Keane Plamondon was born into this world with a name that has left the majority of people tongue-tied. So let’s lay it out right now for you: KEY-EN PLA-MON-DON. Name confusion aside, Keane also has quite the collection of doppelgangers, including Dallas Green of City and Colour, as well as Kevin Porter. He also owns a dog names Kia, which sounds insanely close to Keane, once again adding to the identity confusion. Doppelgangers and dogs aside, Keane Plamondon was born and raised in the north end of Saskatooon where he completed his Bachelors Degree in Social Work through the University of Regina, and then attended Dalhousie University where he completed his Masters in Social Work. His focus is now on counseling through working towards ending relationship violence, and supporting harm reduction in terms of addictions. During our interview, Keane stated that his career in social working essentially fell into his lap unannounced. However, after talking to Keane, it is blatantly obvious that he has found his passion and is determined to make a huge difference in the lives of many.
When Keane isn’t working he can usually be found playing some sort of musical instrument or out taking photographs – both are a major passion for him. He also greatly enjoys running, nature, travelling, reading non-fiction, and sarcastic humor – which is obviously the best kind of humor. Keane’s open mind will be a great asset while in the Next Up program where he hopes to highlight and hone his strengths, learn from others, and broaden his abilities. Keane never wants to be satisfied with the status quo and desires to be influenced by hope, positivity, and a never-ending source of curiosity. Last, but certainly not least, Keane’s arch nemesis is Cilantro, but that’s something that you’ll have to ask him about face to face!
Jessica Fisher is a young woman with a commitment to positively impacting and meaningfully engaging young people. She convocated with her B.A in Psychology from the U of S in October 2011. Since then she was the Youth Coordinator in Martensville for the Martensville Community Access Centre (MCAC), until a lack of funding cut the program short. Currently she is working in sales at Richardson Lighting.
She became interested in social change while working as the Youth Coordinator for MCAC. There she formed a summer youth project that involved youth giving back to their community through doing volunteer landscaping, development and maintenance of the local flower beds, parks and tree nursery. Jessica is excited to be in Next Up to expand her knowledge, become exposed to different social justice issues, learn new skills and challenge herself toward a life involving social justice. She wants to make a difference in the world we live in and feels Next Up is the starting point to do just that!
Haley was born in South East Saskatchewan where she grew up on a small mixed, cattle and grain farm. She grew up being surrounded by progressive philosophies as her family was involved with the NFU and NDP, and there were frequently issues of Briarpatch lying around, as well as the chorus of CBC radio which could frequently be found echoing throughout the house. This led Haley to start asking “Why?”. For example, why are there social and economic injustices in the world and what are the root causes? To begin this journey of understanding, Haley attended the University of Regina where she convocated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with distinction.
Haley loves to learn and travel and she tries to find ways to do them together. For example, she participated in a youth tour with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank to Honduras; she went to Cuba on a 50th Anniversary of the Revolution Tour; in El Salvador she visited prisons where she met members of the MS-13 and the 18th Street gangs; and she participated in an intensive food sovereignty course in Mexico. Haley has found her travel experiences have increased her desire to work towards building a more just world.
Haley has also traveled extensively within Canada. She has traveled from Coast to Coast and spent a lot of time in the Rocky Mountains as a competitive downhill ski racer with the Ochapowace Ski Club and the Saskatchewan Provincial Downhill Ski Team. Haley has just returned to Saskatchewan after living and working in Victoria, BC for the past 2 1/2 years. Haley loves the outdoors and living on Vancouver Island with easy access to the ocean, the rainforest and the mountains suited her active lifestyle. For example, this past June Haley ran her first half-marathon in Ucluelet, BC.
One of Haley’s main interests is food and agriculture, which no doubt stems from growing up on a farm, being involved in 4-H, and helping her parent’s grow and process their own food. Also, growing up on a small mixed farm in the 1980s and 1990s, she has seen the effects of neo-liberal agricultural policies; such as, the loss of The Crow Rate and the free trade agreement. Haley recognizes that these policies coupled with globalization have not benefited the farmer, rural Saskatchewan or the consumer. She sees the recent XL beef recall as a sympton of the sickness of a globalized food system. And then there is the recent undemocratic elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board…Haley could go on!
In her free time, Haley enjoys traveling, learning Spanish, yoga, gardening, hiking and reading. She has a soft spot for animals, and enjoys working with rescued animals. She is trying to live in the moment as her grandpa did until he passed away at 103 years of age.
Many things in this world inspire Grace Schenher, including music, poetry, the changing seasons and the people in her life. As a student studying Linguistics and Political Studies at the U of S, Grace is interested in formulating a better communication network between the different groups on campus that would connect and inspire people to be more engaged. She has been involved in the Saskatoon Anarchist Bookfair, Cinema Politica, and other various movements. A primary social justice issue that concerns Grace involves economic inequality and the prejudices that stem from it. She believes in the notion of thinking globally and acting locally, especially since she sees there is a lot of work to be done in her own community of Saskatoon. Grace admits she has a long way to go and much to learn, but leapt at the opportunity to apply for the Next Up program. She stated, “As soon as I heard about Next Up, I felt like I would be disrespecting myself if I didn’t apply.” Also, if Grace were a piece of furniture she would be rocking chair. Her grandmotherly old soul lends well to her tendencies to knit, sew, play cribbage and partake in other “golden age” activities.
Dan is very passionate about the well being of persons and the natural environment. He thinks that economic justice is a necessary condition for human well being. Dan is committed to prophetic Christianity with its understanding of the inherent value of all persons, the sacredness of the earth, and the need to critique empire and unjust systems of oppression.
