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.
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.
Transgender people in Calgary will soon have a fresh, updated resource to consult during what some in the community describe as an overwhelming time.Read more
Jolene Fawcett, born and raised in Calgary, AB, is an aspiring gardener, bread baker, and an avid cyclist. In the best of summer days she can be found canning applesauce, pickling vegetables, baking, bicycle touring through new cities, and camping in the Rocky Mountains. The biggest journeys that have shaped her in the past decade have been finishing a joint degree in Kinesiology and International Indigenous Studies and the cross-cultural, cross-class experiences had in traveling to other countries and working in the downtown core of Calgary with families experiencing homelessness. Having participated in two immersion-living programs through One World Global Education, she has been influenced to look at the world through the eyes of many from different walks of life. Spending time in nature has always been a fundamental aspect to her understanding of relationships with herself, others, and the earth. Thus, finding ways to use old stuff and turn it into new stuff is a venue of artistic exploration which she seeks as a creative outlet. Her passion is to work in Canada to seek the decolonization of Canadian policy towards First Nation’s peoples and the unraveling of stereotypes and racism within her own communities. As long as she has her partner Chad, her family, the trees, the stars to gaze and warm weather every once in a while, joy will be found.
Amy is an environmental scientist and advocate focused on the intersection between ecological and mental health. Her research in the Ghost River Valley highlighted patterns of ecological grief – the emotional experience after the loss of cherished natural spaces. Along with fellow NU alum Jodi Lammiman, Amy co-created Refugia Retreats, an organization committed to creating safe spaces that foster life – both the emotional and ecological. Amy currently works as the Sustainability Coordinator at Bow Valley College and is a Program Coordinator with Alberta Ecotrust. She is an amateur urban homesteader, budding writer, and lover of all things X-files.