Next Up Edmonton 2013-2014

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Meet the current Next Up Edmonton Year 5 group (2013-2014)!


Becky Best-Bertwistle BeckyBestBertwistle

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.

Elauna Boutwell ElaunaBoutwell

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.

Sean Bradley SeanBradley

Born and raised in Edmonton, Sean has learned to appreciate the values of cooperation, community, and collectivism (values he believes most Albertans also 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 volunteer with the Jasper Place Permaculture Program, offering high school students an opportunity to learn about food, system design, environmental sciences, and the power of collaboration. Currently, Sean works as a coordinator for the Global Café, a student-run safe space at Jasper Place High School seeking to prepare youth to become intentional citizens, and give them a voice within their community.

Sean’s interests include: urban agriculture, cycling & alternative transportation, addiction theory, feminist & queer theory, inclusive education, and outdoor pursuits. When he isn’t at school or in the garden, Sean can be found promoting bikeable and walkable neighbourhoods, writing & listening to spoken word poetry, or meeting people at community events.

Excited to be a part of Next Up 5, Sean hopes to develop leadership skills and become more versed in the political processes that affect social change in Alberta.

Jessie Breton JessieBreton

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 (, 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.

Blaire Christensen BlaireChristensen

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.

Arsheen Devjee edm arsheen

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.

Manuel Escoto ManuelEscoto

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.

Jill Hoselton 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.

Aleah Loney AleahLoney

Originally hailing from Calgary, Aleah grew up in British Columbia and completed her undergraduate studies in Montreal, Quebec. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Development Studies from McGill University. Throughout her time as a student, she is grateful to have had the opportunity to travel abroad, living briefly in upstate New York, San Francisco, and Sweden.  She developed a passion for social justice at a young age, in large part due to her incredibly supportive family.  She has worked with organizations such as Rotary International, Farm Sanctuary, End Poverty Now,, and the Climate Project. She served on the Greenpeace USA Student Board from 2009-2011 where she honed her community organizing skills and co-created a training manual for youth to become active leaders in their communities.

Aleah currently works with the Council of Canadians and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. She is involved with Alberta’s NDP and is also honoured to serve on the board for the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation.

She’s proud to call herself a new Edmontonian and is looking forward to working towards a more inclusive, liveable, participatory community in Edmonton and beyond.  She loves to speak French, watch documentaries, and makes a pretty mean batch of popcorn.

Terry Noel TerryNoel

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.

Alec Stratford 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.

Dan Scratch DanScratch

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!

Heather Sweet 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.


Ryan Williams RyanWilliams

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.