Next Up Saskatchewan 2012 Alumnus Jae Ford is a co-founder of Signs of Healing, an initiative to display signs outside the Irene & Les Dube Centre for Mental Health in Saskatoon. The group is currently fundraising to expand their initiative to five other inpatient units. To support the project click here. To read more about this project go to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix article or read the text from the article below.
The second year of the Climate Leadership Program began March 2 - 4 in Kananaskis, Alberta. We took to the mountains and the home of the Stoney Nakoda people for the orientation weekend of our 5-weekend program. We gathered 27 participants from across Alberta, from Slave Lake, to Red Deer, Settler, Calgary and Edmonton. We’re excited to be learning together with Metis, newcomers, the energy industry, nonprofits, First Nations, farmers, unions members, researchers and more. We’re also looking forward to our many guest presenters, from government, academia, grassroots groups, think tanks, and hands on climate leaders. At the end of this program our new grads will be bringing back a climate action project to their workplaces and communities, taking actions that will move Alberta closer to the low carbon future that is necessary. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the committed support of Alberta EcoTrust and the Calgary Foundation. We’re grateful for their recognition of the importance of developing unlikely allies as Albertan climate leaders.
In addition, we held two successful events on March 24 in Edmonton and April 21 in Calgary, where NU and CLP grads, along with the public met their local CLP participants and learned about past and planned climate action projects. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updates about ongoing Climate Connection afternoons.
C’est avec beaucoup d’émotion que le groupe s’est réuni le 25 février 2018 pour la dernière session du programme. Autour du thème de l’importance de prendre soin de soi, les participantes ont eu l’occasion encore une fois de partager leurs connaissances et d’apprendre par le leadership féministe et des compétences progressives. Le repas-partage qui s’en est suivi a été grandement apprécié par toutes. Les participantes sont reconnaissantes à chacun des invités d’avoir pris le temps et d’avoir accepté de partager leurs histoires et savoirs. Les différents ateliers ont servi de fondement à la formation du groupe en lui donnant la force de créer un changement durable. Voici un témoignage :
« Les sujets qui nous ont aidé à nous connaître nous-mêmes, je les ai trouvés magnifiques. Car en tant que personne, on change assez souvent sans s’en rendre compte ». Laura Osorio
Merci à toute l’équipe et à la prochaine fois!
Ève Robidoux-Descary, coordinatrice Leader de demain au féminin! 2017-2018
In collaboration with Next Up, the first cohort of Leader de demain, au féminin! by the Coalition des femmes de l’Alberta is already coming to an end.
It was with much emotion that the group met on February 25, 2018 for the last session of the program. Around the theme of the importance of self-care, participants had the opportunity once again to share their knowledge and learn through feminist leadership and progressive skills. The potluck that followed was greatly appreciated by all. Participants are grateful to each of the guests for taking the time and agreeing to share their stories and knowledge. The various workshops served as a foundation for the training of the group, giving them the strength to create lasting change. Here is a testimony:
"The topics that helped us know ourselves, I found them beautiful. Because as people, we change quite often without realizing it." Laura Osorio
Big thanks to the whole team and see you next time!
Ève Robidoux-Descary, coordinator Leader de demain au féminin! 2017-2018
Thanks to a small but mighty team of Advisory Committee members and alumni, Ottawa closed out 2017 with a wonderfully successful phone banking initiative raising over $1000 towards NU's Accessibility in Action Fund in just a few hours. Ontario has launched into 2018 with this sustained energy, and with a commitment to exploring new avenues for programming in the province. Intensive workshops ran in both Ottawa and Toronto in the the past few months, with over 50 new participants this year. We are doing our best to keep our network growing!
This year, Next UP Saskatchewan is offering workshops on topics ranging from storytelling to media to cultural responsiveness for which people of all ages can sign up. These workshops are instead of our usual cohort model as an experiment in offering shorter trainings to more people. In November 2017 and January 2018, Next UP Saskatchewan held nine Skills for Social Change workshops including five in Saskatoon, two in Regina, and two in Swift Current with over 140 people attending at least one workshop each.
