Concordia and McGill Universities) as well as working at international non-profits.

Nowadays, Mariam is keen to use intentional language, is a voracious reader (which dates back to her childhood), finds value in doing meaningful work, and has a wonderful time discovering Calgary.   

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Heejung Lee

Inspired by the challenging experiences that she faced while growing up and attending university in South Korea, Heejung (이​희정​) decided to pursue Social work upon moving to Canada. Her purpose in engaging in justice­based work is to create safe, caring, compassionate and inclusive community for all. In her work and life, she seeks to raise awareness of and challenge the many issues that deprive us of our humanity and create social divisions. The desire to treat all human beings with dignity and respect underscores her worldview. Heejung currently works with immigrant women and their families, helping them to feel empowered and to overcome the barriers they face in their everyday lives in Canada. In her free time, she recharges by reading, listening to music and grounding herself through solitude and reflection. 

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Josh Carter

A hitchhiking trip from St. John's back to Calgary taught Josh to trust in others and himself, and launched a new direction in his life. Now, as a social work student at Mount Royal University, Josh is interested in doing work at the community level to change how our current social structures operate, and improve social, agricultural, and environmental sustainability. He has worked with CommunityWise Resource Centre and in seniors care centres. In his spare time (when it's not exam season), Josh can be found working on improving his own self-sufficiency and personal development in his greenhouse, in a philosophical book, or on a mountaintop.

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Claire O'Gorman

As a registered nurse, Claire is interested in working at the intersection of health and community development. After studying nursing at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Claire moved her passions abroad, focusing her efforts on global health and HIV work in Rwanda. Upon return to Canada, Claire gained experience in a variety of clinical settings including BC Children’s Hospital, Options for Sexual Health, and Ravensong community health centre in Vancouver. A Masters in Public Health from the University of British Columbia further developed her passion for addressing the social determinants of health, which she put to work at YouthCO HIV and Hep C Society for a couple of years before returning to her hometown, Calgary. When she is not educating people on benefits of harm reduction and sexual health education, Claire can be found on Twitter, or outside camping, cycling, or cross-country skiing. Through Next Up, Claire is looking forward to building connections and community with networks of social justice-oriented people.

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Bailey Bjolin

Bailey Bjolin has a passion for the power of stories and understanding the role of narrative and representation. This interest has brought Bailey from Calgary to Vancouver to pursue a Masters in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. In her research, Bailey intends to focus on queer and gender non-conforming narratives in young adult literature. Back in Calgary she was involved at the University of Calgary queer campus spaces, a peer support at the Women’s Centre of Calgary, and volunteered on the sexual assault hotline. Through Next Up, Bailey is looking forward to connecting with like-minded folks in her new city and continue learning, bridging her Masters to the opportunities provided through NU.

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Sophie Fung

Spending a large portion of my childhood in Vancouver’s Chinatown, I was drawn back into the neighborhood as an adult to look at what was happening after years of disinvestment and gentrification. The neighborhood, which allowed my great-grandmother to connect with others, thrive in and build community with her limited English and resources, has led me to my current focus in life. As a grad student in SFU’s Urban Studies Program, I study the impacts of neighborhood change on the well being of low-income, long-term, monolingual Chinese seniors. In my social change efforts I work to ensure those like my great-grandmother have the ability to remain and make a life for themselves in gentrifying Chinatown. I’ve also had the joy of being a part of impactful organizations that work to build sustainable and resilient communities like Embark Sustainability, Growing Chefs and Village Vancouver. My favourite things in life are breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time.

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Eveline Xia

 

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Pardis Pahlavanlu

Pardis’ interest in social change is rooted in her experiences as an exiled immigrant woman in Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish territories. Her awareness of social justice piqued upon working with an organization dealing with power dynamics and oppression in the Middle East. This work allowed her to understand histories of colonialism and injustice in the Canadian context and has impelled her to point her ongoing learning and activism in this direction. In Spring 2015, Pardis was involved in Transportation Not Deportation – a successful campaign geared towards ending the MOU between CBSA and Vancouver Transit Police. In her undergraduate thesis, Pardis conducted research around the ways in which communities of colour were excluded from meaningful civic participation in the 1970s. In addition, her involvement in Pathways to Education has given Pardis the opportunity to provide support to young people facing challenges due to systemic inequality. In her free time, Pardis enjoys various forms of jazzercise, forcing herself to be ‘outdoorsy,’ and illustrating awkward life events in attempts to mitigate anxiety.

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Urooba Jamal

Urooba Jamal is a Pakistani immigrant to the gorgeous, unceded Musqueam lands known as Vancouver. She’s got a penchant for the political, polemic and poetic. A self-proclaimed life-long dissident, she loves engaging in eccentric sartorial endeavours, making leftist jokes that only a fraction of people in the room can understand and...eating! In the past year, she has ran for political office as the youngest candidate in Vancouver's municipal elections, given a TEDx talk on student activism and helped co-found a leftist, alternative student press, The Talon, at the University of British Columbia. A recent graduate, she is currently interning at Leftword Books, a Marxist publishing press in India, doing freelance communications and journalism work and slowly subverting corporate culture at her office day job. Her post-grad plans also include: painting whimsically, wearing whimsical outfits, having whimsical love affairs and taking part in the communist revolution (basically, becoming Frida Kahlo). She tweets a lot (@uroobajamal) and blogs a little (underuroobasumbrella.tumblr.com).
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Juliana Pelinsom Marques

Juliana was born and educated in Brazil, where she graduated in Psychology and obtained a Master’s Degree in Education. From an early age she became interested in social justice issues, working extensively in the slums of Sao Paulo. She focused on empowering the children and youth and providing opportunities to leave their life of drugs and violence. 

She moved to Canada in December 2012 and since then has been dedicated to assisting immigrants and refugees settle in the city of Saskatoon. She started volunteering with the International Women of Saskatoon and has since become a permanent addition to their staff as the Community Capacity Building Coordinator.

Juliana is always smiling and believes that a beautiful smile cure any suffering. She also thinks that the two greatest things in life are chocolate and hugs. She really misses the hugs of friends who still live in Brazil and it is always open to a hug from anyone. She is really honoured to participate in the 2015-2016 Next Up program and hopes to learn from others and their experiences.

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Craig Edes

Craig Frank Edes studied both Acting for Stage & Screen at Capilano University and Aboriginal Focus Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Craig spent the earlier parts of his youth as a member of the Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth Youth Council, assessing grant applications for cultural programming off reserve. He also spent the latter part of his youth as a Youth Worker at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre in Houston, British Columbia, and as an outdoor scrutineer and foot canvasser for the NDP in Saskatoon West.

Craig has been performing a Hip Hop and a Sacred Space Workshop as one half of Native Hip Hop Duo, Mob Bounce; his Hip Hop group focuses on social issues around culture and on environmental issues around water and land commodification. 

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Franny Rawlyk

Franny loves outdoor and environmental education and currently spends a lot of her time pursuing that. You can often find her adventuring with a group of high school students, all over the province, with Saskatoon Public Schools. She also relishes moments spent with her little family: a daughter, a dog, and a dear love. She’s excited about learning how to reduce her own ecological footprint and working with others towards reducing theirs too. She likes the idea of treading lightly and intentionally on this Earth. In her spare time, Franny loves to be active and play sports, she stays up too late playing board games with friends, and she enjoys teaching yoga to beginners. 

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Leif Jensen

Leif Jensen is an activist interested in social change, particularly in ways that benefit prisoners, homeless persons, those with mental illness, and workers. He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and Political Studies, focusing on decolonial theory. He went on to complete his Juris Doctor in 2014, and became a lawyer in 2015. 

Leif has been involved with several organizations which promote social justice, including Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City (CLASSIC), the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Lookout Emergency Aid Society, Amnesty International, Solidarity with those in Solitary, and the Canadian Journal of Poverty Law.

Leif makes great scones, decent hash browns, and perpetually disappointing chilli. His biggest regret is choosing the wrong ice cream after climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town. If you ask him about Chumbawamba he will rant about them for a very tedious 10 minutes, though you will leave with a new appreciation for their art.

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Davida Bentham

Davida Bentham is a Mennonite and activist from Saskatoon, Treaty 6 territory. She enjoys knitting, shredding the slopes at Lake Louise, and working to build a more progressive society. Davida has been involved in and is passionate about environmental, immigration, and Indigenous rights/reconciliation movements. She has a bachelors degree in Northern Studies and Environmental Assessment, a Masters in Sustainable Environmental Management, and has recently started Law School at the University of Saskatchewan.

Davida has learned much about our planet, and herself, while visiting Norway, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Costa Rica, and others. She believes that not upholding the treaty relationship, inequality, and climate change (to name a few) are hindering our entire community. She also acknowledges, and is inspired by, the work of activists who have come before her, and hopes she can add to their rich contributions.

When Davida isn’t rabble rousing you can find her eating Rollkuchen, thinking about pacifism in the contemporary context, or dreaming of a more utilized public transit system.

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Shereen Kukha-Bryson

Shereen Kukha-Bryson is a person of the prairies and the mountains. Born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – on Treaty 6 territory – she feels most connected to the land when she is under an expansive and expressive sky. She is also, however, rooted within the mountainous home of her father in Iraqi Kurdistan, a place rich with family narratives and histories. Her Saskatchewan-Kurdish experiences have greatly shaped her engagement in diverse cultural world views and have kindled her passion for learning more about multi-vocal cultural relationships. 

With the support and teachings from a number of mentors, Shereen is currently working in school gardening initiatives, which explore cultural relationships and food security. Children's and youth's enthusiasm for and knowledge of engaging with plants greatly inspires and energizes Shereen. She hopes to continue co-creating learning gardens, which are culturally inclusive, with educators and young people across her communities. 

When Shereen is not walking with a jaunty step in minus-30 weather, she can be found drinking gallons of coffee or poring over fantasy novels with great gusto. She is very honoured to participate in the 2015-2016 Next Up program!

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Caitlin Peiris

Caitlin is a Registered Dietitian, having graduated from the U of S Nutrition program with Distinction in 2015. During her time in school Caitlin found her passion was in the Social Determinants of Health. She was drawn to the areas of nutrition in which food intersects with social justice, particularly food security and body positivity/Health At Every Size. She sees that these issues are part of broader problems in our society, and wants to work to make change at the root. She is grateful to be part of Next Up, so she can further her understanding of various social and environmental issues, and develop skills to help her create positive change. 

Caitlin has a strong interest in research, policy development, and best practice. She currently supports research in the U of S Nutrition Division as well as with Healthy Start, a provincial health promotion initiative. She also takes on contract work in the community providing nutrition education and cooking classes for various local organizations. 

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Samiha Rayeda

Samiha Rayeda was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh and moved to Toronto with her family when she was 5. Now in her fourth year at Carleton University, she is majoring in Law and Human Rights and minoring in History. Her activist work focuses on a wide variety of issues, including promoting free post-secondary education, fighting Islamophobia and empowering Muslim communities, working in solidarity with Palestine, and spreading anti-oppressive attitudes to her community. She also enjoys reading up on post-colonial Bangladeshi feminism and doing any sort of large-scale organizing around a cause she can get passionate about.

She is happiest when she’s busy, so she currently sits on the board of directors at OPIRG-Carleton, is an executive with the Carleton Muslim Student’s Association, and is a member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid on top of being a full-time student. In her free time she can be found either watching re-runs of The Office on Netflix or sleeping.

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Veronica Ledesma

Veronica Ledesma is a first generation Canadian from Latin American roots; she is also a student at Carleton University, ardently focusing on her double major in Sociology and Communications at the undergraduate level. She is passionate about furthering her education and knowledge base on both a theoretical and practical level. In the future, she would like to expand her work to an international stage.

She has been involved with animal welfare and furthering the humane treatment of animals. Veronica aspires to work with youth and children and find ways to provide quality education and a better life for the next generation. She has always and will continue to raise awareness on the plight of refugees and hopes to assist groups working to provide aid in refugee crisis. In her spare time, she enjoys doing oil paintings and kickboxing.

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Kaffie Abdirashid

Kaffie Abdirashid is an impending graduate of the Conflict Studies and Human Rights program at the University of Ottawa. Kaffie's work has focused on ending violence against women, but she is also interested in efforts towards penal reform and abolition. She is an avid reader, and though she has lived most of her life in Ottawa, she enjoys travelling. In all her efforts towards social, economic and environmental change, Kaffie continually strives to cultivate a community-oriented grassroots approach that re-centres marginalized groups.

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Natasha Mendonca

Natasha Mendonca is a graduate of the International Studies program at York University’s Glendon College. As someone with multiple intersecting identities, she is interested in work that aims to undo oppression through building solidarity among diverse groups. She is eager to learn about the colonial histories that have shaped her life and heritage and is concerned with addressing their role in the current transnational issues we face. 

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Leigh Thomas

Leigh is a very-outgoing Two-Spirit, Nehiyaw-Metis from Chitek Lake Indian Reserve, SK-Treaty 6 territory and Metis homeland. He has lived across Canada from Victoria, B.C to Halifax, N.S. 

In Leigh’s life, he’s always been fighting to address mental health issues & has co-led numerous Youth-lead Initiatives in his community, addressing issues around Suicide and Preservation of Culture. Proud of his Aboriginal heritages, he’s a carrier of TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge), which he loves sharing. For the past few years he’s been working with youth and addressing Indigenous issues around language retention and reconnecting people back to the land. 

In addition to his job as a P/T Naval Combat Information Operator within the Canadian Armed Forces, he is in his 3rd Year at the University of Saskatchewan in the Regional and Urban Planning Program. He is an active human in his community of Saskatoon as a Peer Health Educator through “Healing Our Nations” and as a volunteer at the University of Saskatchewan Student Union’s Pride Centre. His goal in life is simply to help people and lead by positive example. 

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Kaytee Edwards Buhler

Kaytee Edwards Buhler is prairie born and raised and currently resides on a farm in Osler, Saskatchewan with her partner Chris. Her passions include working for wholeness in her community, refugee issues, food security and the rights of children and youth. Her post-secondary studies were in International Development and Religious Traditions. She currently works for an Anabaptist NGO in Saskatoon where she is given opportunity to pursue justice through programs that work with international young adults and newcomer and indigenous children and youth. 

Nothing makes her happier than being with friends around a dinner table and hanging out with the awesome kids she works with. 

To her one of the most important things in life is community, a place to belong and find support and healing. She hopes the Next Up community can become another place where she and the other members find encouragement and support in their pursuit of making the world a better place.

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Justin Fisher

Justin was born and raised in Saskatoon and identifies deeply with the Saskatchewan landscape. However, he has in the past attempted to escape, and succeeded in living abroad for a couple of years as he attended graduate school in London. There he was absorbed by a lively and diverse activist culture and became involved in a number of environmentally-focused initiatives, including helping to run a local fossil fuel divestment campaign. He was super pleased upon returning to Saskatoon to realize that such a culture existed at home as well! Justin has long been concerned about climate change and is increasingly passionate about examining and addressing the intersection of social and environmental justice issues. He also loves people, places, cooking, history, cycling and playing sports. He’s an unimpressive but enthusiastic outdoors person and especially loves hiking through wilderness.

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Hanah Molloy

Hanah, originally from Regina, moved to Saskatoon in 2013 after travelling in New Zealand and spending time in Vancouver studying yoga. Around this time, her deep interest in social activism sparked. She currently studies Social Work and has a personal interest in the de-stigmatization of addictions and mental illness. Hanah hopes to blend the holistic healing of yoga and the compassionate social work profession into a sustainable life that supports others’ empowerment and self-determination. She is especially interested in learning from Indigenous elders and other community members how her yoga teachings can relate to Indigenous spirituality and sovereignty. Hanah is committed to building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and continues to grow on her journey as an ally. For fun, she loves to play outdoors, write poetry, dance, and sing with anyone who will join her. 

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Nazneen Khan

Nazneen Khan is an ambitious, empathetic and, passionate first generation Indo-Canadian. She was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario but is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree at Carleton University in Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialization in development studies.Complementing her academic interests, she has a variety of passions. On any given day, you can find her hanging out with the social justice community of Ottawa, trying to recreate some cool recipes, reading her favorite novel or practicing the beautiful art of henna.

She is extremely passionate and continues to advocate for feminism, gender equality, justice and decolonization of women of colour. Nazneen has a keen interest in intersecting gender with other issues such as social class, environment, immigration, social policy and issues of development.

Nazneen believes in lifelong learning, and is always ready to embrace new opportunities and challenges that will continue to shape her not only as a future leader but also as a person. Currently she is in the process of decolonizing herself, and uses her critical mind to evaluate social issues through an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and a decolonizing perspective.

Finally, a few fun facts about Nazneen: She loves the color green and has always wanted to be a cat!

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Hadia Walhad

Hadia is a third culture kid that has roots in East Africa, Canada and Bahrain. She has recently completed her Bachelors at Carleton U, majoring in Human Rights with a minor in Law, and is hoping to pursue her masters in the next coming years in International Law and and Human Rights. Hadia's interest in social justice started in middle school when she was lucky enough to participate in Model UN and was a security person in the Human Rights council. She went on to participate in MUN for the next 6 years. Hadia challenges friends to become more aware of inequality and discrimination.
She has developed an interest in researching areas such as anti-racism, Canadian Immigration, law, labour rights, political repression, civil liberty issues, the impacts of colonialism, decolonization, indigenous solidarity, international relations, and  islamophobia. As an OPIRG volunteer, Hadia has had the opportunity to engage with these topics in practical ways via campaign organizing. Through next up she hopes to gain further understanding of different social justice issues, building my leadership skills and expanding my network. 
In her free time, Hadia enjoys traveling when possible, hanging out with family and friends and watching tv shows. She considers herself the reigning queen of tv shows lol. Also, her love for Ginger-ale is unreal.

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Jenn Bergen

Jenn Bergen is passionate about social change and community engagement, and sees her role as building the spaces and programming necessary for groups to take action on social and environmental justice issues. She has worked for the Regina Public Interest Research Group, the Sask Council for International Cooperation, and recently founded the Queen City Hub in Regina. During her time in Saskatchewan, she also co-founded an activist camp for youth, an annual music fundraiser for homelessness, and a community-university garden. She earned her BEd and MPA at the University of Regina, and is currently working towards her PhD at the University of Ottawa. She studies education for youth democratic engagement, and works with student-teachers to develop their civic identities. In her spare time, she runs half-marathons, creates visual art, bakes pies, and hangs with her dog, McCoy. 

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Charana Jayatilaka

Charana is a first generation immigrant from Sri Lanka who is now studying at Carleton University for an undergrad in Political Science. He’s a member of various student-led campaigns. In his spare times he enjoys trying new sports and outdoor hobbies. Right now Charana is fighting to to end the corporatization of post-secondary educational institutions and is involved in a few grassroots activist groups.

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Jesse William-Walker

Jesse grew up in Northern Ontario so he feels most at home when he’s surrounded by trees. He spent most of his childhood in Sudbury, but most recently spent 7 glorious months in Halifax - a city he hopes to return to very soon. Jesse has a Marketing diploma from Confederation College, and is currently in his third year of Carleton University’s Human Rights program.

Jesse has been politically active for some 7 years, much of which has been spent interrogating his own inner oppressor and learning how to act in genuine solidarity with marginalized communities. He is increasingly interested in the Social Determinants of Health and how they mediate the intersections of chronic illness and queer/trans+ bodies/identities. As someone with an invisible disability, he’d also like to contribute to ending the stigma against mental illness. Aside from specific issues, he’s very interested in discussions on how to combine art/music/theatre/design with activist initiatives in order to increase the accessibility of these spaces and ideas to non-activists.

Jesse has experience in organizing community actions and engaging in conversations with people from low/moderate income communities. In the past, he has helped to facilitate direct-democratic decision making processes, run workshops, and canvassed countless hours for NGOs. In his downtime Jesse enjoys cooking and baking, and he's a shameless gamer and science fiction nerd with a love for playing and listening to music.

Jesse is excited about being apart of Next Up, a progressive/radical social group where anti-O is the norm. He is excited to learn from the experiences of his fellow NxtUprz and to continue to work on building his capacity for genuine solidarity!

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Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson

Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson is a mixed-race (Welsh-Jewish immigrant mother and Metis-Cree-Irish father) white-passing woman who is passionate about addressing the impact of poverty in British Columbia, both in terms of small-scale, neighbour-to-neighbour interventions, as well as through addressing poverty on a larger, policy-wide scale. Sharnelle grew up in Nanaimo but moved to Vancouver to attend UBC for a degree in social work. Today, she divides her time between working as the Director of Child and Family programs at Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House and volunteering with the Poverty Reduction Coalition. Sharnelle is also on the Board for Check Your Head and is looking forward to continue to build community and explore purpose in meaningful ways. 

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Danny Ramadan

Danny is a Jack-of-all-trades who found his calling in activism, civil society, journalism and creative writing. As an LGBTQ activist, he has been involved in coordinating online and on-the-ground efforts to support gender and sexual minorities in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon as well as his birthplace of Syria. Since his immigration to Canada, Danny started his work as the Volunteer Coordinator at QMUNITY: BC’s Queer Resource Centre. He is passionate about the values of volunteerism and democracy, and the causes of social justice and LGBTQ refugees’ rights. He demonstrated his commitment to these causes through his past involvement with local and international organizations based in the Middle East, as well as his personal experience as a former gay refugee. Danny is an experienced journalist with bylines appearing in the Washington Post, The Guardian and Foreign Policy. Finally, Danny is a comics nerd. He has been ignoring his friends’ constant advice to stop using the word “awesome” way too much.  
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Vicki Haynes

Vicki Haynes is a burlesque performer and producer, social justice activist and bisexual Gitxsan women with over 2 decades of work in the education and non-profit sectors. Vicki is currently the Education Events Coordinator at Vantage Point where she supports a range of non-profit organizations serving a wide array of social movements. Vicki is passionate about the empowerment of female sexuality. Vicki has served on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Burlesque Festival and is currently on the Board of Women Transforming Cities. Vicki works to empower and champion a female sexuality that is free from entitlement and that actively undermines rape culture. With the goal to destigmatize sex work, Vicki has worked to provide burlesque as an employment opportunity for the local industry and emerging performers. Vicki’s passion for social justice started early. At the age of 6, upon learning that her father was responsible for the destruction of forest ecosystems (through his role at the Ministry of Forestry), Vicki embarked on a particularly forceful protest that resulted in her father changing jobs and her family moving towns. 

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Darcy Vermeulen

He may not have known or understood it at the time, but when Darcy Vermeulen tackled an essay assignment on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in high school, he also embarked on a journey of social change. A member of the queer community and the Sponsorship and Event Lead with Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), Darcy has been engaged educating and empowering in the social change sector for the past decade. In his role with the DVBIA, Darcy enables access for arts and culture nonprofits by providing accessible spaces, facilitating community development, and administering grants. He has built on his ongoing engagement with the democratic process as a volunteer in the 2013 provincial and 2014 municipal elections. In 2015, Darcy co-founded the Turn Up Collective: a grassroots organization that activated young voters for the 2015 federal election. In his down time, Darcy unwinds outdoors skiing and indoors cuddling with his recently adopted rescue dog.

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Jesse Hudson

Jesse Hudson is part of the crow clan of Champagne and Aishihik First Nation, who speak Southern Tutchone and whose traditional territory is in the south-west corner of the Yukon. Her First Nation name is Nitsulla, which means “a woman walking around with her eyes closed” or a very trusting woman. Although she has lived in Whitehorse, Yukon and in Vancouver, BC, the Yukon is where she was born and has always felt like home. While on exchange in China she learned much about living where pollution and government censorship prevail, and is now glad to be back at UBC for her fourth year to study International Relations. Passionate about land claims, environment, aboriginal rights, and all else related to aboriginal social justice, Jesse believes strongly in the power of community and spreading change by starting it locally. Other passions include crafting (beading, sewing, knitting), reading, hiking and playing soccer.

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Kaitlyn Fung

Kaitlyn Fung was born in Vancouver (Coast Salish Territories), and grew up in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood in East Vancouver. Her grandparents immigrated to Canada with her mother from Hong Kong, and they have lived in Canada since. Kaitlyn loves her neighbourhood and believes that it is really important for social justice to develop at the grassroots level, through the creation and nurturing of a community. Through high school, work, volunteering, and university involvements she has dealt with issues around sustainability, food security, and food justice. With her local neighbourhood house, she has helped organize workshops for gardening and jam making, as well as storytelling about work around food. Kaitlyn is in her third year at UBC, studying Sociology with a minor in Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice.  When she isn't at school or participating in her community, Kaitlyn likes to enjoy stories, the great outdoors, cycling, and anything creative.

 

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Allison Jones

Aside from her love for reading and cats, Allison Jones spends most of her time working on issues such as climate justice, radical education, and queer organizing. Grown up in Victoria, she moved to Italy and then Montreal for school, but returned to Vancouver as she missed her family and cycling year-round. Currently, she works in the Communication Department of Ecojustice, Canada's only national environmental law charity.  She enjoys reading and talking about the history of social justice movements, examining what worked in the past, and learning from it. She is passionate about radical education, and is a collective member at Spartacus Books, a nonprofit, volunteer-run bookstore and resource centre. She also sits on the board of Check Your Head, a youth educational non-profit organization. She's learning how to code and enjoys the logic puzzles of making websites work. In the future, Allison hopes to continue creating anti-authoritarian educational spaces, where people of all ages can lead their own learning based on their talents and interests. 

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Nusha Balram

Originally from Singapore, via Victoria, BC and Idyllwild, CA, Nusha originally moved to Vancouver to study. After completing a Bachelors in Asian Studies and a Masters in Asia-Pacific Policy Studies at UBC, she now both lives and works on campus. Nusha is interested in the social determinants of health, the impacts of colonialism, and fair democracy, among many other things. She has experience in frontline immigrant and refugee services, mental health and social justice research, and she is also a freelance photographer. In her spare time she is a singer in the Vancouver Peace Choir and a volunteer for Leadnow. Most importantly, Nusha is a young mother to a lovely five-year old, whose passions include traveling, film photography and learning about keeping our oceans safe.

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Mae Price

Born and raised in Vancouver, Mae’s interest in social justice started at a young age with her parent’s taking her to protests and picket lines on the regular. After finishing up a degree in political science from Concordia University in Montreal and spending two years working in politics and the non-profit sector in Vancouver, she decided to try her hand at law school. Interested in using the law to pursue social and environmental justice, Mae was very involved with the Environmental Law Centre and the Feminist Law Student’s Association, and completed a legal internship with Pivot Legal Society. Having finished her law degree in the spring of 2015, Mae now works as an articling student at an Aboriginal law firm. Mae is passionate about strategically using the law to pursue social and environmental justice and wants to collaborate with as many people as possible to make this happen.

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Josey Ross

Josey spends her days working in the anti-violence movement, advocating for change on the micro, meso, and macro levels, educating folks on combating rape culture, and providing support and advocacy for survivors of sexualized and intimate partner violence. She holds an MA in Health Policy and Equity from York University, where she focused on the intersections of mental and physical health for survivors of intimate partner and sexualized violence. She’s especially interested in neoliberalism and how it has shaped and changed both cultural definitions of (mental and physical) health and the ways that we enact health practices -from the impacts of NAFTA on the healthcare system in Canada to the fetishization of kale. Born in North Vancouver, Josey now considers Vancouver home and spends her downtime blogging about mental health, critical theory, and body politics. She also enjoys riding her bike, knitting, and aspires to sew her own wardrobe.
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Selina Crammond

Selina is passionate about all things people, art and social justice. She's particularly interested in how storytelling and creative expression can challenge systems of oppression and foster healthy communities. Selina spends her days working for DOXA Documentary Film Festival, and has volunteered with a number of organizations including: Shout Back! Festival, Girls Rock Camp Vancouver, and COPE Coalition of Progressive Electors. Selina's love of the arts extends to her downtime where she plays in two local bands, and attends local music shows, film screenings and public lectures. Though Selina's spent years in Vancouver -including completing her BA in Communication and Fine and Performing Arts at SFU - she still calls Manitoba home.

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Kristen Severight-Dumais

Kristen was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and is a member of One Arrow First Nation. Kristen learned the value of hard work early on in her young life, and has always had a thirst for knowledge. Kristen has won several awards and one scholarship during her journey through academia. This journey continues Fall 2015, when Kristen returns to the University of Saskatchewan after an extended absence; she originally planned to study Biology, but has now shifted her focus to Sociology and Aboriginal Justice. Kristen was once the youngest of 5 siblings, but tragically lost 3 of her siblings, David, Kevin and Angie. Her surviving sister, Kathy, lives in One Arrow, as does her mother, Toni. Kristen searched for an outlet to express her grief, and found it through artistic ventures, such as songwriting, learning guitar and creating unique artwork.

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Kirk Carr

Kirk was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, though he is currently living in and enjoying Brandon, Manitoba.  Kirk has worked as a nurse’s aide for just about a decade.  He is super active with his union, the MGEU.  He is a part of the Young Members Committee and also a member of Mgeu’s area council.  He also enjoys his rule as 2nd vice president with the Brandon District Labour Council and his work on the board of directors with the Brandon and District Worker Advocacy Centre.  In his free time Kirk enjoys wine making(and drinking), Netflix, and anything to do with food

Kirk is very excited to be apart of the 2015 Next Up program and is looking forward to building his network, being challenged, learning, and hopefully making some friends in the process

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Urmee Dasgupta

Currently working in the field of research, Urmee has her M.A. in Economics from University of Manitoba. Growing up in Bangladesh, she has witnessed severe poverty, social injustice, and economic inequality. Later in her life she realized such discrimination and inequality are almost as severe in the developed part of the world as in where she comes from. She felt motivated to learn more about the ways she can be involved and take the lead to create positive and meaningful changes in society. 

Through her academic and work experience, Urmee developed her analytical and research capabilities to contribute towards solutions regarding climate change, poverty, and social inequality. Her education and professional experience include formal employment and volunteering in organizations such as The Canadian CED Network, Urban and Inner City Studies: University of Winnipeg, Centre for Policy Dialogue, and Ocean Conservancy. She has conducted studies on different aspects of poverty, environment and public policy. Through Next Up, she hopes to gain further understanding of different social justice issues and transform her knowledge into meaningful action. She is eager to connect and work with people involved in initiating innovative social change. In her free time, Urmee enjoys reading, dancing, travelling, and hanging out with friends. Her mantra is: Gotta do more, gotta be More.

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Mikaela Brooks

Mikaela Brooks is an enthusiastic activist for animal welfare rights, environmental issues, and social gender inequality. Her core interests include the role of philanthrocapitalism in the degradation of biodiversity, and the recent Save Movement on the need for legislative changes for farm animal welfare. Mikaela attained an undergraduate degree in Business from the University of Winnipeg and plans to pursue a graduate degree in sociology or international development. She is currently a policy and research professional in which the majority of her work has focused on developing recommendations and responses to increase the economic wellbeing of individuals who have faced social barriers. She has led key initiatives aimed at increasing women in non-traditional trades, and has fulfilled roles in project management capacities for both the Federal Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba. With a never ending curiosity for culture, animals and travel, Mikaela finds joy in meeting and learning from others who live their passion, and is always looking for challenging opportunities to contribute her skills and experience.

Through Next Up, Mikaela is looking forward to extending her network to promote the Save Movement, while furthering her understanding of social justice issues and the need for corporate accountability towards the environment.  She hopes to apply this invaluable learning experience to actively contribute to social issues as there is much more to be done! 

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Adriana Brydon

Adriana Brydon is a strong Cree mother of three boys, who is from Regina, Saskatchewan but now calls Winnipeg, MB home. She has endured many experiences relating to poverty in the past such as addiction issues, getting involved in the justice system and gang affiliation.  Throughout her experiences she has been able to skillfully triangulate her lived experience with her sharp eye for social justice and systems change and received her BSW in 2011. 

Adriana is one of those people who is involved in everything going. Her community work includes volunteering with the local schools and agencies as well as sitting on various committees.  She was class President of University of Manitoba’s Inner City Social Work Program for three years and the Aboriginal delegate at the Canadian Federation of Students AGM twice. She is committed to helping the community and people living in poverty by breaking down barriers she endured herself.

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Chloe Donatelli

Chloe Donatelli was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB. She became involved in social change while a teen through the peer support program at Klinic Community Health Centre. Following high school, she moved to Victoria, BC to pursue an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and women’s studies. During her time in Victoria, she became interested in understanding the impacts that food systems have on the holistic health of a community. Since graduation she has had the privilege of applying her passion for food to the work that she does at Food Matters Manitoba. In her role as the Northern and Indigenous Program Liaison she supports thirteen communities spread across Manitoba’s north with their implementation of local food projects. Looking to the future, her passion continues to grow around community economic development and the important linkages that can be made through this framework towards greater community health and resiliency.

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Katie Daman

Katie grew up in South East Manitoba just outside of a small town called Niverville.  As a feminist, self-proclaimed “political vocalist”, anti-capitalist, environmentalist, cat-lover, community member, cook, yogi, gardener, avid-reader, retired traveller and many others… Katie believes she has too many passions in life.

After moving to Winnipeg following her two-year travel phase, Katie completed her degree in business with a focus in management.  With her degree, Katie hopes to eventually work in the social enterprise or community economic development sector.  This will allow her to integrate her passion for social justice, with her desire for more sustainable economics.  Katie is really excited about the progress her city has already made, and looks forward to taking part in the continued changes going forward…she also LOVES long walks on the beach and romantic cuddle sessions…mostly with her cats though.

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Patricia Kumbakisaka

Patricia Kumbakisaka was born in Romania, Bucharest Eastern Europe. When she was 3 years old Patricia and her family moved to Greece Athens and lived there for 7 years. In February 2000 she and her family immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Her family originates from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Patricia speaks and write in five languages fluently: French, English, Greek, Swahili and Romanian. She has a BA in Political Science.

Currently, Patricia works as a delegate with the United Nations Association of Canada and as a Case coordinator at Investor’s group. She is also the 2015 Ambassador General for Folklorama this year and will be representing one of Canada’s largest multicultural festival. 

Foreign Policies, International politics, human rights and community service are the cornerstone’s of Patricia’s activists and leadership philosophies. At NextUp program, she aims to develop and continue to build up her understanding of stronger leadership.

She hopes to become an ambassador or diplomat with the United Nations or Canadian Foreign Services.

She balances her professional and activist work out with books (reading about international foreign policies), politics, and time with her friends and family. 

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Eranga Galappaththi

Eranga is an environmental and social justice activist who recently emigrated from Sri Lanka. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Master’s in Natural Resource Management. Eranga also holds a MBA from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. His most recent research is related to environmental and natural resources governance. Eranga intends to pursue his PhD at the McGill University. His PhD research will be focused on examining ways how indigenous people build resilience to the health effects of climate change in the Peruvian Amazon communities. 

Eranga was a co-founder of the Colombo District Emergency, Social, and Welfare Unit in Sri Lanka. Some of his social work involved focusing on assisting hospitals to meet the demand for donor blood during the Sri Lankan war (1980’s – 2009) and the Tsunami devastation of 2004. 

Eranga strongly believes the world can be a better place if people are willing to work together. He believes good societal changes always start from the bottom (individual/community) up (national/regional). 

