Born and raised in Edmonton, Taylor completed her elementary education degree at the University of Alberta with a Certificate in Community Service-Learning. An advocate for education for positive social change, Taylor currently works as a Cultural Liaison with Edmonton Public Schools and Coordinator for the Journeys Cultural Exchange Program through Aboriginal Studies in partnership with the Global Café. Taylor is passionate about working with youth in building community through a social justice lens.
Taylor also has a love for theatre and collective creation. She was an improviser with Rapid Fire Theatre and a member of the GeriActors and Friends Intergenerational Theatre Company. She was part of the artistic team for a play based on a collection of stories called Inner City Voices.Through these experiences, Taylor learned about the power of story-sharing and the importance of experiential, community-based learning.
Taylor is a soccer and volleyball player, vegetarian/crappy vegan, barely-fluent french speaker, avid book-reader and podcast-listener as well as a passionate traveller and explorer. She is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Next Up 7 Edmonton cohort. Taylor lives from the heart and strives to continually be challenged in her lifelong learning journey.
Born in British Columbia but raised in Edmonton, Eric has seven years of French immersion in his pocket and cannot wait to try his French while visiting Montréal in a few months. Eric loves the oceans, mountains, and prairies, and anywhere you can get good vegan food. Contrary to popular orthodoxy, he doesn't really mind the Edmonton winters, and recommends hunkering down with a good story. Eric enjoys a good graphic novel and reading novels in translation. He currently works at a wine store, and likes the prospect of putting his chemistry degree to use by getting paid to drink wine. Eric likes discussing structural change in society from a feminist and queer lens, and wants to learn more about vegan activism and prisons. He wants to get off the academic sidelines and challenge everyone (himself included) to be positive change agents in the world.
Christina Hardie was born in Edmonton, Alberta and raised in the southern neighbourhood of Mill Woods. After graduating from Grant MacEwan University in 2005 with a diploma in Theatre Arts, Christina spent five years touring across the prairies showcasing her dramatic skills in a variety of theatre productions. Favorite productions include Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, Feste in Twelfth Night and Penny in the Canadian premier of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog. But it was her work performing for children that brought her the most joy and eventually led her to work for the City of Edmonton in natural & human history interpretation. Christina is currently the Programs Coordinator at the John Walter Museum where she aims to make history engaging and accessible to young people and Edmontonians. She is currently completing her Certificate in Museum Studies and is the project lead behind Mill Woods Mythologies, an oral history project that explores the childhood experience connected to natural areas in Mill Woods. Christina volunteers her time to a number of organizations including the Edmonton Heritage Council, Edmonton Regional Heritage Fair, the Flying Canoe Volant Festival, and is a Girl Guide leader with the 76th Holyrood Sparks. Passions of Christina’s include encouraging everyone to cherish their weird side, exploring Edmonton's history, and partaking in the lost art of traditional skills. As well, Christina is an advocate for play and the enrichment it can bring to all of our lives.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Mili is delighted to be part of the Next Up 7 Edmonton Cohort. Mili discovered a passion for sexual health and gender education while taking sociology and psychology classes during her undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta. As such, she switched from a design major in pursuit of an education in Social Work at the University of Calgary where she completed her program. Mili enjoys working directly with others in her social justice efforts and strives to use her privilege to provide spaces for those whose voices are silenced. Her dream job involves working with youth to promote positive personal identities through sexual health education by challenging the scare tactics often present within gender and sexuality issues. Through Next Up, Mili hopes to continually be challenged as she grows in her understandings and abilities as a leader and ally. In her meantime, you may find her spending time with her family, outside on a walk or weeknight dancing. The character Mili most identifies with is her idol, Tina Belcher. (If you haven’t already seen Bob’s Burgers, you need to.)
Daniel Hackborn is a young comic book artist, activist, mentor and writer whose interests include speculative fiction and Afro-Futurism. His artwork and activism challenge harmful and simplistic narratives by centering marginalized folks. His deep appreciation of the complexity of our lived experiences drives him to empower youth through stories and comics. You can find him mentoring youth at iHuman in hopes of helping them build a foundation where they can tell their own stories.
