Cristabel grew up amidst books, origami and constant climbing of her neighbor’s mango tree. She is native of the Dominican Republic, a land of warm hearts and countless social contrasts. She is proud to be a Caribbean soul yet sees herself beyond any categorization and geographical boundaries. She believes our shared humanity is borderless and our identities and worldviews are continuously evolving. She hopped on a plane and moved to Alberta a few years ago, where for the first time she witnessed the leaves mirror all the possible shades of the sun (which she fell in love with) and her first winter (no comments!).
Cristabel enjoys using creative processes in her work, such as participatory photography, which she used while doing her master’s thesis exploring food security among low income immigrant families. Her volunteer endeavors have included: coordinating volunteers for the “Make Trade Fair” Campaign led by Oxfam, building homes with Habitat for Humanity Bolivia, supporting a collective kitchen with the Multicultural Health Brokers, a local nonprofit supporting newcomers Edmonton, among others. She currently works in the area of public health and health promotion.
When Cristabel isn’t doing ‘grown-up stuff’, she loves to dance in the tackiest ways, pretend to sing gracefully and reinvent blends and flavors.
Suzana values individuality, culture and the identity of being a global citizen. She believes there is an intrinsic value in people. Her core values include humility, diplomacy, respect and openness to imperfection. Regardless of the cards dealt, she has or makes efforts to have a positive attitude and outlook. Other values include the “Seven Grandfather Teachings”.
Tsootaa is Suzana’s informal Blackfoot name gifted by her partner. It means water in the air or rain drop woman and in short refers to Suzana’s gentle yet assertive nature of change, nurturing and peace.
Suzana currently works within business administration while volunteering time to social causes online and in the community. Suzana’s professional background also includes Social Work; earning her Social Work Diploma in 2005 and her Bachelor of Social Work in 2011. Her social work experience includes formal employment and volunteering in areas of youth work, mental health, addictions, First Nations, leadership training, and community development.
Suzana (as a founder) currently administers “Kindness Matters Calgary” and “Two-Spirit Canada” primarily on Facebook.
Inspired by tragedy, Kindness Matters started on the streets and every December hits the streets distributing mental health information and resources along with gift cards to total strangers. You never know who could use kindness and support! Kindness Matters also operates online year round.
Two-Spirit is an identity and term robbed from many during colonization. Two-Spirit Canada operates online to honor and support this identity. Suzana hopes to work with other Two-Spirit groups to host an annual Two-Spirit gathering in Canada.
Other goals including learning more and advocating in areas of environmental sustainability and essentially doing her best to contribute as a community member after taking some time away from social work.
Recently returned to treaty 7 territory after six years living in Ottawa on unceded Algonquin territory, Ryan is ready to uncover and grow resiliency and resistance here in Calgary. At the age of 17 they left Calgary for Ottawa, determined to find community and address environmental destruction through the political system. However, a year working in the House of Commons demystified Ryan's optimism about the political system and after one weekend at PowerShift 2009, a youth climate change convergence, they shifted focus and instead dedicated themself to building strong and reflective social movements. Since then Ryan has worked on campaigns targeting the relationship between oil and state, for progressive control of student unions, and to stop deportations.
Ryan likes nerding out about creating effective spaces for learning, reflection, relationship building, and action, and has had the opportunity to put this to use planning workshops and events for local activists, as well as environmental justice and LGBTQ+ convergences for people across the country. Now that they are back in Alberta, Ryan is finishing up a Sexual Health Educator Certification, combining their love of thoughtful facilitation and critical sex-positivity. They are also invested in practicing vulnerability, exploring the city by bike, watching Shondaland, and finding fellow social movement nerds.
Roberta acquired a love for nature from growing up on a farm in southern Alberta and spending time outdoors. After gaining an environmental studies and human geography degree from the University of Victoria, she travelled through Europe and worked on permaculture farms in France. She believes that caring for the environment is essential for our health and happiness, and is an important step in solving many of the social, health and well-being problems of our day. She enjoys her role as a client relation’s facilitator for Assembly Co-working space in Calgary and looks forward to a future career in environmental education.
Looking for Mike? You just missed him!
Perhaps he’s gone to university to attend Psych classes, or at Meal Exchanging advocating for food sustainability. Perhaps he’s on campus at Career Services gearing up for the next school fair, if not there then he’s probably hosting an event for his student club Hope 2 Opportunity. Mike is fascinated in all things volunteerism, reaching far and wide from nature to social justice.
At work, he’s known as a foot specialist at New Balance or Children’s Coordinator at his church. Constantly building relationships with the kids but also between him and God. You could also check-in at a non-profit, where he leads an afterschool program for children who just arrived to Canada.
But you’ll need to chase him if he’s gone for a run around the city or a hike in the mountains – and if you still can’t find him, my best bet is he’s around the neighborhood walking with his best pal and picking up her poo, Arla the Sheltie.
Return soon to track down this charming young fellow at a Next Up session. You’ll be glad you did.
Community, dance and chocolate are Jessie’s sustenance.
During her undergraduate degree she studied and earned a B.A. in psychology, which led to a career in disability service provision with the Alberta government. Here, she realized that her true passions were things like research and strategic development in human and health services. She went on to pursue an M.A. in Communication and Culture. It was here that she felt like she began to learn a completely new language. Everything she thought she knew about research, evidence, and knowledge itself was challenged. Although she was resistant to it initially, she now considers herself incredibly lucky to have been exposed to non-colonial ways of knowing.
