Born and raised in Edmonton to parents who immigrated from El Salvador, Manuel’s values and beliefs in social justices and in the creation of a more equitable world are rooted in his childhood where had saw the barriers that his parents endured as low income minorities.
His interest in issues of social justice led him to the University of Calgary where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Latin American Studies and with a minor in Political Science. During university, Manuel’s academic research gave him an in-depth understanding in issues of the affecting the global south, development, governances, human rights, and democratization. Upon graduation in 2011, Manuel shifted his focus to local issues facing both Edmontonians and Canadians. But after so much academic analysis, however, Manuel decided the time to act was now. This led him to Next Up Edmonton.
Manuel is very excited to be part of Next Up 5 where he is excited to connect with people who share his passion of wanting to positively influence their community. More importantly, he looks forward to working and learning from them as he gains practical experience, rather than academic, in social justice work.
Arsheen Devjee was born and raised in the City of Champions. She has studied world religions, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and has spent extensive time living in the Middle East. Arsheen currently works at the Centre for Race and Culture as a Project Coordinator for the Mosquers Film Competition.
She has an avid interest in understanding and theorizing human relations, power, privilege, gender and race; and how these identities play themselves out in Canada. Arsheen is a mother of a toddler and is eagerly expecting the birth of her second child in January. In her free time, she enjoys reading, getting together with friends and baking.
Blaire Christensen is a graduate of Dalhousie University with an Honours BA in International Development Studies and Political Science. During her degree, she participated in the Trent-in-Ecuador study abroad program and did her internship with an indigenous Kichwa community examining the impact of oil development on communities in the Amazon rainforest.
Although, Blaire has lived in both Halifax and Ecuador, Edmonton is her home and Alberta politics are her passion. She is particularly interested in the connections intertwining Alberta’s oil-based economy with democracy and community development. She is looking forward to developing her leadership skills and gaining a better understanding of issues in Alberta in order to strengthen her skill set for creating social change.
This past fall, she was involved in a Next Up alumni-initiated project called ActivatED, which sought to elect forward-thinking candidates to Edmonton’s municipal city council. She currently works for the City of Edmonton. In her spare time, Blaire loves llamas, eating sushi, doing yoga, hiking and skiing, and having passionate political discussions.
Jessie is a resident physician in Emergency Medicine at the University of Alberta. During medical school, she acted as the president of the Canadian chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students where she advocated for issues such a reducing pharmaceutical industry influence in medical education, protecting the rights of migrant health care workers, and expanding the debate on the ethics of international development work.
Her other areas of interest include sexual health and reproductive rights. She is the co-founder of a ConsentEd (www.consentEd.ca), an educational and awareness initiative striving to build a world without sexual violence.
More recently Jessie has become involved with refugee health issues here in Alberta. She co-founded a group called the Alberta Refugee Care Coalition to advocate for the restoration of health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants. Outside of work and extracurriculars, Jessie enjoys longboarding, astronomy, and eating lots of samosas.
Born and raised in Edmonton, Sean has learned to appreciate the values of cooperation, community, and compassion, values that he believes most Albertans hold. While completing his Bachelor of Education at the University of Alberta, he noticed a disconnect between his community’s values and the contemporary educational institution here in Alberta. Now, he seeks to combine his love for growing food and his passion for education to invoke social change. Sean has been fortunate enough to be involved with coordinating school nutrition programs, and supporting community initiatives that promote food security through sustainable design and the power of collaboration. When he isn’t at work or in the garden, Sean can be found running on the trails in the river valley or in the mountains.
Elauna Boutwell was born and raised in the city of Kenora, in Northwestern Ontario. After volunteering in Nepal, Tanzania and Uganda, backpacking through the Middle-East and a bit of time spent in Europe she found her way to Edmonton and the University of Alberta. Here, she immediately found a home within student group activities and became a social justice junkie. Elauna completed a B.A, with a major in Sociology and a minor in Political Science as well as certificates in American Sign Language, Peace and Post Conflict studies and Global Citizenship.
Elauna aims to continue supporting the pursuit of healthy, sustainable, thriving communities in her future endeavors, and is excited to be a part of a group where she can continue to unravel what ‘people and plant over profit’ looks like, and explore how best to live in mutual respect in this interconnected web we all live in.
Kristin moved to Edmonton in June 2012 after accepting a position with Alberta Culture. She also convocated in June with a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Saskatchewan. Her academic interests include social, comparative and regulatory policy, along with broad topic areas such as international development and federalism. Kristin has been involved in a variety of social justice initiatives having worked at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan in a variety of roles, Crocus Cooperative (a drop in centre for people with mental health disabilities) as an Employment Facilitator, and as a volunteer with the World University Service of Canada assisting refugees through the settlement process in Canada. She was also a volunteer participant with Katimavik and Youth Challenge International.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Kristin grew up on a small mixed farm and actively participated in sports and small town community events. Kristin’s favorite things include visits to Guatemala, mountain biking at Jasper, yoga, cooking, going back to the farm that she grew up on and curling in the winter. She speaks Spanish, enjoys reading, following politics and has a particular fondness for vintage and antique items.
Eric grew up in Flamborough, Ontario, which is (was?) a sleepy rural area of cows and corn just outside of the Southwestern Ontario urban development complex. After completing his Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, he travelled to Edmonton to complete his Master of Public Health degree. In Edmonton he met an amazing lady, they decided to get married, and now he calls Edmonton home. Eric is passionate about implementing community engagement strategies that allow communities themselves to define how systems internal and external to their community may provide facilitators or barriers to their current health situation. Throughout his education and early career Eric has been engaging communities in the process of defining, implementing and evaluating projects and interventions. Examples of initiative topics include: exposure of northern Aboriginal/Inuit communities to environmental contaminants; exposure of Albertan communities to physical/built environments that are related to physical activity and healthy eating behaviours; and a currently-developing process that will engage an Edmonton Community League in a process of dialogue that identifies community physical/human resources for advocating for a shift to eco-mobility transportation options. Aside from community engagement and social justice, Eric’s professional and personal interests include: sustainability; active living generally and active transportation specifically; citizenship; backyard and indoor gardening; urban farming; and food security.
Carmen, a mother of two children, Quest and Pride, divides her time between, home life, school and volunteer work. Currently, she is involved with Standing Up For Peruvian Children Society, Next Up (Edmonton) and is working toward her degree in Social Work. If there are to be changes in the world that are positive, it begins with looking at ones self and our own behavior, from there it makes life much easier to come together and work collectively to make huge changes in this world…. On a side note, material items are just that material, …come on are we going to be able to take them to the other side???
Anna McRobbie is a RN, community organizer, festival junkie, event promotor and dancer. Radicalized by working with Common Ground Relief in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Anna believes in democracy, social justice, celebration and community. She is a founding member of ARK event productions, Mosaic Minds Unconferences and the creator of the youth voter initiative Voting Time is Sexy Time. Group process, organizational structure, environmentalism and health fascinate Anna. She combines these skills with a passion for empowerment and equity. We are the ones we have been waiting for, let’s create a better world!