Olivia graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in 2005 with a major in biology and minor in sociology. After graduation she attended Mount Royal University where she received her ACE TESOL certificate. For the past 5 years she has been working as an ESL instructor in Calgary. This opportunity has allowed her to teach students of all ages from around the world and has opened her eyes to various cultures. Currently she volunteers for Green Calgary in the Ecostore and in Commercial Environmental Services. She has also worked as a social media consultant for a recycling company. In the future Olivia plans on finding a career in the environmental sector at the community level. Another passion she has is food. Most days you can find her in the kitchen cooking up a storm and experimenting with new recipes.
Ever since childhood, Nancy has had a determined curiosity and passion for social justice. This has resulted in a fascination with politics, world events as well as a career in Public Health Nursing. These life long interests culminated with a Masters Degree in Public Health, focusing on Global Health from the University of Alberta in 2008. The dual highlights of this degree were a strong focus on world economics and several months spent in Uganda to think about these ideas. Throughout that wonderful education, Nancy came to the awareness that in order to affect the health of individuals all around the world she must act locally to develop and promote inclusive, sustainable communities. Nancy has become involved with the Parkland Institute and efforts to support women and children through local breastfeeding advocacy. Working as a Public Health Nurse in some of Calgary’s more culturally diverse communities has made Nancy excited about the wonderful resource that multiculturalism is for Calgary. This work has also made her fully aware of the day to day challenges faced by newcomers to Canada. She hopes to work to build a community that can support and engage, while helping all members to reach their full potential.
Kathleen is a born and raised Calgarian who has watched her city change and grow over the past few decades. Armed with a degree in psychology from the University of Calgary, she has been active in community efforts to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness and promote strategies for healthy living. As a researcher with a local non-profit organization, Kathleen works to promote inclusion and enhance community supports for individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result of working and being actively involved in her own community, her future goals are focused on supporting communities to be inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable. She is particularly interested in exploring how community organizations can work together to develop strategies and solutions that address complex social issues. Kathleen enjoys spending her downtime out and about in the city and loves walking by the river and reading in cozy coffee shops. With a performance background in music and drama, she tries to take advantage of the art scene in Calgary by attending events showcasing local music, dance, and theatre.
Erin has mixed feelings toward her hometown of Calgary. On the one hand, she is deeply troubled and frustrated by its decidedly corporate culture and close relationship with the Tar Sands; on the other, she is energized and excited by the growing momentum towards an alternate path for Calgary, epitomized by burgeoning urban agriculture, Civic Camp, the Bow River Flow, and the election of a new mayor. A self-described on-again/off-again MSW student, Erin hopes to further contribute to the emerging field of “eco-social work” upon her eventual return to school. She firmly believes that environmental and social justice are forever intertwined and is thrilled to be working at the Arusha Centre, where she can put this view into action. Erin feels that social change work can take so many varied forms, each with its own value. However, she also feels that that the importance of including fun in the process is too often under-appreciated. Erin is entirely passionate about community and about our role as stewards of this earth. The Rocky Mountains and digging in a garden are the only things that genuinely relax her. Erin feels very lucky to be part of this first Next Up group in Calgary!
Chelsea woke up one morning and realized no amount of money; fancy clothes or large house in the suburbs was going to make her happy. She began to question conventional norms like speciesism, consumerism, and birthdays. When she realized she was living in one of the most capitalistic cities in Canada, she promptly backed her bags and headed for greener pastures.
Just kidding. She stuck around to help contribute to a city that she hopes will one day accurately reflect the values and beliefs of its inhabitants. Chelsea can often be found asleep during city council sessions or pontificating about food justice to anyone who will listen.
Denis Thibeault: a man of wealth (ish) and taste. Born an only child in Sudbury Ontario, he has since become a citizen of the world, fondly recalling memorable visits to Seattle, Greenland, and the most foreign of all: Newfoundland. A true Scotsman of the Armstrong Clan at his heart, he enjoys celtic folk and rock, and shows it while sporting one of his Kilts. He also prides himself in his Franco-Canadian heritage, speaking and swearing in full-blown frenglish often enough to not be named “Dennis”. He makes his journeys through Canada assertively driving to various sporting destinations, particularly for the sake of ice climbing. As a day job, Denis was as a Senior Youth Corrections Officer in the arctic, but switched back to his true passion, Wilderness Therapy. Of an evening, you may find him enjoying a fine pizza (It has all four food groups!) or if he is feeling classy, a fine Panzerotti, along with a fine Maudit dark Unibrou beer or the less chic Labatt Cinquante. While certainly a man of the times, he is truly proud that his cell phone can contact people without any apps and does not take pictures, leaving him a stalwart defender of the finer things in life.
Annie’s formative years were spent with her family on a small farm in Nova Scotia, raised on home-grown produce, honey, blueberries, maple syrup, good books and with great neighbours. With the help of her father she built a semi-subterranean octagonal cabin, loosely based on the winter houses of the Salish people of interior British Columbia. Her initial urge to turn her back on the world and live the life of a hermit in her cabin changed, ironically, after her rich experience of life as a monastic at a Buddhist abbey in northern Cape Breton. This experience, of living in a supportive, respectful community of committed and like-minded people, lead her to seek out an intentional (or cohousing) community in Calgary (Prairie Sky Cohousing www.prairiesky.ab.ca), where she was honoured to live for the past 4 and a half years. Her volunteer efforts both at home and abroad with Habitat for Humanity in Honduras, the Calgary Women’s Resource Centre, The Mustard Seed, and Calgary Harvest have strengthened her belief in the power of community to create positive change in the world, and her desire to be part of that change. This one-time hermit loves to travel and learn about new places and perspectives, loves to stay home and support local food, music and community, cook for crowds, garden, hike, and make things with her own hands. Currently Annie works as a piano technician privately as well as for a local keyboard instrument museum, Cantos Music Foundation, teaches adapted piano lessons to students with special needs at a music therapy clinic, and provides musical accompaniment for the local Unitarian Church.