Maaya Kuri Hitomi is an intelligent and passionate, yet cynical, member of the 2014-2015 Next Up cohort. Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, she earned two undergraduate degrees, in Developmental Psychology and Women’s Studies, from the University of Windsor before moving to Saskatoon to conquer graduate school and earn a Master of Arts in Applied Social Psychology from the University of Saskatchewan.
Living by John Green’s quote “Truth defies simplicity,” and considering herself a Sexuality Educator, Maaya takes an intense interest in the complexity of the human experiences around sexuality. Particularly, she is passionate about issues ranging from sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to BDSM, kink, and consensual non-monogamy, and beyond.
Overall, Maaya brings immense clarity and dynamism to the Next Up team and hopes that Next Up will provide her with the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfill her goals of becoming the Executive Director of a sexuality-focused, community-based non-profit organization.
Daniel McCullough was born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan but has spent his life bouncing around that province as well as living in Ontario and Nova Scotia. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Saskatchewan in 2012 and currently works for the Ministry of Social Services. He stays active in the community as a steward for the local 1102 of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union, working for labour rights and social justice. He is passionate about correcting income disparity, affordable housing, the labour movement as well as confronting privilege and combating oppression in its various forms. On any given evening you’ll find Daniel fighting for social justice with his wit and kind heart, and his appreciation of cats.
After growing up in British Columbia and living in France for a year, Carolyn studied music pedagogy, performance, and history at the Conservatory of Music and the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC. In 2008, she moved to Montreal for a Master’s program in Library Science at McGill University, where she got involved with Librarians Without Borders (LWB), a non-profit organization that focuses on issues related to international access to information and literacy. Through LWB, Carolyn has been involved in several projects, including the design of a library for a K-12 school in Xela, Guatemala. After this, Carolyn worked for over three years on a project with LWB to establish a service-learning model for library development in Guatemala.
In 2011, Carolyn moved to Saskatoon, where she works as the Music Librarian at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2012, she joined the board of directors for International Women of Saskatoon, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the status of immigrant and refugee women and their families residing in Saskatoon. Music has always been a huge part of Carolyn’s life. She has sung in community choirs, and studied piano, violin/fiddle, clarinet, and taiko drumming (a traditional style of Japanese drumming). Whenever she can, Carolyn enjoys the outdoors. She loves to hike, cross-country ski, and work in her garden to explore new ways of growing and preserving her own food.
Amber’s passion for the environment beams out of her every action. Whether she is promoting watershed stewardship of the Saskatchewan River Basin, coordinating vermicomposting workshops, or engaging in many other environmental organizing activities; Amber’s spirit and dedication are strong.
She has an intense interest in bridging the gap between city, humans and nature. This has driven her to be involved in such things as the local urban agriculture movement, re-wilding urban space through guerilla gardening, rebuilding the public commons and learning about new ways cities can become more ‘sustainable’ in their built environmental and social infrastructure.
In the future, Amber wishes to explore offering accessible environmental education programs as well as initiatives to encourage more sustainable spaces in our community. When not fighting for environmental rights, Amber can be found putting on her gloves and kickboxing. Not to mention, she’s also an aspiring urban bee-keeper and ukulele strummer.
Fred Reibin’s passion is for helping positive messages spread. With that desire, and along with 3 other people, he founded Unite Marketing Co-op. They use their knowledge of marketing, design, and media to spread the word for non-profit organizations and community causes. Fred, along with Unite Marketing Co-op, has a very exciting project in the works called Sasklandia, which focuses on supporting local businesses and increasing supply and demand for local goods.
Fred also has a number of interests centered on creativity, community, and expanding consciousness. Most recently, Fred contributed a ‘Decentralized Art Exhibit’ to Saskatoon’s first Nuit Blanche, assisted in the Poverty Costs campaign, and helped bring the Mandala of Compassion to Saskatoon. Fred enjoys genuine conversations, chess, and nice tea.
