Damien Lachat is a first generation settler and a recent graduate of the University of Toronto with a double major in Philosophy and Equity studies. In his studies he expanded his knowledge of current race, gender, class, and sexuality education which he continues to use daily in his discussions on social justice. Damien is a proud member of a forward thinking community and his passion for social justice is recognized by his peers. His education also includes studies at NAIT, studying Materials Engineering Technology which extended his curiosities regarding practical crafts. When he’s not engaging in conversations on social justice politics, Damien enjoys his time reading, watching movies, exploring pop culture, and playing the ukulele. His favourite movies include but are not limited to, Amelie and The Dark Knight. Damien Also has an incredible and deep love of small mammals in the family Leporidae, particularly bunnies.
Kevin is an environmental and social justice activist who is a lifelong Edmontonian, born and raised in Millwoods and currently living downtown.
Growing up Kevin witnessed his Grandmother's activism around disability rights and his normally apolitical Mother's fight to keep his junior high school in the community.
As a highschool student Kevin became active with the New Democrats in the 2006 Federal election and eventually began participating in various climate actions.
Kevin currently serves as the Policy Director for the Young New Democrats of Canada and sits on the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation’s Board of Directors. He is currently working for Waste Management Services with the City of Edmonton as a Waste Reduction Specialist.
A first generation immigrant, Tharsini grew up in Scarborough, Ontario. Born to Thamil parents who fled Sri Lanka due to systematic discrimination, oppression and marginalization; Tharsini, as a result, inherited the values of social justice and equity early on. She was introduced to critical theory during her undergraduate studies and her interests further peaked as she began to grasp an understanding of the political economy of international health. Drawn to the field of public health, Tharsini is currently completing her MSc in Public Health, with a specialization in Global Health, at the University of Alberta. She is a strong advocate for public health, prevention and views health as a fundamental human right. She currently sits on the Health and Wellness Working Group for the Mayor’s Task Force on the Elimination of Poverty and has co-founded an advocacy initiative focused on promoting the mental wellbeing of graduate students at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. Tharsini is also a food enthusiast: you will either see her cooking or eating during most of her spare time.
Courtney Redden grew up with a very strong sphere of independence and critical analysis. She studied political science at McGill University, until knowledge of the system transformed into distain for it and the necessity for something else. She changed her focus towards the physical sciences, studying geography and biology at the University of Western Ontario in her hometown of London. Her undergraduate research investigated ancient lake sediments to determine the environmental effects of climate change and other environmental and anthropogenic changes in the landscape. This science uses environmental indicators, in Courtney’s research chronomid fly species, to recreate and analyze environmental effects along chronological markers.
Upon completion of her university degree, Courtney moved to the Maritimes to connect with family. She became involved in the Halifax social justice circuit with Freeschools, Food Not Bombs, The Really Really Free Market, the Occupy movement, and Indigenous and environmental campaigns.
Teaching others traditional skills is one of her passions. As wells as being a traditional hide tanner, she is also well versed in native plant species and their traditional uses. She is expanding her knowledge base in wild mushroom foraging, basket weaving, natural pigments, and wilderness survival.
Courtney is also dedicated to issues of food security. By supporting local farmers, she strives to reduce her dependence on a corporatized, global food system. She is currently exploring several pilot projects to increase her self-sufficiency and food security. These include backyard gardens, growing edible mushrooms and breeding rabbits for livestock. Future projects of hers include beekeeping and raising poultry.
Food is a passion of Courtney’s at every step of the process, from making organic compost, to growing a seed into a vegetable, and finally cooking and eating the bounty. Courtney does quite a lot of cooking. She coordinates all the food needs for a downtown architecture company. She provides staff with healthy and affordable lunches, fresh juice, and baked goods. Besides being the chef, she is also the gardener at the studio and actively merges the two roles to include home-grown produce from the roof-top garden and replenishes the soil with compostable kitchen scraps. She supplies her kitchen with fresh and healthy produce, while supporting local farmers as well.
Although she had never fathomed to be living in Alberta, she has grown to enjoy the newly emerging prominence which Edmonton is embarking on. However, the trajectory of which that growth has taken is troublesome. She feels that much can be done with renewable energy sources and environmental stewardship in the province, but it would need first to be accompanied with a paradigm shift by those who hold power, but more importantly, by those who are denied that power.
