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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.