When Eranga is not working towards making the world a better place he keeps himself busy with his love for cooking, dancing and meditation. He loves sharing. 

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Naomi Gichungu

Naomi is passionate about environmental issues and has been an environmental educationist for the longest time. Brought up in the city, she always found a way to spend her vacations volunteering with the rural tribal communities of Kenya. These experiences shaped the person she has become today, a young woman bringing change in society by engaging in small conversations on how we can all care for the environment. Her wildest dream is to change attitudes and behaviors of everyone she meets so they become more environmentally conscious. 

Currently she is taking her master’s at the University of Winnipeg in Indigenous development. She is involved in the Ecological People in Action student group as a Coordinator. At the community level she is working with new-comer communities at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba and with Indigenous organizations funded by the United Way Winnnipeg.

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Imalka Nilmalgoda

From a young age, Imalka has been passionate about environmental and social justice issues, and has had an interest in creating change. She has always been committed to learning how she can make a difference in society, which has lead her to the area she studies in university. 

Imalka is currently working towards a Sociology Honours undergraduate degree, and loves the way that this particular social science lets her critically examine the world around her. She hopes to graduate by the summer of 2016 and then continue on to law school, where she would like to study either environmental or human rights law. 

In her free time, Imalka loves to play music. She is part of a community jazz band that performs at several gigs throughout the year, in which she plays the tenor saxophone. Imalka is incredibly excited and grateful to be part of the 2015 Next Up program. She is looking forward to learning, being challenged within the program and being able to connect with the amazing individuals in the Next Up network.

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Rebecca Trudeau

Rebecca was born in Calgary, Alberta and moved to Winnipeg when she was only 3 years old. Growing up as a byproduct of generational government dependency, she has lived experience of the kind of barriers people face when they are living in poverty and do not have access to basic needs. While studying Community Economic Development and volunteering at local non-profit organizations, she began living, eating and breathing the CED principles and continues to be involved in her community through social, economic and environmental justice issues. She is passionate about such things as politics, food security and indigenous traditions, and hopes to use her education and compassionate nature to be able to help others reach their full potential. In 2014, she received the Premier’s volunteer service award for her work in the community, which was one of the proudest moments of her entire life. She has hopes of continuing her education and receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science, and then gaining her master’s degree by the time she’s 30. She also loves dogs (preferably St.Bernards).

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Hannah Moffatt

Hannah is passionate about improving health for all Canadians. 

Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Hannah has made herself at home from coast to coast. She has lived in Montreal, Vancouver, and Antigonish and recently moved to Winnipeg to join the team at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). 

Hannah has always worked at the intersection of health, social justice, and adult education. 

As a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, Hannah worked with public health practitioners across Canada exploring solutions to complex social and economic challenges. 

As the first ever Population Health Equity Initiatives Leader for the WRHA, Hannah plays an active role in the region’s Health for All efforts. 

Hannah holds a Bachelor in Environmental Science from McGill University and a Master of Public Health from Simon Fraser University. 

In her spare time, Hannah enjoys traveling, reading fiction, engaging in lively debates with friends, and outdoor activities. While she misses the rocky east coast shores, she is enjoying the prairie sun in the centre of Canada. 

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Denae Stegeman

Denae Stegeman is an artist, a marginal feminist, an educator, a partner, an aunt, and a collector of bone China teacups. Born and raised outside Melfort Saskatchewan, Denae now lives in Saskatoon where she is finishing her education degree. She is someone who is continually challenging friends and family to become more aware of inequality and discrimination – our personal role in it, as well as our ability to recognize and be critical of its systemic and institutional forms. 

Similarly, Denae exercises rigorous self-reflection regarding her own stake in social justice issues, keeping a detailed journal to aid in this process of self-improvement. Denae’s passion for anti-racist and anti-oppressive education has led her to become an active member of the Students Teachers Against Racism (S.T.A.R.S.) organization, and seeks to incorporate discussions focused on diversity and racial issues in her own classroom. She is committed as an educator to create a safe, non-threatening environment to let students comfortably express their feelings and to work through issues of racism and other forms of oppression. 

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Jolene Fawcett

Jolene Fawcett, born and raised in Calgary, AB, is an aspiring gardener, bread baker, and an avid cyclist. In the best of summer days she can be found canning applesauce, pickling vegetables, baking, bicycle touring through new cities, and camping in the Rocky Mountains. The biggest journeys that have shaped her in the past decade have been finishing a joint degree in Kinesiology and International Indigenous Studies and the cross-cultural, cross-class experiences had in traveling to other countries and working in the downtown core of Calgary with families experiencing homelessness. Having participated in two immersion-living programs through One World Global Education, she has been influenced to look at the world through the eyes of many from different walks of life. Spending time in nature has always been a fundamental aspect to her understanding of relationships with herself, others, and the earth. Thus, finding ways to use old stuff and turn it into new stuff is a venue of artistic exploration which she seeks as a creative outlet. Her passion is to work in Canada to seek the decolonization of Canadian policy towards First Nation’s peoples and the unraveling of stereotypes and racism within her own communities. As long as she has her partner Chad, her family, the trees, the stars to gaze and warm weather every once in a while, joy will be found.

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Rosella Chibambo

Rosella Chibambo is a self-described (dope) feminist media-maker and activist. She uses new media in advocacy and communications campaigns, most recently for the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict. Born and raised in Calgary, she moved to Ottawa in 2007 to study journalism and law at Carleton University. She has
worked as a reporter from Calgary, Ottawa, Tanzania, and Rwanda.
Rosella hopes to use media to create spaces for and amplify the voices of marginalized communities, and is particularly passionate about expanding definitions of feminism to address diverse movements and struggles. She is Malawrish, or half Malawi and half Irish.

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Omar Elsharkawy

Omar Elsharkawy was born in Cairo, Egypt and was thrown into social justice with the launch of the Egyptian revolution.  It was the experience of revolution and his first year sociology class that really opened his eyes to global injustice. Currently, Omar is focusing his energy on activist work with the Carleton Food Collective on campus, where he is a second year Environmental Studies student. With a passion for environmental justice, Omar would like to get more involved with an organization that shares his green focus. In his spare time you can find Omar watching documentaries or playing drums with his band. Always modest, Omar admits that he’s new to activism so he’s still navigating his role. However, what he does know is that he wants to leave his mark on the world and on Next Up and is confident he will! 

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Elodie Mantha

Elodie Mantha is an aspiring change-maker when it comes to sustainable food. Her activism is driven by the belief that a more sustainable and fair society is possible, and that it can be realized if we all work together to achieve it. At USC Canada, Elodie is a relationship builder and an advocate for ecological agriculture. In the past, she has worked with Equiterre and Just Food. She hails from Quebec City, and has a background in Environmental Science and Public Policy. She lives in Ottawa with her husband, young son and two fat cats. In her spare time, she loves food, camping, and being a mom. She dreams of a future filled with family, travel, the outdoors, and meaningful work that moves people to work for progressive change and a more equitable society.

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Holly Stanczak

Originally from Windsor ON, Holly Stanczak moved to Ottawa to study political science at Carleton University. She now works as the legislative assistant for the Deputy Leader of the Green Party and continues her passionate activism on a variety of issues including, climate change, economic inequality, international affairs, youth leadership and democratic reform.

Community service and consensus building are the cornerstones of Holly’s activist and leadership philosophies. At NextUp, she aims to develop her understanding of the interconnections between the social justice issues she’s currently engaged with and others, including food security and disability issues. Holly is working to develop her capacity to drive progress on a local and global scale and build networks with other activists.

She balances her professional and activist work out with outdoor activities, reading about psychology and politics, travel, and time with friends and family.

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Daniela Marin Plater

Born in El Salvador, Daniela Marin Platero moved to Canada 7 years ago, living first in BC and Northern Ontario. After graduating with a degree in International Development and Gender and Women Studies from Trent University in 2013, she moved to Ottawa to join World University Service of Canada (WUSC) where she first worked as their Ontario Liaison Officer, and later as a Program Assistant.

Daniela knows what it’s like to be a student in a new country – in addition to her experience in Canada, she also spent one year studying gender studies in Pune, India. Her experience there was made richer by her ability to look pretty darn sharp in salwar kameez, which allowed her to blend into the crowd and experience a side of Indian culture not usually accessible to foreigners.

As a passionate speaker with direct experience of marginalization, Daniela feels most drawn to issues of social and migrant justice and indigenous and women's rights. In her free time, Daniela enjoys poetry, dancing, reading, biking in nature, or hanging out with her two roommates. 

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Catherine Hacksel

Catherine Hacksel has a personal passion for social justice. Catherine moved from Toronto to Ottawa to attend Carleton University, where she attained a degree in Communication Studies and minored in Political Science. Catherine loves to travel and has visited various locations within and outside of Canada, but what really appeals to her at this point is the idea of working in smaller communities. Catherine currently works for Ottawa U’s HIV and Hepatitis C Prevention Research team, where she is a vocal advocate for harm reduction in health care, including the opening of a Supervised Injection Sites in our nation's capital. 

A lover of art, politics, animals and science, Catherine also finds joy in working and engaging with other people. She is fascinated by live shows and debates, where passionate and expressive people are able to interact and learn from one another. Catherine constantly seeks to impact the people around her in a positive way, and enjoys making others feel appreciated, comfortable and empowered however she can. Through Next Up, Catherine plans to advance her organizational and advocacy skills, while furthering her understanding of social justice issues and expanding her professional network. 

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Aziz Khatib

Aziz comes from Jenin, Palestine; he was born in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He is completing two degrees at Carleton University, a Bachelor in civil engineering and a Bachelor of Mathematics. Aziz is involved in Palestine solidarity work on campus, and would like to continue and broaden that work after he graduates. He believes that the choices we make as individuals and as a society can change the outcome of past actions; therefore it is important to gain knowledge of all we can concerning climate change and, in turn, link it to other issues. Aziz loves soccer; loves to travel wherever he can; and supports Palestinian human rights. 

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Chloe Nielsen

Raised in the picturesque small town of Bowmanville an hour outside of Toronto, Chloe Nielsen became drawn to the urban lifestyle in order to expand her knowledge of diverse cultural issues and viewpoints. Chloe took this desire to broaden personal exposure to the capital city of Ottawa. She now is in her third year at Carleton University, double majoring in Human Rights and Political Science. These programs have offered Chloe the academic support to unpack perspectives of historic struggle, in both a local and global context. She is particularly interested in the concept of Citizen and it's relationship with Colonialism, entrenched in modern political discourse. Through the Next Up program Chloe hopes to further her understanding of different social justice issues and learn how to apply this critical thinking into meaningful action.

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Gabrielle Arkett

Gabrielle was born in Stratford, Ontario and grew up on a nearby farm before moving to Ottawa in 2010. Gabrielle is currently finishing her fifth and final year of a degree in International Development and Globalization. She acts as the Sustainable Development Center Coordinator at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

Gabby is passionate about food justice, and hopes to focus her future work around food sovereignty, farming and herbalism. She enjoys dancing, doing pilates and yoga, spending time outside, reading, writing, gardening, and hanging out with her dog.

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Acil Riyad

Acil Riyad is a Palestinian-Canadian, born as a third generation Stateless refugee. 

Her main interests are refugee rights, Indigenous solidarity, and anticolonialism. Bound to Acil's indigenous solidarity is her desire to achieve environmental justice, as Indigenous peoples have very small ecological footprints yet suffer the most from environmental degradation.

Acil is currently studying criminology with a concentration in law with the hopes of becoming a human rights lawyer, focusing on domestic and international human rights, indigenous rights, and rights to self-determination and decolonization. She wishes to harness domestic and international law in fighting for both rights for and reparations to indigenous populations everywhere, from Canada to Palestine

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Erica Butler

Currently working in the world of fundraising, Erica has her BA in Women's and Gender Studies along with an honours diploma in Public Relations. She's passionate about queer and trans youth issues, mental health, body positivity, and accessible education. Erica worked as the programming coordinator for Carleton University's Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre, and was a Director for the school's first Student Philanthropy Council. She's a development committee volunteer for the Ten Oaks Project and co-founder of YSB's Spectrum, an LGBTQ+ community youth group. Erica was recognized as Ottawa's inaugural youth Pride marshal in 2013. She loves spending time with her partner and their animals, cooking awesome meals to accommodate her friends' dietary restrictions, and dabbling in graphic design.

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Crystal Chan

Crystal is a writer and editor; she was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Vancouver, and currently lives in Montreal. She thinks writers and artists help us understand one another and ourselves, that they encourage curiosity, compassion, and dissent by telling honest and entertaining stories. She hopes Next Up will teach her how to use her skills and the skills of other creative types for social change. Crystal is passionate about outreach and magnifying good ideas, and likes collaborating with cultural workers, policy-makers, and the business sector.  Environmental justice has attracted Crystal since she was nine, when she wrote her very first essay as an argument against deforestation.  So, the topic that started her whole writing life is ecology. And she continues to love sharing underrepresented or forgotten stories. Crystal volunteers in the arts and, most recently, for Santropol Roulant, which engages communities through food security programs. She’s also an advocate in PEN Canada’s Writers in Prison program, providing moral support for jailed Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega.

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Lauren Montgomery

Lauren was born in Calgary, Alberta. She completed her undergraduate degree in law and society at the University of Calgary. Some of her favorite moments from her undergrad were swimming for the University of Calgary Dinos, and travelling and living in Denmark for six months.  Lauren recently graduated from her Master’s of Arts in Political Science at Carleton University and began a PhD in Sociology at Carleton University with a focus on Bill C-36. During her time at Carleton, Lauren worked at the Carleton Graduate Student’s Association as the Vice-President External. She worked on raising awareness about safe consumption sites in Ottawa, the campaign to lower tuition fees in Canada and at Carleton, and worked as the Provincial Executive representative of the Ontario Canadian Federation of Students for the Carleton Graduate Student’s Association. Lauren is currently the co-Vice-President External at CUPE 4600, where she represents Teaching Assistants, Contract Instructors, and internally funded Research Assistants at Carleton University. Lauren also works as a teaching assistant and research assistant. When she is not working or studying Lauren loves to read, paint, spend time with her family and friends, and engage in activism.

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Danny Oleksiuk

Born in Toronto and raised in East Vancouver, Danny Oleksiuk is kindergarten-to-law school grad of BC’s excellent public education system. His professional experience runs the gamut from practicing labour and aboriginal law in Vancouver, conference development with the United Nations in Beijing, and financial market regulation in Toronto. His current work in labour law has been informed by a pretty thorough survey of the BC economy through part and full-time work, including stints as a bike courier, grocery clerk and bartender, as well as in residential construction and lumber milling. In his spare time, Danny has worked on campaigns for political candidates he believes in and acted as a board member of the Environmental Law Centre. He can often be spotted riding along the Ontario and Off-Broadway bike paths in any kind of weather.

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Kevin Wright

Kevin is an environmental and social justice activist who is a lifelong Edmontonian, born and raised in Millwoods and currently living downtown.

Growing up Kevin witnessed his Grandmother's activism around disability rights and his normally apolitical Mother's fight to keep his junior high school in the community.

As a highschool student Kevin became active with the New Democrats in the 2006 Federal election and eventually began participating in various climate actions.

Kevin currently serves as the Policy Director for the Young New Democrats of Canada and sits on the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation’s Board of Directors. He is currently working for Waste Management Services with the City of Edmonton as a Waste Reduction Specialist. 

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Tharsini Sivananthajothy

A first generation immigrant, Tharsini grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. Born to Thamil parents who fled Sri Lanka due to systematic discrimination, oppression and marginalization; Tharsini, as a result, inherited the values of social justice and equity early on. She was introduced to critical theory during her undergraduate studies and her interests further peaked as she began to grasp an understanding of the political economy of international health. Drawn to the field of public health, Tharsini is currently completing her MSc in Public Health, with a specialization in Global Health, at the University of Alberta. She is a strong advocate for public health, prevention and views health as a fundamental human right.  She currently sits on the Health and Wellness Working Group for the Mayor’s Task Force on the Elimination of Poverty and has co-founded an advocacy initiative focused on promoting the mental wellbeing of graduate students at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. Tharsini is also a food enthusiast: you will either see her cooking or eating during most of her spare time.  

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Courtney Redden

Courtney Redden grew up with a very strong sphere of independence and critical analysis. She studied political science at McGill University, until knowledge of the system transformed into distain for it and the necessity for something else.  She changed her focus towards the physical sciences, studying geography and biology  at the University of Western Ontario in her hometown of London.  Her undergraduate research investigated ancient lake sediments to determine the environmental effects of climate change and other environmental and anthropogenic changes in the landscape.  This science uses environmental indicators, in Courtney’s research chronomid fly species, to recreate and analyze environmental effects along chronological markers.

Upon completion of her university degree, Courtney moved to the Maritimes to connect with family.  She became involved in the Halifax social justice circuit with Freeschools, Food Not Bombs, The Really Really Free Market, the Occupy movement, and Indigenous and environmental campaigns.

Teaching others traditional skills is one of her passions.  As wells as being a traditional hide tanner, she is also well versed in native plant species and their traditional uses.  She is expanding her knowledge base in wild mushroom foraging, basket weaving, natural pigments, and wilderness survival.

Courtney is also dedicated to issues of food security.  By supporting local farmers, she strives to reduce her dependence on a corporatized, global food system.  She is currently exploring several pilot projects to increase her self-sufficiency and food security.  These include backyard gardens, growing edible mushrooms and breeding rabbits for livestock.  Future projects of hers include beekeeping and raising poultry.

Food is a passion of Courtney’s at every step of the process, from making organic compost, to growing a seed into a vegetable, and finally cooking and eating the bounty.  Courtney does quite a lot of cooking.  She coordinates all the food needs for a downtown architecture company.  She provides staff with healthy and affordable lunches, fresh juice, and baked goods.  Besides being the chef, she is also the gardener at the studio and actively merges the two roles to include home-grown produce from the roof-top garden and replenishes the soil with compostable kitchen scraps.  She supplies her kitchen with fresh and healthy produce, while supporting local farmers as well.

Although she had never fathomed to be living in Alberta, she has grown to enjoy the newly emerging prominence which Edmonton is embarking on.  However, the trajectory of which that growth has taken is troublesome.  She feels that much can be done with renewable energy sources and environmental stewardship in the province, but it would need  first to be accompanied with a paradigm shift by those who hold power, but more importantly, by those who are denied that power.

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Laura Raboud

Laura Raboud is honored to be a part of the incredible Next Up team. She is an artist, drama instructor and mother from the Edmonton community. Selected directing/creation credits include: Sia Fringe theatre Adventures 2013, The Earl, Nextfest 2013, Apocalypse Prarie for Azimuth Theatre 2012, Free Man on The Land, Azimuth Theatre 2011. Recent acting credits include: Bible Bill: A Gospel Musical Fringe 2014, Murderers Confess at Christmas time Roxy theatre 2014 ,National Elevator project 2014,  In General, Pyretic Productions 2013, Never Let the Crew See you Cry, Fringe 2013, Here. Like This. 2013 Expanse festival. She is co-founder of a theatre collective called The Other Theatre.This year she will be creating a new musical for Fringe Theatre Adventures 2016 season and touring a production of Never Let The Crew See You Cry around the province. 

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Divine Ndemeye

Originally from Burundi, Divine Ndemeye moved to Edmonton in 2006. She has travelled around the world throughout Africa, Europe, in Dubai and within Canada. She holds a degree in Political Science and Human Geography from the University of Alberta and has worked in Municipal Administration with the City of Grande Prairie and currently with the City of St Albert.

Divine is passionate about international development, social justice and sustainable urban planning & design. She strongly believes that the built environment ought to be sensitive to the natural world, to respond to community needs, enhance social cohesion and to be resilient to climate change. Her biggest pet peeve is low density, auto-dependent, single land use development patterns lacking in character and active transportation systems. Or the typical North American suburb.

Generally speaking, Divine is continuously seeks to play her part in ending any forms and systems of oppressions. She is very happy to be part of Next Up Edmonton and is looking forward to be a better activist and leader and to be part of a community of people trying to make this world a better place for all to live a dignified life.

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Keely McBride

keely was born to Loving parEnts in edmonTon who believed that nameS for Children with no natuRal rhymE would negAte the developmenT of nicknamEs. they were wrong. what did happen was thE youngest of three would become Quite qUirky and develop a strong sense of justIce and fairness (idenTified much later as a feminist and social justice lens). intermingling with social change concepts in the form of events and like-minded people congealed keelY’s sense of needing to do whAt was right, which was not always happeNing in the worlD. after enJoying post secondary and varioUs partS of The planet, keely found herself movIng east instead of west to work for the Canadian rEd Cross in saskatchewan. humanitarian work and activism Led her to a masters of publIc health, to fight the huMan-mAde injusTice of health disparitiEs in canada and beyond.  she now liveS back in edmonton, spending her commuting Time with beloved podcasts, and spare time grooving to the music. she’s also into manY forms of creativity, visuaL design, and puzzlEs.

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Andy Levey

Andy is … was… has… is going to be…

What complex thoughts to finish.

 I am by blood but not by appearance, an Ojibway woman, which has led me through many celebrations and tribulations.

 I am a proud mom of 4 fur babies and a compulsive photographer of my love and our fur babies. 

My passions in life are centered on good food, good friends, learning, music, and compassion.

I am often between a rock and a hard place.

I am prone to be lazy, goofy, muffled, and often perplexed by the lack of time.

I believe in the importance of community to create social change. There are people and organizations out there that have a lot of power, but the power behind a collective has more strength and conviction than anything.

I am the civilian Aboriginal Relations Coordinator for the Edmonton Police Service and an advocate for equity, inclusion, and relationships.

I am forever grateful for the circle of strength and support that has enabled me to continue fighting for the things I believe in.

Andy has so much more to do. 

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Claire Edwards

Claire Edwards is a fourth generation Edmontonian and proud of the city she calls home! She's in her third year of Honours Political Science at the University of Alberta and president of the Student Network for Advocacy and Public Policy (SNAPP) - a student organization that works to "put policies on picket signs." With a particular interest in social justice, she's involved with a number of organizations in Edmonton, including the City of Edmonton Youth Council, Amnesty International, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and the national Student Voice Initiative. Claire hopes that her participation in Next Up will give her the tangible skills she needs to create powerful social change both at home and abroad.

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Diane Connors

Diane is a born and raised Edmontonian, only recently aware of the power of her connection to this river city in the north.  She is deeply interested in social justice, especially in the intersections of gender, class, race, and environmental justice. She completed a Master of Resource and Environmental Management at Dalhousie, quickly falling in love with Halifax. During her degree she studied community-based management, focusing on how indigenous cultures relate to the land they live on and the resources they harvest, as well as on the importance of building social capital between people as part of the solution to our global problems. Diane began her university career in art and design, and always enjoys finding ways to incorporate visual elements and artistic concepts in her projects. Currently, Diane works in Edmonton at the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation finding ways to build capacity, especially through strengthening the network of social capital in the international development and global citizenship education sector in Alberta and Canada. She is very much looking forward to going through the Next Up program with a great cohort and learning and contributing to as much as possible! 

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Elizabeth Campbell

Elizabeth is a woman of many names: Liz, Eliz, Lizzy, Lizardbreathe, Elizabarf, Lambeth Camberwell…. And a woman of many roles: daughter, sister, crazy cat lady, dog lover, friend, student, researcher, health advocate, triathlete, skier, Ontarian, Albertan, human, goofball, secret bedroom dancer, cryptic-crossword enthusiast, pickle fanatic, caring person, active listener, critical thinker, and thought-provoker. But she is capable and willing to be so much more. Elizabeth is excited about being a part of Next Up Edmonton and hopes to learn more about how to be a leader and activist to make the world we live in a better place for all of its inhabitants. She is keeping an open mind and is receptive to learning more about how she can be involved and take the lead to create positive, meaningful changes in our society. 

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Nicole Batienko

Nichole is a proud Edmontonian, and believes that now is a very special time for our city, as it grows and evolves Nichole sees an opportunity to shape our communities and define what is important to Edmontonians. One of Nichole's favourite days of the year is Canada Day, watching the fireworks at the High Level Bridge and especially that moment when someone starts singing O Canada and everyone joins in. As H.L. Mencken notes, a radical is one who likes their country possibly more than the rest, and is therefore more disturbed than the rest to see it debauched, they are a good citizen driven to despair.

Nichole is a RN, and is passionate about healthcare delivery and the labour movement. Nichole enjoys being active in her community. She is a board member of two constituency associations and has written 2 party policies. She is passionate about getting out the youth vote in upcoming federal and provincial elections. She is also a Council of Canadians activist, and volunteers with The Arthritis Society.

Nichole's mantra is “everyone is equal” 

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Sajid Alimohamed

Sajid Alimohamed is excited to join such an amazing network of Next-Up-ers.  Born and brought up in Canada as part of a minority community of Shia – Muslim migrants from Africa and originally from India, Sajid is no stranger to supporting the causes of oppressed groups through activism in the form of public protests, group consultations and private letter and petition organizing campaigns.  His passion lies in working with individuals and families to overcome the difficulties in their lives through listening to their struggles, coming up with action items and using his networks and experience to assist them in moving forward in a positive direction.  He loves to discuss politics, religion and purpose, especially when discussions lead to the discovery of actionable items, effort and eventually positive change.

Sajid is currently involved in two separate mentorship programs that are geared towards facilitating youth and young adults in the development of some of the soft skills required to be an effective leader and team player.  Workshop topics facilitated include ‘Leadership and Self-Deception’, ‘Effective Communication’, ‘Understanding and Integration of Culture’, ‘Developing your Network’ and others.  His interest in this area stemmed from identifying the lack of empathy and effective communication in executive boards he had served on, coupled with the lack of people skills observed in youth, typically caused by technological advances that limit the opportunity for real human moments.

When not engrossed in his primary passion of helping people, as an environmental engineer, Sajid manages soil and groundwater remediation and reclamation projects on spill sites and abandoned upstream oil and gas well-sites using natural, innovative technologies for a mid-size consulting and contracting company known as EnGlobe Corp.

Sajid is also married to Arsheen Devjee – Next Up alumni from cohort 5, and is a father to two wonderful children Aayah and Ibrahim who he and Arsheen are grooming to be future Next-Up-ers.

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Darlene Seto

Hailing from the blue prairie skies of Alberta, Darlene is a transplant to the Vancouver area, originally moving to complete her MA in Environmental Studies from UBC. Her education and professional experience have ranged from the macro to the micro: working in Washington DC on Canada-US relations, studying sustainable development strategies for the Quebec government, and analyzing zero waste options for the City of Vancouver.

As a social and environmental justice advocate, Darlene is active in Vancouver’s food community. Her work aims to link her research and policy background with a food justice framework, working to bringing the voices of the grassroots to decision-making and evaluation in social services.

Her downtime juggles between early mornings on her yoga mat, cycling and hiking adventures in BC, and solo dance parties in the kitchen.

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Stephen Rutherford

Stephen spends most of his time staring at and interacting with a variety of glowing rectangles. He’s worked on the organizing teams behind the 2012 and 2015 Canadian Festivals of Spoken Word, TEDxUofS, and served as a founding (and continuing) board member for Saskatoon’s poetry and spoken word series Tonight it’s Poetry. He also serves as a board member of Live Five Independent Theatre, makes pretty decent pizza, writes when he can, and hosts a weekly radio show every Thursday on CFCR 90.5 FM. He works in marketing with a background in graphic design, photography/videography, painting and traditional media. He counterbalances the technological excesses of his daily life by cycling along the paths that run parallel with the South Saskatchewan River. When he grows up, Stephen wants to help make the world a healthier place.

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Amanda Hawkins

Amanda hails from Maymont, Saskatchewan but currently lives in Saskatoon. At 31 she is an accomplished cook, a devoted parent to her daughter, Nova, and a staple of the local metal scene, organizing shows and festivals, including an upcoming Christmas show to raise money for the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre. While balancing these responsibilities and passions, Amanda still finds the time to participate in marches and protests in support of women’s rights and in opposition to genetically modified organisms and government mismanagement. Amanda is continuing to look for other causes and organisations that she can support and devote her energy towards promoting social justice in Canada.

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Lauren Russell

Lauren is currently attending the University of Saskatchewan where she is pursuing an International Studies degree. She plans on studying naturopathy following the completion of her undergrad. Lauren believes in holistic and natural living. She sees fermenting in community as a means to engage meaningfully with food activism. She desires to inspire a community of collaboration and change where things such as composting worms, local food production, fermentation, and seed saving, become regular and accepted practices. Lauren’s passions are not limited to food sovereignty. Her rhythm has empowered her to join a Saskatoon drumming circle. Lauren’s nimble fingers can stitch a wicked dish cloth and you can often find her volunteering countless hours at the Open Door society and community gardens. All in all she’s a pretty nifty gal.

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Rebecca Dean

Rebecca was born and raised in Cole Harbour, NS (yes for all you hockey fans, she went to school with Sidney Crosby). She completed her Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS. An interest in the environment and multiple influential chemistry professors lead her to major in chemistry, with a focus on water chemistry. After gaining her Bachelor degree she moved to St. John’s, NL to obtain a PhD at Memorial University of Newfoundland, where her interests shifted to green chemistry and the development of environmentally friendly polymer chemistry. Throughout her education she was actively engaged with the university community, representing the Chemistry Department on numerous boards and committees. She was involved in monitoring chemical safety practices, striving to achieve a safe work environment for all chemistry researchers, and in the development of an emergency management plan for the entire University.

Rebecca has a passion for bringing science to the general public. While residing in Calgary, AB, she worked at TELUS Spark, the new Science Centre. She engaged families and developed STEAM based science programs that were accessible for both children and adults. Rebecca is currently living in Vancouver, performing research at UBC that aims to develop improved devices for solar energy harvesting. In her spare time you will find her doing chemistry outreach in the community or outside on a mountain skiing or hiking.

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Sarah Sheridan

Sarah grew up in a small Southwestern Ontario town, with farmland in every direction. After completing the Global Studies and Women’s Studies programs at Wilfrid Laurier University, Sarah realized her need for a geographical shift. She moved to Vancouver to try her luck at life on the West Coast. 


Upon moving to the city, Sarah began working with the homeless community, which she has continued to do in varying capacities. From working at a homeless shelter, in a drop-in centre, and as a homeless outreach worker, Sarah has sought to break down the enormous barriers preventing low-income and marginalized persons from accessing much needed resources.


When she’s not biking around town, rearranging her home furniture, or watching Liam Neeson movies, Sarah can be found exploring BC, making documentaries, or eating pizza (sometimes all at the same time).

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Jeanie Morton

Jeanie is an educator, a dreamer, a new parent, a nature lover, and a believer in the power of people coming together to make the world a better place. Formally educated at Pitt Meadows Secondary, Pearson College, McGill, SFU and UBC, Jeanie has worked as a teacher of English, Social Studies, Life Skills, Leadership, and Community Building in Richmond, Vancouver, Metchosin, BC and on the West Coast of Norway. Her informal education leaves her deeply indebted to a wonderful community of family, friends, and colleagues with special shout outs to her grandparents and adventures in the great outdoors.

Keenly interested in social change, Jeanie is proud of her contributions to the Otesha Project, the B:C:Clettes, the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership and her four years as a faculty member of the United World Colleges. Current interests include: project based learning, non-violent communication, and consensus-based decision making.

Having recently relocated to Vancouver, Jeanie is excited to connect and reconnect with the rad community of changemakers here.

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Sadie DeCoste

A grade 12 student from New Westminster BC, Sadie’s goal in life is to create positive change. Her passion for social and environmental justice was sparked at age 13, when she began working with Free the Children. Shortly after, she fundraised six thousand dollars in six months to travel to Kenya, where she helped build a school. At present, Sadie is the president of the New Westminster Secondary School Interact club, which supports Doctors Without Borders and a local homelessness shelter. She is also an active member of her school’s Environment club. She aspires to empower other young people to become engaged with social change.

Sadie loves learning and seeks adventure. She fell in love with Italy during a year-long cultural exchange. Recently, she produced a play about global women’s rights which raised over a thousand dollars to fund safe housing and education for girls in Arusha, Tanzania. Sadie is also engaged in civic politics, having managed the successful campaign of a progressive City Councillor in the 2014 municipal elections. Currently, Sadie is working with teachers to start a cohort program at her school focused on social justice, with an emphasis on global issues and sustainability.

Sadie is deeply grateful to have won a scholarship for a student expedition to Antarctica, where she hopes to deepen her understanding of how human-caused climate change interacts with polar systems. She was also recently named New Westminster’s Junior Citizen of the Year. She is honoured to be a member of the Next Up Vancouver cohort 8.

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Maisaloon Al-Ashkar

Maisaloon is a Muslim Palestinian who grew-up in Jordan, and now she is an immigrant-settler who is grateful to live on Coast Salish Territories. 


Throughout high school, she was actively involved in the Leadership, Mentorship, and Library programs. She was also Editor-In-Chief of the student newspaper, Chair of Grad Council, and Chapter President of the Best Buddies club. She first recognized her potential as a young activist during a Social Justice course in grade 12, where she organized a student-led Human Library project that provided youth with an open and safe space to eradicate stereotypes through one-on-one conversations about the lived experiences of diverse individuals dealing with different forms of oppression. She graduated from secondary school in 2014, and is humbled to be the first student in her high school’s history to have won the Exemplary Citizen Award consecutively through grades 8 to 12. 


Maisaloon helps organize a conference for youth called Social Justice Beyond the Classroom. She partakes in Fossil Free Faith, an interfaith network through which she intertwines her activism with her faith background. She is on the leadership team of SFU’s Best Buddies Chapter, and involved with SFU Amnesty International, Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group, and the SFU Women’s Centre. She works as a Program Leader for the City of Burnaby, where she’s inspired by the vibrant energy of children. She’s studying First Nations Studies and Political Science at Simon Fraser University on a Major Entrance Scholarship. She is an Advanced Placement Scholar and a recipient of the Burnaby Youth Citizenship award. 


Maisaloon’s Palestinian heritage allowed her to witness the repercussions of oppression at a very young age, which is the spark that ignites her compassionate fight for justice. Her faith is the grounding force that sustains her energized spirit and sense of hope. She is a young woman of colour determined to cultivate decolonized spaces in which the marginalized communities she identifies with are represented, empowered, and heard! 


Faith & the Common Good blog post: http://greeningsacredspaces.net/from-the-heart/

 

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Peter deKoning

Originally from Alberta, Peter was lured to the west coast by the prospect of fly-fishing its myriad rivers year-round, climbing mountains and being a little warmer most of the year. Through his travels in Central America and East Africa, Peter saw the deep connection between social and environmental issues and became passionate about conservation and the restoration of ecosystems as a justice issue – something he has been able to see more at home now. Having obtained his M.Sc. in Ecology from the University of BC, Peter worked as a biologist for A Rocha Canada researching species at risk and working on restoring the Little Campbell River, and currently coordinates stewardship and restoration projects for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.

When not exploring the outdoors, Peter prefers to watch soccer, listen to country music and play pedal steel guitar as much as he can.