Dan is studying law at the University of Saskatchewan. He hopes to use his degree to work at the intersection of human rights and land rights – arguing for “right to use” easements for nomadic persons and groups in East Africa, and for the right to property ownership for women and lower-socioeconomic class persons the world over. He hopes to be a strong advocate for those oppressed by unjust systems such as patriarchy and capitalism. He also hopes to work for progressive human rights and environmental legislation.
Dan is currently involved with numerous activist projects, including advocating for tuition freezes or reductions with Make Tuition History, and seeking to arrange sponsorship for two men from East Africa with the refugee committee at Redeemer Lutheran Church. He is a member of the Socialist Students Association, Green Legal, Canadian Lawyers Abroad, Aboriginal Law Students Association, and Interfaith Ambassadors.
He also really likes grilled cheese.
Chelsea is a leader in the community and a risk taker who lets her heart take the lead. With a juxtaposition of love and action, she is a force to be reckoned with. She brings with her, a knowledge of community resources, creativity, and years of experience doing front line work with vulnerable youth in our city. She believes that youth who have support to step up in their community and around the globe are going to shape the future, and that it is important for them to find their path in their own terms. She is currently a Practicum Supervisor through Lethbridge College and on the Advisory Committee at SIAST for their Child and Youth Care Worker Programs, union steward, member of Saskatoon Hoop Community, Cinema Politica, and volunteer with the Canadian Mental Health Association art program. Chelsea has been a youth outreach worker, a crisis counsellor, and a family activity coordinator just to name a few. Her parent’s home is a therapeutic foster family and she credits her mother for deeply instilling in her, the importance of community and compassion. Chelsea is passionate about building a stronger community and dreams of grassroots cooperative workspaces, social enterprise and collaborating to make ideas unfold into reality. Occupy Saskatoon was an amazing connector to link with others, her desire to be a revolutionary. You’re likely to find Chelsea cooking and hanging with friends in her kitchen, renovating her home DIY style, screen printing in her basement with a women’s printing collective, sharing her home as a community hub, and getting people into a hoop. By teaching others to hula hoop, she has learned that teaching is often just guiding and encouraging people to find their natural rhythm, and she has said that the positive energy created by encouraging people to be vulnerable and fearless is amazing.
Amy is 32 years old and has been a nurse and a member of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses for almost 8 years. As a nurse, Amy has worked with people of all ages and from many walks of life, but she has found her niche working in the Street Health department with clients who face many adversities such as stigma and discrimination. In her words, “it just seems like there’s so much to be done, the work is always important, there is never a dull moment and often times I find myself having fascinating conversations with genuinely amazing people late into the night.” The things she is most passionate about in her work are breaking down barriers, empowering people and communities, sharing and gaining knowledge, and advocating for harm reduction approaches. On top of her duties as a nurse, she has also been involved with Friends of CBC, AIDS Saskatoon, and worked on various NDP election campaigns in the past couple of years.
In her personal life, Amy lives by the mantra of “living simply, so others may simply live”. Her hobbies include biking, soup making and eating, watching documentaries, gardening, and sleeping in. She has great respect for her family and lives in an ever-evolving household with her 17 year old sister , her partner, and his two boys. Overall, Amy is a humble, grounded, caring individual with a passion for helping people– a great addition to the Next Up team
To begin this story I think it important to tell the story of our meet-up to write this biography. On Friday, October 24th 2011 Melissa came and met me at Aden Bowman where we commenced our discussion. I had no idea what to ask her, but knew this couldn’t be a traditional biography. Sure she is 21 years old, her family is Malaysian-Chinese, she is from Saskatoon, speaks four languages some better than others, and may or may not love long walks on the beach. None of those things really tell us who she is. Our discussion began at about 3:45 and did not end until 6:00. Yes, we talked for over 2 hrs, but I think that in itself tells something about who Melissa is. She is the kind of person you can sit down with and just talk to for hours. I learned a lot about her life, who she is, where she’s been, and where she’s going. Her first experience with activism began in high school where she began working with WAM (“We Are Many”), a youth group dedicated to environmental justice and sustainability; a group that she is still a part of today. Initially she volunteered for self-gratifying reasons, but this changed as she grew as an individual. After high school she did a 10 month exchange in Japan that opened her eyes to the world around her, and the connections that exist. As a result she enrolled in international studies and loves it. My experience chatting with Melissa was splendid she is a wonderful, sincere person who truly cares about the work she is doing. She said something very insightful to me during our meeting. By only volunteering absent mindfully or by only studying a subject in University it is impossible to gain real understanding regarding what is going on in our world. True understanding can only be accomplished by truly, full-heartedly getting involved.
Maggie McBride graduated from Augustana, a small liberal arts college in Alberta, with a B.A majoring in Environmental Studies and Outdoor Education and a certificate in Community Service Learning. Maggie likes traveling and has studied abroad in both Mexico and Norway. Maggie loves the outdoors, rivers, forests and helping people to enjoy them. She also loves running, skiing, canoeing and hiking. Maggie’s goals are to work within small food production systems to mainstream enviromental design. She is currently working at Floating Gardens and with the Saskatchewan Eco Network. Maggie is back in Saskatoon, reconnecting with family and friends, hoping to get her Masters in a couple years and to build up a market garden of her own.
Laura is a native of Ottawa, Ontario. She came to Saskatoon in 2008 to attend the University of Saskatchewan. Since then, she has come to appreciate the sense of community and wonderful people in this city. In 2010 she completed a Master of Public Health and began a PhD in Community Health and Epidemiology. Laura is passionate about about the connection between local and global health, gender equity, politics, and addressing the many social determinants of health. She is currently a board member of the Sexual Health Centre in Saskatoon, and an advisory member for Next Up Saskatchewan.