This was the first time Next UP had visited Swift Current, home of outgoing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. And with a population of 16,000 people, Swift Current is the smallest community Next UP has ever served. Twenty-five participants learned about and practiced Joanna Macy’s Work That Reconnects on Friday, Jan 12th and another workshop on Saturday, Jan 13th focused on storytelling based on the work of Marshall Ganz.
The workshops in all three communities were also offered in partnership with several community-based organizations, allowing Next Up to connect with people who may not have previously been familiar with our work. These partners were The Stand Community Organizing Centre, Str8 Up, Stop the Cuts, CHEP Good Food, OUTSaskatoon, Regina Public Interest Research Group, Student Energy in Action for Regina Community Health, First United Church Swift Current, Swift Current Branch Library. More workshops will be offered in the spring and summer of 2018, with the hope of reaching out to at least two or three more smaller communities.
Next Up Winnipeg held its first 'Bring a Friend' session where we encouraged participants, alumni and community supporters of NU to bring their friends to the session. This is an initiative that we have decided to try, to broaden the reach of the program and intend to host these sessions twice in a program year moving forward.
Our guest speaker for the evening was Honourable Senator Marilou McPhedran who spoke about the progress and the setbacks we have had in regards to Human Rights advancements. She also brought the Senate to us and engaged in spirited and open conversation with participants about its workings, and avenues for citizen advocacy.
NUpdate from Calgary
We’re approaching the final weeks of another program year for Next Up Calgary. While the winter has been more wintery than some, we’re gratefully enjoying our new location in the offices of the Alberta EcoTrust Foundation. One definite winter pleasure was a recent social weekend in Kananaskis. We spent a lot of time talking social justice, playing many games and enjoying the U of C’s beautiful research station. We also got in some blizzard-y hikes and created some wet footwear and stronger friendships.
We’ve enjoyed a lot of ongoing support from our advisory network of grads and supporters this year. In particular, thanks are extended to the peer mentoring participants (who are meeting with 11 of our 13 participants). Special thanks to Meghan and Amy for coordinating this entire program. Members of this year’s advisory are also acting as independent support contacts to the cohort. These folks are available for confidential feedback and to support the coordinator in their accountability to the cohort, presenters, and advisory.
We’ve got a diverse and stimulating group of remaining sessions plus a couple of cool field trips remaining before the program check-out at the end of April. The field trips include a feminist Jane’s Walk to learn about sex work in Calgary, participating in the Climate Change Conversation with Katherine Hayhoe and George Marshall, the Alberta EcoTrust Environmental Gathering, and participating in the Social Media and Civic Culture symposium at the U of C. Yep, we’re as busy as always!
We’re looking for grads and others to volunteer with us in May to do a day of fundraising. We’ll provide the training, support, food, and fun company. You’ll bring your phone, and, with our help, we’ll raise some donations to keep our programming well supported for another year. Please email email@example.com if you can help out. The tentative date will be May 12.
Leigh Thomas, NUSask 2015-16, recently received an award for academic excellence. Leigh is a 3rd year student in the Regional and Urban Planning department at the University of Saskatchewan. You can read more about Leigh's accomplishments and aspirations on the University of Saskatchewan blog or you can find the full story by John Shelling, below.Read more
This year, in Edmonton, we're collaborating with Coalition des Femmes de l’Alberta, offering a leadership program for young francophone and francophile women committed to social and environmental justice. We had our first meeting in early December and Nathalie Brunet sent us a few words about her experience in the program thus far. We're super excited to be working together!
-Laura Collison, Next Up Edmonton Coordinator
Last year I was a member of Regina’s first Next Up cohort, but I moved to Edmonton mid-winter and did not finish the program. I was learning lots, developing skills, and beginning to build a network in that community, so I was disappointed when I moved away. Correspondingly, I was excited when I was forwarded an email about Leader de demain, au féminin!, a collaborative project between Coalition des femmes de l'Alberta and Next Up. It is a pilot project for young Francophone and Francophile women in Edmonton committed to social and environmental justice that builds off of the Next Up curriculum and similarly aims to develop skills and competences necessary for effective leadership.