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Rodrigo Samayoa

Rodrigo first came to Canada from Guatemala to study political science at the University of British Columbia. After finding his life partner in Vancouver, enjoying the boundless wilderness of BC, and being active in the local social movements, he has come to the realization that Canada is now his new home.

He has a diverse background in social activism with his involvement with organizations such as Oxfam Canada, the Sierra Club or Powershift BC. He currently works at Leadnow, where he is able to harness the power of the internet to connect progressive Canadians across the country who are committed to fighting for an open democracy, a fair economy and climate justice.

Rodrigo’s passion for the outdoors is one of his greatest motivations to fighting for social justice and environmental sustainability. When he is not typing emails for Leadnow or spending time with his wife and two cats, Rodrigo will likely be doing rock climbing, hiking, skiing or planning his next outdoor adventure.

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Alexander Hemingway

Alex is an education geek. He’s currently working towards his PhD in Political Science at UBC, and holds master’s degrees in Global Politics and Social Policy from the London School of Economics. He also earned a BA in Psychology from SFU, with a research focus on the psychology of morality. From the other side of the classroom, he’s a teaching assistant at UBC and has taught at a progressive high school in Vancouver.

What’s the point in all of that studying and research, though, if you don’t try to make some change in the world? That’s why Alex has been involved in a range of social justice projects, including the fossil fuel divestment campaign at UBC. When he’s not doing that sort of thing, he likes to read, listen to music, and sometimes pine for Prague (where he spent a semester studying).

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Amy Spark

As a proud fourth generation Calgarian growing up next to Fish Creek Park, Amy has always felt a strong connection to Calgary and the people in it.  This inspired her to become an environmentalist at a young age.  She was first introduced to the world of activism when she endeavoured to start a compost program in her high school.  Ever since then, she’s been hooked.  It was this project that inspired her to follow her passion for the natural world with an Environmental Science degree. 

Since completing her BSc, Amy has been lucky enough to work in roles that allow her to explore her passions for science & environment, social justice, and spirituality.  Perhaps due to the childlike wonder she holds for the planet, she is drawn to work with children and youth.  She has recently worked as the Food Justice staff at the GO Project, a social justice youth camp, and as an educator at the Telus Spark Science Centre.  She currently spends her days discussing waste & water conservation as the Child & Youth Education Coordinator at Green Calgary.  She would love to expand the program to include more community animation, outreach, and empowerment rather than merely education.   

Amy’s involvement with the United Church of Canada as a youth leader led to an interest in interfaith dialogue.  She is currently on the Interfaith Network of Calgary’s planning committee and enjoys planning events and discussion groups to promote open and safe conversation. 

When not trying a new canning or cooking recipe, Amy can often be found reading science fiction, sewing, or hiking in the mountains with her family.

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Chelle Matthews

Passionate about gender justice and queering spaces, Chelle has been involved in several projects related to transgender rights, including the Time 4 Rights campaign that is calling for an amendment to The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code to include ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ as prohibited grounds of discrimination. As a student at the University of Saskatchewan, she works as a researcher for the Provost’s Advisory Committee for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Chelle is also heavily involved with the Avenue Community Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, where she held a position as Summer Events Coordinator, and continues to volunteer as a researcher and programming assistant. After completing her undergrad in Political Studies and Gender Studies, she hopes to pursue a Master of Social Work program and expand her community work. When she has free time, Chelle loves to run, practice yoga, play board games, and attend live music shows.

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Maaya Kuri Hitomi

Maaya Kuri Hitomi is an intelligent and passionate, yet cynical, member of the 2014-2015 Next Up cohort. Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, she earned two undergraduate degrees, in Developmental Psychology and Women’s Studies, from the University of Windsor before moving to Saskatoon to conquer graduate school and earn a Master of Arts in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Saskatchewan.

Living by John Green’s quote “Truth defies simplicity,” and considering herself a Sexuality Educator, Maaya takes an intense interest in the complexity of the human experiences around sexuality. Particularly, she is passionate about issues ranging from sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to BDSM, kink, and consensual non-monogamy, and beyond.

Overall, Maaya brings immense clarity and dynamism to the Next Up team and hopes that Next Up will provide her with the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill her goals of becoming the Executive Director of a sexuality-focused, community-based non-profit organization.

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Daniel McCullough

Daniel McCullough was born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan but has spent his life bouncing around that province as well as living in Ontario and Nova Scotia. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Saskatchewan in 2012 and currently works for the Ministry of Social Services. He stays active in the community as a steward for the local 1102 of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, working for labour rights and social justice. He is passionate about correcting income disparity, affordable housing, the labour movement as well as confronting privilege and combating oppression in its various forms. On any given evening you’ll find Daniel fighting for social justice with his wit and kind heart, and his appreciation of cats.

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Carolyn Doi

After growing up in British Columbia and living in France for a year, Carolyn studied music pedagogy, performance, and history at the Conservatory of Music and the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC. In 2008, she moved to Montreal for a Master’s program in Library Science at McGill University, where she got involved with Librarians Without Borders (LWB), a non-profit organization that focuses on issues related to international access to information and literacy. Through LWB, Carolyn has been involved in several projects, including the design of a library for a K-12 school in Xela, Guatemala. After this, Carolyn worked for over three years on a project with LWB to establish a service-learning model for library development in Guatemala. 

In 2011, Carolyn moved to Saskatoon, where she works as the Music Librarian at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2012, she joined the board of directors for International Women of Saskatoon, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the status of immigrant and refugee women and their families residing in Saskatoon. Music has always been a huge part of Carolyn’s life. She has sung in community choirs, and studied piano, violin/fiddle, clarinet, and taiko drumming (a traditional style of Japanese drumming). Whenever she can, Carolyn enjoys the outdoors. She loves to hike, cross-country ski, and work in her garden to explore new ways of growing and preserving her own food.

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Amber Burton

Amber’s passion for the environment beams out of her every action. Whether she is promoting watershed stewardship of the Saskatchewan River Basin, coordinating vermicomposting workshops, or engaging in many other environmental organizing activities; Amber’s spirit and dedication are strong.

She has an intense interest in bridging the gap between city, humans and nature. This has driven her to be involved in such things as the local urban agriculture movement, re-wilding urban space through guerilla gardening, rebuilding the public commons and learning about new ways cities can become more ‘sustainable’ in their built environmental and social infrastructure.

In the future, Amber wishes to explore offering accessible environmental education programs as well as initiatives to encourage more sustainable spaces in our community. When not fighting for environmental rights, Amber can be found putting on her gloves and kickboxing. Not to mention, she’s also an aspiring urban bee-keeper and ukulele strummer.

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Fred Reibin

Fred Reibin’s passion is for helping positive messages spread. With that desire, and along with 3 other people, he founded Unite Marketing Co-op. They use their knowledge of marketing, design, and media to spread the word for non-profit organizations and community causes. Fred, along with Unite Marketing Co-op, has a very exciting project in the works called Sasklandia, which focuses on supporting local businesses and increasing supply and demand for local goods.

Fred also has a number of interests centered on creativity, community, and expanding consciousness. Most recently, Fred contributed a ‘Decentralized Art Exhibit’ to Saskatoon’s first Nuit Blanche, assisted in the Poverty Costs campaign, and helped bring the Mandala of Compassion to Saskatoon. Fred enjoys genuine conversations, chess, and nice tea.

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Jessie Best

Jessie Best grew up near Christopher Lake, SK and spent much of her childhood exploring the wooded areas near her home, skiing, hiking and swimming. She moved to Saskatoon in 2007 to study Land Use and Environmental Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Jessie has spent much of her energy developing and promoting organizations that bring together her interest in activism and agricultural systems. She is the co-founder of several organizations including: Rooted (a rooftop garden project), Permasask (a permaculture education and development organization) and the Varsity View Community Garden. She has also worked to develop and lead school gardening program at several Saskatoon schools, which allowed students to engage in outdoor learning by creating their own gardens.

Recently, Jessie moved to a farm near Aberdeen where she and her husband are researching systems for ecological food production. The farm is a great way for Jessie to get her hands dirty (literally), think creatively and implement new ideas. She is also interested in practicing and implementing holistic management, sustainable grassland farming, soil building and earthworks projects.

Jessie is excited to be a part of NextUp Saskatoon, where she can meet and work with like minded people.

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Moose Patterson

Moose is an Alberta-born tree climbing, gardener, who can often be found at the horse stables where their horse Shawney lives. Amy grew up on a pig farm and now lives in Saskatoon where they are completing a Bachelor of Science and Agriculture degree. Amy’s compassion and kindness is without a doubt evident in the way they speak and the ways in which they can transform our hearts and impact our learning. With a passion for agriculture, ecology, and environmentalism Amy hopes to learn more about the intersection of activism and community development with these fields. Amy has spent the past few summers working in a microbiology lab, and has volunteered at the USSU Women’s Centre, and also had the privilege of being a Youth Leader at Camp fYrefly this past summer.

Moose is excited about Next Up and is jazzed about the opportunity to connect and engage with people from Saskatoon based community initiatives.

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Elizabeth Roth

Elizabeth’s background in political science led her to work for Upstream, an organization dedicated to the pursuit of improved community health and social change. She is a strong advocate of the potential for thoughtful policy decisions to make a positive impact on both the lives of individuals and on the greater community. Prior to pursuing her degree in political science, Elizabeth also trained and worked as a graphic designer.

One of her proudest accomplishments is her work as an organizer and founder of Atangard Community Project, a housing development in Abbotsford B.C. One of the things that drew Elizabeth to Next Up was a desire to have her ideas challenged and tested while connecting with others in the and developing her leadership skills.

She lives in Saskatoon with her husband Tim. Outside of geeking out on Canadian politics, Beth is most often found in or near a kitchen. There are few places she’d rather be than with family and friends around a table.

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Burgess Langshaw Power

Having recently graduated his Master of Science Degree from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, Burgess is on a mission to leave the world a little cleaner, brighter and better than when he came into it. 

Academically and career wise, his specialty is that of the policy behind transitions: moving between systems, especially that of conventional energy to renewable energy.  He is drawn to long term planning, large scale infrastructure, minimizing externalities and developing new innovations and technologies to help future generations.

Born in British Columbia, and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Burgess is a mountain man. Continuing to be a passionate outdoorsman, he is drawn to spending time in Canada’s national and provincial parks, where he can often be found riding his mountain bike or backcountry skiing.  He has a taste for outdoors gear, good food, eclectic music and lively philosophical company.  He is a world traveller, but is most often found retreating to the solace offered by the wilderness.

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Cristabel Sosa

Cristabel grew up amidst books, origami and constant climbing of her neighbor’s mango tree. She is native of the Dominican Republic, a land of warm hearts and countless social contrasts.  She is proud to be a Caribbean soul yet sees herself beyond any categorization and geographical boundaries.  She believes our shared humanity is borderless and our identities and worldviews are continuously evolving. She hopped on a plane and moved to Alberta a few years ago, where for the first time she witnessed the leaves mirror all the possible shades of the sun (which she fell in love with) and her first winter (no comments!). 

Cristabel enjoys using creative processes in her work, such as participatory photography, which she used while doing her master’s thesis exploring food security among low income immigrant families. Her volunteer endeavors have included: coordinating volunteers for the “Make Trade Fair” Campaign led by Oxfam, building homes with Habitat for Humanity Bolivia, supporting a collective kitchen with the Multicultural Health Brokers, a local nonprofit supporting newcomers Edmonton, among others.  She currently works in the area of public health and health promotion.

When Cristabel isn’t doing ‘grown-up stuff’, she loves to dance in the tackiest ways, pretend to sing gracefully and reinvent blends and flavors. 

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Suzana Rymak

Suzana values individuality, culture and the identity of being a global citizen. She believes there is an intrinsic value in people. Her core values include humility, diplomacy, respect and openness to imperfection. Regardless of the cards dealt, she has or makes efforts to have a positive attitude and outlook. Other values include the “Seven Grandfather Teachings”.

Tsootaa is Suzana’s informal Blackfoot name gifted by her partner. It means water in the air or rain drop woman and in short refers to Suzana’s gentle yet assertive nature of change, nurturing and peace.

Suzana currently works within business administration while volunteering time to social causes online and in the community. Suzana’s professional background also includes Social Work; earning her Social Work Diploma in 2005 and her Bachelor of Social Work in 2011. Her social work experience includes formal employment and volunteering in areas of youth work, mental health, addictions, First Nations, leadership training, and community development.

Suzana (as a founder) currently administers “Kindness Matters Calgary” and “Two-Spirit Canada” primarily on Facebook.

Inspired by tragedy, Kindness Matters started on the streets and every December hits the streets distributing mental health information and resources along with gift cards to total strangers. You never know who could use kindness and support! Kindness Matters also operates online year round.

Two-Spirit is an identity and term robbed from many during colonization. Two-Spirit Canada operates online to honor and support this identity. Suzana hopes to work with other Two-Spirit groups to host an annual Two-Spirit gathering in Canada.

Other goals including learning more and advocating in areas of environmental sustainability and essentially doing her best to contribute as a community member after taking some time away from social work.

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Ryan Peters

Recently returned to treaty 7 territory after six years living in Ottawa on unceded Algonquin territory, Ryan is ready to uncover and grow resiliency and resistance here in Calgary.  At the age of 17 they left Calgary for Ottawa, determined to find community and address environmental destruction through the political system.  However, a year working in the House of Commons demystified Ryan's optimism about the political system and after one weekend at PowerShift 2009, a youth climate change convergence, they shifted focus and instead dedicated themself to building strong and reflective social movements.  Since then Ryan has worked on campaigns targeting the relationship between oil and state, for progressive control of student unions, and to stop deportations.

Ryan likes nerding out about creating effective spaces for learning, reflection, relationship building, and action, and has had the opportunity to put this to use planning workshops and events for local activists, as well as environmental justice and LGBTQ+ convergences for people across the country.  Now that they are back in Alberta, Ryan is finishing up a Sexual Health Educator Certification, combining their love of thoughtful facilitation and critical sex-positivity.  They are also invested in practicing vulnerability, exploring the city by bike, watching Shondaland, and finding fellow social movement nerds.

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Roberta Waddell

Roberta acquired a love for nature from growing up on a farm in southern Alberta and spending time outdoors. After gaining an environmental studies and human geography degree from the University of Victoria, she travelled through Europe and worked on permaculture farms in France. She believes that caring for the environment is essential for our health and happiness, and is an important step in solving many of the social, health and well-being problems of our day. She enjoys her role as a client relation’s facilitator for Assembly Co-working space in Calgary and looks forward to a future career in environmental education. 

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Mike Kwok

Looking for Mike? You just missed him!

Perhaps he’s gone to university to attend Psych classes, or at Meal Exchanging advocating for food sustainability.  Perhaps he’s on campus at Career Services gearing up for the next school fair, if not there then he’s probably hosting an event for his student club Hope 2 Opportunity. Mike is fascinated in all things volunteerism, reaching far and wide from nature to social justice.

At work, he’s known as a foot specialist at New Balance or Children’s Coordinator at his church. Constantly building relationships with the kids but also between him and  God. You could also check-in at a non-profit, where he leads an afterschool program for children who just arrived to Canada.

But you’ll need to chase him if he’s gone for a run around the city or a hike in the mountains – and if you still can’t find him, my best bet is he’s around the neighborhood walking with his best pal and picking up her poo, Arla the Sheltie. 

Return soon to track down this charming young fellow at a Next Up session. You’ll be glad you did.

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Jessie DeCastro

Community, dance and chocolate are Jessie’s sustenance.

During her undergraduate degree she studied and earned a B.A. in psychology, which led to a career in disability service provision with the Alberta government. Here, she realized that her true passions were things like research and strategic development in human and health services. She went on to pursue an M.A. in Communication and Culture. It was here that she felt like she began to learn a completely new language. Everything she thought she knew about research, evidence, and knowledge itself was challenged. Although she was resistant to it initially, she now considers herself incredibly lucky to have been exposed to non-colonial ways of knowing.

Jessie currently works in strategic leadership in health promotion with Alberta Health Services, where she is committed to maintaining health equity in the initiatives that she is involved in planning, evaluating and promoting. She enjoys and is committed to her work at AHS and wishes to develop her leadership and community engagement skills through programs like NextUp.

Dance is an integral part of Jessie’s wellbeing; she has been dancing for most of her life. Her love of dance inspired her to work with her high school teaching and administration staff as well as community members to prioritize dance and the arts in her school. She has also taught dance to members of her community, high school dance students, and to elementary students through the DARE Arts program.

Jessie is lucky enough to eat a small piece of chocolate every day. 

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Jackson Tse

Since graduating from civil engineering at Queen's University and spending the last four years traveling to 34 different countries around the world, Jackson is reconnecting with Calgary and pursuing a new direction in his career while engineering a better society.

 

Jackson likes to play outside of his comfort zone, hold private dance parties with his iPod, and sink his hands into giant sacks of dried rice. He’s a big connection junkie. Sometimes he forgets to shave and his facial hair grows out in uneven patches. He still can’t get his moustache to join.

 

Accomplishments include: living statue for the Calgary Stampede, wedding photographer in north-eastern Brazil, oil & gas engineering intern, mental health journalist, Georgian ballet troupe dancer, expired Guinness World Record holder, crisis line volunteer, graduating class president, PADI-Certified Open Water Diver, English teacher for second language learners, standardized patient, blogger, medical research assistant specializing in blood oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging to research language reorganization in patients with left-temporal lobe epilepsy, public speaker, program coordinator, project manager, couchsurfer, hitch-hiker, concert pianist, and part-time pizza maker.

Outside of Next Up, Jackson’s soul gets replenished from living at home with an ample supply of dark chocolate and binging on sassy reality television. 

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Brendan

Raised in Vancouver, Brendan learned compassion from his mother, to question relentlessly from his father, and to take life in stride from his two brothers. When Brendan was 16, a voluntourism trip cemented his path toward creating (the ever-so-vague) social good. Throughout a career working with and for a diverse array of communities, Brendan learned there is always another way to view the world. 

 Brendan learned to treasure our natural environment while living on a float on the Pacific, and paradoxically, while working in urban planning, he learned that the change needed to preserve our environment will in fact occur in cities. So it goes.

 Since leaving home at 17, he has lived in ten cities and four countries, but nowhere has he felt truly at home until Calgary.  Brendan is taking Next Up because learning is a lifelong journey, and he hopes to learn to influence others to best select their sources of learning. 

Brendan aspires to heed a simple Vonnegutism: Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies - god damn it, you've got to be kind.

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Caillie Mutterback

It doesn’t matter whether it's collecting monkey poop in the Belizean rainforests or hitch-hiking rides on the back of trucks in Peru, Caillie wants to do it all. Born in Scotland to parents prone to wanderlust, she immigrated to Canada at a young age where she was given free rein to pursue everything and go anywhere to do it. Having had a healthy dose of millennial guilt instilled since the age she could read “save the whales”, she became increasingly interested in animal rights, conservation and environmental justice.  Under this weight of climate change, extinction, and deforestation, she found herself becoming more and more despondent about the state of the world. Discouraged by the negative messaging, she opted to move away from the conservation sector to the sustainability sector where, luckily, she found innovative people from all disciplines and backgrounds coming together to solve the world’s crises in a positive, progressive way. The search for solutions has taken Caillie from Canada to the United States, Central and South America, and Europe, and she’s nowhere near finished.  Having recently graduated, her greatest interests are around food security and sustainable food production. She can easily be won over with a cheese platter.

She works and researches at the University of Calgary, where she spends most of her time in her dream office (inside of a library!). She currently holds her BSc. (H) in Anthropology, with a concentration in Primatology, and is looking to enter graduate studies focusing on sustainability and environments. Her current research is with the Department of Communications and Culture looking at the validity of “green certification” claims and developing case studies for efficient, credible sustainability reporting frameworks.

When she doesn’t have her nose to the grindstone at the day job, she is normally volunteering, traipsing around the city, gardening in the community, penning poems of the teenage angst variety, or frolicking with her three cats. True to her Scottish roots, she also plays tenor drum with the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band. While she wishes she was a sloth, she was kindly told that she does not look like a sloth.

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Brettley Mason

Brettley is a person of many passions and layers, who distrusts binaries and labels and who questions the status quo at every turn. They have been doing social and environmental change work in Calgary, Alberta on Blackfoot Territory for over 12 years. This has included a lot of different work, including helping to start Calgary's first non-profit Community Bicycle Shop as well as issues of poverty, feminism and queer liberation, preferring to use collective, anti-oppressive and non-hierarchical methodologies. He is a Social Worker who works with Calgary’s  LGBTQ* support centre, Calgary Outlink, which has taught him a lot about the power of strong communities and the importance of micro level change. They strive for their work to include a systems level analysis, dismantling systems of oppression, exploitation and violence, while also doing the on-the-ground work of creating community supports with and for people who experience the negative repercussions of these systems. He is interested in being self-reflective of the ways Social Work, professionalism, and the non-profits can and have served to marginalize and disempower people. A culture jammer at heart, Brett uses his words, art, and love of all things fay to disrupt his WASPish capitalist upbringing. 

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Alberta Williams

 Alberta really enjoys music, food and art as all those things that bring people of all backgrounds and walks of life together.  She is also passionate about using diverse expressions of art (painting, photography, animation, among others) to express her ideas and passion for social justice and community.  Her focus is evolving activism that seeks to generate dialogue and awareness about the current and historical aspects influencing Aboriginal peoples, as well as other groups of marginalized people and other social issues to generate opportunities for more inclusive and supportive societies.  Some of the topics she has explored include: appropriation, gender, consumerism, and identity, to name a few. She is currently studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at the Alberta College of Art and Design.              

      Alberta also loves to cook and share food with others, loves the colour blue and can hum and whistle at the same time.  She is excited to be a part of Next Up as a platform for learning, inspiration and social action. 

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Denae Pellerin

Denae Pellerin grounds her social justice work in her Catholic faith and education. As such, she has volunteered for Development and Peace, the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, on campaigns addressing a range of issues including bottled water, locally sourced food, and human rights abuses around Canadian-owned foreign mines. She has also contributed to the Poverty Costs campaign here in Saskatoon, volunteered with Canadian Blood Services, CHEP and the Open Door Society, and was a Les and Irene Dube Service and Justice Project Scholar at St. Thomas More College.

Today, she is a third-year student at the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in Psychology and working through her first year pre-social work. Motivated by love and her undying belief that every person has been given infinite irreplaceable value, Denae has become deeply passionate about childhood development and ensuring that children have the means to develop and maintain a healthy, positive self-image. Thus, she is currently employed with Boys and Girls Clubs Saskatoon and Community Living Association Saskatoon.

In the future, Denae hopes to continue connecting local communities with their global counterparts as she seeks a place in community development or community-based non-profits that will empower and give voice to those whose dignity is not upheld in our society. Passionate about issues surrounding poverty, women and children, Denae is joyfully approaching Next Up with the hopes of being humbled, and equipped to learn tactile ways of meeting the needs and desires of her local community.

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Michayla van de Velde

Michayla van de Velde is a Dutch-Canadian Métis woman who currently lives in Saskatoon. Michayla has been involved in community work since elementary school and is a board member of the Saskatoon Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council. She has also worked with the Saskatoon SPCA and Evan Hardy Collegiate’s charity and culture committees. She is most proud of her work with Evan Hardy’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance, of which she was a founding member. Michayla is interested in gender and LGBTQ+ politics, and is currently working towards a degree in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. She enjoys knitting, drinking tea and photography.

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Kari-Dawn Wuttunee

Kari-Dawn Wuttunee is a young Cree woman from the Red Pheasant First Nation in Treaty Six Territory who now resides in Saskatoon. She has been spending her time passionately advocating for young women within her community, tackling issues such as HIV, harm reduction strategies, poverty and violence prevention. This work has opened up the platform for Kari-dawn to speak at Saskatoon community gatherings and Canada’s Safe Schools conferences involving topics of decolonization and anti-racism methods.

She is currently a youth regional director for the Native Women’s Association of Canada and represents youth for the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Women’s Circle Corporation. Through her experience within her community and volunteer work with National Aboriginal Organizations, it became apparent that neo-colonialism and racism often govern the decisions of Indigenous peoples rights. This has sparked a fire that burns in Kari-dawn, as she works towards facilitating change, and restructuring at different levels of governing systems.

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Max FineDay

Max FineDay is nêhiyaw (Cree) from Sweetgrass First Nation and was recently re-elected as the President of the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union representing 17,000 undergraduate students. In 2009 he was part of the first cohort of the Saskatoon NextUp Leadership Program, which focuses on activist training as well as social and environmental justice; Max is currently the co-ordinator of “Next Up: First Nations, Metis & Inuit Youth in Action” which will focus on Youth Indigenous Activist Training & Leadership development.

Max’s advocacy work focuses on both student and First Nations movements and he finds inspiration within them. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Political Studies at the University of Saskatchewan and has also studied at the University of Nordland in Bodø, Norway.

When Max isn’t rabble-rousing you can find him learning nêhiyawewin (Cree language), tweeting, and laughing at his own jokes.

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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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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.

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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, 350.org, 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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Melissa Gan

To begin this story I think it important to tell the story of our meet-up to write this biography. On Friday, October 24th 2011 Melissa came and met me at Aden Bowman where we commenced our discussion. I had no idea what to ask her, but knew this couldn’t be a traditional biography. Sure she is 21 years old, her family is Malaysian-Chinese, she is from Saskatoon, speaks four languages some better than others, and may or may not love long walks on the beach. None of those things really tell us who she is. Our discussion began at about 3:45 and did not end until 6:00. Yes, we talked for over 2 hrs, but I think that in itself tells something about who Melissa is. She is the kind of person you can sit down with and just talk to for hours. I learned a lot about her life, who she is, where she’s been, and where she’s going. Her first experience with activism began in high school where she began working with WAM (“We Are Many”), a youth group dedicated to environmental justice and sustainability; a group that she is still a part of today. Initially she volunteered for self-gratifying reasons, but this changed as she grew as an individual. After high school she did a 10 month exchange in Japan that opened her eyes to the world around her, and the connections that exist. As a result she enrolled in international studies and loves it. My experience chatting with Melissa was splendid she is a wonderful, sincere person who truly cares about the work she is doing. She said something very insightful to me during our meeting. By only volunteering absent mindfully or by only studying a subject in University it is impossible to gain real understanding regarding what is going on in our world. True understanding can only be accomplished by truly, full-heartedly getting involved.

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Maggie McBride

Maggie McBride graduated from Augustana, a small liberal arts college in Alberta, with a B.A majoring in Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education and a certificate in Community Service Learning. Maggie likes traveling and has studied abroad in both Mexico and Norway. Maggie loves the outdoors, rivers, forests and helping people to enjoy them. She also loves running, skiing, canoeing and hiking. Maggie’s goals are to work within small food production systems to mainstream enviromental design. She is currently working at Floating Gardens and with the Saskatchewan Eco Network. Maggie is back in Saskatoon, reconnecting with family and friends, hoping to get her Masters in a couple years and to build up a market garden of her own.

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Laura Hopkins

Laura is a native of Ottawa, Ontario. She came to Saskatoon in 2008 to attend the University of Saskatchewan. Since then, she has come to appreciate the sense of community and wonderful people in this city. In 2010 she completed a Master of Public Health and began a PhD in Community Health and Epidemiology. Laura is passionate about about the connection between local and global health, gender equity, politics, and addressing the many social determinants of health. She is currently a board member of the Sexual Health Centre in Saskatoon, and an advisory member for Next Up Saskatchewan.

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Justin Wiebe

Justin Wiebe is a 20 year old student, educator, activist and athlete. He identifies strongly with his Metis heritage, which has influenced his passion for indigenous and transformative pedagogies in his approach to teaching. He is currently completing a degree in Education and hopes to continue on to graduate school at the University of Saskatchewan in the coming year. He intends to address structural inequalities in the education system by encouraging a more holistic and inclusive approach to teaching and learning. He is passionate about the interconnectedness of all things, an attitude which fuels his work in social and environmental justice and his enthusiasm for the NextUp program.

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Jae Ford

James (Jae) Ford was born in the mid-eighties, right around the time that a-ha’s rubbish song “Take on Me” was occupying the number one spot on the pop charts. This song now occupies the number 27 spot on his iPod playlist.

Jae is currently employed by the Saskatoon Health Region, where he spends his days learning interesting things from centenarians, all while helping them put on their socks. His activist activities are currently dominated by passions for patient advocacy in long-term care, and youth political engagement. As a Secular Humanist, Jae rejects the supernatural and religious dogma as a basis for morality and decision-making.

In his fleeting spare time, Jae can be found building and launching model rockets, playing ping-pong, although not very well, and singing karaoke, but nothing by a-ha. He also has fun hiking, camping, reading, chilling in hippy drum-circles, campaigning for the New Democratic Party, vegan cooking, and using the Oxford comma. He enjoys the number 42, and wearing Toms shoes.

Jae presently resides in Saskatoon with his wife and three cats.

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Geordie Gescha

Geordie Gescha, his name may sound familiar to you for several reasons. Gescha was born and raised in a Romanian-Asian home here in Saskatoon. He paints, he is a community organizer and he mentors youth at risk. His talent, life-experience and hard work have lead him to be and to work on several impressive projects. In February his hip-hop single “Love Pirates” off the album Crayon Politics climbed the Canadian single sales chart to #7. Along with his numerous other albums he has helped with the production of Kumva Neza: Where the Land of Living Skies Meets the Land of a Thousand Hills. His last two years have been spent mentoring at risk youth here in Saskatoon. Currently he is helping set up a centre for youth to learn the skills to succeed in the music trade, working on a creative project to express what he has learned at occupy Saskatoon along with many other projects. Geordie Gescha is a charismatic and passionate young man. He has done a lot for Saskatoon and we are all excited to see his future unfold.

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Boni Nleya

Born in Harare Zimbabwe, Boni moved to Saskatoon SK at the age of six and she has resided here in Canada ever since. Boni is now 25 years young and has graduated with a Sociology degree, and has made a documentary about Rwanda called “Kumva Neza”. Other than being a proud member of Next Up, Boni also volunteers with Victim Services as a support worker for people with Mental and physically disabilities. Her goal is to finish social work and to continue being involved in social justice. Boni is also a Netflix and Musicacholic!
“My passion is being involved of being part of a social justice, our world is changing. Sometimes it could be for the worse, but I believe that standing up for our rights and have to power to change, we can!” -Boni Nleya

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Andrea Cessna

Andrea is currently in her fifth and final year of her Anthropology degree at the University of Saskatchewan and has plans to continue her education with a Masters in Enthographic Media. She is drawn to Anthropology because it can take her anywhere and everywhere, and with photography, she can take others along with her on her journey.

Learning is something Andrea never wants to stop doing, whether it be in the classroom or on her many adventures around the world. Seeing the world and experiencing different cultures is what Andrea is most passionate about in life, and she hopes to see as much of the world as she possibly can. Being creative, and spending time with inspiring and positive people is also a big part of Andrea’s life.

Andrea describes herself as passionate, driven, adventurous, loving, patient, and easy-going. She values her ability to laugh at herself and not take herself too seriously, which aids her involvement in a wide variety of social justice work. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and friends, being in nature, reading, cooking, and being active through activities such as yoga, running, and soccer.

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Alanna Makinson

Alanna is passionate and has strong opinions regarding womens rights and equity. She is enthusiastic about travelling and loves to learn about and experience new places and cultures. Alanna has ambitions to continue traveling while finding her place with a family, job and doing what she loves – pursuing social justice work.

Alanna spends her free time running and training for marathons (INTENSE!), reading, writing, being outdoors, watching movies and spending time with friends and family. Alanna thinks if she were a season she would be spring – she is warm and pretty; her spirit animal would be a white tiger – much like her, rare and fierce; if she were a place it would be a beach – fun and easy going; and finally if she were a color she would be purple!

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Taylor-Anne Yee

Taylor-Anne Yee is an Aquarius, loves long walks on the beach — oops… wrong bio. Currently, Taylor attends the University of Saskatchewan pursuing a major in Political Studies and a minor in Critical Perspectives on Social Justice and the Common Good. Many social issues concern Taylor, and being in Political Studies allows her to examine many different topics. Taylor has always believed that government could and should contribute to creating high standards of living for all Canadians and the global community. In university, she wants to study the relationship between the government and community and what the government’s role should be in social justice issues.

Taylor hopes people will never lose their ability to think critically, to love, and be creative. She believes positive change is a collective effort, so she hopes people will become more engaging and realize that “[t]here are no passengers on spaceship Earth, only crew” (Marshall McLuhan).

In her spare time, Taylor likes to play guitar, piano, video games, and enjoys drawing… and the occasional walk on the beach

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Stephanie Shyluk

Born and raised prairie girl from Saskatoon. Fond memories of public transit, the local music scene, community events, volunteering and photography. Recent successes include a BA Honours in International Studies, more home cooked meals and a great partnership with her spouse. Curious about different cultures, community development, equality and global health.
Will try most things in life once and all the fun things twice.

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Roanne Kosokowsky

“The Great Law of Peace from the Great Spirit is perfect, balanced, true and just in every way. Only when each person has the Living Laws of Peace within their heart, thoughts, words and actions will there be lasting peace among the Nations of the Earth.” – Deganawideh, The Peacemaker

I took this quote from a book that I gave a teenage boy. A teenage boy that is trying to make sense of life, and of all the situations that were put upon him. Some of these situations were made with little thought, some with great thought, but almost all of them were made without his input or consent. A great deal of them stem from generations of hurt, destruction, and prejudices. A great deal of them occurred because society chooses over and over again to look away or force, instead of hearing, respecting, and loving unconditionally. I choose to write about this teenager because as I hear his story, learn from his forgotten wisdom, and walk alongside his path of healing, I am motivated.

Societies are made up of intertwined individuals. Each individual has a sacred story that needs to be respected and deserves to be heard. I believe that if we take the time to know who we are, and connect with our own hearts, than we can then honestly connect to others without judgment, we can begin to feel other hearts, feel different truths, and build community. I believe that social change stems from one heart opening at a time. Cliché, maybe, but I’ve felt it to be true, and it is part of my story and my struggle. My name is Roanne Kosokowsky, and I believe that this is what sustainable social and environmental justice looks like. Honesty, humility, respect, courage, wisdom, truth, love.

A thousand thank yous and a satchel of love to all of you Next Uppers for having the courage to follow your own truth, embracing life, and holding onto hope.

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Kathleen Crowther

Kathleen graduated with a degree in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and has since built capacity as a non-profit worker. Kathleen is a fundraiser in Saskatoon, working with charities on large-scale capital campaigns. Her work is as diverse as it is rewarding and she looks forward to building capacity as a community development advocate. Kathleen has worked for charities such as Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, One Change, and with the Christchurch City Council in New Zealand. 

Believing that volunteerism is key to the health and success of every community, she is active on many fronts and is currently involved primarily with PAVED Arts and Nuit Blanche Saskatoon. Kathleen is passionate about living sustainably and enjoys everything that life on the prairies has to offer. Her interests are reading, cycling, cross country skiing, visiting art galleries, live concerts, and traveling.

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Karen Rooney

There once was a young nurse named Karen

Whose life was anything but barren.

She applied for Next Up,

Said “Life, fill my cup!”

