Heather was raised in the small community of Merville on Vancouver Island, and moved to Vancouver six years ago to study Communications and Dialogue at SFU. Since graduating, Heather’s diverse volunteer pursuits have included everything from protecting wild salmon and promoting local food security, to advocating against undue surveillance of public space. Over the last few years, she has enjoyed the privilege of working with BC First Nations in the public and non-profit sectors. In 2011, Heather spent 8 months in Sierra Leone with Street Kids International, where she evaluated microfinance programs and supported social enterprise development. Today, she combines these disparate interests as Special Projects Coordinator for Vancouver Native Housing Society, where she runs the Skwachays Healing Lodge and Residence, a unique project providing subsidized housing for Aboriginal artists through social enterprise. Heather also serves as the Chair of the Vancouver Public Space Network, where she advocates for healthy, fun public spaces. If she’s not in the office, she’s either on her bike or the dance floor.
The first thing you’ll notice about Erika is her love of life! She grew up on the basketball courts in Masset, Haida Gwaii. Erika is very connected to her Haida culture and celebrates it though traditional singing and dancing. Erika recently finished a Community Herbalist program from Pacific Rim College that focused on integrative health and traditional medicine. She is proud to be currently taking the Indigenous Studies program at Camosun College. She is passionate about learning the histories and current issues of indigenous people across North America. Erika is also taking leadership in her community and connecting with the land and the elements. In the future, Erika hopes to develop a progressive, culturally-based school system. Travel is another one of her passions. Erika has had a number of different opportunities to share her awesomeness with people internationally. She participated in an elder and youth council in California, she lived in Tanzania as part of the International Aboriginal Youth Intern program through Canada World Youth, and she spent time in Guatemala on a cultural exchange with Mayan people. She is looking forward to returning to Guatemala this December to reconnect with the friends she met during the exchange. In January, she will travel with the Old Masset Youth council to New Zealand for a cultural exchange with Maori people. Erika is keeping BC Ferries afloat by commuting from Victoria to participate in Next Up 6!
Edith was raised in the small town of Carp, Ontario and has been living in BC for 6 years. Through her education she has earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. On this journey to education, Edith was inspired to learn more about social and environmental justice through engaging in community art, learning about feminist activism, and participating in student run organizations. Many summers working at Easter Seals camps for kids with disabilities also has a huge impact in shaping Edith’s life. Currently, Edith is working as an Occupational Therapist at the Centre for Child Development in Surrey. She works with kids in elementary schools who have many different abilities, and is constantly humbled by them and their families. Edith has become more involved in her union (Health Sciences Association) and is currently the Chief Steward at her work and is an elected member on the provincial bargaining team for this round of contract negotiations. She dreams about a healthcare system with a focus on prevention and community-based care, and wants to be a part of making that a reality!
One of Edith’s passions is creating safe and accessible spaces for people to feel a sense of belonging in their community. Camping and exploring come as second nature to this local farm loving, violin playing, silly making, do-it-yourselfer! Edith has two younger sisters, two cats, and is recently married. Edith is taking the world by the horns in this year’s Next Up cohort #6!
Claudia Chan is an arts and culture enthusiast, educator, foodist, traveller and documentarian. She has the pleasure of collaborating with, learning from and working alongside some of Canada’s most inspiring leaders from journalists, chefs, farmers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, politicians, policy makers, artists, designers and creatives. With a vif curiosity and zest for life, Claudia is passionate about serving the many different communities in her hometown. Her involvements are a many and range from municipal politics, education, community organizing, language and cultural programming to journalism. She currently pens a column on local green initiatives with Scout Magazine, reports for a radio show on occasion for Radio-Canada, teaches French at Capilano University, and acts as the PR person as well as serves at Harvest Community Foods. In addition to her many roles, she volunteers with Growing Chefs!, sits on the City of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council and co-facilitates an underground collaborative art series called Late Nite Art.
Bard was born in Burnaby, B.C. to a single-working mother who staunchly believed in fighting for a better life for her children. Having emigrated from Hong Kong in her teens, she was the first and only child among her eight siblings to have had the privilege of attending University. Bard’s heart is grounded in a desire to make the sacrifices made by his parents worthwhile, and is also deeply rooted in a belief that our ecological crises are a result of urgent social issues within our community—those of inequity and injustice—that must be addressed if we want a resilient and effective environmental movement.
His work thus far has been generally focused on bridging different ethno-racial and professional communities in the local environmental movement. Bard served for a year on local non-profit RangiChangi Roots Society’s [http://rangichangi.ca] Board of Directors, an organization that worked to facilitate dialogue around local food and ethnically diverse food consumption practices. He led the youth engagement and outreach initiative at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)[http://policyalternatives.ca] on the Climate Justice Project (CJP)[http://policyalternatives.ca/projects/climate-justice-project/] where he developed a new high-school workshop on climate justice and transportation. Most recently, Bard has been working with local non-profit Shark Truth[http://sharktruth.ca] to design programming that will engage the Chinese community with issues beyond shark-finning and marine conservation. He has also assisted with numerous research projects in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, where Bard has grown to love qualitative research and research methodology.
Bard is grateful to have the opportunity to be part of Next Up, and looks forward to exploring how he can best contribute to social and environmental justice movement.
