Charlene is a 1.5 generation Canadian, having spent her childhood in Makati and her formative years in Toronto. She earned an Honours BA in International Relations, Political Science, and Sociology from the University of Toronto, where she became interested in critical race and gender studies as well as qualitative research methods.
Charlene has been working in the field of public policy for several years. She has worked in both federal and provincial governments to analyze various policy areas including public health, epidemiology, Indigenous communities and engagement and currently, intergovernmental and international issues in labour. Her dedication towards equitable public policy has grown over time, as she begins to understand the profound consequences of programs and policies for everyone, especially marginalized groups. From this perspective, she is particularly interested in contradictions, intersections between theory and practice, gaps and areas of improvement within policies.
Charlene’s passion for social justice is rooted in and shaped by her experiences of violence, oppression and marginalization, as well as those of her loved ones. Growing up, she struggled with internalized racism and is in the process of forging a path and community for herself as a woman of colour from a working class family. She is a survivor of family violence and is now a volunteer and a Member of the Board of Directors for the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. In the near future, she hopes to further her education, become more involved in community and grassroots initiatives, and be a mentor to youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Charlene’s idea of success is to build upon the work and activism of her predecessors that has allowed her to navigate through her life’s challenges so far. Ultimately, her goal is to share her abilities and resources so that others may have a better chance of having a good quality of life.
During her free time, Charlene divides her time between Calgary and Edmonton. She likes to be with her loved ones, binge watch on Netflix (she is currently watching Naruto Shippuden), take care of her cat and her plants, and browse the furniture section of kijiji. Her proudest accomplishment is finally being an aquarist, something she’s always wanted to do. She raises pet shrimp and will gladly give baby shrimp to those who ask.
Born in Gatineau, Quebec, Thana spent his early years living in Ottawa where he was raised speaking French, English and Thai. He attended the University of Guelph, where he was actively involved in student politics and graduated with a Bachelors of Engineering Degree.
Thana currently works in Calgary as an Environmental Engineer with a company that specializes in stormwater management and wetland designs. His role is strongly focused on engaging politicians and stakeholders on removing barriers to innovative technologies in Alberta. Thana earlier worked in environmental compliance and oil and gas air emissions analysis.
Thana was a candidate in the Calgary Centre riding for the Green Party of Canada in the 2015 Federal general election. He also ran in the 2016 Calgary-Greenway Provincial by-election, representing the Green Party of Alberta. Furthermore, Thana is the Director of Sustainability for the Marda Loop Community Association, an Ambassador for the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association, and a Shadow Cabinet Member of the Green Party of Alberta. He volunteers frequently at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, and attends meetings and discussions throughout the city on homelessness, sustainability, energy, and other local initiatives.
From a young age, Thana has been passionate about politics and the environment. Having been raised in an ethnic community, he understands that it is important to include all cultural and socio-economical groups when developing policy.
In his spare time, Thana plays hockey, is an avid snowboarder, writes music, dabbles in photography, learns about anything space related, and is often in the mountains enjoying Mother Nature.
Although Jenn now calls Calgary home, she is grateful for learning experiences in British Columbia’s interior and along its west coast, the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec and the cape flats of South Africa. She works in a professional role that combines her interest for public policy, the environment, and indigenous people and is motivated by a sense of urgency to act on the issues that matter most to her. Jenn believes that growth happens when we move outside of our comfort zone and strives to create meaning not only in her life, but also in the lives of others.
Jenn enjoys cycling, reading, and listening to podcasts. She dreams of beginning a community garden behind her downtown apartment and remains inspired by the power of storytelling and the importance of understanding history. She is an advocate for recycling and waste reduction and using her plant press whenever she is out on a hike. Jenn is committed to working towards a better world and believes that the best conversations are had over a piece of dark chocolate.
Joseph is a multilingual, musically talented, science-loving Calgarian who is passionate about creating an empathetic Canada. He pursued his passion for music and travelled across Canada in a band. This opened his eyes and gave him pride, faith, and optimism in Canadians. His studies in zoology, or the "art school of science" as he puts it, from the University of Calgary led him to job in a veterinary parasitology lab and the opportunity to travel to Nunavut to collect samples and do community outreach to schools there. After graduating, he spent 8 months in Italy travelling and connecting with his family to learn more about where his parents grew up.
Currently Joseph spends his time playing music, learning languages and working at Spark, Calgary’s Science Centre, creating environmental and water based school programs. Joseph wants to promote the Canada he believes in, our unique caring qualities and to restore Canada's compassionate and caring reputation in the world.
Growing up on a small farm in rural Alberta, Cortney developed a love for the natural world and experienced the value of being connected to a strong and supportive community. Largely inspired by her parent’s compassion and community involvement, Cortney fostered an unwavering passion for justice-based issues at a young age. This passion led her to a Community Development studies degree at the University of Calgary, where she had the opportunity to work with subsistence farmers in Ghana and Uganda, Calgary-based nonprofits, and indigenous communities in northern Alberta. While Cortney is passionate about ending all forms of oppression, issues related to sexual violence, mental health, indigenous people and immigration are especially close to her heart. She loves reading, creating art, delicious local beer, being in her garden, traveling and spending time with people she loves.
(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).