Jessie Best grew up near Christopher Lake, SK and spent much of her childhood exploring the wooded areas near her home, skiing, hiking and swimming. She moved to Saskatoon in 2007 to study Land Use and Environmental Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Jessie has spent much of her energy developing and promoting organizations that bring together her interest in activism and agricultural systems. She is the co-founder of several organizations including: Rooted (a rooftop garden project), Permasask (a permaculture education and development organization) and the Varsity View Community Garden. She has also worked to develop and lead school gardening program at several Saskatoon schools, which allowed students to engage in outdoor learning by creating their own gardens.
Recently, Jessie moved to a farm near Aberdeen where she and her husband are researching systems for ecological food production. The farm is a great way for Jessie to get her hands dirty (literally), think creatively and implement new ideas. She is also interested in practicing and implementing holistic management, sustainable grassland farming, soil building and earthworks projects.
Jessie is excited to be a part of NextUp Saskatoon, where she can meet and work with like minded people.
Moose is an Alberta-born tree climbing, gardener, who can often be found at the horse stables where their horse Shawney lives. Amy grew up on a pig farm and now lives in Saskatoon where they are completing a Bachelor of Science and Agriculture degree. Amy’s compassion and kindness is without a doubt evident in the way they speak and the ways in which they can transform our hearts and impact our learning. With a passion for agriculture, ecology, and environmentalism Amy hopes to learn more about the intersection of activism and community development with these fields. Amy has spent the past few summers working in a microbiology lab, and has volunteered at the USSU Women’s Centre, and also had the privilege of being a Youth Leader at Camp fYrefly this past summer.
Moose is excited about Next Up and is jazzed about the opportunity to connect and engage with people from Saskatoon based community initiatives.
Elizabeth’s background in political science led her to work for Upstream, an organization dedicated to the pursuit of improved community health and social change. She is a strong advocate of the potential for thoughtful policy decisions to make a positive impact on both the lives of individuals and on the greater community. Prior to pursuing her degree in political science, Elizabeth also trained and worked as a graphic designer.
One of her proudest accomplishments is her work as an organizer and founder of Atangard Community Project, a housing development in Abbotsford B.C. One of the things that drew Elizabeth to Next Up was a desire to have her ideas challenged and tested while connecting with others in the and developing her leadership skills.
She lives in Saskatoon with her husband Tim. Outside of geeking out on Canadian politics, Beth is most often found in or near a kitchen. There are few places she’d rather be than with family and friends around a table.
Denae Pellerin grounds her social justice work in her Catholic faith and education. As such, she has volunteered for Development and Peace, the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, on campaigns addressing a range of issues including bottled water, locally sourced food, and human rights abuses around Canadian-owned foreign mines. She has also contributed to the Poverty Costs campaign here in Saskatoon, volunteered with Canadian Blood Services, CHEP and the Open Door Society, and was a Les and Irene Dube Service and Justice Project Scholar at St. Thomas More College.
Today, she is a third-year student at the University of Saskatchewan, majoring in Psychology and working through her first year pre-social work. Motivated by love and her undying belief that every person has been given infinite irreplaceable value, Denae has become deeply passionate about childhood development and ensuring that children have the means to develop and maintain a healthy, positive self-image. Thus, she is currently employed with Boys and Girls Clubs Saskatoon and Community Living Association Saskatoon.
In the future, Denae hopes to continue connecting local communities with their global counterparts as she seeks a place in community development or community-based non-profits that will empower and give voice to those whose dignity is not upheld in our society. Passionate about issues surrounding poverty, women and children, Denae is joyfully approaching Next Up with the hopes of being humbled, and equipped to learn tactile ways of meeting the needs and desires of her local community.
Michayla van de Velde is a Dutch-Canadian Métis woman who currently lives in Saskatoon. Michayla has been involved in community work since elementary school and is a board member of the Saskatoon Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council. She has also worked with the Saskatoon SPCA and Evan Hardy Collegiate’s charity and culture committees. She is most proud of her work with Evan Hardy’s Gender & Sexuality Alliance, of which she was a founding member. Michayla is interested in gender and LGBTQ+ politics, and is currently working towards a degree in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. She enjoys knitting, drinking tea and photography.