Matt is originally from a small village in Ontario. After finishing high school, he went on to study Canadian social history (with a minor in Russian) at university. Upon graduation, Matt travelled to South Korea to teach English and save money for graduate school. When he returned, he went on to complete a Masters of Information at the University of Toronto (also know as Library Science). This is significant to him as he has many fond memories of spending hours at the library in his community as a child and student. He is very passionate about matters of antipoverty, equity, workers’ rights and public transportation. He is currently enjoys reading about linguistics and urban planning and learning Korean through a combination of selfdirected learning and podcasts.
Mariam spent her formative years in Pakistan (learning to walk and teaching elementary school), Texas (doing interfaith work and coaching at-risk youth) and Montreal (where she commenced her studies in economics at Concordia University). Her affection for ‘data’ grew as she grappled with ideas of permaculture, social innovation, participatory planning, collaboration, communities of knowledge and design for the 99%. As these ideas percolated, she discovered her tribe at Sustainable Concordia, advocated for sustainability in higher education (at Concordia and McGill Universities) as well as working at international non-profits.
Nowadays, Mariam is keen to use intentional language, is a voracious reader (which dates back to her childhood), finds value in doing meaningful work, and has a wonderful time discovering Calgary.
Inspired by the challenging experiences that she faced while growing up and attending university in South Korea, Heejung (이희정) decided to pursue Social work upon moving to Canada. Her purpose in engaging in justicebased work is to create safe, caring, compassionate and inclusive community for all. In her work and life, she seeks to raise awareness of and challenge the many issues that deprive us of our humanity and create social divisions. The desire to treat all human beings with dignity and respect underscores her worldview. Heejung currently works with immigrant women and their families, helping them to feel empowered and to overcome the barriers they face in their everyday lives in Canada. In her free time, she recharges by reading, listening to music and grounding herself through solitude and reflection.
A hitchhiking trip from St. John's back to Calgary taught Josh to trust in others and himself, and launched a new direction in his life. Now, as a social work student at Mount Royal University, Josh is interested in doing work at the community level to change how our current social structures operate, and improve social, agricultural, and environmental sustainability. He has worked with CommunityWise Resource Centre and in seniors care centres. In his spare time (when it's not exam season), Josh can be found working on improving his own self-sufficiency and personal development in his greenhouse, in a philosophical book, or on a mountaintop.
As a registered nurse, Claire is interested in working at the intersection of health and community development. After studying nursing at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Claire moved her passions abroad, focusing her efforts on global health and HIV work in Rwanda. Upon return to Canada, Claire gained experience in a variety of clinical settings including BC Children’s Hospital, Options for Sexual Health, and Ravensong community health centre in Vancouver. A Masters in Public Health from the University of British Columbia further developed her passion for addressing the social determinants of health, which she put to work at YouthCO HIV and Hep C Society for a couple of years before returning to her hometown, Calgary. When she is not educating people on benefits of harm reduction and sexual health education, Claire can be found on Twitter, or outside camping, cycling, or cross-country skiing. Through Next Up, Claire is looking forward to building connections and community with networks of social justice-oriented people.
Kevin is an environmental and social justice activist who is a lifelong Edmontonian, born and raised in Millwoods and currently living downtown.
Growing up Kevin witnessed his Grandmother's activism around disability rights and his normally apolitical Mother's fight to keep his junior high school in the community.
As a highschool student Kevin became active with the New Democrats in the 2006 Federal election and eventually began participating in various climate actions.
Kevin currently serves as the Policy Director for the Young New Democrats of Canada and sits on the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation’s Board of Directors. He is currently working for Waste Management Services with the City of Edmonton as a Waste Reduction Specialist.
A first generation immigrant, Tharsini grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. Born to Thamil parents who fled Sri Lanka due to systematic discrimination, oppression and marginalization; Tharsini, as a result, inherited the values of social justice and equity early on. She was introduced to critical theory during her undergraduate studies and her interests further peaked as she began to grasp an understanding of the political economy of international health. Drawn to the field of public health, Tharsini is currently completing her MSc in Public Health, with a specialization in Global Health, at the University of Alberta. She is a strong advocate for public health, prevention and views health as a fundamental human right. She currently sits on the Health and Wellness Working Group for the Mayor’s Task Force on the Elimination of Poverty and has co-founded an advocacy initiative focused on promoting the mental wellbeing of graduate students at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. Tharsini is also a food enthusiast: you will either see her cooking or eating during most of her spare time.