Robyn loves to smile. Her smile and enthusiasm for life are rooted in her sense of place. Alongside family, neighbours, and admired community leaders, Robyn has grown up hiking in alpine meadows, playing in backyard leaf-piles, exploring pacific beaches, and attending film screenings and festivals. Robyn’s experiences in her community and in the natural world have served to deepen her connection to community, enhance her process of reflection and care, and energize her passion for sustainability.
Robyn obtained a bilingual degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development from Simon Fraser University. At SFU, Robyn also participated in the Semester in Dialogue, was a director of the student non-profit organization Sustainable SFU, and served as a Residence Community Advisor. These experiences allowed her to explore the roles of politics, community engagement and public dialogue in effecting social change.
Most recently, Robyn co-founded Shift Urban Cargo Delivery, a social enterprise that seeks to replace cargo trucks with pedal-powered cargo trikes in the goods delivery market in downtown Vancouver. Shift is organized as a worker cooperative, and Robyn is particularly excited about the opportunity to work with a dynamic team of young people, applying their ideals in a realistic and creative way.
Through it all, Robyn maintains that having fun is key, and to that end she loves to share food, discuss politics, hike, sing, bike and play.
Whitney was born and raised around the small northern community of Hazelton, BC., a home where she retains close ties. Whitney’s Gitxsan name is Luusketxw. She lives in Vancouver where she enjoys the diversity and dynamism of the city.
In 2010, Whitney received a B.A. in Political Science and First Nations Studies from the University of British Columbia. Whitney gained an appreciation for, and commitment to civic engagement during her work as a Team Leader with the Storyteller’s Foundation in northern BC. In her time with the Foundation she worked with communities on food security issues, taking a leading role in planning gardening workshops and managing youth healthy eating camps She has also worked with the Assembly of First Nations as a Junior Policy Advisor and B.C.’s M.L.A. Stikine Office as a Constituency Assistant Intern. These experiences continue to be instrumental in her activist work today.
Whitney currently works as a Regional Sport and Physical Activity Coordinator with the Aboriginal Sports, Recreation & Physical Activities Partners Council. She embraces her work because of its focus on community-based initiatives and promotion of inclusivity. Her work with the Partners Council supports people to lead a healthier life, and she sees her role as an opportunity to tackle bigger issues within First Nations communities. Over the next five years Whitney sees herself becoming more involved in First Nations issues, and she hopes to play a role in facilitating the development of policies that support communities on their road to self-determination.
Whitney loves athletics and after a hard day’s work you can find her scoring goals on the soccer field, training toward a marathon or riding on her snowboard. She has an ongoing love affair with good coffee, and she relishes in her time spent road-tripping and writing. One day you’ll all catch Whitney as she heads north on her motorbike (well, that’s the plan, anyway J)
Sally is a self-professed public health nerd, and recently received a Masters of Public Health from SFU. Her research has broadly focused on the health impacts of climate change and she is passionate about moving toward a world where everyone is able to enact their right to good health. A transplant to the west coast from Ontario, Sally graduated with a BA in Anthropology from UVic in 2004. She spent 3 years working in end-of-life care on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. From there, she continued on to work in the Cook Islands for a grassroots organization advocating for access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and last year she interned in the Caribbean with the Pan American Health Organization researching the health system impacts of climate-related disasters. These experiences have taken her into an ongoing contemplation of the way in which illness and poverty are direct products of social policy, which continue to drive her community-based work. She is currently the Knowledge Translation Manager for a research team at UBC, working to develop innovative ways of sharing mental health research, and empowering people with mental health diagnoses to work in academic research. Sally loves to search for second-hand treasures, cook for friends, snowboard and swim. In the future, she sees herself heading north or returning to the South Pacific to work with communities on food sovereignty and health access issues.
Ryan Cho currently teaches in the Music Department at Terry Fox Secondary School in Port Coquitlam. He has a lot of random interests which have lead him to a lot of spectacularly random places and opportunities. For the last three years he has worked as a Curriculum Coordinator with the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (www.psyl.ca). He is an alumnus of the WUSC 2006 International Seminar on HIV/AIDS in Botswana, and spoke at the World AIDS conference when it came to Toronto in 2006. Ryan currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Vancouver based education non-profit Check Your Head (www.checkyourhead.org) and has a big interest in how new technology is changing education and the impact of new technology on community structures and social change. This year, Ryan is presenting two workshop sessions at the province wide CUEBC (Computer Using Educators of BC) Conference.
Originally from Victoria, he relocated to the Lower Mainland in 2007. In his free time, Ryan is an active practitioner of the Japanese martial art of Aikido and serves on Provincial Executive for the BC Aikido Federation. He is also a baritone singer with the award-winning Chor Leoni Mens’ Choir (www.chorleoni.org) based in Vancouver.
Rene-John Nicolas is completing his 3rd year at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law. His keen interest in immigration and labour and employment law stems from his work with live-in caregivers and other temporary foreign workers at the Philippine Women’s Centre, the West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association and the UBC LSLAP Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic. A born and raised Vancouverite, Rene has been involved with and passionate about the Filipino community in the lower mainland and has been a campus and community organizer for the last seven years. He co-founded Kababayan UBC, the Filipino Student Association of UBC, and the Kababayan Academic Mentoring Program (KAMP) at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School. KAMP is a mentoring program that helps newly-immigrated Filipino-Canadian students navigate their new and often challenging social and academic lives.
Following the completion of his degree, Rene will be articling with a union-side labour and employment firm in Vancouver.