Geordie Gescha, his name may sound familiar to you for several reasons. Gescha was born and raised in a Romanian-Asian home here in Saskatoon. He paints, he is a community organizer and he mentors youth at risk. His talent, life-experience and hard work have lead him to be and to work on several impressive projects. In February his hip-hop single “Love Pirates” off the album Crayon Politics climbed the Canadian single sales chart to #7. Along with his numerous other albums he has helped with the production of Kumva Neza: Where the Land of Living Skies Meets the Land of a Thousand Hills. His last two years have been spent mentoring at risk youth here in Saskatoon. Currently he is helping set up a centre for youth to learn the skills to succeed in the music trade, working on a creative project to express what he has learned at occupy Saskatoon along with many other projects. Geordie Gescha is a charismatic and passionate young man. He has done a lot for Saskatoon and we are all excited to see his future unfold.
Born in Harare Zimbabwe, Boni moved to Saskatoon SK at the age of six and she has resided here in Canada ever since. Boni is now 25 years young and has graduated with a Sociology degree, and has made a documentary about Rwanda called “Kumva Neza”. Other than being a proud member of Next Up, Boni also volunteers with Victim Services as a support worker for people with Mental and physically disabilities. Her goal is to finish social work and to continue being involved in social justice. Boni is also a Netflix and Musicacholic!
“My passion is being involved of being part of a social justice, our world is changing. Sometimes it could be for the worse, but I believe that standing up for our rights and have to power to change, we can!” -Boni Nleya
Andrea is currently in her fifth and final year of her Anthropology degree at the University of Saskatchewan and has plans to continue her education with a Masters in Enthographic Media. She is drawn to Anthropology because it can take her anywhere and everywhere, and with photography, she can take others along with her on her journey.
Learning is something Andrea never wants to stop doing, whether it be in the classroom or on her many adventures around the world. Seeing the world and experiencing different cultures is what Andrea is most passionate about in life, and she hopes to see as much of the world as she possibly can. Being creative, and spending time with inspiring and positive people is also a big part of Andrea’s life.
Andrea describes herself as passionate, driven, adventurous, loving, patient, and easy-going. She values her ability to laugh at herself and not take herself too seriously, which aids her involvement in a wide variety of social justice work. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family and friends, being in nature, reading, cooking, and being active through activities such as yoga, running, and soccer.
Alanna is passionate and has strong opinions regarding womens rights and equity. She is enthusiastic about travelling and loves to learn about and experience new places and cultures. Alanna has ambitions to continue traveling while finding her place with a family, job and doing what she loves – pursuing social justice work.
Alanna spends her free time running and training for marathons (INTENSE!), reading, writing, being outdoors, watching movies and spending time with friends and family. Alanna thinks if she were a season she would be spring – she is warm and pretty; her spirit animal would be a white tiger – much like her, rare and fierce; if she were a place it would be a beach – fun and easy going; and finally if she were a color she would be purple!
Taylor-Anne Yee is a Chinese-Canadian who grew up in Saskatchewan. She loves this province a lot and does everything she can to help make this place better for everyone. Her educational background is in politics and law with a focus on the environment and poverty-related issues. Tay is an introvert that never thought she could be a leader, but Next Up showed her that everyone has their own style, and she is incredibly thankful for everything this program has given her. She likes video games, sci-fi, playing piano and guitar, rabbits, cookies, and graphic design. Tay is not very good at writing bios about herself.
Born and raised prairie girl from Saskatoon. Fond memories of public transit, the local music scene, community events, volunteering and photography. Recent successes include a BA Honours in International Studies, more home cooked meals and a great partnership with her spouse. Curious about different cultures, community development, equality and global health.
Will try most things in life once and all the fun things twice.
“The Great Law of Peace from the Great Spirit is perfect, balanced, true and just in every way. Only when each person has the Living Laws of Peace within their heart, thoughts, words and actions will there be lasting peace among the Nations of the Earth.” – Deganawideh, The Peacemaker
I took this quote from a book that I gave a teenage boy. A teenage boy that is trying to make sense of life, and of all the situations that were put upon him. Some of these situations were made with little thought, some with great thought, but almost all of them were made without his input or consent. A great deal of them stem from generations of hurt, destruction, and prejudices. A great deal of them occurred because society chooses over and over again to look away or force, instead of hearing, respecting, and loving unconditionally. I choose to write about this teenager because as I hear his story, learn from his forgotten wisdom, and walk alongside his path of healing, I am motivated.
Societies are made up of intertwined individuals. Each individual has a sacred story that needs to be respected and deserves to be heard. I believe that if we take the time to know who we are, and connect with our own hearts, than we can then honestly connect to others without judgment, we can begin to feel other hearts, feel different truths, and build community. I believe that social change stems from one heart opening at a time. Cliché, maybe, but I’ve felt it to be true, and it is part of my story and my struggle. My name is Roanne Kosokowsky, and I believe that this is what sustainable social and environmental justice looks like. Honesty, humility, respect, courage, wisdom, truth, love.
A thousand thank yous and a satchel of love to all of you Next Uppers for having the courage to follow your own truth, embracing life, and holding onto hope.
Kathleen graduated with a degree in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and has since built capacity as a non-profit worker. Kathleen is a fundraiser in Saskatoon, working with charities on large-scale capital campaigns. Her work is as diverse as it is rewarding and she looks forward to building capacity as a community development advocate. Kathleen has worked for charities such as Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, One Change, and with the Christchurch City Council in New Zealand.
Believing that volunteerism is key to the health and success of every community, she is active on many fronts and is currently involved primarily with PAVED Arts and Nuit Blanche Saskatoon. Kathleen is passionate about living sustainably and enjoys everything that life on the prairies has to offer. Her interests are reading, cycling, cross country skiing, visiting art galleries, live concerts, and traveling.
There once was a young nurse named Karen
Whose life was anything but barren.
She applied for Next Up,
Said “Life, fill my cup!”
Once accepted, her enthusiasm was rarin’.
Passionate about health, politics and international development,
She strives to find ways to make these issues relevant.
Outdoorsy and svelte,
She is a black belt;
And also, (apparently), eloquent.
By day, Christine is a graduate student working on her MA in Medical Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan; by night, she is a sneaky ninja of an activist. Her research involves studying peer-run harm reduction models regarding their impact on community and structural change. As an advocate for human rights – particularly in the areas of attaining well-being and having equitable access to health services, she volunteers at Sexual Health Centre Saskatoon and at AIDS Saskatoon, and is currently serving as a board member for AIDS Saskatoon. According to fellow NU participant Taylor, a descriptive word that represents Christine is “swesian” (sweet + Asian).