Courtney Redden grew up with a very strong sphere of independence and critical analysis. She studied political science at McGill University, until knowledge of the system transformed into distain for it and the necessity for something else. She changed her focus towards the physical sciences, studying geography and biology at the University of Western Ontario in her hometown of London. Her undergraduate research investigated ancient lake sediments to determine the environmental effects of climate change and other environmental and anthropogenic changes in the landscape. This science uses environmental indicators, in Courtney’s research chronomid fly species, to recreate and analyze environmental effects along chronological markers.
Upon completion of her university degree, Courtney moved to the Maritimes to connect with family. She became involved in the Halifax social justice circuit with Freeschools, Food Not Bombs, The Really Really Free Market, the Occupy movement, and Indigenous and environmental campaigns.
Teaching others traditional skills is one of her passions. As wells as being a traditional hide tanner, she is also well versed in native plant species and their traditional uses. She is expanding her knowledge base in wild mushroom foraging, basket weaving, natural pigments, and wilderness survival.
Courtney is also dedicated to issues of food security. By supporting local farmers, she strives to reduce her dependence on a corporatized, global food system. She is currently exploring several pilot projects to increase her self-sufficiency and food security. These include backyard gardens, growing edible mushrooms and breeding rabbits for livestock. Future projects of hers include beekeeping and raising poultry.
Food is a passion of Courtney’s at every step of the process, from making organic compost, to growing a seed into a vegetable, and finally cooking and eating the bounty. Courtney does quite a lot of cooking. She coordinates all the food needs for a downtown architecture company. She provides staff with healthy and affordable lunches, fresh juice, and baked goods. Besides being the chef, she is also the gardener at the studio and actively merges the two roles to include home-grown produce from the roof-top garden and replenishes the soil with compostable kitchen scraps. She supplies her kitchen with fresh and healthy produce, while supporting local farmers as well.
Although she had never fathomed to be living in Alberta, she has grown to enjoy the newly emerging prominence which Edmonton is embarking on. However, the trajectory of which that growth has taken is troublesome. She feels that much can be done with renewable energy sources and environmental stewardship in the province, but it would need first to be accompanied with a paradigm shift by those who hold power, but more importantly, by those who are denied that power.
Laura Raboud is honored to be a part of the incredible Next Up team. She is an artist, drama instructor and mother from the Edmonton community. Selected directing/creation credits include: Sia Fringe theatre Adventures 2013, The Earl, Nextfest 2013, Apocalypse Prarie for Azimuth Theatre 2012, Free Man on The Land, Azimuth Theatre 2011. Recent acting credits include: Bible Bill: A Gospel Musical Fringe 2014, Murderers Confess at Christmas time Roxy theatre 2014 ,National Elevator project 2014, In General, Pyretic Productions 2013, Never Let the Crew See you Cry, Fringe 2013, Here. Like This. 2013 Expanse festival. She is co-founder of a theatre collective called The Other Theatre.This year she will be creating a new musical for Fringe Theatre Adventures 2016 season and touring a production of Never Let The Crew See You Cry around the province.
Originally from Burundi, Divine Ndemeye moved to Edmonton in 2006. She has travelled around the world throughout Africa, Europe, in Dubai and within Canada. She holds a degree in Political Science and Human Geography from the University of Alberta and has worked in Municipal Administration with the City of Grande Prairie and currently with the City of St Albert.
Divine is passionate about international development, social justice and sustainable urban planning & design. She strongly believes that the built environment ought to be sensitive to the natural world, to respond to community needs, enhance social cohesion and to be resilient to climate change. Her biggest pet peeve is low density, auto-dependent, single land use development patterns lacking in character and active transportation systems. Or the typical North American suburb.
Generally speaking, Divine is continuously seeks to play her part in ending any forms and systems of oppressions. She is very happy to be part of Next Up Edmonton and is looking forward to be a better activist and leader and to be part of a community of people trying to make this world a better place for all to live a dignified life.