Once accepted, her enthusiasm was rarin’.

Passionate about health, politics and international development,

She strives to find ways to make these issues relevant.

Outdoorsy and svelte,

She is a black belt;

And also, (apparently), eloquent.

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Christine Chang

By day, Christine is a graduate student working on her MA in Medical Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan; by night, she is a sneaky ninja of an activist. Her research involves studying peer-run harm reduction models regarding their impact on community and structural change. As an advocate for human rights – particularly in the areas of attaining well-being and having equitable access to health services, she volunteers at Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon and at AIDS Saskatoon, and is currently serving as a board member for AIDS Saskatoon. According to fellow NU participant Taylor, a descriptive word that represents Christine is “swesian” (sweet + Asian).

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Christina Charteris

Christina grew up on a farm where her curiosity about the world & love for the Saskatchewan prairies began. Her interests include: red wine, cold beer, all-you-can-eat sushi, loud, live music, photography, astrology, vagabonding, tattoos, laughing & learning. She is passionate about social & environmental justice, human rights violations & poverty elimination efforts and is incredibly empowered by mass demonstrations & the strong, beautiful people all over the world that continue to fight for a better world The most inspiring place she’s ever been was among 15,000 others on the streets of Detroit for U.S. Social Forum’s Opening March! Christina recently completed a Social Work degree and is currently employed with Mental Health and Addictions Services. She’s glad she took a risk and embarked on this degree, because it truly led her to the place she needs to be. Her future career & research ambitions include both local & international social policy research & working amongst sustainable social development. Christina also considers herself lucky for finding such a wonderful partner & looks forward to finding the time, $, and energy to eventually plan a wedding! For the time being, she is enjoying life’s journey…

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Chris Richards

Chris Richards is a Professional Engineer and he has a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. His area of work is energy efficiency and renewable energy and he primarily works on project management and feasibility studies. Chris is also an alumni of Engineers Without Borders, a member of the Board of Directors of Quint Development Corporation, and a member of the Project Review Committee of the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. When Chris isn’t engrossed in a spreadsheet, volunteering, or reading books you might also find him playing his djembe at a local community event.

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Candice Kloeble

Candice Kloeble (rhymes with global) is a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, and spouse. After graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Regina, Candice spent the summer tree planting in Northern Saskatchewan. That same year she found herself swept up in a whirlwind romance, was married in December and moved to Kaohsuing Taiwan in January of 2005 to teach English as a Foreign Language. After teaching English for two and a half years Candice decided to further her education and obtained a Certificate of Advanced Professional Studies in Expressive Arts and Social Change from the European Graduate School in SaasFee Switzerland. In the summer of 2007 she and her partner moved back to Saskatoon. In November 2009 she had a beautiful water birth at home supported by midwives and a doula. She has spent the bulk of 2010 exploring the joys of motherhood. Candice is passionate about working towards positive growth and change in her community.

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Warren Greeves

Warren Greeves is constantly searching for ways to challenge himself. He is a thoroughly involved student at the University of Calgary, a political junkie, and a social activist.

Majoring in Economics, Warren is passionate about social as environmental sustainability and is searching for meaning beyond the growth and profit model. This desire to change the yardsticks has Warren continually challenging himself to expand his knowledge while working effectively with others for positive change.

Warren is especially interested in the relationship between energy and the environment, and has been involved in the Solar Decathlon solar-home building competition and the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy Students Association. Warren is excited to see where his involvement in NextUp will take him.

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Tess Van Den Bosch

Tess is 27 years old which, according to certain belief systems, means she is experiencing the “turn of Saturn”. This is known to be a time of great change, where one may experience both significant challenges and also rewards.

Tess recently took a leap of faith in ending her seven year career in Oil and Gas, and comfortable lifestyle that came along with it, for exciting and uncertain new prospects. She has since spent time learning about Urban Farming, engaging heavily in the local music scene, collaborating with her neighbours in Cliff Bungalow, and most recently exploring social justice and activism through Next Up.

In addition to dedicating much of heart to various community initiatives, Tess is a self-described passionate socializer and holds her personal relationships (including her dog, Dash) to very high regard. Her preferred form of transportation is in a bicycle gangs, she enjoys writing poetry, and looks forward to volunteering at Folk Fest which she refers to as hippie Christmas in July.

The way Tess chooses to live her life stems from her belief that, “We live now, but we exist for the future; if we didn’t, why would we care about anything?” She looks forward to what exists on her horizon, and in the mean time she embraces the learning and growth that this time of change offers.

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Thulasy Lettner

Thulasy recently returned to Calgary after living in Zambia for the past five years where she worked on various projects that served economically marginalized Zambians, first with Engineers Without Borders and then with a technology company Zoona. Her experiences have drawn her to self-organizing people who care deeply about what’s happening in the world and are game to do something about it. While she has high hopes for the future – world peace and all that good stuff – she tries to live with intention, to be present and engaged, to learn, grow, and simply practice. Thulasy keeps herself busy spending time with her husband Graham and baby daughter Marya, bringing together friends around the dinner table, following her nose through good books, and making things happen with people who want to do the same.

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Seth Leon

Seth Leon has roots in Nova Scotia and Quebec, but has spent the last five years in Calgary and southern Alberta. He currently works as a research officer for the Alberta Community and Co-operative Association. His focus is on supporting communities to  form opportunity development co-operatives that finance community owned businesses. Currently he is trying to get a handle on a handful of other co-op projects related to worker-ownership, local-food, and supporting Aboriginal led economic development. Seth finds this fun, and hopes it will contribute to creating a more co-operative, equitable, and democratic economy. Seth and his brother Ben also play in a rock and roll band called Jeremy Clarkson.Last summer they played twenty-four shows in twenty-four hours in twenty-four different locations. It was very tiring.

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Madeline Hardy

Madeleine discovered her passion for change-driven community while studying at the University of Lethbridge, through her involvement as a board member with the Lethbridge Public Interest Group (LPIRG). Since moving back to Calgary, Madeleine has been a strong advocate for the queer community. From producing short queer history films for the Fairy Tales Film Fesival, to producing the Coming Out Monologues, YYC, Madeleine has continued to build strong allies and focus on resiliency in the LGBTQA community.

Looking back, Madeleine attributes her focus on social issues to a number of personal life experiences. Her passion for social justice has been encouraged through the opportunity to travel at a young age. Experiencing other cultures, religions, and seeing how they affect social structure has helped to broaden Madeleine’s cultural perspective. At home, Madeleine enjoys an outdoor extremist lifestyle. In addition to having spent time working with Parks Canada, Madeleine identifies as a cyclist, runner, backpacker, climber, and alpine skier. Through these pursuits, she has experienced first hand, policy changes that directly affect her outdoor lifestyle.

Madeleine is all about protection of natural spaces, building community, feminism, anti-consumerism and conscious living. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to further develop her involvement in these issues through Next Up. Most days you can find Madeleine on her bike, canning, gardening or spending time with friends, family and her amazing partner.

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Leyland Bradley

Leyland was unleashed into the world in Halifax, Nova Scotia, starting a journey that would lead her to the West Coast of Canada and eventually Southern Alberta.  Ready to spread her wings, Leyland enrolled at the University of Lethbridge (U of L), where she became actively involved in the Students’ Union as the VP Operations & Finance.  While in this position, her engagement with the community flourished, not only becoming well versed in balancing budgets, but also contributing to federal advocacy.  Leyland was on fire.  In brief, she served on the LPIRG board, became the News & Campus Beat editor for the Meliorist student newspaper, and captivated radio listeners with her contributions to the Coalbanks Dispatch and other programs for CKXU 88.3 FM.  Convocating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sociology, Leyland was motivated to expand her horizons and ventured North, finding herself in Calgary.  She currently attends the University of Calgary, pursuing a BA in Communication Studies, as well as spending some of her time blogging for the National Music Centre.  Leyland dreams of becoming either a journalist or a lawyer, in a place where humanity is sensitive to their youth, equality permeates every corner of society and oppression is no longer substantiated.

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Leslie Cramer

Always in the midst of an adventure, Leslie loves exploring new places, meeting new people, and learning new things. A social justice and human rights advocate, Leslie is driven to deconstruct power structures and build communities based on equity, inclusivity, and empowerment. She is occupied with issues of poverty, the criminalization of poverty, civil liberties, and political structures. One area Leslie is currently exploring is how arts-based methods can be used to bring about social change, empower marginalized communities, and overcome barriers to political inclusion and civic participation. Leslie has a degree in Development Studies from the University of Calgary and works in Calgary’s non-profit sector in the areas of social research, policy advocacy, and initiatives targeting poverty reduction.

Leslie was born and raised in Calgary, but she’s been travelled around the world: she has biked across Ireland, cross-country skied Norway, and hiked through Central America. While living in India and attending the University of Delhi, Leslie was able to travel throughout the subcontinent – one of her best adventures to date. Leslie spends much of her time engaged in visual and textile arts, blowing her money on vinyl, biking around the city, and exploring the mountains.

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Laura-LeighMcKenzie

Although her communities have changed, and grown to encompass many areas of Canada, Laura-Leigh is revelling in finding her voice in Calgary. Her narrative articulates a passion for sustainability, local initiatives, and environmental awareness. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and is expressed and disseminated through her work with REAP, an organization indentifying and celebrating local businesses and initiatives.

Experiencing firsthand the fundamentals of permaculture, and sustainable living in the context of the Canadian west coast, Laura-Leigh is exploring the medium of storytelling to facilitate the translation of the visceral emotions evoked by such experiences to a wider population.

Disillusioned and unable to reconcile herself to a job in government, Laura-Leigh has reoriented herself, a welcome change on many fronts. Back home in Calgary, she is positioned closer to family. Connecting, be it with family or friends, serves both as platform to transmit ideas, and provides a space to reflect.

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Laine Burlingham

Laine is currently working as a labour, social justice and human rights activist for a large Alberta union.  She found her way there in 2007 after completing her degree in law and society at the University of Calgary.  Laine is passionate about issues involving people and the environment.  She fundamentally believes that humanity is a cooperative species, but that many of the species have forgotten this.   She has four fur children – two dogs and two cats – and relies up on them regularly to maintain perspective.  At the end of the day, we all just need food, shelter, a little comfort and each other.

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Jordan Mang-Wooley

Since graduating from high school, Jordan has discovered an interest in permaculture, holistic medicine, alternative solutions to basic needs, and human-potential-based radical mental health movements such as The Icarus Project.

Over the past three years, he has been searching intensively for meaningful connections between these burgeoning passions and his life experience. This journey has led him to the Process Work Institute in Portland Oregon, The Haven on Coastal BC and now to NextUp Calgary. From these experiences, Jordan has learned to continuously strive to look toward the root of disturbance, whether in his own life or in his environment, as a direct source of potential. He currently works with the United Church as a group facilitator for High School and University Students using his life experience to be a guide and encourage others to seek their own deep truths.

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Jesse Russell

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, as part of a large family, including three younger sisters, Jesse can be described in three words: harmonious, knowledgeable, and awesome.

Jesse is intimidatingly academically inclined, having obtained two Bachelor degrees in both Science and Nursing, and is well underway to completing her third, a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Cultural Anthropology at the University of Calgary.  Jesse currently works as a cardiac ICU nurse, volunteers with the Arthritis Society, and is interested in holistic approaches to healthcare.

Most recent travels took Jesse to a small South African town where she had an eye-opening experience volunteering with wildlife and members of the surrounding community.  Gaining a new perspective and re-prioritizing her life, Jesse returned highly concerned with issues surrounding oppression, poverty, materialism, and power dynamics that pervade our society.  She hopes one day to attend medical school and assist marginalized populations with their navigation through our healthcare system.

Her passions in life include music, travel, the outdoors, and LGBTQQIAASP equality.  When asked what she would change in the world, Jesse says equality across the board for all living entities, with the decimation of wage disparity at the top of her list.

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Friederike Rischmann

Originally from Berlin, Germany Friederike came to Calgary via Peterborough, ON where she completed a double major in “International Development Studies” and “International Political Economy” at Trent University. This will be her sixth year in Canada and she is still excited to find differences between the two countries and watch herself slowly become a fusion of the two.

In her current job with an Aboriginal-owned consulting group she documents the history and uses of land by a particular nation in their territory. Friederike is impressed by the respectful and sustainable relationship many traditional societies have with the land. She first experienced this during a three month long learning/research project in the Northwest Territories and incorporated this realization in a concluding research proposal about the influence the built city structure has on city dwellers’ relationship to land and nature.

Friederike is interested in learning about ways to improve cities to lessen their impact on the environment and build conscious and active communities within them. Another desire is to work in the Global South to learn from and collaborate with local organizations to curb rapid, uncontrolled urbanization and install city structures for a dignified and sustainable future.

Some of her previous experiences include working on Project Neutral, a Toronto-based initiative aiming to transition neighbourhoods to carbon neutral and an internship with UNESCO where she helped organize events for the International Poetry Festival in Granada, Spain.

Friederike much enjoys travelling, photography, languages, socializing and tea. Having only been in Calgary for 2 months as of November 2013 Friederike is excited to find a community in Next Up which hopefully even persists after the program ends.

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Erin Shumlich

Erin Shumlich is not your average bookworm. In addition to her love of books and writing, this badass hockey-playing feminist challenges the status quo and brings new ideas to life with her passion and charisma. A native Calgarian, Erin’s academic journey has taken many twists and turns, which have enabled her to travel the world and combine learning with meaningful work. With a stint as Editor-in-Chief for the Gauntlet under her belt, she has also travelled across Asia and Australia. Most recently, Erin lived in Seoul, Korea, where she studied at Korea University. Erin is back in Calgary finishing up her honours degree in psychology and English at the University of Calgary, and she is already planning her next move. Her feminist perspective, cross-cultural appreciation, and sense of justice have led Erin to pursue a graduate degree in psychology that targets prevention and the root causes of pressing social issues in the fall of 2014.

Beyond education, Erin has built a unique outlook from her experiences and adventures. Through her life-long engagement with hockey, Erin has developed a rich definition of community. To her, sports are an important opportunity for community building. Within this frame of community, Erin embeds the values of equity, empowerment, and widespread inclusion. Community is not distinct from our environment; rather, Erin believes the two are deeply interconnected. Erin looks to build a world where our relationship with the environment is based on care, not resource entitlement.  Through Next Up, Erin is busy exploring the ways that social and environmental issues are entwined and how she can build communities that can work within this complexity and take these issues head-on.

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Erika Firebe

Erika wants to see inside the shape of basic human interactions, the way we relate to our surroundings, the curve in the fundamental cyclic nature of things, the patterns of growth and change.  Furthermore, she wants this process to be conversational, engaging and a means of community involvement.  Erika is keen to explore the interactions of and intersections between socio-cultual and environmental inequities, and how these manifest as social determinants, informing health and health related behaviors.  Currently in her second year in the BHSc Health and Society program at the U of C with a concentration in Anthropology, Erika aspires for a career as a physician and medical anthropologist.

Erika is also passionate about the arts. Visual arts are an important for Erika and provide a unique platform through which she processes the world and shares her political, social justice and environmental views with a broader audience.

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Carla Bitz

On Carla’s first big trip, she decided to backpack through Europe. Bold for an 18-year-old who hadn’t even seen downtown Calgary, but nothing crazy. That was, until she met a very inspirational woman who told her to travel somewhere “different”. On a whim, Carla decided to make the trek to Egypt, and she was immediately hooked on the world. Carla was not accustomed to talking about social and environmental issues, but after that first trip and all those that followed, her eyes were forever opened. This has led Carla to her current job at the YMCA working on community outreach and global initiatives, volunteering at the Sunnyside Community Association, the Next Up program, and now even considering becoming an all-season cyclist! Carla is passionate about holistic nutrition and is frustrated by the lack of proper nourishment in our world. She believes Next Up will help her learn the skills needed to spread awareness, turn ideas into action, and make the world a more just place. A self-described coffee snob and proud Sunnysider, she highly recommends black Americanos from Vendome or The Roasterie! If you don’t catch her over a cuppa joe, catch her in the mountains, at a yoga class, volunteering at Folk Fest, or cooking a deliciously alternative vegetarian meal. Carla is having the time of her life, and she’s simply excited for everything the future holds!

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Sarah Winstanley

Sarah Winstanley dreams of a world that is non-hierarchal and safe for everyone. She is a feminist and a social worker and is part of the Women’s Centre community…or maybe the community is a part of her. She became a social worker because she feels like the world has a lot of big problems and those problems need a lot of people with a lot of love to give working on them. Inequality makes her angry. Community organizing makes her excited. Working with young gals to change the world makes her happy. Being in the woods gives her some necessary healing. Riding her bike makes her feel badass. Sarah grew up in Calgary. She loves to travel, but this is where her community is.

Sarah was a participant in Next Up Calgary (2013 - 2014) and is a current participant of the Climate Leadership Program.

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Ryan Webber

If you are looking to track down Ryan, more often than not, you can find him exploring one of Alberta’s rivers in his canoe. Ryan has a deep-seeded sense of adventure and passion for connecting people with wilderness places. Recently, he graduated from Memorial University, Newfoundland where his research focused on the ethic of risk-taking.

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Kristina Larkin

Kristina Larkin was born and raised in Fort McMurray. After 18 years of running around the Boreal Forest and traveling with her family and friends, she had the chance to adventure to Mexico as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. She spent a year living with wonderful Mexican families, learning Spanish and falling in love with the feeling of community you get from traveling, eating with giant extended families, and from coming home (wherever that home is). Once back in Canada, she stayed involved with Rotary International, learning about international and local issues and raising money and awareness for issues facing her local and global community. She was able to find the support to do this with the Rotaract Club at the University of Lethbridge where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences and a Bachelor of Education. Kristina also found a great community at the Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group (LPIRG) where she sat as a board member, and now currently works as administrative coordinator. In her spare time, Kristina cooks delicious vegetarian food and runs through the Lethbridge Coulees. Through her work with Rotaract, LPIRG, a 4 month education practicum in Belize and an increasing amount of time spent around dinner tables, she has deepened her love for working to build community, and has gained an interest in food justice and indigenous language education. She has big dreams about learning more languages, eating delicious food around the world and finding a place to live where she can grow vegetables and sunflowers with her partner and friends.

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Kristin Marqardt

Kristin’s big love is the environment (next to her husband Nic). As the youngest of four children she was practically raised by the family dog while her parents were busy running after her three older, spirited brothers. Although other cultures always fascinated her she didn’t get far after high school; exactly 60km from her parents’ home she pursued a degree in media studies and marketing. She also worked as a journalist throughout her studies portraying people in a way they couldn’t see themselves. She also volunteered for the students’ association where she met her husband (you can only talk about school for so long).

But honestly, the exciting times began after school when she gave into her curiosity to explore other countries. (It didn’t take much persuasion, they had her with Calgary lying “at the foot of the Rocky Mountains”.) Culture shock and the first unemployment tested her love for Canada but the progressive and collaborative spirit of Calgary’s non-profit community was stronger. Today, Kristin practically lives in the Old Y Centre building. She promotes active and healthy transportation as coordinator of the national Commuter Challenge and is the president of the board of the CommunityWise Resource Centre. She lives out her passion for the environment as chair of the Sierra Club Chinook Group and truly enjoys the challenge of rebuilding the group after a two-year hibernation.

Outside of the Old Y Centre Kristin enjoys hiking in the mountains, running, cycling, container gardening and exploring more of Canada. Listening to other people’s stories still puts her under a spell. She dreams about becoming a psychologist, starting a community practice with nature-based therapy that helps people to overcome or live with mental illness.

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Kate Letizia

Born and raised in Calgary and inspired by her progressive, eco-focused parents from a young age – Kate Letizia became an unyielding combatant for equality, human rights and environmental health before she even knew how to 'fight'. Educational and professional adventures throughout Latin America, Sweden, the Philippines, and now her hometown, created opportunities to build and refine an arsenal to generate positive, lasting change.

While her education (MSc in International Development and Natural Resource Management) and recent career and community focus has been on reframing waste and legitimizing non-conventional forms of employment and living (check out Calgary Can), a recent fellowship opportunity with SiG International vaulted Kate into the world of complex problems, social innovation and transformational change across Alberta. Armed with an even more diverse toolkit of human-centered, generative changemaking devices, and a few years of climate and social justice activism under her belt, Kate is now ready to focus her energy on what may be the biggest battle she’ll ever face: transforming the way her local and provincial peers, counterparts and communities respond to climate change and our collective future. Kate wants to live in a city, and province, where climate change is taken seriously and responded to fairly, intelligently and creatively. Kate was a participant in Next Up Calgary (2013 - 2014) and is a current participant of the Climate Leadership Program.

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Aisha Zaman

Aisha is a dedicated and slightly nerdy activist who is very enthusiastic about changing the course of her social justice journey from international affairs to local concerns this year. After graduating with her B.A this June, Aisha has become increasingly interested in local social and environmental justice. Her journey began when she travelled to Pakistan for her gap year following high school. For the first time, Aisha realized the importance of constitutionally entrenched rights for citizens and women’s equality rights. Believing strongly in the mutual relationship between laws, and social attitude and behaviour, Aisha enrolled in Law and Society at the University of Calgary. For four years she kept herself busy by being an active member of the campus community through leadership positions in UNICEF on Campus and the Western Muslim as well as by being a Peer Mentor for the Communication and Cultures Co-Curricular Peer Mentoring Program. Her two year term as UNICEF on Campus’s Vice President allowed for Aisha to develop a strong interest in children’s rights. Her coursework has greatly influenced her to accept that she is a liberal feminist. Both of these influences combined have shaped Aisha’s future ambition of working within Canada’s legal sector. Using this year to prepare herself for the real world, Aisha is currently expanding her local volunteer work, dabbling in online blogs, applying for law school, and of course baking for sanity.

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Sarah Khan

Born in the bustling city of Karachi, Pakistan, Sarah moved with her family to Kuwait when she was two years old. She was with her mother visiting family in Pakistan, when life in this sleepy desert country changed in the summer of 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. History records this period as the “Gulf War”, a victorious time for those whose political agendas were achieved at the expense of a paltry few… thousands. This was a particularly harrowing experience for a little girl at risk of losing her father in the crossfire. Miraculously, after months of no contact her father finally reunited with the family. Whenever despondency overcomes her, Sarah reminds herself of this difficult time in her life and centres herself with gratitude.

From sandstorms to snowstorms, from plus 50 C to minus 30 C, Sarah has adjusted well to life in Calgary since moving here from Kuwait in 1997. Having pursued her BA in Economics and English at the University of Calgary, Sarah is looking to combine her love for activism and writing through citizen journalism. Fortunately as Program Assistant at the Consortium for Peace Studies, she is never lacking in inspiration meeting esteemed rabble-rousers from around the world. Her commitment to Project Ploughshares Calgary, as well as the Calgary Centre for Global Community also affords her this opportunity.

Presently, the relentless US drone attacks plaguing Northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan, at a rate of every four days since 2004, is an issue of particular concern to Sarah. A citizen of the former, her ancestral roots are in the latter. The morbid picture of dehumanised pilots effecting devastation from the comfortable confines of a remote air-force base in Nevada, contrasted against the dark shadowy outline of drones hovering over the terrified civilians beneath, is one she finds especially disquieting.

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Nathan Lamphres

For Nathan, life is enriched by edges, change and diversity. Edges locate and define. Change creates the constant gift of choice. Diversity provides the distinction to notice beauty. Edges, change and diversity are the glue that holds together a just and resilient society – providing structure, malleability and tolerance. Nathan seeks to deepen justice and resilience.

Nathan was raised in Alberta. He’s worked many jobs over the years: environmental educator, mountain guide, youth worker, construction worker and lawn mower. He has held (paid) jobs milking red squirrels in the Yukon, chasing wolves in the Rockies and enumerating a threatened bird species in the south of France. More recently, Nathan assisted the State of Maryland and the City of Durban, South Africa integrate climate adaptation into their long-term planning, held an internship with UNESCO in Paris looking at the transfer of social science knowledge to Southern academics and policymakers, and assessed the business case of a biofuel stove distribution network in Maharastra, India.

He has a BSc in Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta and a Master Degree in City Planning from MIT. Nathan is currently a Senior Policy Analyst at the Pembina Institute where he works largely on oilsands policy. In his spare time, Nathan like to run, backcountry ski, rock climb and is actively involved in his church where he chairs their social justice committee.

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Matt Masoumi

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Leah Kelley

Leah is a Calgary born community organizer and activist who is passionate about eradicating poverty, gender inequities and systems of oppression. She would like to see a society where everyone has equitable access to resources and opportunities. After spending a number of years on the ground as a registered community development social worker for a grassroots, feminist organization in Calgary, Leah decided to pursue a master’s degree in public policy. She is currently attending Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. 

Leah spends a lot of her free time giving back to her community by volunteering for local awareness raising initiatives and political campaigns. In most recent years Leah has been a volunteer member of the Calgary Dyke March Committee and the Coming Out Monologues – YYC. 

Leah has stayed connected to the Next Up network as an alumni by facilitating sessions on women & poverty, coaching current participants and volunteering for the Calgary Next Up Advisory Network. 

In her travels, Leah has spent short stints immersed in both Spanish and French speaking communities and continues to work on improving her skills in both languages. In her spare time, you might find Leah riding her bike, bird-watching or reading historical fiction with a nice hot cup of coffee.
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James Nguen

James Nguen is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and a member of South Sudan community in Calgary, Alberta. Mr. Nguen earned a Diploma in liberal Art, Mount Royal University 2008 and B.A in Development Studies at the University of Calgary 2010.

Mr. Nguen is the founder of the Biluany Water and Literacy Society, co-founder of the “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan Association of Calgary” and a subject of the Award Winning documentary “The Long Journey Home of James Nguen.” Mr. Nguen is a Public Speaker and a fierce advocate of world peace and child rights to education. He was featured in “Avenue Magazine 2008” Advocate Newspaper 2009 and University of Calgary’s U Magazine 2011.”

Currently, Mr. Nguen works as a School Support Counsellor at the Calgary Board of Education in partnership with the Wood’s Home. On a voluntarily bases, Mr. Nguen is a Chief Executive Director of Biluany Water and Literacy Society and External Relations officer for the South Sudan Civil Society for Development.

In the past two years, Mr.Nguen spoke in well over 256 social events and facilitated dozen forums across Alberta. For example, Nguen spoke in Teacher’s Conventions, symposiums, Schools, Organizations’ conferences, Churches, Ted Calgary and recently at the Grant Macwan University on United Nation Day.

Mr. Nguen came to Canada as a refugee South Sudan on September 26, 2001, fifteen years after he was forced to leave his homeland at the age of seven. Mr. Nguen story provides a psychological, social, political and cultural context for the understanding of the refugee experiences and the impact of conflict on human populations. From South Sudan to Calgary, Alberta Canada, he has endured and overcome incredible hardship that is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

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Firyal Mohamed

Born an island-girl, raised a Calgarian, Firyal finds herself motivated by understanding interconnectedness...on every level- personal, spiritual, professional and environmental. It’s taken her to three continents to explore conservation, climate justice, peace building and community economic development. At the intersection where these seemingly unrelated compartments merge, she has witnessed creativity, collaboration and transformation emerge. 

Fundamentally, Firyal believes that the well being of one is embedded in the well being of all; this drives her quest for knowledge, engagement in her community and a desire to build truly meaningful relationships that transform our own inner lives and the communities around us. Her nine-to-fiver is at a local social enterprise, giving loans to new immigrants to help them find meaningful employment. After five, she’s probably volunteering at some community ‘thing’, pondering life’s truth over a cuppa tea, listening to a good beat or enjoying silence. 

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Daniel Pagan

Daniel Pagan is a radical pragmatist with a strong interest in human rights. Born in Muscat, Oman, Pagan considers himself a world traveler; someone who loves learning something new every day and challenges himself to improve his weaknesses.

At the University of Calgary, he did a double major in Classical Studies and Law/Society interdisciplinary, as well as served as an advocate for affordable education and better accessibility for students with disabilities in the Students Union and the Gauntlet newspaper. Daniel has a thirst for learning new things and how the world works. He has a huge curiosity in regards to fixing the system and just can’t help but ask questions and “poke the bear” with a dose of wit and sarcasm.

Due to his deafness, his eyes are open to how minority groups have to struggle and fight for rights,in spite of privileged backgrounds. He is planning on applying to law schools in the future to study human rights law and to fight against inequality.

Daniel joined NextUp out of a desire to learn more about how to improve his advocacy and outreach. If he is not busy with law school prep or writing, he loves to read variety of work based on religion, politics, economics, history, etc or fiction and graphic novels for fun with a cold bottle of Imperial Pale Ale beer or plays with his pet beagle, Buddy.

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Cat Van Wielingen

After seven years taking in the west coast, Cat has recently made a home for herself in Calgary. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario, she spent her days dancing, drawing, painting, challenging assumptions and contemplating a better world.

These interests initially drew Cat to Victoria, BC where she studied Political Science and Applied Ethics at UVic; however, it was the sense of community and examples of strength surrounding her that compelled her to stay. This time informed her enthusiasm for community development and the pursuit of more just, loving and sustainable ways of being. Through her work and involvement in the community, she has strived to support efforts that bridge individual experiences with injustice to social, political and economic policies and barriers that impact society, and organize collaboratively to achieve meaningful systemic change.

Cat currently works at the YWCA of Calgary as Coordinator, Quality Assurance, supporting the agency’s service programs in evaluating and communicating the impact of their work. Previously, she has held positions as an outreach organizer, leadership development facilitator, server and bartender. Her pass times continue to include painting, drawing and reading; although, Cat spends most of her time these days with her exploring the offerings of her new home.

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Barend Dronkers

Barend is passionate about building a sustainable society that does not rely on fossil fuels and that promotes healthy, sustainable life-styles. He understands that the problems we face in society are multi-dimensional. With the Earth’s population surpassing 7 billion people, 1/3 of these people living in poverty and growing, and the world un-able to control present rates of consumption, there exist very obvious reasons to drive change.

Barend realizes change through his work with Engineers Without Borders in the Corporate Engagement Team; coordinating the Urban Energy Diet Challenge as part of the Energy Diet Challenge Program in partnership with Canadian Geographic and Shell Canada; and promoting the bicycle as a primary mode of transport in Calgary through the Tour de Nuit Society.

Taking a leap from Calgary to Africa, The Run to End Poverty is Barend’s biggest investment in energy yet. The run is aimed to engage with the active running community in Calgary, linking international development, fundraising and behaviour change in one exciting event. Barend looks forward to leading this event through to a second successful year.

In his spare time, nothing comes close to the feeling of awe and adventure in the great outdoors. Hiking, backpacking, cycling (and bike touring), rock, ice climbing, ski touring… you name it, he does it. Barend is a trip leader with the Alpine Club of Canada and thoroughly enjoys sharing his experiences outside.

Barend is excited to work with all of the NextUp participants to make this world a better place starting with local initiatives that drive global change.

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Kyle Fairall

Kyle is a newcomer to Calgary, moving to the big city from Edmonton at the beginning of 2011. Social worker, yogi, feminist, activist, and mother – there are many hats Kyle wears and tears, labels they reject and accept, and social constructs Kyle bends and breaks.

Kyle attended the Social Work Program at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton in 2009, and is currently working towards a certification in traditional Himalayan style yoga through Sunshine Yoga Academy in Calgary. In Fall 2012, Kyle will return to Edmonton to continue working on her social work degree, and be closer to family.

Through Kyle's experiences in volunteering with a variety of organizations specifically directed towards working with at-risk women and populations, kyle has become passionately involved in the process of women helping women, promoting the idea of acceptance and celebration of sexual health and human sexuality, and the importance of creating space with in these conversations for the development of intergenerational learning.

Kyle‘s guiding principle in life comes through a positive piece of graffiti Kyle spotted in the downtown core that suggested, “be optimistic it feels better”. Kyle parallels this inspirational muse to the words of one of their personal idols who passionately stated, “Optimism is better than despair”. She believes positive thinking leads to positive action, which in turn, leads to positive and progressive change – socially, environmentally, and economically.

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Vivian Trinh

Vivian was born and raised in Edmonton and has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta. Attracted to the idea of studying abroad, she majored in International Business and did an exchange to Guadalajara, Mexico. After graduating, Vivian pursued her passion for a shoeless lifestyle with beachfront shacks and non-stop reggae by embarking on several backpacking adventures through Western Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Her love for travel landed her a job for Hostelling International where she helped spread the importance of travel and the knowledge of responsible tourism. She also spent a year teaching English in rural public schools in South Korea where she perfected the art of charades. Wanting to learn more about sustainable tourism, she lived for several months in Cochabamba, Bolivia volunteering for a grassroots NGO working on “dual tourism” projects. She currently works as the Fund Development Officer at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary. Although life can get pretty busy, Vivian always makes time for friends, family, yoga, snowboarding, camping, and daydreaming.

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Travis McIntosh

In early 2010 Travis completed his Bachelors of Applied Policy Studies from Mount Royal University; this degree focuses on the disciplines of Economic Theory, Political Science, and the study of Public Policy theory.  Through the course of his undergraduate education Travis constantly sought ways to utilize the skills learned in the classroom by seeking opportunities both through volunteerism and paid employment.  Over the past four years Travis has had the opportunity to perform research on senior’s healthcare for the Parkland Institute, be employed by the Economics Society of Calgary as an event planner, sit as the New Professionals Representative for IPAC (Institute of Public Administration of Canada) Calgary, serve as chairperson and treasurer of his condominium board, and run and successfully win and serve as President of the Students’ Association at his University. Each of these experiences have given Travis insight and focus in the area of Governance and the Fiduciary and social responsibility of elected leadership; his passion is within these areas as he seeks to demystify these arenas so that more citizens and emerging leaders may participate more freely and confidently within the political sphere.

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Tim Olynik

Tim spent his formative years playing basketball. When his height maxed out at 5’6, his basketball career abruptly ended, he finally read a book, and began to think about social issues.

Tim he convinced his parents to allow him to attend a school in Sweden. It was here that he first witnessed a fully functioning Social Welfare state: not a crazy left wing idea, but an effective, fair, and a just society where leisure, arts, and enjoying life were valued.

Tim reluctantly returned to Calgary, but spent summers coaching basketball camps in Alaska, Montana, and Idaho – using basketball as a tool to teach diverse youth to recognize their potential for success, express their creativity, and work together for a common goal.

During the last year of his Kinesiology degree at the University of Calgary, Tim realized he hated Kinesiology but was too close to convocating to justify quitting. It was at this time he also fell in love. Two years later he got married and left for Taiwan. Three years after that, Tim and his wife returned reluctantly to Calgary once again, with a really cute dog and a passion for social change.
He currently works at the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary. He has the biggest office in the building, though it is also the file room. He coaches a high school basketball team with ‘lots of potential.’

