NU Ottawa growing and getting stronger!



Next Up Ottawa wants to welcome our newest cohort of fifteen young leaders for the 2016-17 cycle. Our participants hail from a wide range of fields: labour, anti-racism, migrant justice, student campaigning, environmental justice, indigenous sovereignty, human rights law, and more. In coming together to strengthen skills and build networks, our new participants promise to engage the dynamic activist culture of our city. With over sixty local graduates, the Next Up Ottawa community is steadily growing and getting stronger!


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NU Edmonton 8 - off to a great start!

This is Next Up's 8th year in Edmonton! Our cohort of 13 people work in a wide variety of areas including supporting marginalized folks in Edmonton's inner city, organizing a union drive in their workplace, and working with youth to explore ideas of reconciliation. 


An exciting event recently organized and attended by current NUppers and alumni was the Bread and Roses Feminist Campaign School. This event brought together progressive women and non-binary folks who are involved, or thinking about getting involved, in electoral politics. Folks learned new skills and made important connections. 


This year we said goodbye Lindsay Ruth Hunt as Program Coordinator and thanked her for her five amazing years as coordinator! Happily, she is now on the Advisory Committee and joined us for this year's orientation. We welcome Laura Collison as our new coordinator. Laura is a public educator who was part of Next Up 2 and has served on the Advisory Committee. She is thrilled to take on this role and is looking forward to an exciting year with cohort 8! 

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Colonialism isn't behind us

In this podcast, Next Up grads Max Fineday (Saskatoon 1) and Janelle Pewapsconias (FNMI 1) along with Cindy Blackstock talk about the colonial sources of our greatest national health emergencies, and how the processes of colonization aren't in Canada's history, but still grow and perpetuate in our politics and communities today.

(reposted from

click on the play button to listen to this podcast.

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Congratulations to Next Up alumni elected to Saskatoon City Council

Congratulations to Next Up alumni Sarina Gersher and Hilary Gough who were elected to Saskatoon City Council on October 26, 2016. Gersher is a GIS analyst has worked at Meewasin Valley Authority, was a board member of Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and was a founding member of Bus Riders of Saskatoon. She completed Next Up in 2013. Gough has been Operations Manager at Upstream Action, a non-profit organization focused on social determinants of health. She has also been an active member of Saskatoon Cycles and a mentor at The Princess Shop. She completed Next Up in 2014. 


Saskatoon's new City Council. Next Up alumni Hilary Gough (fifth from Left) and Sarina Gersher (fourth from Right) were elected on October 26, 2016.

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Claudia Li, environmentalist

This summer NU 2009-10 alum Claudia Li was featured in the Globe & Mail's The Food 53, which celebrates influential people in Canadian food.

Claudia Li: Her NGOs promote food justice in the context of Chinese culture and cuisine


By Cliff Lee 
The Globe and Mail

August 2016


The future of Chinese food and culture in Canada has never been as secure – and it’s because Claudia Li is looking to her roots to find the way forward.

Seven years ago, the Vancouver resident founded her first non-profit organization. Called Shark Truth it raises awareness of the environmental consequences of harvesting shark fin, one of the most coveted delicacies in Chinese cuisine. By working closely with restaurants and couples choosing a wedding menu, the group says they’ve managed to save more than 8,000 sharks from becoming an ingredient in about 80,000 bowls of soup.

In 2013, Li co-founded the Hua Foundation, a group that works with Chinese-Canadian youth to promote environmental and social change. One of its biggest successes has been The Choi Project. To fight against the carbon footprint of imported produce, the initiative teaches young people in Vancouver how to grow Chinese vegetables locally right in the city.

“You have to give people the tools and resources to grow their community the way they know how,” Li says.

Li, 29, says she is inspired by the enthusiasm for cultural change she sees in other people her age. She has paid attention to the work of indigenous youth groups, for example, and how creative they’ve been while doing it trying to preserve language, honour elders and pass on traditions.

Food, in Li’s experience, is the best vehicle for effecting change in her own community. She notes that many Chinese, in a custom rooted in harder ancestral times, often greet visitors at home not with “how are you?” but rather “have you eaten yet?” 

And so the Hua Foundation has also hosted dumpling-making classes led by elders keen to pass on the knowledge and worked with grocers to create bilingual signs that highlight locally grown vegetables.

Li, who is also a fellow with the social-entrepreneurial network Ashoka, recently stepped away from the day-to-day operation of the Hua Foundation. She is looking for her next big project. While she is still unsure what form that will take, the progressive achievements of Shark Truth and Hua are never far from her mind.

“The root of where my work comes from is the story of my grandmother and the dishes she taught me to cook,” she says. “Those will stay deep inside my bones until I die.”


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NU Ottawa's Stacey Gomez is fighting for a more inclusive movement

Stacey Gomez, a graduate of Next Up Ottawa's fourth cycle, is working as the Action Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University in Montreal. Check out this article and video to hear her eloquently explain why she participated in organizing a new march to oppose sexual violence.


“We wanted to offer an alternative to Take Back the Night,” said Stacey Gomez, a march organizer.

“We don’t just want the night, we want the whole day to feel safe.”


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Lauren Montgomery (Next Up Ottawa) working to confront rape culture at her university

Lauren Montgomery, a graduate of the third round of Next Up Ottawa, is a PhD student and Chair of the Women's Caucus at CUPE 4600, the union representing teaching assistants and contract instructors at Carleton University. Lauren has been on the front lines in a struggle by Carleton students and unions to compel the university to improve their sexual assault policy.


“I want to see prevention mechanisms that are really concrete, like mandatory consent training for everyone on campus. I want it to be embedded in the curriculum. I want it to be something that’s a part of courses,” Lauren told the Ottawa Citizen; the story was recently featured on their front page.


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A day in the life of Christopher Clacio: In his own words

AYO Next Uppers,

Kamusta! My name is Christopher Clacio. I was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB on treaty 1 land of the Anishinaabe Nation. This is also the home of the Metis Nation. (I would also like to acknowledge that this whole planet is indigenous territory.) One thing to note is that I'm Filipino, but the thing that connects my life with indigenous communities is the concept of Family.  I am very active in the North End of Winnipeg with a youth movement called AYO, Aboriginal Youth Opportunities. 

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Chris Chang-Yen Phillips is Edmonton's Historian Laureate

Chris Chang-Yen Phillips named Edmonton's 4th historian laureate

Edmonton's newest historian laureate is not your typical historian

(Source: CBC News  posted April 6, 2016)

Chris Chang-Yen Phillips doesn't have a history degree.

In fact, he's a far cry from the traditional history professor in many ways, but that didn't stop him from becoming Edmonton's latest historian laureate. That he's atypical is perhaps the most exciting thing about his new position, he said.


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Climate Justice Saskatoon is in Full Swing in 2016!

Among other mobilizing events around climate change, alumni Rachel Malena-Chan and Andrea Cessna, along with current NUpper Justin Fisher, have been directing their effort toward a media project that highlights issues surrounding climate justice. These 3-5 minute tutorials aim to bridge the gap between active supporters and those who may not know how to get involved in the movement by providing information, resources and key-messaging. Moreover, this series of short videos intends to create a platform for Indigenous voices, young people, people from frontline communities in Canada and the rest of the world, and others who are disproportionately impacted, to speak out against climate injustice.

Check out our videos on demystifying climate justice, pipelines and the People's Injunction, individual choices vs. systemic change and urgency

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