Ela is passionate and forceful advocate for social justice and human rights. She has designed and led various international, national and local programs to advocate for women’s, children’s, LGBT, and refugee rights and fight against discrimination and racism in every level of her life. Ela has worked with a variety of groups from marginalized people to high level governmental agencies for non-profits and international organizations. She worked as Projects Coordinator for Amnesty International Turkey and continued her advocacy efforts for social change as Country Coordinator for Follow The Women. She organized groups and cycled through Lebanon, Syria, Jordan into Palestine to support peace and to demand an end to violence in Middle East. Ela is dedicated for creating space and connecting with communities through various ways. She organized art events with groups like U2, Istancool, REM, Gevende, The Bambir and Bajar.
Born in Turkey, Ela studied International Relations and holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law as well as certificates in Public Relations from Simon Fraser University and in Global Advocacy from Minority Rights Group International. She furthermore took training on Global Advocacy: UN Bodies and Mechanisms at UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and on Hate Crimes and The European Legislations from OSCE. She also attended Art Management Program at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Ela has a fiery passion for ensuring equality and justice for all. Currently, she is working as Communications and Resource Development Manager for an anti-violence women’s organization Battered Women’s Support Services.
Like many others, Brittney is an Ontario transplant. She grew up in Toronto and after a few years of living in Europe, made her way to the Sunshine Coast. She has come to find a sense of home among the mountains, salty air and wonderful communities of the west coast and begun to plant her roots.
While working in the sales and design field, she had the opportunity to work with the Austrian Consulate on their sustainability and green technology initiatives during the 2010 Winter Olympics. This shifted her focus from the profit-first sector towards a path that puts people and the planet at the forefront. Brittney is aGlobal Stewardship alumni. She is currently a Sociology and Sustainable Community Development student at Simon Fraser University. Brittney strives towards fostering a greater sense of belonging, awareness, and accountability.
Brittney is curious and always seem to be questioning the world around her. When she is not studying, she can usually be found with her nose buried in a book, chatting with strangers on the bus, lending a hand at UNYA’s Learning Centre, attending potlucks, on a hike admiring ferns and lichen, dappling around with art supplies, or challenging people to a game of Catan.
Tobias Lemay is grateful to call Vancouver home and very much enjoys going for slow walks in the North Shore woods with his lovely wife, Jo Lemay, and their two old-lady dogs.
Tobias really likes building and creating things, and especially enjoys working with wood and metal. He spent ten years working in the trades. Within that time, he gained experience in masonry, carpentry, cabinetmaking and landscaping. He pursued a few years of formal apprenticeship in Furniture Making and Joinery, and has also completed a Diploma of Fine Arts. Currently, he is a full-time student working towards a Bachelors of Education from UBC/BCIT in order to teach shop classes to youth.
His other passions include: youth justice, arts-based education, mental health, community education and advocating for youth in care. He is a dedicated volunteer facilitator in the Community Education department for the Crisis Centre of BC. In this role, Tobias regularly facilitates workshops with diverse high school aged groups on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as workshops on cultivating positive mental health through mindfulness-based stress reduction.
For the past year, he has been working on creating a non-profit organization called Hammer and Saw: Youth Building Community. This organization will foster wellbeing with marginalized youth, and will centre on trades/industrial arts-based projects to meet real community needs. Through woodwork, metalwork and graphic design, the participants will have the opportunity to create projects in response to identified community needs within East Vancouver. The goal is to launch the project in the summer of 2014.
Tobias is super committed to the co-operative model. He is a member of the Miller Goodwood Woodworking Co-operative shop, as well as a housing co-op, where he lives and acts as the Maintenance Co-Chair.
Tobias is an avid and committed lifelong learner, and places huge value on fairness and respect. This has brought him to the doorstep of Next Up and he is eager to learn from all.
Tasha has lived and worked across Canada – working frontline with marginalized communities, engaging young people in community development projects and speaking out about issues affecting youth from BC to NL.
Graduating with a BA in Sociology and Anthropology, Tasha started her social justice work in Vancouver with the Positive Living Society and has since worked with youth organizations such as Katimavik, the Columbia Youth Community Development Centre and developed a variety of youth workshops for schools and agencies across Montreal. With a passion for anti-violence work, Tasha worked as a Specialized Victim Service Worker in Trail, BC and earlier this year joined PACT-Ottawa to develop and launch “Project Protect”, a youth curriculum designed to begin a much needed conversation about domestic human trafficking.
Through her work with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the Ulluriaq Adolescent Centre, Tasha has been identified as a settler ally for Indigenous communities. She is back to student life, pursuing her MA in Planning at UBC, specializing in Indigenous Community Planning. Back on the West Coast, Tasha is excited to jump into the local scene and spend the rainy winter curled up knitting with a bunny by her side.