I grew up speaking French in Ontario so this seemed like a great opportunity for me. We had our first session December 2-3 and it left me feeling empowered, inspired, and re-motivated. In my past experience with Next Up I found that I learned from the experiences of my co-participants just as much as from the presenters. So, although the content of the first session was a review, the perspectives that the other participants bring spark interesting and inspiring conversations. I look forward to learning more from the life experiences of this diverse group of women with backgrounds from East Africa, South America, New Brunswick, and Québec.
Another interesting and new perspective has been working on my French vocabulary for social and environmental justice. In some ways it’s familiar, easy and heartening to speak in my native language, but in some other ways it has been challenging to express thoughts associated with topics that I am generally exposed to in English. I look forward to seeing how the female and francophone perspective of this program will shape the content of our sessions and I am excited for the opportunity to form connections and bonds within my new community.
L'année dernière, j’ai fait partie de la première cohorte Next Up de Regina. Cependant, j’ai déménagé à Edmonton au cours de l'hiver et je n'ai pas pu compléter le programme. J'apprenais beaucoup, développais des compétences, et commençais à me construire un réseau dans cette communauté. Ainsi, j’étais déçue de devoir partir. Dans ce contexte, j’étais très enthousiaste quand j’ai reçu un courriel à propos de Leader de demain, au féminin!, une collaboration entre la Coalition des femmes de l’Alberta et Next Up. Il s'agit d'un projet pilote pour les jeunes femmes francophones et francophiles d'Edmonton engagées dans la justice sociale et environnementale. Le programme s’appuie sur le succès de Next Up et vise également à développer les aptitudes et les compétences nécessaires pour devenir un leader efficace.
J'ai grandi en Ontario en parlant le français alors ceci m'a semblé une excellente occasion. Nous avons eu notre première session les 2 et 3 décembre et cela m'a laissée inspirée et motivée de nouveau. Au cours de mon expérience avec Next Up, j’ai réalisé que j'ai autant appris des expériences de mes coparticipants que des présentateurs. Donc, bien que le contenu de la première session ait été une révision, les perspectives que les autres participantes apportent suscitent des conversations intéressantes et inspirantes. J'ai hâte d'en apprendre davantage sur les expériences de vie de ce groupe diversifié de femmes d'Afrique de l'Est, d'Amérique du Sud, du Nouveau-Brunswick, et du Québec.
Une autre perspective nouvelle et intéressante a été de travailler sur mon vocabulaire français autour de la justice sociale et environnementale. À certains égards, il m’est familier, facile, et réconfortant de parler dans ma langue maternelle, mais d’un autre côté, il a été difficile d'exprimer des pensées associées à des sujets auxquels je suis généralement exposée en anglais. J'ai hâte de voir comment le point de vue des femmes et des francophones de ce programme façonnera le contenu de nos séances et je suis enthousiaste de pouvoir créer un réseau et des liens au sein de ma nouvelle communauté.
-Nathalie Brunet, Leader de demain, au féminin! 2017-18
I’m just back from a Next UP team meeting in Calgary, where we planned the rest of this program year. I’ve come away from that meeting so inspired by the small yet mighty team that coordinates Next Up across the country, and so excited about the future of Next UP and all of our training programs here at genius. Our planning meeting also left me feeling like this work and organization is in great hands, as I plan for my transition out of my current role at genius in the new year.
In our Calgary meeting, we took time to reflect on some of the amazing moments of the last ten-plus years and some of the excellent stories in our network. We don’t take credit for all of the wonderful things that someone who’s been through one of our training programs does; however, we’ve heard from enough grads over the years to know that, for many people, things that they learned and people that they met in their programs have helped grads in their own justice work and journeys.
