Next Up Ottawa 2013 – 2014

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Meet the current Next Up Ottawa Year 2 group (2013-2014)!

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.

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.

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.



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 spearheading’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’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.


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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.