Jessie currently works in strategic leadership in health promotion with Alberta Health Services, where she is committed to maintaining health equity in the initiatives that she is involved in planning, evaluating and promoting. She enjoys and is committed to her work at AHS and wishes to develop her leadership and community engagement skills through programs like NextUp.
Dance is an integral part of Jessie’s wellbeing; she has been dancing for most of her life. Her love of dance inspired her to work with her high school teaching and administration staff as well as community members to prioritize dance and the arts in her school. She has also taught dance to members of her community, high school dance students, and to elementary students through the DARE Arts program.
Jessie is lucky enough to eat a small piece of chocolate every day.
Jackson Tse Next Up Bio:
Jackson Wai Chung Tse | 謝瑋聰 (he/she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist and facilitator from Hong Kong, creating work in dance, poetry, theatre, voice, film, prose, music, and the healing arts. In September 2017, Jackson began settling on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded Coast Salish territories of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and səlil̓wətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim-speaking Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), also known as Vancouver, British Columbia. As a queer, non-binary, 1.5 generation immigrant-settler, Jackson’s intersectionality is reflected in their creative work, which explores intentional community building in polarizing times, reverence for the land, challenging the mainstream dominant paradigm, queer identities coexisting with cultural values, and Chinese diaspora in the West.
Jackson is a graduate of Queen’s University, the National University of Singapore, and The University of the State of New York. Honoured to have been in the Next Up Calgary 2014/2015 cohort, Jackson is also a MEC Outdoor Nation Ambassador, and works with the brand to express their radically loving relationship with the land through a variety of media.
Jackson identifies as a person of colour to refugee parents, grew up in a low-income, suburban, and conservative home, and had a deeply religious upbringing. As a trauma survivor, they know the importance of giving people the power of choice. They try not to make any assumptions, and they take care to be completely present with the folks they are engaged with. Their facilitation experience comes from their roles at organizations across Canada and the globe, including Next Up, Power of Hope, the North Shore Multicultural Society, Camp fYrefly, Shad Valley International, Tim Horton’s Children’s Ranch, the Quantum Learning Network, the Centre for International Pedagogical Studies in France, the Ministry of Science and Education in Georgia, The Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth, and numerous post-secondary institutions.
Raised in Vancouver, Brendan learned compassion from his mother, to question relentlessly from his father, and to take life in stride from his two brothers. When Brendan was 16, a voluntourism trip cemented his path toward creating (the ever-so-vague) social good. Throughout a career working with and for a diverse array of communities, Brendan learned there is always another way to view the world.
Brendan learned to treasure our natural environment while living on a float on the Pacific, and paradoxically, while working in urban planning, he learned that the change needed to preserve our environment will in fact occur in cities. So it goes.
Since leaving home at 17, he has lived in ten cities and four countries, but nowhere has he felt truly at home until Calgary. Brendan is taking Next Up because learning is a lifelong journey, and he hopes to learn to influence others to best select their sources of learning.
Brendan aspires to heed a simple Vonnegutism: Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies - god damn it, you've got to be kind.
It doesn’t matter whether it's collecting monkey poop in the Belizean rainforests or hitch-hiking rides on the back of trucks in Peru, Caillie wants to do it all. Born in Scotland to parents prone to wanderlust, she immigrated to Canada at a young age where she was given free rein to pursue everything and go anywhere to do it. Having had a healthy dose of millennial guilt instilled since the age she could read “save the whales”, she became increasingly interested in animal rights, conservation and environmental justice. Under this weight of climate change, extinction, and deforestation, she found herself becoming more and more despondent about the state of the world. Discouraged by the negative messaging, she opted to move away from the conservation sector to the sustainability sector where, luckily, she found innovative people from all disciplines and backgrounds coming together to solve the world’s crises in a positive, progressive way. The search for solutions has taken Caillie from Canada to the United States, Central and South America, and Europe, and she’s nowhere near finished. Having recently graduated, her greatest interests are around food security and sustainable food production. She can easily be won over with a cheese platter.
She works and researches at the University of Calgary, where she spends most of her time in her dream office (inside of a library!). She currently holds her BSc. (H) in Anthropology, with a concentration in Primatology, and is looking to enter graduate studies focusing on sustainability and environments. Her current research is with the Department of Communications and Culture looking at the validity of “green certification” claims and developing case studies for efficient, credible sustainability reporting frameworks.
When she doesn’t have her nose to the grindstone at the day job, she is normally volunteering, traipsing around the city, gardening in the community, penning poems of the teenage angst variety, or frolicking with her three cats. True to her Scottish roots, she also plays tenor drum with the Rocky Mountain Pipe Band. While she wishes she was a sloth, she was kindly told that she does not look like a sloth.
Brettley is a person of many passions and layers, who distrusts binaries and labels and who questions the status quo at every turn. They have been doing social and environmental change work in Calgary, Alberta on Blackfoot Territory for over 12 years. This has included a lot of different work, including helping to start Calgary's first non-profit Community Bicycle Shop as well as issues of poverty, feminism and queer liberation, preferring to use collective, anti-oppressive and non-hierarchical methodologies. He is a Social Worker who works with Calgary’s LGBTQ* support centre, Calgary Outlink, which has taught him a lot about the power of strong communities and the importance of micro level change. They strive for their work to include a systems level analysis, dismantling systems of oppression, exploitation and violence, while also doing the on-the-ground work of creating community supports with and for people who experience the negative repercussions of these systems. He is interested in being self-reflective of the ways Social Work, professionalism, and the non-profits can and have served to marginalize and disempower people. A culture jammer at heart, Brett uses his words, art, and love of all things fay to disrupt his WASPish capitalist upbringing.