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Son Edworthy

Son Edworthy is a community activist practicing in a variety of mediums such as office administration, public art, gardening, radical queer organizing, self-publishing and bicycle maintenance.  Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Son has roots where the prairies meet the mountains.  They have a passion for creating and sustaining vital spaces where people can come together for synergistic social-change work.  As a co-founder of Anchor Archive Zine Library, Inkstorm Screenprinting Collective and Roberts Street Social Centre, they enjoy initiating collaborative projects, planting seeds and helping them grow.  Son completed a Bachelor of Community Design through the School of Urban Planning at Dalhousie University with an honours thesis exploring the social and environmental benefits of Community Gardening in Halifax.   Son has worked as a trail guide in the Yukon, horse wrangler in BC,  and in Halifax as a prep cook, film technician, trail mapper, support worker with persons with disabilities, art workshop facilitator with marginalized youth and women in prison, and co-founded a worker’s cooperative landscaping company.  Insatiable curiosity and eclectic work experience has diversified Son's skill-set and strengthened their sense of purpose: to resist planetary collapse by supporting cultural and biological diversity.

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Selena Gignac

Affectionately known as Chicken, Froot, or Pecosita (Little Freckled One), Selena’s adventures to date has been as diverse as her aliases. Selena’s international experience includes work as a community Archaeologist in Peru working to foster sustainable cultural communities, as well as assisting groups of students and youth on exchanges to both Peru and Mexico.

In her current role as Northeast Program Coordinator for the YMCA Youth Achievement Program, Selena has put her passion for inclusive communities to work. As a Certified Immigration Practitioner, Selena is passionate about refugee and immigrant rights and capacity building for Calgary’s young newcomers. She is a guiding committee member of Social and Community Responsibility through Education, Art, and Music (S.C.R.E.A.M.), which equips local high school students to take action for environmental and social justice in their own communities. She is also a strong advocate for Canada’s social responsibility to provide a safe and welcome home to the oppressed and persecuted, no matter where they are from.

Selena is greatly motivated by her ever encouraging husband Nathan and plays mama to the cutest dog you could ever imagine. Seriously – the cutest. In what little free time she has (thank-you, Next Up!), Selena can also be found learning to hoop dance, eating tacos, or listening to Stuart McLean – probably all at the same time.

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Robyn Luff

Robyn Luff is an, educator, ecologist, music lover, yoga enthusiast and life long learner. She grew up on Vancouver Island, constantly awed by the beauty of nature around her, though also constantly upset at all the rain. She completed her undergrad in Biology at the University of Victoria, and immediately headed south to sunnier climes. She spent two years in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where she taught a self-designed curriculum at a bilingual elementary school. Her time in Costa Rica helped her to discover the transformative nature of education, and lead her to apply to the Master of Teaching Program at the University of Calgary. During the program, Robyn became increasingly interested in the shifting paradigms of education- from a linear, industrial model to a more cooperative, constructivist one. She believes that education is one of the most inspiring and vital ways to create social change. Robyn’s life is also strongly intertwined with water- she has worked with the Alberta Wilderness Association, Trout Unlimited Canada, and other community organizations to raise awareness of water issues through education. Robyn is presently a NDP member of the Alberta Provincial Legislature. She very pleased to call Calgary home, and is excited and optimistic about the prospects for social change in our city.

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Philip McCutcheon

Born and raised in Calgary Alberta, Philip is impressed with the beauty and vibrancy of his city. Since helping to organize demonstrations against the G8 summit in nearby Kananaskis in 2002, he has grown to appreciate the power of people to affect change and to determine their own futures. Philip cut his teeth as an activist working with Food Not Bombs, a youth based anti-poverty organization. In 2006 Philip joined the now closed Haymarket Cafe, a worker-owned cooperative which operated as an Anarchist bookstore, Infoshop, cafe, and social space for music and art in the heart of the city. Philip has been a member of the Calgary Anarchist Bookfair committee for 8 years which continues to offer key insights into how and why people organize themselves for collective self-betterment.

As a recent graduate of Development Studies from the University of Calgary, he is currently exploring what community development can look like in a city like Calgary. A strong supporter of the Arusha Centre, a grassroots environmental and social justice organization, he continues work towards creating a sustainable and progressive community in Calgary.

Philip has never been as hopeful or felt as capable working in Calgary as he is now. Philip loves his city is staying in put!

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Olivia Tarasewicz

Olivia graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in 2005 with a major in biology and minor in sociology. After graduation she attended Mount Royal University where she received her ACE TESOL certificate. For the past 5 years she has been working as an ESL instructor in Calgary. This opportunity has allowed her to teach students of all ages from around the world and has opened her eyes to various cultures. Currently she volunteers for Green Calgary in the Ecostore and in Commercial Environmental Services. She has also worked as a social media consultant for a recycling company. In the future Olivia plans on finding a career in the environmental sector at the community level. Another passion she has is food. Most days you can find her in the kitchen cooking up a storm and experimenting with new recipes.

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Nancy Bedingfield

Ever since childhood, Nancy has had a determined curiosity and passion for social justice. This has resulted in a fascination with politics, world events as well as a career in Public Health Nursing. These life long interests culminated with a Masters Degree in Public Health, focusing on Global Health from the University of Alberta in 2008. The dual highlights of this degree were a strong focus on world economics and several months spent in Uganda to think about these ideas. Throughout that wonderful education, Nancy came to the awareness that in order to affect the health of individuals all around the world she must act locally to develop and promote inclusive, sustainable communities. Nancy has become involved with the Parkland Institute and efforts to support women and children through local breastfeeding advocacy. Working as a Public Health Nurse in some of Calgary’s more culturally diverse communities has made Nancy excited about the wonderful resource that multiculturalism is for Calgary. This work has also made her fully aware of the day to day challenges faced by newcomers to Canada. She hopes to work to build a community that can support and engage, while helping all members to reach their full potential.

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Katie Rasmussen

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Kathleen Worton

Kathleen is a born and raised Calgarian who has watched her city change and grow over the past few decades. Armed with a degree in psychology from the University of Calgary, she has been active in community efforts to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness and promote strategies for healthy living. As a researcher with a local non-profit organization, Kathleen works to promote inclusion and enhance community supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result of working and being actively involved in her own community, her future goals are focused on supporting communities to be inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable. She is particularly interested in exploring how community organizations can work together to develop strategies and solutions that address complex social issues. Kathleen enjoys spending her downtime out and about in the city and loves walking by the river and reading in cozy coffee shops. With a performance background in music and drama, she tries to take advantage of the art scene in Calgary by attending events showcasing local music, dance, and theatre.

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Erin McFarlane

Erin has mixed feelings toward her hometown of Calgary. On the one hand, she is deeply troubled and frustrated by its decidedly corporate culture and close relationship with the Tar Sands; on the other, she is energized and excited by the growing momentum towards an alternate path for Calgary, epitomized by burgeoning urban agriculture, Civic Camp, the Bow River Flow, and the election of a new mayor. A self-described on-again/off-again MSW student, Erin hopes to further contribute to the emerging field of “eco-social work” upon her eventual return to school. She firmly believes that environmental and social justice are forever intertwined and is thrilled to be working at the Arusha Centre, where she can put this view into action. Erin feels that social change work can take so many varied forms, each with its own value. However, she also feels that that the importance of including fun in the process is too often under-appreciated. Erin is entirely passionate about community and about our role as stewards of this earth. The Rocky Mountains and digging in a garden are the only things that genuinely relax her. Erin feels very lucky to be part of this first Next Up group in Calgary!

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Chelsea Pratchett

Chelsea woke up one morning and realized no amount of money; fancy clothes or large house in the suburbs was going to make her happy.  She began to question conventional norms like speciesism, consumerism, and birthdays.  When she realized she was living in one of the most capitalistic cities in Canada, she promptly backed her bags and headed for greener pastures.

Just kidding.  She stuck around to help contribute to a city that she hopes will one day accurately reflect the values and beliefs of its inhabitants. Chelsea can often be found asleep during city council sessions or pontificating about food justice to anyone who will listen.

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Ryan Williams

Edmonton native Ryan Williams is a musician and teacher. He holds a diploma in music composition from MacEwan University, and bachelor’s degree in sociology and from Simon Fraser University. He has lived in Edmonton for most of his life, with time spent in Metro Vancouver, and a short time in France.

With a background in performing arts and critical theory, Ryan works to challenge the underlying cultural assumptions that support damaging social structures. He regards the Canadian state as essentially colonial and capitalist, betraying it’s stated ideals of democracy and plurality to destroy nature and people in the relentless pursuit of corporate profit. Ryan believes that the only way to even begin a radical transformation in how we live together on earth is to encourage others with open arms to explore different ways of thinking and being.

A guiding theme for Ryan has been synthesis, be it of academic disciplines, artistic sensibilities, or cultural affectations. His interests lie in the intersections between capitalism, colonialism, sexuality, spirituality, art, addiction, and mental health.

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Heather Sweet

Heather is a registered social worker who works in the area of child protection and high-risk youth. She is a strong advocate for ensuring the resources are available to ensure that all youth have access to supported education, and housing.

Heather is currently engaged with her union AUPE and Local 006 as the chapter 14 chair. Through this role she continues to ensure a safe and equitable workplace for all 850 members in her chapter.

She also enjoys the music and festivals around Edmonton and has been a coordinator at the Edmonton Folk Festival for the last 5 years and a volunteer for 10.  Heather is looking forward to the upcoming year at Next Up and putting her learning into practice.

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Dan Scratch

Dan Scratch is a social studies teacher at Inner-City High School in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a social justice advocate and believes that education can be used as a tool to empower youth to become critically engaged citizens who use their power to transform their lives and the world around them.

Dan’s teaching practice is grounded in critical and reality pedagogy, which basically means you’ll see him and his students using the elements of hip hop, social media, and democracy to create meaningful dialogue and learning.

Dan has a Masters of Education from Mount Saint Vincent University and an undergraduate degree in History from the University of Windsor. In his spare time, Dan writes volunteer research articles focusing on various social justice issues and then chills out with his awesome cats!

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Alec Stratford

Alec Stratford is pumped to be apart of the Next Up community. He is originally from Halifax Nova Scotia and has lived in Edmonton for the past two years. Currently Alec is social worker with the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Empowerment Team, teaches social work at Grant MacEwan University and is serving his first term as a council member on the Alberta College of Social Workers.

Alec has a passion and dedication for community development and believes that engaged informed communities can lead too the broader social, political and economic changes that are needed to create a more equal and just society.

He also has a passion for international development and has previously completed an internship with the Aga Khan Foundation in Tanzania where he worked with local community groups on community based participatory education policy research.

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Terry Noel

Terry Noel is a Bachelor of Arts graduate, with a major in Political Science, and a minor in Economics.   He loves creative work, and will spend much of his day making music, writing, or drawing things that keep him positive.

Once hesitant to become involved in activism, Terry found motivation following the Occupy movement in 2011 and its creation a permanent physical space downtown for people to come together and build networks with others that had similar ideas.  Since then, he has developed a passion for horizontal decision making, spends his free time organizing, and can often be found at many grassroots events and protests throughout Edmonton, following his goal of removing barriers to activism through the encouragement of community participation.

Terry’s work includes being the co-chair of the World University Services of Canada at Grant MacEwan University, a delegate for National Model United Nations 2011, Vice Chair of Sierra Club Prairie Chapter, candidate for the Green Party in 2012, CEO of Edmonton East Green Party Association, and co-founder of the Seeds Feeds and Needs food co-operative.

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Jill Hoselton

Jill Hoselton is excited to be a participant of Next Up 5. Having a background in political science and social work, Jill has developed a passion for anti-oppressive practice and a commitment to social justice. Currently she is doing a placement at the Alberta College of Social Workers, working in advocacy.

Jill’s areas of interest are community development/revitalization, gender studies, food security, animal and nature therapy, and anything else that facilitates others to live full and peaceful lives! She believes through creativity, conversations and relationship building, Edmonton, along with Alberta will become more accessible, just and engaging places to live in.

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Manuel Escoto

Born and raised in Edmonton to parents who immigrated from El Salvador, Manuel’s values and beliefs in social justices and in the creation of a more equitable world are rooted in his childhood where had saw the barriers that his parents endured as low income minorities.

His interest in issues of social justice led him to the University of Calgary where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Latin American Studies and with a minor in Political Science. During university, Manuel’s academic research gave him an in-depth understanding in issues of the affecting the global south, development, governances, human rights, and democratization. Upon graduation in 2011, Manuel shifted his focus to local issues facing both Edmontonians and Canadians. But after so much academic analysis, however, Manuel decided the time to act was now. This led him to Next Up Edmonton.

Manuel is very excited to be part of Next Up 5 where he is excited to connect with people who share his passion of wanting to positively influence their community. More importantly, he looks forward to working and learning from them as he gains practical experience, rather than academic, in social justice work.

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Arsheen Devjee

Arsheen Devjee was born and raised in the City of Champions. She has studied world religions, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and has spent extensive time living in the Middle East.  Arsheen currently works at the Centre for Race and Culture as a Project Coordinator for the Mosquers Film Competition.

She has an avid interest in understanding and theorizing human relations, power, privilege, gender and race; and how these identities play themselves out in Canada. Arsheen is a mother of a toddler and is eagerly expecting the birth of her second child in January. In her free time, she enjoys reading, getting together with friends and baking.

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Blaire Christensen

Blaire Christensen is a graduate of Dalhousie University with an Honours BA in International Development Studies and Political Science. During her degree, she participated in the Trent-in-Ecuador study abroad program and did her internship with an indigenous Kichwa community examining the impact of oil development on communities in the Amazon rainforest.

Although, Blaire has lived in both Halifax and Ecuador, Edmonton is her home and Alberta politics are her passion. She is particularly interested in the connections intertwining Alberta’s oil-based economy with democracy and community development. She is looking forward to developing her leadership skills and gaining a better understanding of issues in Alberta in order to strengthen her skill set for creating social change.

This past fall, she was involved in a Next Up alumni-initiated project called ActivatED, which sought to elect forward-thinking candidates to Edmonton’s municipal city council. She currently works for the City of Edmonton. In her spare time, Blaire loves llamas, eating sushi, doing yoga, hiking and skiing, and having passionate political discussions.

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Jessie Breton

Jessie is a resident physician in Emergency Medicine at the University of Alberta. During medical school, she acted as the president of the Canadian chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students where she advocated for issues such a reducing pharmaceutical industry influence in medical education, protecting the rights of migrant health care workers, and expanding the debate on the ethics of international development work.

Her other areas of interest include sexual health and reproductive rights. She is the co-founder of a ConsentEd (www.consentEd.ca), an educational and awareness initiative striving to build a world without sexual violence.

More recently Jessie has become involved with refugee health issues here in Alberta. She co-founded a group called the Alberta Refugee Care Coalition to advocate for the restoration of health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants. Outside of work and extracurriculars, Jessie enjoys longboarding, astronomy, and eating lots of samosas.

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Sean Bradley

Born and raised in Edmonton, Sean has learned to appreciate the values of cooperation, community, and compassion, values that he believes most Albertans hold. While completing his Bachelor of Education at the University of Alberta, he noticed a disconnect between his community’s values and the contemporary educational institution here in Alberta. Now, he seeks to combine his love for growing food and his passion for education to invoke social change. Sean has been fortunate enough to be involved with coordinating school nutrition programs, and supporting community initiatives that promote food security through sustainable design and the power of collaboration. When he isn’t at work or in the garden, Sean can be found running on the trails in the river valley or in the mountains.

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Elauna Boutwell

Elauna Boutwell was born and raised in the city of Kenora, in Northwestern Ontario. After volunteering in Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda, backpacking through the Middle-East and a bit of time spent in Europe she found her way to Edmonton and the University of Alberta. Here, she immediately found a home within student group activities and became a social justice junkie. Elauna completed a B.A, with a major in Sociology and a minor in Political Science as well as certificates in American Sign Language, Peace and Post Conflict studies and Global Citizenship.

Elauna aims to continue supporting the pursuit of healthy, sustainable, thriving communities in her future endeavors, and is excited to be a part of a group where she can continue to unravel what ‘people and plant over profit’ looks like, and explore how best to live in mutual respect in this interconnected web we all live in.

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Kristin Ward Diaz

Kristin moved to Edmonton in June 2012 after accepting a position with Alberta Culture.  She also convocated in June with a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan.  Her academic interests include social, comparative and regulatory policy, along with broad topic areas such as international development and federalism.   Kristin has been involved in a variety of social justice initiatives having worked at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan in a variety of roles, Crocus Cooperative (a drop in centre for people with mental health disabilities) as an Employment Facilitator, and as a volunteer with the World University Service of Canada assisting refugees through the settlement process in Canada.   She was also a volunteer participant with Katimavik and Youth Challenge International.

Originally from Saskatchewan, Kristin grew up on a small mixed farm and actively participated in sports and small town community events.  Kristin’s favorite things include visits to Guatemala, mountain biking at Jasper, yoga, cooking, going back to the farm that she grew up on and curling in the winter.  She speaks Spanish, enjoys reading, following politics and has a particular fondness for vintage and antique items.

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Eric VanSpronsen

Eric grew up in Flamborough, Ontario, which is (was?) a sleepy rural area of cows and corn just outside of the Southwestern Ontario urban development complex.  After completing his Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, he travelled to Edmonton to complete his Master of Public Health degree.  In Edmonton he met an amazing lady, they decided to get married, and now he calls Edmonton home.  Eric is passionate about implementing community engagement strategies that allow communities themselves to define how systems internal and external to their community may provide facilitators or barriers to their current health situation.  Throughout his education and early career Eric has been engaging communities in the process of defining, implementing and evaluating projects and interventions.  Examples of initiative topics include: exposure of northern Aboriginal/Inuit communities to environmental contaminants; exposure of Albertan communities to physical/built environments that are related to physical activity and healthy eating behaviours; and a currently-developing process that will engage an Edmonton Community League in a process of dialogue that identifies community physical/human resources for advocating for a shift to eco-mobility transportation options.  Aside from community engagement and social justice, Eric’s professional and personal interests include: sustainability; active living generally and active transportation specifically; citizenship; backyard and indoor gardening; urban farming; and food security.

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Carmen Severight

Carmen, a mother of two children, Quest and Pride, divides her time between, home life, school and volunteer work. Currently, she is involved with Standing Up For Peruvian Children Society, Next Up (Edmonton) and is working toward her degree in Social Work.  If there are to be changes in the world that are positive, it begins with looking at ones self and our own behavior, from there it makes life much easier to come together and work collectively to make huge changes in this world…. On a side note, material items are just that material, …come on are we going to be able to take them to the other side???

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Anna McRobbie

Anna McRobbie is a RN, community organizer, festival junkie, event promotor and dancer. Radicalized by working with Common Ground Relief in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Anna believes in democracy, social justice, celebration and community. She is a founding member of ARK event productions, Mosaic Minds Unconferences and the creator of the youth voter initiative Voting Time is Sexy Time. Group process, organizational structure, environmentalism and health fascinate Anna. She combines these skills with a passion for empowerment and equity. We are the ones we have been waiting for, let’s create a better world!

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Aliza Dadani

Aliza Dadani is a participant of Next Up 4, and super stoked to be part of such an awesome crew! Her background is in Political Science and Women’s Studies, and has a particular interest in non-profit social services that seek to support women. Currently, she works for the Center for Race and Culture and does research for a women’s emergency shelter. She is the youngest member of a political Alberta Women’s Caucus, and sits on the Social Welfare Board for the Edmonton Ismaili Community. She is a big advocate for ‘personalizing the political,’ where taking the time to facilitate heart-to-heart conversation can be one of the most powerful tools of change.

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Cala Jorgensen

Born and raised in the heart of Edmonton, I have been exposed to many of it’s issues at a young age. I have actively been involved with volunteering in the community for various events and fundraisers throughout my schooling career. After graduating I took time off to travel, and since then I have dabbled in various post secondary subjects such as Nursing, Nutrition and Environmental Studies though many of these issues led to my internal frustration with the way our current society conducts itself.  Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Change for Children through a volunteer organization called Project HOPE, where we fundraised money to help promote equal access to education in the indigenous areas of Nicaragua. It was through this initiative that me and me teammates were awarded Alberta Council for Global Cooperation’s Top 30 Under 30 in 2012. These life events that have inspired me to per sue a career that will benefit society and really make a change. Recently I have had a opportunity to work with David Eggen on his 2012 campaign for NPD as well as continuing to work with Change for Children. Currently I have participated in hosting CFC’s Video Conference for Hope, an educational and cultural experience held throughout Canada, the United States and Nicaragua, as well as co-coordinating their Youth Council on Food Justice where I act as an advocate of my passions, sustainable living and food security, for adolescents. Other interests of mine include international/rural development, health, communal living, music festivals and world travel. I look forward to learning the tools to per sue my interests even further through the Next Up Program.

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Noelle Jaipaul

Noelle is an alumna of Next Up Edmonton 4. She recently completed a Master’s in Public and International Affairs, focusing on immigration/refugee issues and health policy. Prior to that, Noelle completed a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Middle Eastern and African Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, both at the University of Alberta. Noelle is currently the Government Relations and Outreach Coordinator at the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation. She also teaches an interprofessional health course on working with vulnerable populations at the U of A, and is an Associate Consultant with the Centre for Race and Culture. 

Noelle’s experience spans working on policy issues locally with a variety of non-governmental organizations, provincially with Alberta Health Services, and federally with Citizenship and Immigration Canada and at the Embassy of Canada in Vietnam. In addition to Vietnam, she has international development experience in rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania, primarily in community health. Noelle’s main area of community work right now is with refugee policy, and is currently working to address the exploitation of refugees through Canada’s refugee transportation loan program.

 

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David Herbert

David just recently graduated last May from the University of Alberta. He currently holds a BA in Political Science and History. After graduating from university, David noticed that he unfortunately lacked the leadership skills that he desired and would need to have in order to make his imprint on the world. After reflecting for some time, David discovered that he had spent enough time analyzing and thinking, and it was time for him to act. Luckily, David became aware of Next-Up through the Parkland Institute and promptly applied. More luck came to David and now he is a Next-Up participant! By becoming a part of Next-Up, David hopes to gain certain experiences and to meet and connect with like-minded individuals who would also like to make a positive imprint on the world. Personally, David recently became interested in feminist critical theory and queer theory. As a consequence of these interests, David holds many social issues close to his heart (for example, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and rights for all disenfranchised groups in Canada). In addition, there is also the issue of the environment that is very close to his heart as well. With a bit of luck one day, David hopes to blend his work life with his activist life.

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Evan Hammer

Evan is a social justice, environmental stewardship, and community engagement advocate. Evan’s curriculum vita is as diverse as his passions. He’s worked with the City of Edmonton promoting sustainability and naturalization, worked alongside vulnerable populations in the inner city, tackled homelessness head-on as a Housing First practitioner and advocate, and promoted car sharing and urban sustainability.

When he’s not trying to change the world, Evan likes to travel it (preferably by train!). He has been known to snorkel coral reefs alongside nurse sharks and sting rays, scale ancient ruins, swim into the inky blackness of Mayan sacrifice caves, or just relax on the shores of the Caribbean.

Evan recently quit his job to explore the world (that is, North America) in search of himself and his passions. Evan stayed at a Christian environmental education group in rural Manitoba, volunteered with a social justice advocacy group in Ottawa, explored Montreal via Bixi bikes, couchsurfed with awesome strangers in Chicago, and connected with community organizers in Baltimore. One amazing experience later, and Evan returned home ready for the next (up!) challenge.

Inspired by his journey, Evan is dedicated to making his home city of Edmonton a more walkable, livable, just community. Evan is working on ideas for car-sharing and bike-sharing, and hopes to focus on mixed use, urban density and transit oriented development in the near future.

Evan can also be found at his at his local gym weightlifting, swimming or practicing karate, exploring Alberta’s natural beauty, or taking in Shakespeare in the Park with good friends.

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Chris Fulmer

Chris is extremely excited to be a part of Next Up Edmonton. His work in the activist community has been mostly focused within the realm of party politics through various capacities. Chris has been the President of the U of A Campus NDP, where we tried to encourage political participation among the student body. One of the highlights was the establishment of a vote mobile which provided free rides to and from the polling stations for any students interested. Chris is also actively involved with the NDYA, serving on the executive and helping to organize with the youth wing. Chris was also the NDP candidate for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville during the 2012 Alberta provincial election. Chris is as well very passionate about urban issues, including the reduction of urban sprawl and the creation of sustainable cities. Chris is currently finishing a BA in Political Science at the U of A. In his spare time Chris enjoys listening to and finding new music, reading, and other things.

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Sarah Feldman

Originally from the east coast of the U.S., Sarah came to Edmonton via Montreal where she studied environment and development, and then completed a Masters in Urban Planning. In her current role as the Sustainability Coordinator for Strathcona County Infrastructure and Planning Services, Sarah works on a variety of initiatives to bring a balanced perspective to decisions on how the community grows and develops. Sarah is passionate about finding ways to mitigate climate change and create more resilient, adaptive communities through the built environment. Some of her previous experience includes working for the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal as a planning and transportation policy analyst, facilitating a summer science and ecology camp for youth in the Cree Nation of Wemindji and coordinating a national sustainable campuses conference for the Sierra Youth Coalition. She has also previously been involved in a various forms of cycling advocacy and sustainable campus initiatives. Sarah currently volunteers on the board of Temple Beth Ora, Edmonton’s reform Jewish congregation and is interested in the role reform Judaism can play in social justice work. In her free time, Sarah enjoys cycling, running with her dog in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley and playing nerdy board games with friends.

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Benjamin Diaz

Benjamin Diaz has one of those faces that you have probably seen before. It always brings warmth to a room, and leaves you wanting more. Ben was born and raised in Ottawa by a single mother with a younger brother. Ben’s interests involve youth engagement, queer/trans issues, feminism, and accessible education. A Carleton anthropology student by day and an improviser by night, Ben focuses on spreading cheer, joy and non-oppressive attitudes to the masses. Ben directs his scholastic eye towards hetero/homo-normativity within gay and trans men.

While finishing up his degree in anthropology, Ben has been involved in his student union and many other student organizations on campus. He currently sits on the board of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG-Carleton). Ben has volunteered at Pink Triangle Services in their Youth Educating Safer Spaces and Queer People of Colour discussion groups. In addition to his activism, Ben is a member on the Carleton Improv Association, and performs in shows all around Ottawa. He even participated in the Cracking Up the Capital Comedy festival with comedian Colin Mocherie. If he is not working, focusing on studies, doing OPIRG-related activism, practicing improv, dancing, or being a radical friend, Ben is probably asleep.

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Caitlin Armstrong

Caitlin hails from Gloucester, Ontario. Growing up as an elite rower and later a triathlete, Caitlin spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors and being on the water. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Ottawa, and then embarked on a career as a communications professional. Her concern for the environment and the effects of climate change spurred her to get involved in various organizations around Ottawa. She volunteers with Ottawa’s homeless and marginally-housed population, and helps to improve the city’s local urban food system. She is also a volunteer at Ecology Ottawa, where she works on the anti-Energy East pipeline campaign. Caitlin’s mission is to help social change movements develop effective communication strategies in order to improve their ability to mobilize support. Through Next Up, she looks forward to building her skillset and exploring new career directions.

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Celyn Dufay

Celyn is a passionate peace activist striving for nuclear disarmament and carbon reduction.  He is currently working as a Progressive Policy Intern at the Rideau Institute and as an Academic Writing Advisor at the University of Ottawa.

In addition to spearheadingCeasefire.ca’s Louder Than the Bomb campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, an action endorsed by over 100 parliamentarians, Celyn has recently been busy promoting a national discussion on the importance of peace by leading Ceasefire.ca’s controversial I Remember for Peace Remembrance Day campaign.

Celyn is set to graduate this December from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelors, specializing in Political Science with a Minor in History.

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Cynthia Morinville

Originally hailing from Trois-Rivières, Québec, Cynthia has been in a state of perpetual motion for the last ten years, living all over Canada as well as abroad. Her passion for social change was ignited by the Québec student movement when she was in college, and has continued through her work studying the politics of water access in Africa, and waste management in both Canada and in the developing world.

Driven by curiosity and her sense of ethics, her work aims to tell the stories of those falling through the cracks of an unfair system. In the future, she hopes to be able to combine this with her love of documentary film-making and multimedia platforms.

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Emily Finnie

Emily is a certified “trauma nerd” and has years of experience as a trauma counsellor and feminist advocate working with survivors of sexual violence. She currently serves on the collective board of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape. She works with Wilfred Laurier University, assisting with research that explores the impact of intersectional feminist principles on community practice, specifically in regards to sexual assault and rape crisis centres. As a steering committee member of the Toronto Women’s City Alliance, Emily is organizing to end the invisibility of diverse girls’ and women’s voices within the City of Toronto’s political agenda. Her experience growing up as a second-generation immigrant gave rise to her fascination with concepts like identity and belonging.

In her free time, you might find Emily training for her next half marathon race or tinkering away in her urban garden. She loves creative expression, especially through cooking, and enjoys bonding with family and friends over good food.

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Felix Chu

Felix Chu, 24, was born in Hong Kong. He lived most of his life in Scarborough, having completed a B.A. in Public Policy and Political Science at the University of Toronto. While there, he was involved in a wide range of LGBTQ issues and applied an intersectional approach to planning events.

Now residing in Ottawa, he is currently completing a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at Concordia University. He is excited to be part of Next Up. He says, “I hope to be able to integrate my background and knowledge in public policy into arenas where that knowledge is not readily accessible, to marginalized communities and youth.” He believes in integrating feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial and intersectional approaches into his work as a means to broaden its reach to marginalized communities.  Life isn’t all activism, though: “In my free time, I like to practice yoga – preferably hot yoga.”

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Geoffrey Carter

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Geoffrey Carter grew up on a farm.  Now an urbanite, he is in his second year at the University of Ottawa. This past summer, Geoffrey was employed as a page in the House of Commons.   He is now the proud coordinator of the free store at the university. One of his many dreams is to work at improving environmental justice in our country.  Having been raised on a farm, Geoffrey feels a strong connection with our natural environment and he is profoundly devoted to its protection.

Also fond of political change at all levels, he would like to see the Canadian Parliament reformed, notably through the adoption of a fair representation of seats.

Geoffrey is a young man who sees the world with the eyes of passion and determination, using his family values and traditions as guides to change society for the greater good.

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Grant MacNeil

Born in Cape Breton, Grant studied abroad for a year prior to beginning his undergraduate studies in Anthropology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Grant was involved in the community garden, and he worked at the campus PIRG and at a food coop. Grant was involved in student issues such as the provincial and national days of action against tuition fee increases.

In 2011, Grant began his Master’s in Anthropology at Carleton. While at Carleton, Grant was involved with the student union, and was elected President in 2013. Grant is currently conducting research and balancing the demands of the student union. When he is not promoting social and environmental justice, Grant can be found cooking and spending quality time with family and friends.

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Jjessica Sselwanjja

Jjessica has spent the last eight years living between Ottawa and Edmonton, growing to love the cities for their distinctive contrast. She has been involved in activities on the International Day of the Child, and has participated in different summer camps (including one offered by the Sierra Youth Coalition, and ROBSI Baha’i Camp). She believes that youth are a big part of our communities and it is in society’s’ best interest to ensure their rights are being met. She’s developed a strong interested in youth and children after having worked with them for many years. She is looking forward to bringing those interests to Ottawa after having finished a diploma in Early Learning and Child Care at Grant MacEwan University.

Despite her love of Ottawa and Edmonton, Jjessica lives to be in nature. Her passion for hiking, biking, and gardening led to her interests in permaculture, sustainability, and animal rights. A self-described lifelong learner, Jjessica is always interested in learning to apply new frameworks and sets of tools.

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Kelly Garton

Kelly grew up in North Vancouver, BC. She completed a B.A. in Geography at McGill University, where she discovered her passion for human health and its relationship to physical and social environments. An internship at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and a semester working at the UN headquarters during the Summit on Climate Change cemented her dedication to this field of study.

During her Master’s in Population and Public Health, Kelly continued to delve deeper into the study of upstream social and environmental determinants of global disease. This included an emphasis on public policy to combat the growing rates of chronic disease in developing countries caused by Big Tobacco, Big Food and Big Beverage.

In 2013 Kelly was awarded a research grant at the International Research Development Centre to study the food sovereignty movement in Ecuador and its potential for improving diets and reducing chronic disease. Her work has convinced her of the need for alternatives to the neoliberal trade regime, and the importance of building an economy that places the well being of people and the environment at its heart.

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Kyla Farmer

With a background in environmental economics and a passion for system thinking and design, Kyla’s work aims to promote and nurture sustainable lifestyles and business practices. Kyla was born and raised in Ottawa to a multiracial ancestry, and she is dedicated to working with the different people and communities that surround her.

Always on the go, Kyla is currently involved with a multitude of projects burgeoning around the city. From collaborating with the local arts community to managing an online magazine, to volunteering with several environmental groups and campaigns, Kyla combines her passion for social and environmental justice with her profound interest in the identity and stories of others to foster a community driven by a collective understanding of one another.

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Najib Ahmed

Najib Ahmed was born in ’84 in Mogadishu, Somalia. At a young age, he journeyed through many East African countries before finally reaching North America and eventually settling in Ottawa with his family. He has carried with him on this journey a passion for the preservation of our natural environment. He finds it a real shame that Canada doesn’t preserve the natural beauty of its country that it is so lucky to have. Indeed, his travels in Canada have deeply affected how he feels about the need for preservation. He takes a lot of pride in delivering rants about environmental issues to whomever will listen to him. The rants are very easy to listen to given Najib’s kind and friendly demeanor that has gained him many friends. He is very proud of how he has integrated himself into Canadian society given the less fortunate circumstances of some immigrants from his home country.

Najib enjoys painting, photography and gardening. He even dreams one day of having his own organic farm! On the whole, Najib is a very personable gentleman who is determined to fight for the little guy in whatever way he can.

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Nathan Hauch

Born in New Jersey, Nathan has lived in Ottawa since he was three. As a person with multiple disabilities, he knows the value of public health care, and appreciates the opportunities the healthcare system has afforded him.

Nathan first got involved in his community by coordinating a support group for LGBT youth in Ottawa. Through this experience, he learned the power of social change, and how a common goal can unite people to overcome challenges. He has since been involved with the Canadian Federation of Students, as well as the disability and labour movements. Now, it is neoliberal austerity measures and discourses that strike the ire of Nathan’s calm demeanor. Nathan understands the importance of taxation in promoting fairness and prosperity, thus he works with others in his community towards implementing progressive policies and building a progressive future.

Nathan received his Bachelor of Humanities in Humanities and Political Science and a Master’s in Political Science from Carleton University. He is currently undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Health Policy.

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Paul Vincent

Paul was born in Victoria, B.C, and is passionate about working with children and youth. He has over ten years of experience working with trauma survivors, individuals living with special needs, young offenders, and those in youth protection. He specializes in working with youth with severe behavioural issues.

Paul is an advocate for Indigenous rights, and supports the development of decolonizing, anti-oppressive, culturally relevant and community specific approaches to child welfare. Paul has worked for the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services at Ulluriaq Adolescent Center, a specialized residential program for Inuit youth. Additionally, Paul has taught crisis intervention in the Special Care Counseling program at LaSalle College.

Paul has a B.A. in Psychology from Concordia University, a Graduate Certificate in Leadership from McGill University, and is currently studying Social Work at the University of Manitoba. Paul believes that crisis should be viewed as an opportunity for change. He currently resides in Montreal.