Matt Ayache (pronounced like "eyelash" without the l) is the founder of the In Arms Queer Theatre Company, an Education Facilitator through fYrefly in Schools, a teacher, and an avid X-Men fan. Born in Lebanon, Matt grew up in Oyen, Alberta, before coming to Edmonton for university in 2008 (where he has remained ever since). He studied Education with a focus on drama, and in 2014 he started the In Arms Queer Theatre Company which performed the play Unknown Stories at the 2015 Edmonton Fringe Festival-- a play which he cowrote and co-directed. The theatre group plans to create a drama community engagement program along with two plays for the 2016 season.
Matt loves comic books, singing, and science. He is currently working as a substitute teacher, and hopes to return to school to study science or further his Ed Education. He is interested in traveling to Amsterdam, as well as touring the Middle East.
25 year old Franki was born in Vancouver but grew up in Edmonton. Their educational journey ended in 2013 when they graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of English and a creative writing minor. In 2007, Franki and a friend felt that LGBTQ youth in the Sherwood Park area had limited access to resources, which resulted in the founding of the AltView Foundation. What began as an LGBTQ youth group has grown into a multi program foundation that offers all ages discussion nights, writing courses for queer writers, and support services for schools developing a Gay Straight Alliance. In April of 2012, AltView hosted Status of Queer, a conference highlighting the current situation of queer folks in Alberta in the hopes of connecting LGBTQ service providers province wide.
Franki is also an avid reader, a lover of Sci-fi (The Fortunate Fall by Rafael Carter is one of their favorites!) and an ambitious writer. They are currently looking for an adult job but the prospect of getting their master’s in creative writing in the UK is not far off. Franki would like to live in Vancouver, maybe with a cat.
Todd Houseman is a local artist and activist of many talents. He performs and teaches improv with Rapid Fire Theatre, and co-hosts the segment “Folklords” which improvises Chekhovian tales, Cree creation stories, and a third genre chosen by the audience. Todd engages in activism through his art, which is informed in part through his identity as a Cree Mixed-Blood individual, and his desire to explore the intersections and nuances of social justice. His work aims to resist and challenge dominant social structures, and create constructive dialogue around Indigenous rights and sovereignty. Beyond his craft as a performing artist, Todd is also engaged in visual art, music, and writing. In addition to being a blacksmith with skills in knife-making and forging, he engages in anti-oppressive art through his role as member of the feminist punk-rock band Skunk Coat, and through storytelling. One of his notable works is the graphic story “Ayannisach”, which is featured in “Moonshot: The Indigenous Comic Collection”.
Marin loves love and passionate people. After completing her undergraduate degree in education, Marin decided to fulfill her dream of volunteer teaching in a school in Arusha, Tanzania. There she came face to face with the depths of colonialism and the cycle of poverty, which inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in Theoretical Cultural and International Education with a focus on social justice. Currently, Marin teaches grade 6 French immersion in St. Albert. She believes in the power of children and loves getting them excited about learning. Her goal as a teacher is to instil love, acceptance and compassion in her children and empower them to effect change in what they are passionate about.
When Marin isn’t teaching or thinking about social justice, she spends her spare time in the mountains or on her yoga mat. She recently completed her 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification and jumps at opportunities to teach and share the practice of yoga wherever she can.
Marin is so excited to be a part of Next Up. She cannot wait to connect with like-minded people, learn more about social and environmental justice and further develop her leadership skills in order to better effect change and develop stronger communities. YAY!
Born in Italy and immigrating to Canada two years later, a tone was set for Fatima's life, one of travel and exploration. Her early years were spent in motion, moving all over Canada, before coming to Edmonton in Grade 7. Her mind, however, never settled. She began to write and to discover the writing of others, like Emma Goldman & Dostoevsky. The hierarchy of schooling isolated her, but she kept writing and eventually found another kind of liberation in celebration, in partying and sharing joy with others. And it was then that she returned to her family's roots in Somalia, living in Bosaso for over a year. Her life changed and, upon her return, she began to throw her own parties, to treat celebration as an act of creation, where positive, joyful spaces could be made. With a couple close friends she began renting venues and playing music once a month. The practice grew.
Fatima continues to write stories, about people, the basic things that connect them, and the complexity within those basics. She feels compelled to write because there is so much that doesn't reflect her life. Most recently, she has begun working at Boyle Street Community Services as a winter emergency response supervisor.