Lauren was born in Calgary, Alberta. She completed her undergraduate degree in law and society at the University of Calgary. Some of her favorite moments from her undergrad were swimming for the University of Calgary Dinos, and travelling and living in Denmark for six months. Lauren recently graduated from her Master’s of Arts in Political Science at Carleton University and began a PhD in Sociology at Carleton University with a focus on Bill C-36. During her time at Carleton, Lauren worked at the Carleton Graduate Student’s Association as the Vice-President External. She worked on raising awareness about safe consumption sites in Ottawa, the campaign to lower tuition fees in Canada and at Carleton, and worked as the Provincial Executive representative of the Ontario Canadian Federation of Students for the Carleton Graduate Student’s Association. Lauren is currently the co-Vice-President External at CUPE 4600, where she represents Teaching Assistants, Contract Instructors, and internally funded Research Assistants at Carleton University. Lauren also works as a teaching assistant and research assistant. When she is not working or studying Lauren loves to read, paint, spend time with her family and friends, and engage in activism.
Benjamin Diaz has one of those faces that you have probably seen before. It always brings warmth to a room, and leaves you wanting more. Ben was born and raised in Ottawa by a single mother with a younger brother. Ben’s interests involve youth engagement, queer/trans issues, feminism, and accessible education. A Carleton anthropology student by day and an improviser by night, Ben focuses on spreading cheer, joy and non-oppressive attitudes to the masses. Ben directs his scholastic eye towards hetero/homo-normativity within gay and trans men.
While finishing up his degree in anthropology, Ben has been involved in his student union and many other student organizations on campus. He currently sits on the board of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG-Carleton). Ben has volunteered at Pink Triangle Services in their Youth Educating Safer Spaces and Queer People of Colour discussion groups. In addition to his activism, Ben is a member on the Carleton Improv Association, and performs in shows all around Ottawa. He even participated in the Cracking Up the Capital Comedy festival with comedian Colin Mocherie. If he is not working, focusing on studies, doing OPIRG-related activism, practicing improv, dancing, or being a radical friend, Ben is probably asleep.
Caitlin hails from Gloucester, Ontario. Growing up as an elite rower and later a triathlete, Caitlin spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors and being on the water. She received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Ottawa, and then embarked on a career as a communications professional. Her concern for the environment and the effects of climate change spurred her to get involved in various organizations around Ottawa. She volunteers with Ottawa’s homeless and marginally-housed population, and helps to improve the city’s local urban food system. She is also a volunteer at Ecology Ottawa, where she works on the anti-Energy East pipeline campaign. Caitlin’s mission is to help social change movements develop effective communication strategies in order to improve their ability to mobilize support. Through Next Up, she looks forward to building her skillset and exploring new career directions.
Celyn is a passionate peace activist striving for nuclear disarmament and carbon reduction. He is currently working as a Progressive Policy Intern at the Rideau Institute and as an Academic Writing Advisor at the University of Ottawa.
In addition to spearheadingCeasefire.ca’s Louder Than the Bomb campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, an action endorsed by over 100 parliamentarians, Celyn has recently been busy promoting a national discussion on the importance of peace by leading Ceasefire.ca’s controversial I Remember for Peace Remembrance Day campaign.
Celyn is set to graduate this December from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelors, specializing in Political Science with a Minor in History.
Originally hailing from Trois-Rivières, Québec, Cynthia has been in a state of perpetual motion for the last ten years, living all over Canada as well as abroad. Her passion for social change was ignited by the Québec student movement when she was in college, and has continued through her work studying the politics of water access in Africa, and waste management in both Canada and in the developing world.
Driven by curiosity and her sense of ethics, her work aims to tell the stories of those falling through the cracks of an unfair system. In the future, she hopes to be able to combine this with her love of documentary film-making and multimedia platforms.
Emily is a certified “trauma nerd” and has years of experience as a trauma counsellor and feminist advocate working with survivors of sexual violence. She currently serves on the collective board of the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape. She works with Wilfred Laurier University, assisting with research that explores the impact of intersectional feminist principles on community practice, specifically in regards to sexual assault and rape crisis centres. As a steering committee member of the Toronto Women’s City Alliance, Emily is organizing to end the invisibility of diverse girls’ and women’s voices within the City of Toronto’s political agenda. Her experience growing up as a second-generation immigrant gave rise to her fascination with concepts like identity and belonging.
In her free time, you might find Emily training for her next half marathon race or tinkering away in her urban garden. She loves creative expression, especially through cooking, and enjoys bonding with family and friends over good food.
Felix Chu, 24, was born in Hong Kong. He lived most of his life in Scarborough, having completed a B.A. in Public Policy and Political Science at the University of Toronto. While there, he was involved in a wide range of LGBTQ issues and applied an intersectional approach to planning events.
Now residing in Ottawa, he is currently completing a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration at Concordia University. He is excited to be part of Next Up. He says, “I hope to be able to integrate my background and knowledge in public policy into arenas where that knowledge is not readily accessible, to marginalized communities and youth.” He believes in integrating feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial and intersectional approaches into his work as a means to broaden its reach to marginalized communities. Life isn’t all activism, though: “In my free time, I like to practice yoga – preferably hot yoga.”
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Geoffrey Carter grew up on a farm. Now an urbanite, he is in his second year at the University of Ottawa. This past summer, Geoffrey was employed as a page in the House of Commons. He is now the proud coordinator of the free store at the university. One of his many dreams is to work at improving environmental justice in our country. Having been raised on a farm, Geoffrey feels a strong connection with our natural environment and he is profoundly devoted to its protection.
Also fond of political change at all levels, he would like to see the Canadian Parliament reformed, notably through the adoption of a fair representation of seats.
Geoffrey is a young man who sees the world with the eyes of passion and determination, using his family values and traditions as guides to change society for the greater good.
Born in Cape Breton, Grant studied abroad for a year prior to beginning his undergraduate studies in Anthropology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. Grant was involved in the community garden, and he worked at the campus PIRG and at a food coop. Grant was involved in student issues such as the provincial and national days of action against tuition fee increases.
In 2011, Grant began his Master’s in Anthropology at Carleton. While at Carleton, Grant was involved with the student union, and was elected President in 2013. Grant is currently conducting research and balancing the demands of the student union. When he is not promoting social and environmental justice, Grant can be found cooking and spending quality time with family and friends.