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Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan

Sebastian Ronderos-Morgan could not be more British Columbian. A native of Vancouver, BC, he is also the son of a British immigrant father and a Colombian immigrant mother. After a childhood and adolescence spent in and around the intertidal zones of the Salish Sea, Sebastian left the West Coast for travels, followed by a six year stint in Montreal, Québec.

Sebastian completed an undergrad at McGill University, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Economics and Urban Systems. During his 5 years at McGill, he became actively involved in progressive causes and student politics. First, he served on the boards of the faculty of arts and the undergraduate student associations, and later he was elected to the executive of the Students’ Society of McGill University as Vice-President (External). During his term, he focused on two key areas within his mandate: local community relations and building the capacity of student organizing across Québec. In his last year at McGill, Sebastian served on the board of the McGill chapter of the progressive Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), and dedicated himself to defending the organization against attacks from an onslaught of conservative groups. For two years he has served as Legislative Assistant to NDP MP Charmaine Borg.

Sebastian currently balances his political career with community volunteering and his new role as a father.

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Austin Lui

Austin Lui grew up in Oakville, Ontario and is an accomplished musician. He has been playing piano since he was five and violin since he was seven. His early passion for music led him to pursue a music degree at Western University in piano performance.

Austin has always been interested in big ideas and world issues. He first started combining his musical exploits and his passion for social justice by volunteering at Arts For All Kids, a music and arts school for underprivileged youth in London, and the Leading Note Foundation in Ottawa. Inspired by his volunteering and the transformative nature of music, Austin decided to once again focus his energy on school. He graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Music and Culture, a non-traditional interdisciplinary approach to musicology.

After attending Carleton, Austin participated in the Otesha bike tour entitled, “The Phenomenal Food Tour,” which focused on outreach through interactive workshops and theatre plays. Otesha incorporated all of Austin’s passions into one program – education, biking, community living, arts, and food. Austin now works for Otesha in Ottawa and plans to continue developing his skills as a community leader and educator, working to use his passions to help make the world a better place.

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David Schecter

David Schecter is a lover of many Canadian cities. He is a proud Torontonian by birth, and he fell in love with the community and city of Montreal when he went there to study at McGill University.

He stayed in Montreal to continue his research and work with communities impacted by the Canadian extraction industry. He is currently finding some love for the city of Ottawa, where he recently moved in order to begin working as a legislative assistant for Jack Harris, the NDP Member of Parliament for St John’s East. Although, he loves many cities, David truly feels at home in the Canadian wilderness, preferably canoeing along the rivers of Northern Ontario and Quebec. One day, he hopes to be found building a community on a small piece of land somewhere.

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Emily Beveridge

Emily Beveridge is grateful to be part of the Next Up Ottawa 2013 cohort. From a very young age, she has been passionate about the environment and the human relationship to land. This passion has developed over time, and continues to guide her through her life. In May 2011, she graduated from Acadia University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, and after a year spent working with environmental NGOs operating both in Canada and abroad, she began studies in the fall of 2012 at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. She is committed to living according to her values and using her privilege to make the world a better place. As a Next Up participant, she is excited to learn new skills that will allow her to be a better environmental citizen and active community member.

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Jenn Prosser

Born and raised in Alberta, she developed her activist roots in Lethbridge – a small city in the southern part of the province. She moved there from Calgary, “the heart of the new west,” to attend the University of Lethbridge. Throughout her time at the U of L, she found a love for independent media through campus-community radio and the campus newspaper. She developed a deep appreciation for public organizations through her time in student politics and the activist community.

Her passions are driven by community, by people, and by their passion and beliefs that there is a better way forward. While finding her place in communities surrounded by opposing views, her deeply-seated ideological purpose fostered her dedication to find and build new communities. The values that have been instilled in her – dedication, passion, respect and strength – have been her driving force to continue working for change.

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Jillian Senyi

Jillian’s somewhat nomadic journey landed her in Ottawa nearly three years ago. She quickly carved out her place in the capital region’s education sector. She kicked off this Eastern Ontarian leg of her life’s expedition at the local grassroots environmental and sustainability education organization The Otesha Project. There she began to meet some of the many changemakers working to make life in Ottawa and in Canada more humane, holistic, connected, respectful, and bright. From there she voyaged into the role of mentoring coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa (BBBSO) where she coordinated two school-based group mentoring programs, Game On! and Go Girls! – programs designed to enhance the competence and confidence of adolescent participants from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. It was during her time at BBBSO that she was able to take an even deeper role in advocating for and supporting youth in need in communities across Ottawa. She hasn’t turned back. At this current juncture, she can be found attending to the emotional, academic and personal needs of adolescents and teenagers at a school in downtown Gatineau and at an after school program in the city’s west end. It is through her work that Jillian is able to engage youth in current issues that matter to them and support their development in becoming the passionate, empathetic, happy, active and engaged citizenry of tomorrow. She comes to Next Up with open arms, an open mind, and an open heart, hoping to soak up all the many ways to affect change in our many communities – personal, local and global.

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Karen Miller

Through her experiences exploring rivers, mountains, lakes and sewage treatment plants, Karen has found that water connects us all. It’s also a gateway to developing a more conscious relationship with the natural world. These experiences have contributed to Karen’s commitment to positive community building, and finding balance, joy, and playfulness in the everyday. Karen is currently an associate of the Natural Step Canada, where she designs and facilitates social learning processes with organizations, communities, and networks of leaders to enable transformational change toward sustainability.

Karen holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and an M.Sc. in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability. Outside of her work, Karen is an active contributor to the Art of Hosting Community of Practice. She enjoys playing the guitar, writing songs, and outdoor adventures both large and small. You can find her music on CBC Radio 3.

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Lauren Howard

Lauren was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.A. in Global Political Economy, an interdisciplinary program that allowed her to explore many of her interests. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at Carleton University, working towards a master’s in communication.

While Lauren attended the U of M, she interned with Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, an organization partnering with vulnerable groups to overcome poverty and build healthy communities in Africa. Through this experience, she was able to travel to Malawi and worked with local staff to acquire accurate stories for Canadian donors. During this time, Lauren learned about the importance of food security, leading to a job in office administration and special projects with Food Matters Manitoba, a registered charity focused on healthy, sustainable and fair food for all.

Through these experiences, Lauren has seen firsthand the positive impact of communities coming together to build better livelihoods. She strongly believes in connecting people together to create meaningful discussions because being committed to one another is important. She looks forward to being a part of Next Up Ottawa, engaging with key issues and meeting like-minded people who are passionate about social change.

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Maggie Frampton

Maggie is thrilled to be part of the Next Up program. She views it as an opportunity to learn and engage with others who are actively working towards social change. Currently working for the labour movement, she hopes to be a part of community level change that has a national impact. Maggie thrives on active listening and encouraging people to ask questions, both personal and political, on what impact they want to have on the world around them. She loves the honesty of live music, exploring the outdoors, and people of her hometown, Sudbury, Ontario. Maggie now lives in Ottawa, where she can often be found skating on the canal and exploring the trails in and around the city.

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N’Kem Odita

“Don’t complain unless you’re at least willing to try.” This is one of N’kem’s many simple yet provocative philosophies on activism. Born in Nova Scotia and raised in culturally diverse Toronto, N’kem is a lover of challenge, learning and imagination. To give herself a dose of that invigorating joy we all need sometimes, N’kem takes solace in podcasts and TED Talks  – especially those that propose novel ideas, contain a strong call to action and bring people together.

N’kem’s love of the sciences and public health led her to study biotechnology at Seneca College, biological sciences at the University of Guelph, and then regulatory affairs and quality assurance at Seneca College.  She practices this love everyday in her current work with the Canadian Blood Services. N’kem is passionate about issues that allow communities to recognize themselves in the other. She believes the divisions that we create often prevent us from seeing the many similarities and common ground that we share. By connecting with the Next Up community, N’kem hopes to deepen her involvement in local and international projects that promote community involvement, education, media literacy, positive action and inclusivity. Off the clock, N’kem enjoys music of all genres, outdoor running, pottery and sci-fi.

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Prajeena Karmacharya

Prajeena has been advocating for issues related to peace building, clean water and sanitation, gender equality and food security in developing countries, particularly in Nepal where she was born.  She has managed and evaluated projects funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), WaterAid, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Oxfam, the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and World Education, among other international organizations. She has coordinated policy and advocacy events at a distance with civil society organizations based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Nepal and Sri Lanka on issues related to gender equality, food security, peace and demilitarization. Having traveled to Uganda, Ethiopia and Ghana, Prajeena has liaised and lobbied with African civil society organizations, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union, and European and North American partners on aid effectiveness and the increase of development commitments to the world’s least developed countries (currently 48 countries around the world).

Her interest in traveling and experiencing different cultures took her to the Netherlands, where she completed her second master’s degree in Public Policy. It was from there that she traveled to different parts of Europe. In her lifetime, she plans to visit all seven continents of the world. Prajeena currently sits on the board of Peacebuild and serves as a steering committee member for the Women, Peace and Security Network in Canada.

Prajeena enjoys gardening. She has many plants in her apartment, where she often picks fresh herbs for cooking. She also loves biking around but feels that Ottawa is yet to construct enough safe biking lanes for bikers.

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Siavash Ghazvinian

Siavash was born in Tehran, raised in Waterloo, and now calls Ottawa home. Having lived in these diverse communities, he has become cognizant of the issues facing each of them. He has become especially passionate about local economic issues, individual rights, and equality. After becoming involved with Waterloo Collegiate Institute’s Human Rights Club and volunteering with Me to We’s Build a Village program in Kenya a few years ago, he decided to pursue a degree in International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. He largely focuses his passion for local and global activism through participating in party politics and volunteering in community development projects. He aims to set sail for a meaningful life working in the field of human rights and development, while working to strengthen the impact of various activist networks locally.

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Adam Hering

Adam is a rock-climbing, Judaism-influenced, socially and environmentally conscious veterinarian currently studying disease in northern Canada’s bison population through the University of Saskatchewan. Adam has always appreciated animals and nature, adventuring outdoors using many modes. He sees his wildlife-focused vet career as a means to influence the environment on a large scale.

After growing up in Edmonton with his parents, sisters and brother, Adam spent a year in Israel volunteering and living in a kibbutz when he was seventeen. He studied in Calgary, where he was involved in environmental and feminist groups on campus. Adam’s time in Tanzania doing veterinarian and development-related work with the Maasai people has also influenced his career and activism.

Adam’s family is important to him; he is an uncle to three nieces and two nephews! His significant other lives in Calgary, and his charming canine, Scout, lives in Saskatoon with Adam.

Adam’s FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) keeps him active enough to be tired, but his involvement is rewarding. In conversations, Adam’s balance is striking. He has a unique ability to see multiple sides of an issue, and to cooperate with those who hold views contrary to his own in a respectful way.

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Alyssa Scott

Alyssa Scott grew up in Regina with her parents and older brother. Near the end of high school she became deeply interested in climate change and environmental issues. After considering several universities, she moved to Saskatoon to pursue environmental studies. At the same time, she got involved with social justice groups on campus; taking on leadership roles with WUSC and Amnesty. Through WUSC, she has helped sponsor many international refugees to come study at the U of S. Through Amnesty, she has held innumerable letter writing campaigns and raised awareness about how resource extraction is linked to human rights abuses around the world.

Today, Alyssa is near to finishing her Environment & Society degree and assisting with research on environmental governance and water security. She plans to get her masters in environmental policy, and continue exploring the intersection of environmental and social issues throughout her life.

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Arisha Nazir

When it comes to learning new things, Arisha Nazir is your gal! Arisha was raised in a house of over 10 people. Some family values are self-growth, family and education. Arisha believes that in order to help others, she must be best she can. Arisha also believes in equal education for all, especially for youth. Loving kids and their energy, Arisha knows how important it is for younger people to have an education. Passed down from generations, education definitely runs in her family.

Arisha loves to volunteer. Her most recent experience was participating in Folk Fest. She was a Youth Ambassador for Pakistan. Arisha also enjoys reading. Her favorite book is “Tiger Hills”. She enjoys the imagery which is located in Southern India, that describes beautiful landscapes, which inspires Arisha to travel and explore the world. Arisha knows that she will continue to be enthusiastic towards learning new things.

Arisha will continue to be brave and challenge herself, while maintaining her positive, bubbly personality that will help her grow into tomorrows strong leader. A life long goal in her own words is to leave the world in a better place then how she found it.

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Erica Moir

Erica Moir lives a busy life as a registered nurse at Wadena Hospital and as a home and community care nurse working with on Fishing Lake First Nation. A northerner originally from La Ronge, Erica grew up alongside friends and family who taught her the importance of listening and being open to the richness of diversity. As a nurse, Erica works on issues of community health empowerment and health education. Her co-workers and clients inspire her daily and teach her about resilience and the power of humour. Erica has travelled the world (to Mexico, Cuba, New Zealand, China, and all over Europe) and soaks up opportunities to learn about cultures and the outdoors. Her interest in cultures is reflected in her enthusiasm for listening to Cuban radio stations over her shortwave radio and her involvement with her own Christian faith tradition (as well as learning about others). Her love of nature, which was cemented when she was growing up amidst abundant trees and lakes in Northern Saskatchewan, has sparked her interest in photography. In the summer, Erica is an avid gardener (with a soft spot for peas) and in the winter, she plays hockey and sometimes curls. In all seasons, Erica is married to her husband Chad.

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Halena Seiferling

Halena Seiferling is originally from Regina but is now residing in Saskatoon with her partner Jon. Halena entered university directly after graduating from high school in 2008 with the intentions of going into psychology. However, after a class in Sociology a new path was drawn. Having the opportunity to travel with school Halena has spent time in both Cuba and Norway. In Cuba she did an internship in Permaculture and received a certificate in Permaculture design. Spending a semester in Norway she focused her time in learning about Scandinavian Politics. Finishing university this past June she left with two degrees in International Development and Sociology. After her completion she is now deciding on what kind of work she would like to focus her energy in while continually staying busy and active in her new community.

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Hilary Gough

Hilary Gough was born and raised in Saskatoon along with her identical twin sister and two older siblings.

Hilary studied physical anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan and is now completing her Master’s degree, which looks into migration of medieval peoples in Denmark by studying their dental chemistry.

Speaking of migration, Hilary loves biking, and is currently part of the group Saskatoon Cycles which is advocating for better bike lanes and support for cycling. She is also very interested in women’s rights issues, and is currently the Secretary for the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. Other hobbies include knitting, spending time with her family, and making fake taxidermy (and you should ask her about this).

Hilary is excited to learn from others in the Next Up program about what their passions are in seeking social justice, and she hopes to learn more about what she is passionate about as well.

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Julie Maxwell

Julie Maxwell’s roots are firmly planted in the farm on which she grew up. It has produced in her a passion for guerilla gardening, permaculture and fruit forestry as well as well as inspired her to work at the Floating Gardens in Osler, SK.When questioned on her obsessive commitment to plants and plant-like things Julie replied “It’s true. It’s all I do.”

When Julie leaves tending to her plants she is involved with Amnesty International and the SPIRG campaign on campus, often can be found being an aficionado of soup or making music, as well as likely confused about her general location. Naturally her aspirations stem from her fixation as Julie hopes to make a career in horticulture. But for now Julie sees herself turning a new leaf while being a part of Next Up.

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Tara Fischer

Tara is a former fashion model turned feminist and women’s rights activist. Fitting the stereotypical physical requirements, Tara was encouraged from a young age to pursue a career in modeling. After finishing a year of an arts and science degree at the University of Guelph, she signed with agents in several different European countries and found herself immersed in a destructive work environment alongside other young women struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. For over a year, she remained working under a high degree of bodily regulation, exploitation and objectification. Exhausted by the experience, Tara returned to Canada confused and unsure of what to do next. Soon after, she re-enrolled at the University of Guelph, switching into business administration, then later into international development. For the first time, she was exposed to the tools she needed to be able to critically engage with global social, economic and political systems. During her time in the program she was fortunate enough to travel to India on a semester abroad, which took her to various parts of the country and gave her the opportunity to live with a host family. Changed by the experience, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in social work with a focus on community development and social and economic policy. In 2009, she moved to Ottawa to complete her degree in social work at Carleton University.

As a Carleton University student, Tara was actively involved in student advocacy. She was co-chair of her departmental students’ association, and served as a student representative to the Senate and Graduate Faculty Board. Since 2009, she has interned with the City for All Women’s Initiative, the International Development Research Centre, and in the office of a member of parliament working on poverty issues. Tara now works at the Canadian Federation of University Women, advocating for policies, programs and services that promote equity and advance gender equality at home and abroad. When Tara is not fighting to end patriarchy, coordinating letter-writing campaigns, or protesting on Parliament Hill, she can be found doing yoga or spending time with her friends.

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Kassandra Rea-Cram

As an artist, an animal lover, and an all ‘round activist powerhouse, Kassandra Rea-Cam, (or Kas for short) knows how to walk the walk. Kas has lived in Saskatchewan all her life. Raised as an only child in a single parent household, Kas and her mom are the best of friends. Luckily, she’s good at bridging gaps and has also reconnected with her father in Bolivia. Kas is working towards a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, studying art and art history, and finds passion in many modalities. From acrylics, to sculpting, to drum circles, she’s rarely out of her element.

Kas effectively integrates her artsy side with her activist side. She’s a member of the art community both on campus through VASU (visual arts students union) as well as in the community at large through WAM (We Are Many), a youth run arts and environmental organization. Some of the projects she’s been involved in are coordinating hydration stations at events to cut down on disposable water bottle waste.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to Kas, and she keeps herself active and balanced physically and emotionally by regularly practicing yoga and eating a healthy vegan diet. She also works part time at Gail Adam’s school of art in Saskatoon but dreams of one day moving to Vancouver to curate an art gallery there.

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Lisa Howse

Lisa Howse grew up on a littleorganic farm near Porcupine Plain, SK with her parents, her two older sisters, and a cat named Smokey. In her grade eight year, she moved to Saskatoon to attend high school at Bedford Road Collegiate. There, one of her most memorable classes was Global Citizenship 30, taught by local activist Sheelah McLean.

Upon graduating, Lisa began studying international development at the University of Saskatchewan in hopes of gaining a greater understanding of poverty and its systemic causes. While completing her degree, she volunteered extensively with the OXFAM campus club, and today continues to support the group through fundraising and public awareness initiatives.

She is an avid cook, cycler, PC gamer, writer and reader of fantasy fiction, painter, gardener and permaculture enthusiast.

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Lisa May

Hailing from Martensville, Lisa May wasted no time in moving to Saskatoon following graduation; she spent her first three years in the city as a piercer with some great piercings and tattoos to show for it. Her adventures took her on a month long solo trip to Nicaragua in 2012 – she highly recommends renting a hammock at a tree fort hostel she visited in the jungle!

Following her passion for learning about alternative and preventative medicine, Lisa May is about to begin a year of training in Acupressure. Lisa loves to surround herself with critical thinkers and to be challenged in a positive way, making Next Up a great chance for her to learn more about her passions and find ways to focus her energy.

Lisa May has three younger sisters and a Yorkshire-Pincher pup “Tricky” Ricky (her #1 love)!

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Nick Marlatte

Nick is currently in his last semester of a double honours degree at the U of S, studying Political Studies and Philosophy. He is passionate about the pursuit of truth and hopes to continue on in academics after this degree, considering subjects such as public policy, international development, or even journalism.

Nick is one of those rare people able to balance academic excellence with work, play and community involvement. When he’s not hitting the books, you might find Nick working at his job with Autism Services, playing on his soccer team, or planning his next trip overseas.

Nick is really enjoying Next Up so far, and looks forward to building the relationships he’s already formed with the other cohorts. Being one of only two boys in the group, he’s keen to take on a brotherly role and bring his introspective nature to the group dynamic. We’re lucky to have him in our Next Up family!

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Sharissa Hantke

Sharissa ‘Rissy’ Hantke grew up in Kimberly, BC, but has been happily living in Saskatchewan for the past 12 years with her partner Garrett. Rissy is 26 years young and has studied at the U of S to complete her first degree in Biology, and her 2nd degree in Nursing.  She practiced her RN at the Royal University Hospital in the pediatric ward where she is currently working at.  When she is not working at the hospital, she is training Nursing students in core neighborhoods in the city in which she is thoroughly enjoying.

Other than being an excited member of Next-Up, for the past 2 years Rissy has been involved with Kairos; a faith based social justice and environmental group.  She hopes to carry the same energy and passion she has in her activism into the Next-Up program, and build meaningful connections with everyone in the group.  When Rissy is not tackling social and environmental issues, she is out in the Swing dance community as an active member by organizing dance event and fundraisers.

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Leah Arcand

Leah was born and raised in Saskatoon, SK Treaty 6 Territory, and has also lived in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Rosthern, SK, and on the Coast Salish Traditional Territory, aka Victoria, BC.

In Leah’s journey, she has been drawn to stand up for the rights of children/youth, the environment, Indigenous peoples, and women. For the past several years Leah has been working on environmental and Indigenous issues through the Idle No More movement. In addition to her work with Idle No More, Leah is also a member of Kimiwan zine, a quarterly publication based in Saskatoon that showcases words and art from emerging and established First nations, Metis, and Inuit writers and artists.

Leah is in her final year of a degree in education at the U of S in ITEP (Indian Teachers Education Program) and is currently working at a high school for her practicum. Although Leah is unsure where exactly her path will take her, she hopes to continue working with youth and working in her community to effect change on the issues that are important to her.

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Rachel Malena-Chan

The petty things in life don’t seem to bother Rachel. To her, it comes down to what matters most: relationships. Friends, family, coworkers, and volunteer colleagues have brought inspiration and meaning to her life. Rachel was born and raised in Saskatoon to a family of 6. While completing a political science degree at the University of Saskatchewan, she developed a special interest in current events and social justice and latter, knowledge translation, universal child care, women’s issues, gay rights and poverty. Someday she hopes to continue her education through a master’s program.

Rachel recently gained employment with Upstream, an organisation focused on prevention of social problems. Her work involves public communication, organising meetings and events, and networking. She describes her work as optimistic, and thrives on the job’s high expectations and demands, as well as her great coworkers and the commitment of volunteers.

In her spare time, Rachel can be found playing soccer, guitar, or singing backup for a folk/rock band or worship group. She has also done vocals for local jazz and hip hop groups. Rachel owns and runs a small photography business with her partner shooting mostly portraiture, and occasionally volunteer work for non profit organisations.

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Tanya Andrusieczko

Tanya Andrusieczko is a lover of bees and cheese and grammar. This lively lady moved to Saskatoon three years ago from Toronto, lured to Saskatchewan by its prairie vistas and never-ending horizons. Contrary to popular opinion, Tanya likes Saskatchewan winters too. She is a lover of all seasons and the foods that come with them. Last summer, she learned about gardening by volunteering at the Food Bank’s community garden. To Tanya, even a single potato has a story. One cannot simply ask Tanya what her favourite food is, because she’ll just reply, “It’s unfair to food to ask that!” It is this quirky and inquisitive personality Tanya brings to NextUp.

Tanya is a devoted yogi, boxer, cyclist, and walker, and she is already making plans for retirement. In her spare time, Tanya can be found walking her dog Roo and and listening to podcasts. She hopes to one day have her own apiary.

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Polly Ng

Polly is committed to coupling sustainability with social justice and to working with people of all ages and backgrounds to make progressive change. She has several years of experience in sustainability planning and community engagement, and has worked for leading organizations in the public and non-profit sectors. Polly received a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Sciences and a Bachelors of Arts in Geography from the University of British Columbia in 2007. She is currently a Masters student at the School for Community and Regional Planning at UBC and is a Research Fellow with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. She is interested in in how climate change solutions can advance sustainability, promote equality, enhance quality of life, and build broad-based support.

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Emily Jubenvill

I am Emily Wren Jubenvill, although I am known to my Grandma as “Picklesnerp.” As an green spaces advocate, permaculturist, knitter, guerrilla gardener, environmental scientist, entrepreneur, runner, veloist, traveler, and lover of marine invertebrates and magnolias I keep my days fairly busy and live through my passions.

I grew up on the North Shore of Vancouver, and Bowen Island. Spending weekends exploring tide-pools and studying biology at the University of Victoria, I had intended to make a career in marine biology. A second-year environmental science class deconstructed the current state of environmental and social issues of North America’s food system, and this sparked a deep interest in sustainable agriculture. Soon after, I made the decision to transfer to Royal Roads University’s environmental science program in order to gain a deeper knowledge of the science behind the planet’s environmental issues with the hope that I could apply this to her new found passion in food systems.

I am currently working with the Edible Garden Project to develop and strengthen a local network of people growing and sharing food, building skills, and increasing access to growing space for marginalized urban communities. I advocate for increasing access to green space and revitalizing our public spaces as Green Spaces Coordinator for the Vancouver Public Space Network. My interest in urban agriculture and access to green spaces also ties into a new interest in the green collar jobs movement sweeping the United States. I am currently convening a Green Collar Jobs Initiative in Vancouver that aspires to have the movement-building power of Green for All, but is currently satisfied catalyzing pilot projects and discussing the next steps for a policy roadmap for British Columbia.

When I’m not working or volunteering, you can find me tending to my vegetable patch, laughing, on a mountain, or by the sea.

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James Griffiths

James manages wind energy development projects in his day job at Sea Breeze Power Corp.  These projects have included the Cape Scott (aka Knob Hill) Wind Farm on northern Vancouver Island which is currently moving through the final stages of development and will be the first large scale wind farm in south-western BC.  He is passionate about combining his other passions such as music, sustainability, local food, education, coaching, bicycle activism, sailing, and clean travel.  James currently serves as President on the board of the Open Air Orchestra Society which administers the affairs of the Carnival Band.  The society’s mission is to foster community spirit, empowerment, creativity, and skill through music and performance.  James also contributes to the Jib Set Sailing Club, his favourite civic party, various leadership programs, some cycling activism, and other more ephemeral projects.

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Jessica Smith

Jessica is a lifelong Vancouverite, with deep family roots in British Columbia. She has immersed herself in areas of social justice, politics and climate change issues beginning in her early teens. Jessica has volunteered her time with such great organizations as Covenant House, Get Your Vote On, the BC Poverty Reduction Plan and assisting various progressive elected representatives connect with their constituencies. Her current area of focus is building localized, sustainable and inclusive communities. She has a degree in Political Science from SFU and is currently enrolled in the Non-Profit Management program at BCIT, where she is learning fundraising, marketing and leadership skills. In her daily life, she works in Program and Volunteer Coordination and remains connected to Next Up by serving on the Alumni Network. She enjoys traveling, music, lively debate with good friends & wine, yoga and most of all, walking her dog at the beach.

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Kaitlyn (Kat) Braybrooke

With a B.A. in Political Science from UBC and an A.A. in Peace & Conflict Studies from Langara, Kat is passionate about using Internet-based media and facilitation to foster urban community engagement. Besides doing freelance graphic/web design for non-profits as KAiBRAY, she is currently Editor of local publication Beyond Robson and Co-Founder of Fresh Media, a group based at W2 Woodwards that re-imagines Canadian journalism by celebrating new forms of media. Kat’s past work as Online Community Facilitator for foreign policy engagement projectCanada’s World and Outreach Coordinator for award-winning online newspaper The Tyee also focused on using Net-based technologies as tools for social change, and she will be moving to London in the fall to pursue a MSc in Digital Anthropology from UCL with a focus on hacktivism and Internet theory. She intends to return to Vancouver after graduation and hopes to utilize insights learned from London’s media/tech scene to further engage with the community.

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Katarina (Kat) Kolar

Kat has recently graduated from her Masters in Sociology and Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto. She enjoys doing research with stigmatized and marginalized populations in Canada, and has worked with groups such as street-involved youth and clients of sex workers. Her interest in social justice grew with her volunteering experience in the Action Research Exchange program during her BA at SFU, and it continues with her current projects. With the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, she is working to understand resilience among street involved youth. She is also researching drug policy in Canada, particularly in its relationship to drug use trends, incarceration rates, and harm reduction initiatives. Kat is committed to exploring and engaging with social issues from a socially accountable, evidence-based perspective in order to challenge the stigmatization and marginalization of vulnerable groups.

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Martin Twigg

Martin is the co-founder of Urban Grains, Vancouver’s first community supported agriculture program to provide residents with access to locally grown grains. Currently residing in Halifax as a law student at Dalhousie University, he is co-chair of the Social Activist Law Student Association and sat on the 2010 organizing committee for IDEALaw, a student run, academic conference on social justice and the law. Martin will be interning with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association in the summer of 2011.

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Roselynn Verwoord

Roselynn Verwood is currently completing her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Her research interests include: social justice education, peace education, arts-based educational research, and critical social theory. Roselynn works as the Evaluation and Research Coordinator at the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology and alsofacilitates workshops on teaching and learning for the broader community. She is a volunteer Director for the BC Borstal Association and for the Public Education Network Society and teaches in the UBC Teacher Education Program.

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Natasha Robillard

Natasha is a born and raised British Columbian francophone. Feeling at home both on the West Coast where she grew up and Quebec where her family lives has taught her to reflect on at an early age how our connections with community and place shapes our histories and sense of belonging. She studied at the University of British Columbia and graduated with a BS in Global Resource Systems and First Nations Studies. Her studies provided her with the opportunity and tools to reflect on colonial history through a critical lense. Her deeply rooted passion for supporting Aboriginal rights, community empowerment, and health through community-based initiatives has been the focus of most of her work, student research, and volunteerism. She has worked for various Aboriginal organizations, groups, and First Nations communities, including the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal, Native Brotherhood of British Columbia, the UBC Aboriginal Strategic Plan Committee, and the Wilderness Committee in partnership with the St’at’imc Nation and Tla-o-qui-aht Nation. She is currently working for the Provincial Health Services Authority Aboriginal Health Centre as the Project Coordinator for the Chronic Disease Prevention in Aboriginal Communities through Youth-Elder Engagement Project. She is passionate about supporting food sovereignty, learning about local histories, and enjoying a good deer stew!

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Kim Hayward

Kim loves both art and anthropology, so she is a creative mix of creativity and intellect herself. She loves art & design and seeing people commit their emotional and physical energy to creative expression. Anthropology introduced a way to examine society and the world, but it was her community experiences that got her hooked on developing her skills as an active social agent. She sees art and anthropology as always connected; two lenses shaping her worldview (like one left eye and one right eye). Two Community Service Learning courses had a significant impact on her. The first was a course on artistic representations of the energy economy in Alberta, where she worked in collaboration with an advocacy group called Friends of the Lubicon. Here she became committed to learning about how the energy economy affects First Nations. In the second course, she worked with the Office of Sustainability at the University of Alberta, where she developed a research project outlining why and how sustainability and design education go hand in hand. Kim has travelled extensively and her recent adventure was a student exchange in Brazil. She was attracted to Brazil’s thriving art culture which is strongly connected to social movements and community development. While Brazil is very different from Canada, there are parallels between resource development issues in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest and Canada’s tar sands. Her experiences in Brazil confirmed that she wants to continue to engage with social movements and explore what making a better world looks like to her. She sees Next Up as a great opportunity to explore action projects and organizations to continue growing and developing her role as an active citizen.

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Chris Chang-Yen Phillips

Well-travelled, inquisitive and friendly, Chris is an eager contributor to the Next Up team. Since participating in a Canada World Youth program that led him to an eye-opening stay in China, Chris has been interested in social justice. He pursued a formal education in the field, first at York University and then at Trent University, where he graduated with a BA in International Development and Environmental Studies. Along the way, Chris stumbled into journalism. After writing an article for a local Edmonton magazine, Chris became involved with the Trent campus newspaper, where he eventually worked as associate editor before moving on to intern with CBC for 4 months in Toronto. Happily, Chris’s interest in journalism continues to thrive. Chris passionately believes that creating dialogue to allow individuals to feel empowered to be good citizens is important in moving towards environmental and social justice, and ultimately hopes to use journalism to obtain this goal. For now, Chris’s time is spent enthusiastically working for the U of A’s Global Education office and volunteering with campus radio.

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Tim Penton

Originally from Saskatchewan, Tim was raised in southern and northern Alberta.  He has called Edmonton home since 2007, after teaching English abroad in China. He is a passionate individual who is constantly eager to learn as much as possible about social justice issues and always brings enthusiasm into his work.

While living in Calgary, Tim was an active union member with the Telecommunication Workers’ Union promoting the importance of workers rights. He has been active in political campaigns, willing to knock on doors and dedicate his time and energy to volunteer organizations working for much needed change.

He is always excited to talk about the ways that we can come together, assert our rights and stand united. His positive hope for the future is intoxicating and palpable. He is convinced that each person has the ability and skills within themselves to change the world.

He works at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1118 helping workers to prevent abuse and exploitation and to improve their rights and quality of life in their workplace.

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Melanie Alexander

Melanie was born and raised in Edmonton. She has always had an inclination towards progressive activism and this led her to becoming active in a collective that hosts the new feminist radio show Adamant Eve on CJSR radio station at the University of Alberta.

She is involved in many local feminist activism initiatives. In May of 2012 as regional mobilizer, she organized a delegation of woman to attend the RebELLes Pan-Canadian feminist gathering in Winnipeg.

Her thoughtful and considerate nature pairs well with the work she does with survivors of sexual assault and her involvement in anti-rape activism. Passionate about transformative change, she loves community gardening and the power it has in bringing people together.

She cares greatly about the importance in navigating her role as a consensual ally to indigenous struggles. Melanie is an extraordinary ally within the progressive community as a whole and brings knowledge, ability and dedication to her work.

Melanie is an enthusiast of making vulva cupcakes, paintings and crafts.

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Kate Kozakiewicz

Kate is passionate about using theatre and the arts as a mode of social change. Kate strongly believes in theatre and the arts as something everyone should be able to access and use to tell stories and explore storytelling. She is passionate about working with people who experience disability, creating a paradigm shift towards being able and fully participating in the arts. Currently in her third year of Drama Honours at the University of Alberta, she is a part of the Fine Arts Collective on Campus, which gives a voice to the arts on campus and educates the university community about fine arts. She is involved in facilitation work, currently co-facilitating and directing a fringe show based on communication and the way we communicate with people around us.

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Alix Krahn

Alix is a very passionate and active member of multiple communities. She is currently in her third year of Computer Engineering at the University of Alberta, where she plays a large role in the U of A chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) as VP Advocacy. Through her work with EWB, Alix desires to encourage Canadian aid to other countries which is more effective. She believes this can be done by increasing and enabling Canadian engagement. Besides her work with EWB, Alix is also interested in gender and queer studies, feminism, as well as citizenship. Alix strongly believes in systemic change, which is strongly reflected in her advocacy work. In her spare time Alix enjoys reading, biking, and playing the ukulele.