Laura Raboud is honored to be a part of the incredible Next Up team. She is an artist, drama instructor and mother from the Edmonton community. Selected directing/creation credits include: Sia Fringe theatre Adventures 2013, The Earl, Nextfest 2013, Apocalypse Prarie for Azimuth Theatre 2012, Free Man on The Land, Azimuth Theatre 2011. Recent acting credits include: Bible Bill: A Gospel Musical Fringe 2014, Murderers Confess at Christmas time Roxy theatre 2014 ,National Elevator project 2014, In General, Pyretic Productions 2013, Never Let the Crew See you Cry, Fringe 2013, Here. Like This. 2013 Expanse festival. She is co-founder of a theatre collective called The Other Theatre.This year she will be creating a new musical for Fringe Theatre Adventures 2016 season and touring a production of Never Let The Crew See You Cry around the province.
Originally from Burundi, Divine Ndemeye moved to Edmonton in 2006. She has travelled around the world throughout Africa, Europe, in Dubai and within Canada. She holds a degree in Political Science and Human Geography from the University of Alberta and has worked in Municipal Administration with the City of Grande Prairie and currently with the City of St Albert.
Divine is passionate about international development, social justice and sustainable urban planning & design. She strongly believes that the built environment ought to be sensitive to the natural world, to respond to community needs, enhance social cohesion and to be resilient to climate change. Her biggest pet peeve is low density, auto-dependent, single land use development patterns lacking in character and active transportation systems. Or the typical North American suburb.
Generally speaking, Divine is continuously seeks to play her part in ending any forms and systems of oppressions. She is very happy to be part of Next Up Edmonton and is looking forward to be a better activist and leader and to be part of a community of people trying to make this world a better place for all to live a dignified life.
keely was born to Loving parEnts in edmonTon who believed that nameS for Children with no natuRal rhymE would negAte the developmenT of nicknamEs. they were wrong. what did happen was thE youngest of three would become Quite qUirky and develop a strong sense of justIce and fairness (idenTified much later as a feminist and social justice lens). intermingling with social change concepts in the form of events and like-minded people congealed keelY’s sense of needing to do whAt was right, which was not always happeNing in the worlD. after enJoying post secondary and varioUs partS of The planet, keely found herself movIng east instead of west to work for the Canadian rEd Cross in saskatchewan. humanitarian work and activism Led her to a masters of publIc health, to fight the huMan-mAde injusTice of health disparitiEs in canada and beyond. she now liveS back in edmonton, spending her commuting Time with beloved podcasts, and spare time grooving to the music. she’s also into manY forms of creativity, visuaL design, and puzzlEs.
Andy is … was… has… is going to be…
What complex thoughts to finish.
I am by blood but not by appearance, an Ojibway woman, which has led me through many celebrations and tribulations.
I am a proud mom of 4 fur babies and a compulsive photographer of my love and our fur babies.
My passions in life are centered on good food, good friends, learning, music, and compassion.
I am often between a rock and a hard place.
I am prone to be lazy, goofy, muffled, and often perplexed by the lack of time.
I believe in the importance of community to create social change. There are people and organizations out there that have a lot of power, but the power behind a collective has more strength and conviction than anything.
I am the civilian Aboriginal Relations Coordinator for the Edmonton Police Service and an advocate for equity, inclusion, and relationships.
I am forever grateful for the circle of strength and support that has enabled me to continue fighting for the things I believe in.
Andy has so much more to do.
Claire Edwards is a fourth generation Edmontonian and proud of the city she calls home! She's in her third year of Honours Political Science at the University of Alberta and president of the Student Network for Advocacy and Public Policy (SNAPP) - a student organization that works to "put policies on picket signs." With a particular interest in social justice, she's involved with a number of organizations in Edmonton, including the City of Edmonton Youth Council, Amnesty International, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and the national Student Voice Initiative. Claire hopes that her participation in Next Up will give her the tangible skills she needs to create powerful social change both at home and abroad.
Diane is a born and raised Edmontonian, only recently aware of the power of her connection to this river city in the north. She is deeply interested in social justice, especially in the intersections of gender, class, race, and environmental justice. She completed a Master of Resource and Environmental Management at Dalhousie, quickly falling in love with Halifax. During her degree she studied community-based management, focusing on how indigenous cultures relate to the land they live on and the resources they harvest, as well as on the importance of building social capital between people as part of the solution to our global problems. Diane began her university career in art and design, and always enjoys finding ways to incorporate visual elements and artistic concepts in her projects. Currently, Diane works in Edmonton at the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation finding ways to build capacity, especially through strengthening the network of social capital in the international development and global citizenship education sector in Alberta and Canada. She is very much looking forward to going through the Next Up program with a great cohort and learning and contributing to as much as possible!