Marin loves love and passionate people. After completing her undergraduate degree in education, Marin decided to fulfill her dream of volunteer teaching in a school in Arusha, Tanzania. There she came face to face with the depths of colonialism and the cycle of poverty, which inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in Theoretical Cultural and International Education with a focus on social justice. Currently, Marin teaches grade 6 French immersion in St. Albert. She believes in the power of children and loves getting them excited about learning. Her goal as a teacher is to instil love, acceptance and compassion in her children and empower them to effect change in what they are passionate about.
When Marin isn’t teaching or thinking about social justice, she spends her spare time in the mountains or on her yoga mat. She recently completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification and jumps at opportunities to teach and share the practice of yoga wherever she can.
Marin is so excited to be a part of Next Up. She cannot wait to connect with like-minded people, learn more about social and environmental justice and further develop her leadership skills in order to better effect change and develop stronger communities. YAY!
Born in Italy and immigrating to Canada two years later, a tone was set for Fatima's life, one of travel and exploration. Her early years were spent in motion, moving all over Canada, before coming to Edmonton in Grade 7. Her mind, however, never settled. She began to write and to discover the writing of others, like Emma Goldman & Dostoevsky. The hierarchy of schooling isolated her, but she kept writing and eventually found another kind of liberation in celebration, in partying and sharing joy with others. And it was then that she returned to her family's roots in Somalia, living in Bosaso for over a year. Her life changed and, upon her return, she began to throw her own parties, to treat celebration as an act of creation, where positive, joyful spaces could be made. With a couple close friends she began renting venues and playing music once a month. The practice grew.
Fatima continues to write stories, about people, the basic things that connect them, and the complexity within those basics. She feels compelled to write because there is so much that doesn't reflect her life. Most recently, she has begun working at Boyle Street Community Services as a winter emergency response supervisor.
Damien Lachat is a first generation settler and a recent graduate of the University of Toronto with a double major in Philosophy and Equity studies. In his studies he expanded his knowledge of current race, gender, class, and sexuality education which he continues to use daily in his discussions on social justice. Damien is a proud member of a forward thinking community and his passion for social justice is recognized by his peers. His education also includes studies at NAIT, studying Materials Engineering Technology which extended his curiosities regarding practical crafts. When he’s not engaging in conversations on social justice politics, Damien enjoys his time reading, watching movies, exploring pop culture, and playing the ukulele. His favourite movies include but are not limited to, Amelie and The Dark Knight. Damien Also has an incredible and deep love of small mammals in the family Leporidae, particularly bunnies.
(Dara) Yvette Thompson spent the first half of 2014 fostering the creation of a Climate Adaptation Strategy for the Government of Alberta, and is an advocate for meaningful environmental action. She still works with the provincial government, flexing her communication muscles within Environment and Parks. While completing her MSc. in Agricultural and Resource Economics, focussing on the impacts and possibilities of REDD+ policies in the Congo Basin Rainforest, she spent much of her time contemplating purpose, life and how to truly make a difference. That led to completing her 200-hour YogaWorks yoga teacher training, spending time setting goals in the happiest place on earth (lululemon) and getting to know herself, beyond academia.
A skilled communicator, she spends her time considering behaviour around consumption and values, identity politics and how to eliminate jargon from the English language. As a former news radio storyteller and environmental advisor, Yvette is looking forward to launching a podcast about self- and eco-awareness (likely including her Prius named Bambi) after she finishes exploring Calgary with her fiancé Connor.
Sarelle Azuelos grew up in Unity, Saskatchewan before moving to Calgary to attend university. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and a minor in Communications at the University of Calgary and has continued to live in the city ever since.
During her time at university, Sarelle became involved in student journalism, which launched her interest in social justice issues. She worked her way up to the position of editor and chief at The Gauntlet, the U of C’s campus newspaper. Despite graduating, she’s still often found on campus working on episodes of Yeah, What She Said, a radio show focused on feminism and women’s issues on CJSW.
Currently working at the Women’s Centre of Calgary as the Communication Coordinator, Sarelle enjoys working in the peer model and getting to know women who come to the Centre.
In line with her passion for social justice, Sarelle has worked at the Discovery House in the past. During her free time, you can find Sarelle enjoying a good book, going for a hike, or riding her bike.