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Freddi MacDougall

Frédrique (Freddi) MacDougall came to Nextup with a background in community environmental sustainability work in her home town St. Paul. This and the fact that she grew up in close proximity to a First Nations community accounts for her keen interest in social justice and community awareness work. Freddi believes good intentions alone aren’t enough and thus tries to seek interventions that prioritise facilitation of positive impact at the community level. When she moved to Edmonton where she is currently in the third year of her BA majoring in Political Science and Sociology, Freddi was excited about the prospect of active collaboration with likeminded individuals and organisations. This aspiration led to Nextup which Freddi hopes will be a launch pad towards greater and more meaningful engagement in social and environmental justice work. After completing her undergrad, Freddi intends to travel and develop her interest in peace studies, mediation and conflict resolution into a career anchored by social justice and community awareness. Outside the world of social and environmental justice, Freddi is committed to semi-professional jigging, singing in her band and playing social soccer.

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Shireen Soofi

Shireen is an activist, facilitator and eternal learner; she became active in migrant justice and anti-racism struggles in Montreal, Kanien’kehaka territories, where she lived for four years.

Shireen is currently based in Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish territories and is active with No One is Illegal and Sanctuary Health. She is constantly inspired by and learning from amazing people around her and seeks to connect social justice struggles, as well as people throughout communities. Shireen has also facilitated workshops and discussions on many different issues, including climate justice and displacement, anti-oppression, women’s safety in the Downtown Eastside, access to healthcare for migrants in Canada, consensus-building, and others.

She speaks English, Farsi, French and Turkish to varying degrees and shamelessly tries to practice as much as possible. She also enjoys capoeira, dancing, rock climbing, hiking and other outdoor activities… and making friends!

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Ela Esra Gunad

Ela is passionate and forceful advocate for social justice and human rights. She has designed and led various international, national and local programs to advocate for women’s, children’s, LGBT, and refugee rights and fight against discrimination and racism in every level of her life. Ela has worked with a variety of groups from marginalized people to high level governmental agencies for non-profits and international organizations. She worked as Projects Coordinator for Amnesty International Turkey and continued her advocacy efforts for social change as Country Coordinator for Follow The Women. She organized groups and cycled through Lebanon, Syria, Jordan into Palestine to support peace and to demand an end to violence in Middle East. Ela is dedicated for creating space and connecting with communities through various ways. She organized art events with groups like  U2, Istancool, REM, Gevende, The Bambir and Bajar.

Born in Turkey, Ela studied International Relations and holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law as well as certificates in Public Relations from Simon Fraser University and in Global Advocacy from Minority Rights Group International. She furthermore took training on Global Advocacy: UN Bodies and Mechanisms at UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and on Hate Crimes and The European Legislations from OSCE. She also attended Art Management Program at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Ela has a fiery passion for ensuring equality and justice for all. Currently, she is working as Communications and Resource Development Manager for an anti-violence women’s organization Battered Women’s Support Services.

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Brittney Kroiss

Like many others, Brittney is an Ontario transplant. She grew up in Toronto and after a few years of living in Europe, made her way to the Sunshine Coast. She has come to find a sense of home among the mountains, salty air and wonderful communities of the west coast and begun to plant her roots.

While working in the sales and design field, she had the opportunity to work with the Austrian Consulate on their sustainability and green technology initiatives during the 2010 Winter Olympics. This shifted her focus from the profit-first sector towards a path that puts people and the planet at the forefront. Brittney is aGlobal Stewardship alumni. She is currently a Sociology and Sustainable Community Development student at Simon Fraser University. Brittney strives towards fostering a greater sense of belonging, awareness, and accountability.

Brittney is curious and always seem to be questioning the world around her. When she is not studying, she can usually be found with her nose buried in a book, chatting with strangers on the bus, lending a hand at UNYA’s Learning Centre, attending potlucks, on a hike admiring ferns and lichen, dappling around with art supplies, or challenging people to a game of Catan.

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Tobias Atkinson

Tobias Atkinson is grateful to call Vancouver home and very much enjoys going for slow walks in the North Shore woods with his lovely wife, Jo Lemay, and their two old-lady dogs.

Tobias really likes building and creating things, and especially enjoys working with wood and metal.  He spent ten years working in the trades.  Within that time, he gained experience in masonry, carpentry, cabinetmaking and landscaping.  He pursued a few years of formal apprenticeship in Furniture Making and Joinery, and has also completed a Diploma of Fine Arts.  Currently, he is a full-time student working towards a Bachelors of Education from UBC/BCIT in order to teach shop classes to youth.

His other passions include: youth justice, arts-based education, mental health, community education and advocating for youth in care.  He is a dedicated volunteer facilitator in the Community Education department for the Crisis Centre of BC.  In this role, Tobias regularly facilitates workshops with diverse high school aged groups on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as workshops on cultivating positive mental health through mindfulness-based stress reduction.

For the past year, he has been working on creating a non-profit organization called Hammer and Saw: Youth Building Community.  This organization will foster wellbeing with marginalized youth, and will centre on trades/industrial arts-based projects to meet real community needs.  Through woodwork, metalwork and graphic design, the participants will have the opportunity to create projects in response to identified community needs within East Vancouver.  The goal is to launch the project in the summer of 2014.

Tobias is super committed to the co-operative model.  He is a member of the Miller Goodwood Woodworking Co-operative shop, as well as a housing co-op, where he lives and acts as the Maintenance Co-Chair.

Tobias is an avid and committed lifelong learner, and places huge value on fairness and respect. This has brought him to the doorstep of Next Up and he is eager to learn from all.

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Tasha Henderson

Tasha has lived and worked across Canada – working frontline with marginalized communities, engaging young people in community development projects and speaking out about issues affecting youth from BC to NL.

Graduating with a BA in Sociology and Anthropology, Tasha started her social justice work in Vancouver with the Positive Living Society and has since worked with youth organizations such as Katimavik, the Columbia Youth Community Development Centre and developed a variety of youth workshops for schools and agencies across Montreal.  With a  passion for anti-violence work, Tasha worked as a Specialized Victim Service Worker in Trail, BC and earlier this year joined PACT-Ottawa to develop and launch “Project Protect”, a youth curriculum designed to begin a much needed conversation about domestic human trafficking.

Through her work with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the Ulluriaq Adolescent Centre, Tasha has been identified as a settler ally for Indigenous communities.  She is back to student life, pursuing her MA in Planning at UBC, specializing in Indigenous Community Planning.  Back on the West Coast, Tasha is excited to jump into the local scene and spend the rainy winter curled up knitting with a bunny by her side.

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Annie MacDonald

Annie MacDonald was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has always had a strong belief in social and environmental justice. Her understanding that our world’s current social and environmental issues are symptoms of the same problems underlies and drives her varied activism.

Annie is passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people.  For three years, she served as a member of Youth Granting for Youth, a non-profit organization that provided grants for youth-serving charities in Saskatoon. Annie worked for seven years for a program run through the Saskatoon and District Labour Council called the Summer Snack Program.  This program fills the gap that’s left when school lunch programs close for the holidays by providing nutritious lunches at inner city parks.

Annie believes education and awareness are a very important part of activism.  For that reason, she has been involved in organizing several awareness-raising events, including an ethical sweatshop-free fashion show, and an open discussion about the Saskatchewan Employment Act.  She was also a participant in a program called Women in Legislature, and had the opportunity to travel to the Legislature in Regina to dialogue with female government employees about the underrepresentation of women in politics.

Annie loves to travel and has lived in Japan and backpacked around Europe.  She is an English Literature major at UBC, and is also studying Spanish with the hopes that South America will be her next destination. She has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, enjoys cooking, and likes to knit. She is very excited to be participating in Next Up!

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Whitney Brown

Originally from Toronto, Whitney spent most of her childhood in Hong Kong playing rugby and discovering the best bubble tea shop in town. She studied International Development at Brown University where she began her social justice work in earnest. During her undergraduate studies, Whitney spent a semester abroad in western China working for a cultural conservation NGO, conducted research in both China and within the United States on disability advocacy and rights, and collaborated with other student-athletes to develop university-level forums on sport and social change. After graduating in 2009, Whitney worked for several years at a law firm in Boston in Public Finance before pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Although her Master’s thesis, which focused on bargaining models and nuclear North Korea, is certainly a conversation starter, her interest in human rights and legal reform has motivated her to pursue a career in social justice law. Now settled in Vancouver, Whitney works in youth education and volunteers at the BC Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Societyas she applies to law school this fall.

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Maya Chorobik

Maya developed a fascination for the environment at a young age, exploring the underbrush of west coast forests, observing insects, and creating imaginative worlds from the helm of a tree fort.

Maya went to school at the University of Victoria where she was involved with the UVic Sustainability Project and local food movement on campus. She holds a B.Sc. in Geography and Environmental Studies and is a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. Maya began working with City Green Solutions in 2008 where she has worn many hats and worked with a variety of stakeholders to advance energy efficiency in the built environment. In her current capacity as a Business Energy Advisor, Maya conducts energy assessments for businesses and organizations in the lower mainland and supports the implementation of energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.

Maya sits on the board of directors of Elements Society, combining her passions for the environment and youth education. She enjoys systems thinking, frolicking in the forest with her partner and dog, foraging for wild mushrooms, gardening, cooking and eating great food, and nesting in their Port Moody home.

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Scott Andrews

Scott holds a Masters in International Studies from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Economics from the University of British Columbia. Scott has chaired a number of committees with Oxfam Canada, Make Poverty History and has been a spokesperson for the We Can End All Violence Against Women campaign. In the private sector Scott has worked in a market research and sales capacity with Sauder Industries andUnifiller Systems, an industry leader in food processing and automation.

At the beginning of 2009, Scott took a position withICEF Canada as their Program Director in Uganda. After his tenure as Program Director, Scott stayed on with ICEF as a board member and has worked on their media and e-communications.

In the fall of 2012 Scott finished his thesis on the politics of development in Uganda and the implementation of the controversial 2006 NGO Act. A version of this paper was recently published in the Simons Papers in Security and Development.

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Omar Chu

Omar Chu was born and raised in the “Burquitlam” area before setting off to the University of Bradford to acquire a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Peace Studies. In Bradford, he became interested in migration issues as he became involved with several refugee organisations including serving as the General Secretary of the University of Bradford Union Student Action for Refugees Society. He also joined the Student Union’s Amnesty International society, became a mentor with PeaceJam UK, and helped organise the Media and Conflict Interchange and the Peace Studies Department’s Gender Day. Aside from volunteering and schoolwork, he played for, coached, and helped run the university ice hockey club. Having returned to British Columbia, he is now attempting to jump head-first into making his community and the world a better place.

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Megan Lau

Megan has been active in Vancouver’s arts and culture community as a writer, editor, production manager, and programmer for the past ten years. She earned her Master of Publishing from Simon Fraser University in 2011, and was the editor of Ricepaper Magazine, and a founding editor of Sad Mag.

Currently a publishing-industry pro by day, Megan loves using her editorial and creative skills to spread good and meaningful ideas. She is a voracious reader with relatively indiscriminate taste, but also a bent toward ideas and stories around food and food culture. An unabashed aesthete, Megan easily delights in art, performance, design and architecture.

A volunteer for the YWCA High School Mentorship Program and Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, Megan has community service in her bones. In 2013, she helped to transform the Vancouver Chinatown Night Market into an inclusive, accessible space for dialogue, community, arts, and small business.

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Joshua Prowse

Originally from Ottawa, Josh lived and worked in Canada’s north and on Vancouver Island before settling in Vancouver. He has volunteered with the Katimavik program on the Gitsegukla reserve in northern BC, cycled across BC while putting on a play about the environment with ‘The Otesha Project’, and WWOOFed in Quebec.

Since arriving in Vancouver, Josh has sought to apply his legal education to issues of social and environmental justice. He is currently a Staff Representative with the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union, where he represents the union and its members before the BC Human Rights Tribunal, the Labour Relations Board, and at arbitrations.

In his spare time, Josh co-hosts the program Common Law Radio on Vancouver Co-op Radio, trots out his limited cross-country skiing skills, and can be found hiking Vancouver’s nearby mountains.

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Amy Lubik

Amy completed her Bachelors of Microbiology at Simon Fraser University, minoring in English. During her pursuit of education, she passionately raised awareness and funds for humanitarian causes as the chair of the SFU Red Cross Club and SFU Doctors without Borders clubs; she also led the Swing Dance Club.

After completing her Honours project in HIV research, she traveled to Ukraine to teach HIV education at high schools/ universities. She then received a scholarship to do her PhD at Queensland University of Technology, where she studied the effects of hyperinsulinemia on prostate cancer and how off-patent drugs, which would be much more affordable for patients, could target those effects. While studying, she founded the QUT chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines and interned at Cambia Patent Lens.

Amy now works Vancouver Prostate Centre, and volunteers for municipal political committees and organization of environmental rallies. She dreams of revolutionizing health care to focus on prevention and affordability, and protecting the environment for future generations of humans and animals alike.

Amy also loves hiking the mountains and kayaking, and if science does not work as a career, her love of experimental  baking and canning will lead her to open a bakery and save the world with cookies.

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Tasha Nijjar

Tasha enjoys exploring how creativity and social change overlap and has worked with youth using art, film, theatre and social media to support conflict resolution, empowerment and leadership.  Tasha has also worked with Canadian Red Cross both locally and internationally, and most recently held the position of Co-Executive Director of YouthCO, a youth-run HIV organization. Currently, Tasha is volunteering with Sanctuary Health, a grassroots collective that supports health care for all refugees and migrants. Throughout her time working and volunteering with non-profit organizations, Tasha has done things like: facilitating workshops on HIV, child rights, and anti-oppression; provided support to survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence; and assisted refugee claimants arriving in Canada.  

Tasha is an aspiring seamstress.  She speaks English, French and Punjabi to varying degrees.  She loves earrings, travel (so far she has been to India, the UK, Japan, Kenya, Cuba, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Ecuador), dancing, fixing stuff, and wearing flip-flops.

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Stefanie Ratjen

With a professional background in project management and legislative research, Stefanie Ratjen has also worked with a variety of community groups, including theImpact on Communities Coalition, the AMS Resource Groups, and the Vancouver Renters’ Union.  Currently, she oversees the resource development strategy for the BC Civil Liberties Association. Stefanie holds a BA in Political Science from UBC. On sunny days in Vancouver, you’re likely to find her watching the cranes and reading at CRAB or New Brighton Park.

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Shea Sinnott

Shea was born and raised just outside Vancouver in the little community of Tsawwassen, and is very proud to call the BC coast her home. Shea studied Cultural Studies and Communications at McGill, where she wrote for several publications and worked off-campus tutoring  elementary-age youth. A passionate traveler, Shea also spent a semester abroad at the University of Melbourne where she became increasingly involved in media democracy. She finished her studies at UVic, where she focused on environmental sustainability and became interested in BC’s local green issues as a volunteer with the Dogwood Initiative. Shea now pursues her passion for environmental sustainability through volunteerism with the David Suzuki Foundation.

Today, Shea is Operations Manager of the grassroots organization OpenMedia.ca, where she enjoys her work managing the organization’s membership development and day-to-day functioning, as well as making sure the OpenMedia community is happy and engaged! Shea is eager to access the Next Up network and resources to deepen her knowledge of non-profit organizational development and creative, sustainable fundraising models. 

When not working or volunteering, Shea is a dedicated runner and a lover of good food and live music.

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Sean Peters

Sean Peters is a born and bred Vancouverite with a passion for social innovation and strategy. His work spans both near and far as his inspirations for social change are cultivated at home and internationally. After completing his degree at Simon Fraser University in Anthropology and Business, he co-founded Global Agents, a Vancouver-based social incubator recognized by the United Nations. In 2010, he co-founded the Global Catalyst Initiative, which works with early stage social ventures in East Africa. His goal with Global Catalyst is to connect brilliant entrepreneurs with funding and support in the beginning steps of their projects so that promising innovators can scale their impact. Sean currently sits on the board of Shark Truth and acts as an advisor to a variety of emerging social ventures. Sean has previously worked with Procter & Gamble in business development and has also consulted with Terasen Gas, UBC and the National Research Council. Sean is a past recipient of the SFU Impact Award and was recently recognized as one of the 100 Disruptive Heroes by Hackingworks. On sunny days you’ll find him in the company of a good book on the seawall in Vancouver or climbing rocks in Squamish.

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Rachel Tetrault

Rachel was born and raised in Vancouver to a family rooted in social justice.  Her activism started at the tender age of 12 when she successfully lobbied against Gatorade corporate sponsorship of her elementary school’s sports day.
She continued her dedication to activism after moving to Montreal where she got involved with Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and the student movement, while studying History and Photography at Concordia University.
Rachel brought the inspiration of Quebec student movement back with her to Vancouver, where she now lives.  Modeled off the student movement’s red square, she has played a lead role in spreading the blue water drop as a symbol of unity and opposition to the building and expansion of pipelines, the increase of tankers off our coast, and the development of the tar sands.
In addition to fighting for climate justice, Rachel works at Thunderbird Elementary school as a Support Worker for kids living with disabilities.  She speaks English, French and Spanish.  She loves to play ice hockey, make music, and dance, and is passionate about making, eating and analysing food.

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Jolan Bailey

Jolan Bailey is a gifted political organizer who skillfully brings people together to work for environmental justice. He grew up in Kelowna in family with strong Christian beliefs. While aspects of this upbringing were problematic for Jolan, he credits his family’s faith with having instilled in him the compassion that has informed much of his later work as an activist. In his teens, Jolan began to question hegemonic forms of masculinity, partially through theatre. When in his high school tried to ban students from performing a play about homosexuality, Jolan challenged the school. Through this experience, Jolan began to understand the ways that true compassion often requires pushing for institutional change.

Jolan left Kelowna for university, and majored in Environmental Studies and Economics at the University of Victoria. He was intrigued by the way these two disciplines often talked about similar topics but with strikingly different lenses. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree Jolan began a year-long internship working on ForestEthics’ Tar Sands campaign. Jolan soon found himself struggling to maintain a balance between the work he cared passionately about, and his own personal sustainability. Needing time to reflect and recharge, Jolan then took several months off to bike from Tillamook, Oregan to Guanajuato, Mexico.

Upon returning from his trip, Jolan was rehired by ForestEthics as the Canadian Outreach Coordinator. In this role, he has coordinated massive opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project. Jolan excels at logistical coordination, strategic thinking and encouraging cooperation between organizations, skills which contributed greatly to the success of the Defend our Coast day of action in October 2012. This spring, he will be working with Leadnow.ca on citizen engagement and action for upcoming BC election.

When not organizing action for progressive causes, Jolan enjoys spending time with his partner,cooking with berbere, and playing the ukulele.

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Jen MacPherson

Originally from rural Nova Scotia, Jen has worked within the intersections of nutrition, health and development across Atlantic Canada, Botswana and the Caribbean before calling Vancouver home.  A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University’s Masters of Public Health with a Global Health focus, Jen is passionate about identifying and challenging power structures that produce poverty, inequality and disease. She is currently a Registered Dietitian and Treatment, Health and Wellness Coordinator at Positive Living BC, an organization that seeks to empower people living with HIV through mutual support and collective action.  A strong believer in health care as a human right, Jen is excited to learn alongside individuals similarly passionate about changing the way the world works in NextUp. When not raising HIV awareness or teaching a course on Complementary and Alternative Medicine at SFU, you can find Jen snowboarding, playing volleyball, listening to live music or confusing people with her east coast expressions.

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Jen Kuhl

Growing up, Jen spent more time on theatre and dance than on politics or activism, but the roots of her passion for health justice trace back to her childhood. Jen’s father worked as a doctor in Vancouver’s queer village at the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and his stories of the systemic discrimination HIV-positive individuals faced left a strong impression on Jen.

After graduating from High School, Jen spent several months in Zambia volunteering at a community school. While there, she saw first-hand how well-intentioned and well-resourced programs can fail when designed by outsiders who don’t properly understand community needs.

Jen then went to UBC where she studied International Relations and got involved with the climate movement, notably choreographing a massive climate flashmob at PowerShift in 2009. She appreciated the youth-led, community-driven culture of the climate movement, a stark contrast to the more hierarchically-organized model she’d encountered in the international aid work, but continued to feel drawn to international health work.

Jen currently works as Network Relations Coordinator for Leadnow, as a research assistant for a study on health and legal needs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and as a preschool music teacher. In the future, she hopes to continue combine community-driven culture she experienced in climate campaigns with her passion for international health in a way that means health solutions for communities come from those communities. Jen continues to feel drawn towards international health work, but hopes to integrate aspects of community empowerment by learning how to engage communities in making change for themselves.

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Heather Forbes

Heather was raised in the small community of Merville on Vancouver Island, and moved to Vancouver six years ago to study Communications and Dialogue at SFU. Since graduating, Heather’s diverse volunteer pursuits have included everything from protecting wild salmon and promoting local food security, to advocating against undue surveillance of public space. Over the last few years, she has enjoyed the privilege of working with BC First Nations in the public and non-profit sectors. In 2011, Heather spent 8 months in Sierra Leone with Street Kids International, where she evaluated microfinance programs and supported social enterprise development. Today, she combines these disparate interests as Special Projects Coordinator for Vancouver Native Housing Society, where she runs the Skwachays Healing Lodge and Residence, a unique project providing subsidized housing for Aboriginal artists through social enterprise. Heather also serves as the Chair of the Vancouver Public Space Network, where she advocates for healthy, fun public spaces. If she’s not in the office, she’s either on her bike or the dance floor.

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Erika Stocker

The first thing you’ll notice about Erika is her love of life! She grew up on the basketball courts in Masset, Haida Gwaii. Erika is very connected to her Haida culture and celebrates it though traditional singing and dancing. Erika recently finished a Community Herbalist program from Pacific Rim College that focused on integrative health and traditional medicine. She is proud to be currently taking the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College. She is passionate about learning the histories and current issues of indigenous people across North America. Erika is also taking leadership in her community and connecting with the land and the elements. In the future, Erika hopes to develop a progressive, culturally-based school system. Travel is another one of her passions. Erika has had a number of different opportunities to share her awesomeness with people internationally. She participated in an elder and youth council in California, she lived in Tanzania as part of the International Aboriginal Youth Intern program through Canada World Youth, and she spent time in Guatemala on a cultural exchange with Mayan people. She is looking forward to returning to Guatemala this December to reconnect with the friends she met during the exchange. In January, she will travel with the Old Masset Youth council to New Zealand for a cultural exchange with Maori people. Erika is keeping BC Ferries afloat by commuting from Victoria to participate in Next Up 6!

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Edith MacHattie

Edith was raised in the small town of Carp, Ontario and has been living in BC for 6 years. Through her education she has earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. On this journey to education, Edith was inspired to learn more about social and environmental justice through engaging in community art, learning about feminist activism, and participating in student run organizations. Many summers working at Easter Seals camps for kids with disabilities also has a huge impact in shaping Edith’s life. Currently, Edith is working as an Occupational Therapist at the Centre for Child Development in Surrey. She works with kids in elementary schools who have many different abilities, and is constantly humbled by them and their families. Edith has become more involved in her union (Health Sciences Association) and is currently the Chief Steward at her work and is an elected member on the provincial bargaining team for this round of contract negotiations. She dreams about a healthcare system with a focus on prevention and community-based care, and wants to be a part of making that a reality!

One of Edith’s passions is creating safe and accessible spaces for people to feel a sense of belonging in their community. Camping and exploring come as second nature to this local farm loving, violin playing, silly making, do-it-yourselfer! Edith has two younger sisters, two cats, and is recently married. Edith is taking the world by the horns in this year’s Next Up cohort #6!

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Claudia Chan

Claudia Chan is an arts and culture enthusiast, educator, foodist, traveller and documentarian. She has the pleasure of collaborating with, learning from and working alongside some of Canada’s most inspiring leaders from journalists, chefs, farmers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, politicians, policy makers, artists, designers and creatives. With a vif curiosity and zest for life, Claudia is passionate about serving the many different communities in her hometown. Her involvements are a many and range from municipal politics, education, community organizing, language and cultural programming to journalism. She currently pens a column on local green initiatives with Scout Magazine, reports for a radio show on occasion for Radio-Canada, teaches French at Capilano University, and acts as the PR person as well as serves at Harvest Community Foods. In addition to her many roles, she volunteers with Growing Chefs!, sits on the City of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council and co-facilitates an underground collaborative art series called Late Nite Art.

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Bard Suen

Bard was born in Burnaby, B.C. to a single-working mother who staunchly believed in fighting for a better life for her children. Having emigrated from Hong Kong in her teens, she was the first and only child among her eight siblings to have had the privilege of attending University. Bard’s heart is grounded in a desire to make the sacrifices made by his parents worthwhile, and is also deeply rooted in a belief that our ecological crises are a result of urgent social issues within our community—those of inequity and injustice—that must be addressed if we want a resilient and effective environmental movement.

His work thus far has been generally focused on bridging different ethno-racial and professional communities in the local environmental movement. Bard served for a year on local non-profit RangiChangi Roots Society’s [http://rangichangi.ca] Board of Directors, an organization that worked to facilitate dialogue around local food and ethnically diverse food consumption practices. He led the youth engagement and outreach initiative at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)[http://policyalternatives.ca] on the Climate Justice Project (CJP)[http://policyalternatives.ca/projects/climate-justice-project/] where he developed a new high-school workshop on climate justice and transportation. Most recently, Bard has been working with local non-profit Shark Truth[http://sharktruth.ca] to design programming that will engage the Chinese community with issues beyond shark-finning and marine conservation. He has also assisted with numerous research projects in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, where Bard has grown to love qualitative research and research methodology.

Bard is grateful to have the opportunity to be part of Next Up, and looks forward to exploring how he can best contribute to social and environmental justice movement.

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Robyn Ashwell

Robyn loves to smile. Her smile and enthusiasm for life are rooted in her sense of place.  Alongside family, neighbours, and admired community leaders, Robyn has grown up hiking in alpine meadows, playing in backyard leaf-piles, exploring pacific beaches, and attending film screenings and festivals.  Robyn’s experiences in her community and in the natural world have served to deepen her connection to community, enhance her process of reflection and care, and energize her passion for sustainability.

Robyn obtained a bilingual degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development from Simon Fraser University.  At SFU, Robyn also participated in the Semester in Dialogue, was a director of the student non-profit organization Sustainable SFU, and served as a Residence Community Advisor.  These experiences allowed her to explore the roles of politics, community engagement and public dialogue in effecting social change.

Most recently, Robyn co-founded Shift Urban Cargo Delivery, a social enterprise that seeks to replace cargo trucks with pedal-powered cargo trikes in the goods delivery market in downtown Vancouver. Shift is organized as a worker cooperative, and Robyn is particularly excited about the opportunity to work with a dynamic team of young people, applying their ideals in a realistic and creative way.

Through it all, Robyn maintains that having fun is key, and to that end she loves to share food, discuss politics, hike, sing, bike and play.

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Whitney Morrison

Whitney was born and raised around the small northern community of Hazelton, BC., a home where she retains close ties. Whitney’s Gitxsan name is Luusketxw. She lives in Vancouver where she enjoys the diversity and dynamism of the city.

In 2010, Whitney received a B.A. in Political Science and First Nations Studies from the University of British Columbia. Whitney gained an appreciation for, and commitment to civic engagement during her work as a Team Leader with the Storyteller’s Foundation in northern BC.  In her time with the Foundation she worked with communities on food security issues, taking a leading role in planning gardening workshops and managing youth healthy eating camps She has also worked with the Assembly of First Nations as a Junior Policy Advisor and B.C.’s M.L.A. Stikine Office as a Constituency Assistant Intern. These experiences continue to be instrumental in her activist work today.

Whitney currently works as a Regional Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator with the Aboriginal Sports, Recreation & Physical Activities Partners Council. She embraces her work because of its focus on community-based initiatives and promotion of inclusivity. Her work with the Partners Council supports people to lead a healthier life, and she sees her role as an opportunity to tackle bigger issues within First Nations communities. Over the next five years Whitney sees herself becoming more involved in First Nations issues, and she hopes to play a role in facilitating the development of policies that support communities on their road to self-determination.

Whitney loves athletics and after a hard day’s work you can find her scoring goals on the soccer field, training toward a marathon or riding on her snowboard. She has an ongoing love affair with good coffee, and she relishes in her time spent road-tripping and writing. One day you’ll all catch Whitney as she heads north on her motorbike (well, that’s the plan, anyway J)

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Sally McBride

Sally is a self-professed public health nerd, and recently received a Masters of Public Health from SFU. Her research has broadly focused on the health impacts of climate change and she is passionate about moving toward a world where everyone is able to enact their right to good health. A transplant to the west coast from Ontario, Sally graduated with a BA in Anthropology from UVic in 2004. She spent 3 years working in end-of-life care on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. From there, she continued on to work in the Cook Islands for a grassroots organization advocating for access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and last year she interned in the Caribbean with the Pan American Health Organization researching the health system impacts of climate-related disasters. These experiences have taken her into an ongoing contemplation of the way in which illness and poverty are direct products of social policy, which continue to drive her community-based work. She is currently the Knowledge Translation Manager for a research team at UBC, working to develop innovative ways of sharing mental health research, and empowering people with mental health diagnoses to work in academic research. Sally loves to search for second-hand treasures, cook for friends, snowboard and swim. In the future, she sees herself heading north or returning to the South Pacific to work with communities on food sovereignty and health access issues.

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Ryan Cho

Ryan Cho currently teaches in the Music Department at Terry Fox Secondary School in Port Coquitlam.  He has a lot of random interests which have lead him to a lot of spectacularly random places and opportunities.  For the last three years he has worked as a Curriculum Coordinator with the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (www.psyl.ca).  He is an alumnus of the WUSC 2006 International Seminar on HIV/AIDS in Botswana, and spoke at the World AIDS conference when it came to Toronto in 2006.  Ryan currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Vancouver based education non-profit Check Your Head (www.checkyourhead.org) and has a big interest in how new technology is changing education and the impact of new technology on community structures and social change.  This year, Ryan is presenting two workshop sessions at the province wide CUEBC (Computer Using Educators of BC) Conference.

Originally from Victoria, he relocated to the Lower Mainland in 2007.  In his free time, Ryan is an active practitioner of the Japanese martial art of Aikido and serves on Provincial Executive for the BC Aikido Federation. He is also a baritone singer with the award-winning Chor Leoni Mens’ Choir (www.chorleoni.org) based in Vancouver.

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Rene-John Nicholas

Rene-John Nicolas is completing his 3rd year at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law. His keen interest in immigration and labour and employment law stems from his work with live-in caregivers and other temporary foreign workers at the Philippine Women’s Centre, the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association and the UBC LSLAP Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic. A born and raised Vancouverite, Rene has been involved with and passionate about the Filipino community in the lower mainland and has been a campus and community organizer for the last seven years. He co-founded Kababayan UBC, the Filipino Student Association of UBC, and the Kababayan Academic Mentoring Program (KAMP) at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School. KAMP is a mentoring program that helps newly-immigrated Filipino-Canadian students navigate their new and often challenging social and academic lives.

Following the completion of his degree, Rene will be articling with a union-side labour and employment firm in Vancouver.

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Marta Taylor

Marta is fueled by the idea of a compassionate and sustainable society. She is a committed civil servant and has worked for government at the local, provincial, federal, and international level on wide-ranging issues. Marta’s work has included evaluating outreach initiatives in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, drafting the Ghana AIDS Commission’s annual programme of work and budget, leading a census team for the enumeration of collective dwellings such as prisons and shelters, and coordinating home stays for international students.

Since 2009, Marta has been applying her strategic planning and policy skills to the City of Port Moody. Her passion for sustainability has led her to chair the corporate green team, organize the public consultation process and drafting of the Community Sustainability Plan, and plan for carbon neutrality for the City.

Marta has a genuine thirst for learning and holds a Masters in Public Policy, a Masters Certificate in Project Management, and a B.A. in Sociology. In her spare time, Marta loves to play ultimate Frisbee, sing in her community choir, and spend as much time as possible in the outdoors.

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Liz Vossen

Liz Vossen is driven by social impact, both on the local and global scale. Liz is an Investment Analyst for Vancity Community Capital, where she invests and finances social enterprises.

Liz’s most recent international experience was working as a Governance Officer at the First MicroFinance Foundation in Cairo, Egypt, as part of Aga Khan Foundation Canada Fellowship Program. Liz has also been a leading member of a Vancouver-based international development NGO since 2007; she works with local volunteers and representatives of a rural Kenyan community, and has launched several economic development projects.

Liz loves traveling to unique parts of the world, participating in cultural exchanges, and seeking out innovation and inspiration. She is an adventurer, a practical idealist, and believes that the most powerful thing in the world is an idea.

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Julia Pope

Julia Pope is a graduate of the Canadian Studies program at the University of British Columbia. She currently works as a communications consultant in the health care field. She has a background in journalism and communications consulting and spends an increasing amount of time as a political activist, campaigner and organizer.

Julia grew up in the Okanagan valley, a region that has experienced a profound transformation over the past decade.  Deeply concerned about the impact of the current economic cycle, Julia believes that serious changes need to be made in the ways that we approach the management of our ecosystems and the impact of human behavior on the biosphere.  She became active in electoral politics in 2009 out of concern over the decreasing intensity of environmental monitoring in BC, in a time of accelerated extraction. She is passionate about expanding political engagement and has campaigned for electoral reform and democratic renewal.

Julia describes herself as generalist and multidisciplinary enthusiast who enjoys looking at the world through the lenses of social justice, science, analytic psychology and Chinese medicine.

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Jess Van

Jess majored in International Relations and minored in French at UBC.  Her interest in traveling and culture has already taken her to France for a year abroad and she plans to add Istanbul, Saigon, Buenos Aires, Shanghi, and Mexico City to her list one day. She has an adventurous passion for new foods, hiking, yoga, and running.

Jess has an interest in inclusive social movements. Currently she works in Communications & Public Engagement with RangiChangi Roots. Her work involves facilitating workshops on the local and global implications of climate change and the importance of cultural diversity in the green movement.  Jess has also utilized her communications and social media skills with organizations like Canopy and projects like Speak In Images/Parler en images.

Jess would say that what matters most is family.  She has taken on the role of cheerleader, bathroom buddy, nurse, and social coordinator to her sister who was diagnosed with cancer this year.  You could say that the most important activism to happen in Jess’s life happened at home where she used social media to organize support for her sister and shaved her head to raise money towards cancer research.  Through her experience she’s become an inspiring and grounded individual with a clear sense of what’s important.

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Jenni Mathers

Jenni Mathers has a passion for the labour movement and the issues affecting working people.  Her journey with this began as a Shop Steward with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1400 when she was an employee with Extra Foods in Saskatoon.  After 5 years in that position, She moved to Vancouver, working in the hotel industry and becoming involved as a Shop Steward again with the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union (CAW) Local 3000.  Through these positions she experienced the processes of arbitration and collective bargaining, which galvanized her interest in the Canadian labour movement.  She became active in the issues around youth labour though her union local and the BC Federation of Labour. With the BC Fed, she had the opportunity to work with high school students, teaching them how to refuse unsafe work and to report workplace injuries to the WCB.  She is currently working with her local union to provide service for its members provincially and is a part of her local’s executive board as a Youth Member at Large.  She was recently appointed to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Young Workers Advisory Committee representing the CAW and considers her opportunity to represent her fellow workers and colleagues to be a great honour.

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Graham Anderson

Project-starter, social entrepreneur, and sustainable transportation geek, Graham Anderson is passionate about the power of communities and local governments to take action on climate change while addressing social justice.