Annie MacDonald was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has always had a strong belief in social and environmental justice. Her understanding that our world’s current social and environmental issues are symptoms of the same problems underlies and drives her varied activism.
Annie is passionate about making a difference in the lives of young people. For three years, she served as a member of Youth Granting for Youth, a non-profit organization that provided grants for youth-serving charities in Saskatoon. Annie worked for seven years for a program run through the Saskatoon and District Labour Council called the Summer Snack Program. This program fills the gap that’s left when school lunch programs close for the holidays by providing nutritious lunches at inner city parks.
Annie believes education and awareness are a very important part of activism. For that reason, she has been involved in organizing several awareness-raising events, including an ethical sweatshop-free fashion show, and an open discussion about the Saskatchewan Employment Act. She was also a participant in a program called Women in Legislature, and had the opportunity to travel to the Legislature in Regina to dialogue with female government employees about the underrepresentation of women in politics.
Annie loves to travel and has lived in Japan and backpacked around Europe. She is an English Literature major at UBC, and is also studying Spanish with the hopes that South America will be her next destination. She has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, enjoys cooking, and likes to knit. She is very excited to be participating in Next Up!
Originally from Toronto, Whitney spent most of her childhood in Hong Kong playing rugby and discovering the best bubble tea shop in town. She studied International Development at Brown University where she began her social justice work in earnest. During her undergraduate studies, Whitney spent a semester abroad in western China working for a cultural conservation NGO, conducted research in both China and within the United States on disability advocacy and rights, and collaborated with other student-athletes to develop university-level forums on sport and social change. After graduating in 2009, Whitney worked for several years at a law firm in Boston in Public Finance before pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Although her Master’s thesis, which focused on bargaining models and nuclear North Korea, is certainly a conversation starter, her interest in human rights and legal reform has motivated her to pursue a career in social justice law. Now settled in Vancouver, Whitney works in youth education and volunteers at the BC Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Societyas she applies to law school this fall.
Maya developed a fascination for the environment at a young age, exploring the underbrush of west coast forests, observing insects, and creating imaginative worlds from the helm of a tree fort.
Maya went to school at the University of Victoria where she was involved with the UVic Sustainability Project and local food movement on campus. She holds a B.Sc. in Geography and Environmental Studies and is a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. Maya began working with City Green Solutions in 2008 where she has worn many hats and worked with a variety of stakeholders to advance energy efficiency in the built environment. In her current capacity as a Business Energy Advisor, Maya conducts energy assessments for businesses and organizations in the lower mainland and supports the implementation of energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.
Maya sits on the board of directors of Elements Society, combining her passions for the environment and youth education. She enjoys systems thinking, frolicking in the forest with her partner and dog, foraging for wild mushrooms, gardening, cooking and eating great food, and nesting in their Port Moody home.
Scott holds a Masters in International Studies from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Economics from the University of British Columbia. Scott has chaired a number of committees with Oxfam Canada, Make Poverty History and has been a spokesperson for the We Can End All Violence Against Women campaign. In the private sector Scott has worked in a market research and sales capacity with Sauder Industries andUnifiller Systems, an industry leader in food processing and automation.
At the beginning of 2009, Scott took a position withICEF Canada as their Program Director in Uganda. After his tenure as Program Director, Scott stayed on with ICEF as a board member and has worked on their media and e-communications.
In the fall of 2012 Scott finished his thesis on the politics of development in Uganda and the implementation of the controversial 2006 NGO Act. A version of this paper was recently published in the Simons Papers in Security and Development.
Omar Chu was born and raised in the “Burquitlam” area before setting off to the University of Bradford to acquire a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Peace Studies. In Bradford, he became interested in migration issues as he became involved with several refugee organisations including serving as the General Secretary of the University of Bradford Union Student Action for Refugees Society. He also joined the Student Union’s Amnesty International society, became a mentor with PeaceJam UK, and helped organise the Media and Conflict Interchange and the Peace Studies Department’s Gender Day. Aside from volunteering and schoolwork, he played for, coached, and helped run the university ice hockey club. Having returned to British Columbia, he is now attempting to jump head-first into making his community and the world a better place.
Megan has been active in Vancouver’s arts and culture community as a writer, editor, production manager, and programmer for the past ten years. She earned her Master of Publishing from Simon Fraser University in 2011, and was the editor of Ricepaper Magazine, and a founding editor of Sad Mag.
Currently a publishing-industry pro by day, Megan loves using her editorial and creative skills to spread good and meaningful ideas. She is a voracious reader with relatively indiscriminate taste, but also a bent toward ideas and stories around food and food culture. An unabashed aesthete, Megan easily delights in art, performance, design and architecture.
A volunteer for the YWCA High School Mentorship Program and Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, Megan has community service in her bones. In 2013, she helped to transform the Vancouver Chinatown Night Market into an inclusive, accessible space for dialogue, community, arts, and small business.