Next Up Vancouver 2011-2012

Meet the current Next Up Vancouver Year 5 group (2011-2012)!
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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.


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, 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.


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 An avid writer, she is a regular contributor at DeSmogBlog and, 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.


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.


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’.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 (  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 ( 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 ( based in Vancouver.


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.


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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