In 2009, Graham attended the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark with the Canadian Youth Delegation, an experience that emphasized the opportunity for effective local action. Graham then went on to co-found Shift Urban Cargo Delivery, a co-operative social enterprise using heavy-duty cargo trikes to replace truck trips in Vancouver’s downtown. The Shift business model addresses transportation and environmental sustainability challenges within urban environments; two issues Graham has been drawn toward since growing up in the suburbs of Kamloops. He also currently serves on the board of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and the East End Food Co-op.

Graham recently graduated from SFU’s Economics Program with a minor in Dialogue and a certificate in Sustainable Community Development. Graham loves Vancouver, karaoke, dancing, bike trips, and singing in local community choirs.

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Gala Milne

Gala was raised on South Vancouver Island in the rural town of Metchosin. Accordingly, her first job was picking berries on the neighbor’s farm – an experience which taught her the value of hard work at a young age. Since those summer mornings, Gala has taught English in northeast China, cycled from Amsterdam to Istanbul to raise money for microfinance through Vancouver non-profit Global Agents, and most recently, was the 2011 coordinator of Media Democracy Days Vancouver. She credits her mother, a councilor and bold environmentalist, and her father, a former public servant in provincial government, for her commitment to social and environmental change.

Gala has a BA in Communication from SFU, currently works in programming at the Museum of Vancouver and enjoys producing radio stories for CBC. She also has a strong appreciation for the chaos of city-livin’.

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Eugene Kung

Born and raised in the shadows of the Pacific Coast Mountains, Eugene Kung strives to combine his legal education with a passion for social and environmental justice. Eugene has worked as a cook, a treeplanter and a postie, and is currently a staff lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, where he represents people and organizations who would not otherwise have access to courts or administrative tribunals. Eugene recently completed a CIDA internship with the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa, where he worked on domestic human rights issues such as access to education, housing, water and healthcare. He currently sits on the steering committee of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s Climate Justice Project, and is a Director of Pivot Legal Society and PovNet Society. In his spare time, Eugene is a mediocre musician, a so-so snowboarder and a horrible hockey player.

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Emma Pullman

Emma is a researcher, writer, campaigner and all-around environmental justice warrior. With a strong background in communications and social media, she has worked as a communications and social media strategist for various organizations. She is currently the Director of Research for Leadnow.ca. An avid writer, she is a regular contributor at DeSmogBlog and Rabble.ca, with pieces focusing on Canadian climate issues including Alberta’s tar sands, ‘ethical oil’, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, Keystone XL Pipeline and hydraulic fracturing. Emma holds a masters degree in Political Science. Between taking down climate change deniers and galvanizing Canadians to participate in their democracy, Emma can be found at farmer’s markets, tweeting and keeping her hands busy with crafts, cooking and gluten-free baking.

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Anna McClean

Anna was raised in the mountains of the Kootenays and has an affinity for small towns, which has informed much of her worldview. A believer in equity, justice, and inclusivity within social & environmental movements, Anna has spent three summers as an experiential educator at the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership, where she challenges young people to question their role as social changemakers. She is passionate about creating educational spaces where people can be pushed into their discomfort zone in order to truly unpack their relationship with complex issues and questions.  Currently, Anna is a Project Coordinator with Leadnow.ca, where she is working on weaving together the narrative of Canada’s democratic crisis in order to create the conditions for implementing progressive policies and practices. Anna has facilitated theatre workshops, hosted a radio program on local and global activism, run workshops on power and privilege, and performed as a B:C:Clette and Boomtown Garter Girl. She has a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Latin American Studies from UVic, and an M.Ed in Theoretical, Cultural, and International Studies in Education from the UofA. In her free time, she loves playing in the mountains, riding her bicycle and hanging out with the incredibly inspiring folks that make up her community.

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Aliya Dossa

A compassionate, optimistic Canadian, Aliya Dossa, 17, is Next Up’s youngest participant. As a co-founder of Youth4Tap, a movement encouraging people to drink tap water instead of bottled water, Aliya’s leadership has helped install water-bottle-refill stations in all Burnaby high schools. As a TEDxKidsBC speaker and one of Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 environmentalists in 2011, she has also done work to raise awareness in her school community about alleviating hunger and food-waste issues.

Aliya is an active member of the Ismaili community, through which she began volunteering at the young age of seven. She loves singing, dancing, traveling, reading, taking photos and playing field hockey and the alto saxaphone. She is passionate about environmental sustainability, human rights and social justice. She feels fortunate and blessed to be able to partake in so many incredible opportunities like Next Up, and is grateful for everyone who has helped and inspired her along the way.

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Wade Lifton

Wade is completing a masters degree at Vancouver School of Theology and hopes to be ordained in the United Church of Canada.  He is interested in the relationship between our inner lives, cultural norms and societal structures.  Wade co-founded theWATERproject.ca, an NGO developing rainwater harvesting with Ghanian villages, and worked for over ten years in children, youth and young adult ministry.  He holds certificates in performing arts and in youth ministry, and is defenseless against the power of chocolate chip cookies.

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Stephanie Gatto

Stephanie is a born and raised British Columbian who continues to be humbled by the natural world and our lives within it. Before finding the language to describe it, she became curious about people and the ways
in which we interact and, ultimately, shape one another. Early on, she was heavily influenced by sports; this led to an athletic scholarship to the States, which she soon escaped for something different. Following a conversation with a stranger, Stephanie was inspired to learn more about health and the factors that determine it: This led to a BHK from UBC and a Master in Public Health from SFU. She has a range of research experience including, work in an applied physiology lab at UBC, research in rural Malawi, and research with the CCPA’s climate justice project. Currently, she’s working with the Children’s Health Policy Centre at SFU. Stephanie is passionate about contributing to research that aims to deconstruct social inequities with the goal of reducing health disparities. In the spirit of full disclosure, she believes that a more equitable society will enable us to connect more meaningfully with others and the world around us. Outside of work, Stephanie can be found exploring the beautiful BC mountains, dabbling in music, and sparking up conversations about the mystery of life.

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Neelam Kham

Neelam is a youth passionate about creating change through grassroots movements. She went to Windermere Secondary School where she led the Organic Garden and ACTION Sustainability Club, is apart of Youth Made where she delivers anti-oppression workshops, is apart of Condomania as a Youth Educator on Sexual Health and HIV and AIDS, is a Global Citizens Coordinator with the Vancouver School Board, and went across Canada to film a documentary on Social Justice and Environmental issues. For Neelam, Next Up gives her the opportunity to amplify her voice & speak out about the injustices she sees & experiences within our system. Her hope is to create allies with peers and to create a ripple effect that will reach communities, countries and the world.

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Jocelyn Anderson

Jocelyn was raised in a small sunny town on the BC coast.  Her parents exposed her early on to diverse cultures and ecosystems which led to her passion of ecology and community building.  After gaining an undergraduate degree in biology at UBC she travelled to Bolivia, SA where she co-founded a volunteer program working with a local village to co-create health education and infrastructure projects. Her passion for creating strong community ties, innovative educational tools and infrastructure around safe drinking water was integral to the success and sustainability of the project. This time was one of transformation and lit the path to working on many more community projects with the YMCA, Envirothon, Be the Change Earth Alliance and Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP).  She currently works as a gift planner with the non-profit legal society Ecojustice and has enjoyed event planning as part of this role.  Her goal for Next Up is to shape her 5 year plan/vision and gain experience in facilitation and workshop creation.

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Jeremy Carlson

Jeremy is from Manitoba were he chose to study business administration at Red River College. He continued his scholarly endeavours at the University of Manitoba, where he majored in Psychology (Behavioural) and minored in Philosophy. Has plans to continue his education for a masters in Applied Behavioural Analysis. He chose to move West to pursue a different avenue then school for a while and became a member of the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Union. He is a third year apprentice, the youth coordinator for Local 118, a member of the following :BC Federation of Labours’ youth committee/task force, the Vancouver District Labour Council, and BC Federation of Labours’ Occupational Health & Safety and Labour Education facilitator program (educating high school students on rights). Jeremy volunteers time to the Earn campaign (Employee Action & Rights Network) and with the $10 now Campaign which helps to raise the minimum wage in BC. On his spare time, he likes to go hiking, biking, read, volunteer and go to a good concert with friends. Jeremy likes to be around people who stand up for what they believe in and take action in their communities.

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Imrahn Mitha

Imrahn is an economics enthusiast, political aficionado and a lifelong., die-hard fan of the Chicago Bulls.   Born and raised in Kisumu, Kenya,  Imrahn grew up  immersed in a broad and diverse base of cultures, ethnicities and world views.  From a young age he  was taught to appreciate the strength of diversity, pluralism and meritocracy in a society. Passionate about  addressing the issues of poverty alleviation and youth leadership,  Imrahn was selected to coordinate the Enhanced Learning Centre,  a leadership program geared toward the recent Afghan immigrants to Canada.  This experience brought about an appreciation for women’s issues, specifically the need for education and open dialogue. Imrahn was also recently invited by Global Vision and the Department of Foreign Affairs to serve as a Junior Canadian Ambassador.  In this role, he spent the summer in discussion and debate with the All China Youth Federation, over key issues such as  Economic policy, Food Security and the Environment.  Imrahn is also currently completing his degree at SFU,  majoring in Economics and English.  When he is not engaged in community projects or travelling,  Imrahn can be found shooting hoops at Ambleside beach, and playing the Ngoma at the Stanley park Drum circle.

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Deanna Rogers

Born on Cape Breton Island, raised on subtle landscapes and wild imagination, Deanna Rogers now finds excitement and comfort in the City of Vancouver. Here, Deanna has carved strong footholds and remains an active member in her community. She believes in fostering meaningful connections between academia, community and self; making space for education to be meaningful rather then routine. She is currently employed by Simon Fraser University with the mandate of expanding and growing the experiential learning culture of the university. She has also organized the first community consultation for the BC Walking the Talk’s new United Nations R.C.E. on Sustainability Education and designed and implemented a Community Zero Waste model for Metro Vancouver. No matter the venue common threads carry through Deanna’s work: creating space for dialogue, focusing on the larger picture and promoting alternative thought. Deanna will soon graduate from Simon Fraser University with a BA in Anthropology, a minor in Dialogue and a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development.

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Christine Boyle

Christine is a born-and-raised Vancouverite, who has never stopped being awed by the geograpy of this place. She has an BSc in Urban Agriculture and First Nations Studies from UBC, and an MA in Religion and Justice from Berkeley, CA. Over the years she’s worked for the Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the United Church of Canada, among others. She’s coordinated local community gardens, facilitated community kitchens, taught yoga, led youth retreats, ran workshops on environmental and social justice issues, spent lots of time chatting with people about their feelings, and fed hundreds of people at conferences, workshops, and in her home. Right now she is most excited about doing multi-faith community organizing, and amplifying progressive religious voices in our Canadian political discourse. In her free time she rides her bicycle, and enjoys the company of courageous people.

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Carlos Carvalho

I am currently an executive at large for CUPE 402. I chair the political action, and apprenticeship and trades committees, I also co-chair the young workers committee and the social justice committee.

I recently became an executive member for the surrey-newton NDP and the surrey civic coalition. I help coordinate social media and outreach programs for both of these groups.

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Brittney Kerr

Brittney lives by the credo, qui tacet consentire vidétur. Brittney is currently in the Masters of Public Policy program at Simon Fraser University and holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. Brittney’s work experience is primarily in communications and outreach with the Liberal Party of Canada and Vancouver Foundation. Brittney is passionate about tax and health policy – particularly surrounding mental health, addiction, and children and families – and values economic perspectives that support social equality. Brittney is actively involved with the Liberal Party of Canada and on an international level with her sorority, Delta Gamma. She also believes that “the time is now” for a poverty reduction strategy in our province. In her spare time, Brittney can be found reading, tweeting, and cycling with her fiancé.

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Brad Olson

Brad is a migrant to Vancouver from the not-so-flatlands of Saskatchewan. The deep roots of the cooperative movement and progressive politics of the Prairies, as well as the blatant disparity of Aboriginal people, have led him to constantly question the power structures within society. Through this questioning, he was led to Social Work and Vancouver, where he obtained a Bachelors of Social Work degree in 2009 from UBC. He has consistently been involved in work towards social justice, in both his day job, and activism. This has included being involved in a Theatre of the Oppressed troupe though YouthCO, work with Aboriginal and HIV organizations, student politics at UBC, and his current work on housing issues in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. He has worked for Vancouver Coastal Health, Healing Our Spirit, the School of Social Work at UBC, and currently BC Housing. He is passionate about community health, urban development issues, and poverty.

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Amanda Adams

Amanda is an environmentalist and outdoor enthusiast who grew up on the prairies and has since migrated west to the majestic mountains of BC. A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan with a BSc in biology and a BA in anthropology she recognizes the complexity with which environmental and social issues are intertwined. Just as comfortable in a sleeping bag under the stars as in a bed under a roof (perhaps even more so), working in the field of wildlife and conservation ecology has allowed Amanda to live and work in a vast array of environments from the Great Bear Rainforest to Grasslands National Park, often alongside members of the local communities. She has strived to share these experiences and the appreciation she has gained from them with others. Her love of teaching has led her to organize Bioscan at the UofS, public education events with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan and deliver workshops with the Child Hunger and Education Program. Amanda has also worked on a number of environmental campaigns including Say No to Nuclear in SK and most recently for a tanker ban on the west coast. She currently works as a member of a research team at the Centre for Applied Conservation Research Sciences within the Faculty of Forestry at UBC and is an interpreter at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

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Vivian Xudan Pan

As a recent graduate from UBC in Sociology and Economics, Vivian is interested in alleviating social inequalities through fostering inclusive communities, cultural integration and youth engagement. She currently works as a Constituency Assistant to NDP MP Don Davies for Vancouver Kingsway, while on the Executive of COPE, Vancouver’s progressive municipal party. Vivian is a co-founder of Fresh Media, a non-profit that celebrates independent media innovation, hosting a monthly series titled ‘Remixology’. She is an author of ‘Growing Community Roots’ a blog series featured on BeyondRobson.com which showcases food security programs and community gardens in Vancouver. In the past, Vivian has volunteered for NOW! Organization, Pivot Legal Society, Canadian Mental Health Association and Little Mountain Neighbourhood House. Vivian firmly believes that transition towards a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable community starts with a sense of belonging. When we feel connected to one another and the natural environment, the more empowered we are to make a difference in our community by taking care of what we belong to.

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Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze

Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze is a scientist and educator passionate about connecting mind and heart to help communities embrace times of rapid transformation.  Starting his career as a field glaciologist in the Yukon Territory and the Norwegian Arctic, he lived by and studied glaciers characterised by their complex and often abrupt response to gradual environmental change. As a researcher at the University of British Columbia, he joined forces with the Western Canadian Cryospheric Network to predict the future of thousands of glaciers in Western Canada, and their impact on water resources.  In the last couple years, Tom-Pierre focused on the interaction between natural and human systems, bridging his background in natural science and his experience as a teacher and community organiser to spark transformational conversations about collective change.  He currently works in community engagement, organisational learning, and democratic education.  Tom-Pierre holds a BSc in Physics from Laval University, a Masters in Geophysics from the University of British Columbia, and is a LEED Certified Professional.

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Suzie Dunn

Suzie Dunn is originally from Whitehorse, Yukon. She is a feminist activist who is presently the coordinator at the Nanaimo Women’s Resources Centre on Vancouver Island. She actively works to empower marginalized women including sex trade workers, low income and homeless women. She also works as a community based victim service worker at Haven Society where she works with victims of sexual and relational violence. As an active member in the feminist community, Suzie has worked with a variety of community members to create the Nanaimo Women’s Coalition for Advocacy. The goals of this coalition are to bring women’s issues to the forefront of politics and life.

In the future, Suzie intends on returning to the Yukon to work with youth by engaging them in paddling sports and the arts.

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Randy Galawan

Randy Galawan grew up on a farm in Richmond BC, where he developed a strong connection to the land and an affinity for the strong community feeling that exists there. He is a passionate educator, both with Check Your Head – who he is also on the board of, and as a freelance community engagement educator in the Marshal Ganz method of engagement. Randy’s passions include hiking and backpacking in Canada’s beautiful forests. He currently brings his experience in education, policy research and event planning to his work as a market campaigner, engaging book publishers to green their paper supply to preserve the forests he enjoys hiking in so much.

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Meriko Kubota

Meriko is Manager of Partnerships and Special Projects in the Grants & Community Initiatives department at Vancouver Foundation. She has been there since March, 2008 and her portfolio includes the Vital Signs report, the Neighbourhood Small Grants Program, theDowntown Eastside Small Arts Grants Project and Arts and Culture granting. Before coming to Vancouver Foundation, Meriko has worked abroad as a Special Needs Program Coordinator and Art and Music Instructor in a Nahuatl village in Mexico, as well as the International Internship Coordinator for CIDA at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC. Meriko is passionate about community development and is currently working on a project to make music lessons accessible for kids: Give Music.

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James McNish

Born and raised in the small and beautiful Prince Rupert (of which he advocates for all to come and see). Adventure and school pulled James from his home towards Vancouver where he has put his energy towards learning and engaging with the global ecological and social crisis. James is currently studying political science and sustainable community development at Simon Fraser University. He is the co-founder and outgoing President of the non-profit Sustainable SFU which creates, supports and funds sustainability initiates at his university. A strong supporter of electoral reform, James campaigned for the BC-STV Yes side and still dies a little inside when he is reminded about this failed attempt to modernize BC political system. James’ passions range from politics, to boardgames and is curious to reactivate his long lost love of theatre.

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Charlene Ponto

Charlene Ponto is a facilitator, researcher, and program manager passionate about bridging the gap between environmental and social justice movements. As the Project Coordinator of the SFU Local Food Project at Simon Fraser University, she coordinates community engagement initiatives and local food distribution projects designed to reduce campus food miles while strengthening regional food networks. Charlene’s international experience includes working on sustainable waste management projects in a rural village in the Dominican Republic and partnering with a Burmese grassroots women’s organization to support nursery school education and women’s economic development projects in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. More locally, she has facilitated numerous public dialogues, including an interactive dialogue on climate change and food sustainability at the Canadian Conference for Dialogue and Deliberation. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of SFPIRG, SFU’s social and environmental justice resource centre, and has recently joined the Board of Check Your Head, a youth-driven organization aiming to get young people involved in global justice issues. Charlene holds a degree in Cultural Anthropology, a minor in Dialogue, and a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development.

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Shelby Tay

Shelby has collaborated with diverse organizations throughout Vancouver to launch programs and events that engage people on environmental and social justice issues. In 2005, she joined Post Carbon Institute and coordinated the Relocalization Network, an international network of citizen-driven initiatives working to address peak oil and climate change through building community resilience. She is currently a member of Village Vancouver and the Vancouver Food Policy Council, and coordinates projects for the US national hub of the Transition Towns Network. Shelby is a (stubborn) generalist, always looking to learn new skills and understand problems from a systems perspective. She is inspired by the use of storytelling, social media and social enterprise models that enable communities of all stripes to learn and experiment — and is probably happiest sharing meals with friends amidst clicking knitting needles.

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Andrea Curtis

Since riding West from the Prairies in 2005, Andrea has been making waves on the West Coast in Vancouver as a community organizer and event producer. Hailing from a background in art making and arts organizing she has since fueled her passion for culture into a vehicle for social change and environmental stewardship. Andrea is a proud and active Next Up Alumni member. After completing the program in Spring of 2009, she joined the organizing team to assist in seeking out, supporting and unifying young, progressive leaders with the Next Up program. Aside from her work now as Next Up BC Coordinator, Andrea is Co-Director of creative project management company Transformation Projects. Andrea brings her experience in community engagement, creative strategy, leadership and facilitation to Next Up. For her Next Up has become more than a passion and experiment in providing tools and networks to our next leaders — It’s an ever expanding family and an investment in our collective future.

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Ashley Miller

Ashley is passionate about creating and sustaining collaborative spaces and events centred around environmental and social justice. Using grassroots approaches to community organizing and evolving an understanding of effective popular education techniques such as poetry, film, and arts are central to Ashley’s work.

She graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Social Work and a Minor in American Sign Language.  During her time at Carleton, Ashley was the founder and co-president of the Carleton American Sign Language Society (CASLS) and she has worked with a number of other noteworthy NGOs and community groups such as Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS), a grassroots community group led by the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Ashley identifies as a non-Indigenous settler and ally and has worked to educate non-Indigenous Canadians on the impact of our colonial history in her anti-violence and anti-oppression work.

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Ainsley Munro

The name Ainsley Munro isn’t the only Scottish thing about Ainsley Munro – she attests her resilience and strong family values to her Scottish Highlander roots. Growing up in Haliburton with a 27-acre backyard of thick forests and vast meadows, she always had a keen love for nature. Her parents encouraged this passion with summers spent camping, bear watching, and learning how to build shelters in case her infamous skill of getting lost left her stranded in the woods. Her interest in the natural world led her to start an environmental action group in high school after noticing that the school buses idled while waiting for students to board after classes. This group worked on various campaigns to make its school a more socially aware and environmentally sustainable community for students and teachers alike.

Her interest in nature and the environment led her to enter academia at the University of Waterloo, majoring in Environment and Resource Studies. She took advantage of the university’s co-op program to participate in Katimavik, a youth leadership and service program that brings 11 youth together for six months to take part in projects that help change Canadian communities. She volunteered in Quesnel, BC at a rural school, and in Montreal, QC with ATD Quart Monde and Santropol Roulant.

During her undergrad, she became heavily involved in The Otesha Project, a youth-led organization that uses bike touring to deliver theatre plays and interactive workshops for environmental advocacy. Her experiences with Katimavik and Otesha solidified her passion for community engagement and the intentional community lifestyle.

At all times, she strives to enjoy everything life has to offer and continues to engage in life with youthful wonder. Her passions and distractions include listening to folk music, painting, reading fiction, cycling, singing to songbirds and all things outdoorsy.

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Eleanor Ridsdale

Eleanor Ridsdale grew up in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. She was brought up in a lower middle class family that struggled to make ends meet for their four children. She spent her childhood biking, building forts in the bush, and surrounded by all sorts of animals – whether they were pets or strays her family took in; she was already developing compassion for animals and other children. Eleanor then spent some time after high school living in Jasper, Alberta working in the service industry. She eventually attended the University of Saskatchewan and finished a Bachelors of Education with Distinction in 2008. She did her B.Ed through the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teaching Education Program (SUNTEP), a Bachelors of Education program for Métis individuals. She is now working with a government agency. She is passionate about women’s self image, self esteem, and self belief issues. She believes women need to unite with each and start to mother this world in order for things to improve. She cares deeply for children and animals. In her spare time she enjoys hot yoga, making jewellery, hanging with her women and men friends, and spending time with her two lions and partner. Her dream would be to live on a self sufficient farm full of children and animals.

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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.

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Denis Thibeault

Denis Thibeault: a man of wealth (ish) and taste. Born an only child in Sudbury Ontario, he has since become a citizen of the world, fondly recalling memorable visits to Seattle, Greenland, and the most foreign of all: Newfoundland. A true Scotsman of the Armstrong Clan at his heart, he enjoys celtic folk and rock, and shows it while sporting one of his Kilts. He also prides himself in his Franco-Canadian heritage, speaking and swearing in full-blown frenglish often enough to not be named “Dennis”. He makes his journeys through Canada assertively driving to various sporting destinations, particularly for the sake of ice climbing. As a day job, Denis was as a Senior Youth Corrections Officer in the arctic, but switched back to his true passion, Wilderness Therapy. Of an evening, you may find him enjoying a fine pizza (It has all four food groups!) or if he is feeling classy, a fine Panzerotti, along with a fine Maudit dark Unibrou beer or the less chic Labatt Cinquante. While certainly a man of the times, he is truly proud that his cell phone can contact people without any apps and does not take pictures, leaving him a stalwart defender of the finer things in life.

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Annie Phillips

Annie’s formative years were spent with her family on a small farm in Nova Scotia, raised on home-grown produce, honey, blueberries, maple syrup, good books and with great neighbours. With the help of her father she built a semi-subterranean octagonal cabin, loosely based on the winter houses of the Salish people of interior British Columbia. Her initial urge to turn her back on the world and live the life of a hermit in her cabin changed, ironically, after her rich experience of life as a monastic at a Buddhist abbey in northern Cape Breton. This experience, of living in a supportive, respectful community of committed and like-minded people, lead her to seek out an intentional (or cohousing) community in Calgary (Prairie Sky Cohousing www.prairiesky.ab.ca), where she was honoured to live for the past 4 and a half years. Her volunteer efforts both at home and abroad with Habitat for Humanity in Honduras, the Calgary Women’s Resource Centre, The Mustard Seed, and Calgary Harvest have strengthened her belief in the power of community to create positive change in the world, and her desire to be part of that change. This one-time hermit loves to travel and learn about new places and perspectives, loves to stay home and support local food, music and community, cook for crowds, garden, hike, and make things with her own hands. Currently Annie works as a piano technician privately as well as for a local keyboard instrument museum, Cantos Music Foundation, teaches adapted piano lessons to students with special needs at a music therapy clinic, and provides musical accompaniment for the local Unitarian Church.

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Becky Best-Bertwistle

Becky was born and raised in Jasper National Park, she is an advocate for wildlife and nature. She is a recent graduate of Political science and Human Geography at the University of Alberta and is keenly interested in matters of environmental justice, conservation and education. She has done research into National Parks policy as well as oil and resource conflict in Alberta. She has worked with the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Jasper Environmental Association to conserve unique species and landscapes across the province.

Becky enjoys making music and being outdoors.

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Malambo Moonga

Malambo Moonga relocated to Edmonton in September of 2011 from Zambia, where he acquired training and work experience in policy, program development and training around matters of human rights, HIV/AIDS, gender equality and community empowerment, amongst many others. Being particularly passionate about participatory empowerment approaches, Malambo is a strong advocate for the need to mobilize communities into becoming the primary agents for progress and change within their communities; more specifically transforming institutions and societal structures. Committed to community involvement and development, Malambo was in search of ways in which he could continue to pursue his passion in his new city and in Canada. Thus Next-up has provided Malambo with the opportunity to interact with likeminded individuals and has exposed him to socially progressive organizations and activities in the area. Malambo often sees the connections between social justice issues in Edmonton and Zambia which in turn has ignited his interest in building relationships and connections with people and groups that are concerned with policy advocacy around the welfare of minority communities and fostering progressive North-South relations. Malambo is looking forward to enhancing his interest in international public policy through graduate studies next fall.

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Eva Bogdan

Eva grew up enjoying in wonderment the marvels of nature. Guided by her passion for the natural environment and the desire to understand her place in it, Eva pursued a BSc. in Environmental and Conservation Sciences. She chose to major in Human Dimensions in order to better understand what it is about the human species that causes them to live unsustainably on this finite planet. After a few years adventuring on organic ranches and volunteering oversees, Eva went on to complete a MSc. in Environmental Sociology where she worked on several projects related to food, food security, urban agriculture, and urban-rural interdependencies. Today, Eva has found her dream job working on food-related issues in the context of sustainable community economic development. Eva is continuing to cultivate her passions and explore her relationship with the planet and she hopes that her future will continue to be filled with interesting and meaningful work. In her spare time, she loves to dance, be outdoors, give abdominal massage (Chi Nei Tsang), read, promote human and environmental health, and enjoy a tasty and nutritious meal with family and friends.

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Charlotte Hannah

Charlotte is heuristic and a generalist, a true believer that everything that you could be paying for, can be done yourself, with a little confidence and maybe a friend. She believes that skill shares and trades devoid of cash money fit into a larger plan for minimizing social and economic inequities. She is currently part of a consensus based collective of folk running two not for profit d.i.y. bike shops. Together they run a number of low barrier programs for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to find themselves a solid mode of transportation. She is also one of three people in Muscle Memory, a bi monthly fundraiser primarily for folks in the queer community who need financial help with medical and legal bills. Due to her arrest at an olympic protest last year, she is taking full advantage of subsidized schooling offered to her as a youth involved in the Downtown Community Court. She is currently enrolled in VCCs Addictions Counselling Program. You’re likely to find Charlotte preserving birds, shooting cans, stenciling the neighbourhood or riding her bike.

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Claudia Li

Claudia is currently working at Shark Truth to promote awareness about shark fin soup in the Chinese community. More than just animal rights and conservation, she feels that this is a gateway topic into sustainability dialogue in general for the Chinese community – and one that is urgently needed. She is looking to build a community of likeminded folks to dialogue, inspire and share. Her passed times include cycling, rock climbing and cooking for her friends and family.

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Tria Donaldson

Tria is an alumni from Next Up Year 1. When she entered the program she was studying journalism at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. AT the end of it, she was working for the BC Government Employees Union, and helping found the BC Campus Climate Network.

Tria brings many years of experience working on climate justice and the environment. She is passionate about dealing with environmental issues in a fair and equitable manner that includes addressing systemic oppression and inequality. She is an active volunteer with several organizations, including the Sierra Youth Coalition, the Canadian Youth Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Last  year Tria traveled to Copenhagen with the Canadian Youth Delegation for the climate talks, and was the Project Manager for goBeyond, a youth driven climate project that works with 12 post-secondary institutions in BC. Tria currently works for the Wilderness Committee as the Pacific Coast Campaigner, and spends most of her time trying to shut down fish farms and coal mines.

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Sherese Johnson

Sherese Johnson is a MA Candidate in Environmental Education and Communication at Royal Roads University. She works for a small Vancouver-based company, Passion for Action, specializing in developing environmental education programs and tools for engagement. She is interested in the concept of sustainability and sustainable development and wants to contribute to bridging the environmental, social and cultural aspects of sustainability principles. She daydreams about various co-operative businesses and once she is graduated she (Finally!) she will champion the cooperative economy. When things get too intense her daughter often reminds her of the importance of humour and the power it has to spark hope and improve outlook. She loves the outdoors and as circumstances evolve she plans to be taking more of her work outside. She serves on the board of www.latincouver.ca, a cultural organization bridging Latin communities and Latin enthusiasts in the Lower Mainland. Sherese is helping the organization to integrate sustainable practices within its long-term strategic plan. They are helping her to understand what dedication and passion is and that change happens at a personal level to propel larger shifts.

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
– William Shakespeare

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Sarena Talbot

Sarena is passionate about social justice and creating inclusive communities, both locally and globally. She is currently pursuing this vision in her role as internal chair of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, a progressive municipal political party in Vancouver. She holds degrees in International Studies, Sociology, and Sustainable Community Development from Simon Fraser University. Sarena works with CoDevelopment Canada, a non-profit organisation that works for social change and global education in the Americas, and as a Community Connector with the Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network. A process nerd, she can be found facilitating youth capacity building workshops as well as board visioning and strategic planning processes. She is the Youth Coordinator on the Canadian Board of Servas, an international peace organisation that facilitates relationships between travelers and local folk. While wearing this hat, she also coordinates a program for international Servas youth to come to Canada to learn English and experience Canadian culture. When not in meetings or answering emails, Sarena enjoys spending time with her community of friends, sing-a-longs, sailing, salsa dancing, attempting to garden, playing non-competitive pick-up soccer, and biking around this city she has grown to love.

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Sahil Dhingra

Sahil did the Next Up program in it’s inaugural year while he was in his first year of law school at UBC. Since then, he has gone on to being involved in numerous initiatives at UBC and in the Vancouver community, including but not limited to: legal aid with the Law Students’ Legal Advice Program, running the UBC chapter of Canadian Lawyers Abroad, being a residence advisor, and coordinating the Student Olympic Collaborative – a unique student group which ran student engagement activities and discussions during the the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. After finishing law school in 2010, Sahil is in the process of completing his articling year and hopes to stay connected to the social justice community throughout his career. In his spare time, he is volunteering with Imagine One Day, an NGO working towards educating children in Africa, and training for a half marathon in the spring of 2011.

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Rachel Marcuse

Rachel Marcuse is currently a Masters candidate in Organizational Change Management at Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy in New York City. She was previously the Executive Director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), a major municipal political party in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rachel has successfully managed election campaigns at the municipaland provincial level and was one of the youngest campaign managers in Vancouver history.  In 2006 and 2007, she worked at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival, where she managed operations and a 400-person volunteer program for the largest theatre festival in British Columbia. In addition to her work as a manager, she has nearly ten years of facilitation experience — both freelance and on staff for PeerNet BC and YouthNet Vancouver/Montreal — programming and delivering workshops on facilitation skills, strategic planning, youth engagement, anti-oppression and more for organizations as diverse as the Dialogue Program at Simon Fraser University, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development. In 2007, Rachel spent time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, working in communications and development for La Base, an NGO which gives micro-credit loans to worker cooperatives. Rachel graduated with a BA Hon in sociology from McGill University, where she coordinated an orientation and facilitationtraining program, and expects to graduate from The New School in December, 2012.

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Neal Hicks

I am currently working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but am based out of Brooklyn, New York. In Rio, I have been working on community media projects in the Complexo da Mare favela. I was also part of a small team that produced a video advocacy piece in partnership with victims of torture suffered during the military regime in Brazil with the goal of furthering their campaign to open State archives. The video was presented at the Human Rights in Rio de Janeiro conference attended by the State Secretary for Human Rights in Brazil and the State Governor of Rio de Janeiro. In New York, I am completing an MA in International Affairs at the New School University, concentrating at the intersection of media, governance and rights. I have worked with Witness, an international video advocacy NGO and most recently the United Nations, Civil Society Division. My current focus is on media for change.

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Luisa Irene Fisher

Luisa’s background includes time as board member/staff person/volunteer at Check Your Head: the Youth Global Education Network, as program facilitator at the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership, and much involvement with BC-based student environmental initiatives. Her name has also appeared above many music-related writings. Currently, Luisa is working toward a degree in Literary Studies at the University of Toronto, where she reads slightly more than is humanly possible on a weekly basis. She is concerned with how narratives shape the way we see the world around us — how does the political (broadly speaking) manifest itself in culture? In the longer term, she is on her way to becoming a librarian.

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Iglika Ivanova

Iglika’s work investigates issues and trends in health care, education and social programs, and examines the impact of public services on quality of life. She also looks into issues of government finance, taxation and privatization and how they relate to the accessibility and quality of public services. Iglika’s other research interests focus on the Canadian labour market and in particular trends in income inequality, low wage work and the integration of immigrants.

Iglika holds an MA in Economics from the University of British Columbia and a BA in Economics from Simon Fraser University. When she is not in the office, she can often be found swing dancing or sailing the coastal waters of BC.

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Erin O’Melinn

Erin lives and works towards building a more sustainable city and region and wants more people to have healthier relationships with each other and the planet. She is Executive Director at HUB, providing cycling education and encouragement, and fighting bike lane battles left, right and centre (who knew bikes were so evil?). In her free time, she volunteers with the Vancouver Public Space Network, who have been making their mark through better urban design, art, local food, and engagement in all that and more. She is on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Biking and Walking – a North American umbrella organization to push forward active transportation. With her Master in Urban Studies, Erin loves geeking out about building massing, dissecting billboard effects, and finding new public gardens around town.

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