Lauren grew up in Calgary and has always been mindful of building community. She was in the final year of her studies at the University of Calgary when she took the Women’s Studies class that made her realize she wanted to pursue social justice seriously. Sweatshops caught her attention first and she found the issue to be a gateway into feminism and environmentalism. She was struck by a Suzuiki quote “what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves” and began to live with this in mind. During University she volunteered at the Women’s Resource Center, and Green Calgary, and later went on to work for Green Calgary as an Educator. She currently works for The City of Calgary in Waste & Recycling Services with a focus on diverting and reducing waste for businesses. Lauren loves to “trash talk” with anyone, any day of the week! Being able to speak to the public and educate others about waste reduction is her favourite part of her job. She loves running and is currently training for her second ½ marathon, and loves to use cycling as her primary form of transportation. Lauren also loves reading, writing, and music; she sings, plays piano and guitar, and is learning the Mandolin. In her spare time she is a self-professed “festival fanatic“, watching as many films as she can, and making sure to go to Folk Fest each year. She lives her life with the motto: “I will do the best I can.”
Ana Lucia was born in Argentina and came to Canada at a young age with her mother and grandmother. She completed her degree in Anthropology, French and Spanish at U of C before moving to Ukraine, Toronto and then back to Calgary. Ana Lucia is a pen pal to a dentist in New York, her former neighbour in Toronto, and several long-time friends in Ukraine. She sees the world through a storytellers lens and finds inspiration when connecting with people from various walks of life.
Ana is a self-described vanilla-over-chocolate, cats-over-dogs kind of person. She has worked within the non-profit sector for eight years and attributes her motivation for social change to the personal connections she has to issues.
She believes in working towards a world in which everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential and admires most the people in her life that turn their ideas into action.
Ana Lucia is an avid cyclist on the road and in the spin studio. She also enjoys photography, cooking and going for walks.
Born and raised in Calgary, on Treaty 7 territory, Matt is deeply passionate about fighting for climate justice.
While studying at the University of Victoria he broke his teeth on campaigns by campaigning for and being elected as Director of Finance and Operations for the UVic Students’ Society. In this role he helped to organize the youth climate justice conference “Power Shift BC” that drew over 1000 youth to develop their skills and grow the movement. He also worked to increase student engagement because he believes that change comes from engaged communities.
Currently Matt is fulfilling his call to climate justice activism as a core coordinator of the Calgary Climate Action Network as well as attending COP21, the climate talks in Paris, as part of the Canadian Youth Delegation.
When Matt is not participating in conferences, rallies, or doing climate activism, he bikes, plays board games, and watches way too much nerdy TV (anything by Joss Whedon).
Syma grew up in Edmonton, where, after she obtained a degree in Philosophy, she began to advocate for food justice, feminism, accessibility, and trauma-informed spaces, and connecting these ideas to create impact in at-risk communities. Since moving to Calgary, Syma works as the Community Action Coordinator at The Alex Community Food Centre, a dignified community space focused on growing, cooking, sharing and advocating for good food for all. Her main focus is building community capacity and supporting neighbours in community-led advocacy initiatives.
Syma’s focus in all the work she does is to create an atmosphere where change making is accessible to anyone. She strives to be relatable, and believes that lasting revolution lies in sharing our stories through art and over meals. She believes that by allowing ourselves as activists to be radically vulnerable and open to all the people we encounter, we are able to consider their stories as well, and can lead with love first. Syma loves yoga, walking everywhere, writing for children, learning to make anything, dancing, mountains, trees, feasts, and spices.
Since childhood, Nav Jassar has been drawn to social and environmental justice issues. Growing up experiencing different forms of injustice has helped shape her worldview. With “hard core anti-establishment” roots, she is most interested in issues of structural violence, power and privilege, and holistic grassroots development.
Today, Nav is a Lodge Keeper at Mahmawi-atoskiwin, a local indigenous agency that advocates for client families and provides culturally relevant resources for healing trauma. She completed her Development Studies degree at the University of Calgary with a focus on Indigenous Studies and Political Science and was very involved in the campus community.
Nav has previously worked and volunteered with various agencies around the city including the Distress Centre, Big Brothers and Sisters, the Boys and Girls club and the YMCA in a variety of positions including front-line crisis work, afterschool programs and youth mentorship. She has also worked overseas on a number of projects spanning Asia and Africa, including a CIDA internship at a local radio station in rural northern Ghana. Through her involvement with NextUp, she hopes to find her social justice niche, gain new skills, and move toward a future in policy and critical analysis.
In addition to her pursuits for creating a more just world, Nav loves to travel, play sports, have philosophical discussions about life, and hopes to improve her poetry writing ability.