With ten years of Next UP, four years of Organize BC and three of CanRoots West, we have provided training for well over 1,600 people who are working for justice in a multitude of ways. Through Organize BC, we now offer a host of programs that include the core trainings, Organizing 2.0, CanRoots West, Firelight Campaign School, custom workshops and more. (OBC will also be working in Alberta in 2018 – more to come on that in the New Year!). Through Next UP, we offer training programs in 7 cities located in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. We’ve also implemented a number of new Next UP programs such as 3-day intensives, the Climate Leadership Program in Alberta, a francophone version of Next UP in Edmonton, the Indigenous Youth in Action program in partnership with the great folks at IndigenEYEZ, and, we have more ideas in development. When I look at the programming we’re doing across the country in addition to the projects that we have helped to incubate, namely the HUA foundation, Spirited Social Change and Frontrunner, I feel a sense of accomplishment, a deep sense of gratitude, and excitement about what the next stage of genius’s growth might look like.
In addition to offering new kinds of training formats, we’ve also put in place a lot of the un-glamorous but essential foundational background systems for genius over the past three years. When I think about how far we’ve come as an organization, from having one person working two days a week at the beginning of this journey to now having a super strong team of eleven people working across the country, it feels like a fine time for me to pass the torch.
In January, I’ll be transitioning to a new job and out of my role as the Executive Director of genius. (Starting January 2nd I’ll be moving into a new role with the Labour Department at the United Way of the Lower Mainland where I’ll get to work closely with unions in the region, which I’m excited about.) We will be posting for a new genius Executive Director shortly, and I encourage those of you who might be interested to take time over the winter break to seriously consider applying for the position, or think about other people you know who might be strong candidates.
For the next few months the awesome Tracey Mitchell, our Next UP Prairie Program Manager, will be the acting Executive Director of genius, as the board searches for and hires my replacement. I’ll continue to work with Tracey and the board during this process as an advisor and in supporting some transition pieces. Once the transition is complete, I’ll be stepping away from genius entirely.
It’s been such a great journey and a real honour to be able to do this work over the past 12 years. It’s hard for me believe that this project has consumed my focus for over a decade. Since we first discussed, back in 2005, the idea for what eventually became Next UP, I have met and worked with so many committed, smart, and strategic people doing incredible work to advance justice at all levels across the country. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve met whose work and courage have inspired me.
Along the way, anytime I began to feel down about the state of the world and the many fronts that we all work on for justice, I have always been able to look at the amazing work that people are doing in our network, reminding me that this work takes time, that we’re in it for the long term, that even victories need to be defended, and that powerful changes can come from so many places and fronts. The past few years I have found myself working with more and more grads from our various programs who are now colleagues and co-conspirators. About once every two weeks I will have a conversation with an alum about the work that they’re doing in their community and we will talk over strategies and approaches for their respective efforts. It’s a pretty great feeling to be part of these conversations.
The work we’ve done here is not perfect. It never will be. And, I’m proud of how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished so far, and, I can’t wait to see where the work goes next.
To all of the partners and funders of our work over the years, thank you so, so much. Seriously, without your belief in this idea and your support, none of this would have happened. To the many people who have offered their time and talents as advisors, session guests, and supporters…thank you. You are brilliant and the world is truly a better place because of the work that you do in it.
So, thank you all so much for all that you do to build a better world in all of your communities. I’ve come to understand that leadership appears in so many forms and that the work can be advanced from so many leverage points, from those who seek elected office to folks working on the ground in all kinds of community organizing efforts.
Let me wrap up this message by asking you to help with Next UP’s current fundraising effort. In the last few weeks, you’ve heard from Juliana, Janelle, and Paula about the difference Next Up made in their lives and why your support matters, particularly in helping make this program more accessible going forward. And you’ve heard from Kamil, who is excited to be part of our Edmonton program next year and who will benefit from ASL interpretation, paid for through the Accessibility Fund we created in December. Your monthly contribution or single gift in any amount is eligible for a tax receipt and will help to share Next UP with many more people over the coming years. Thank you so much to those that have already given in recent weeks, and over the last many years. We couldn’t do this work without you.
Thanks to all of you again for being so awesome.
See you out there soon.
With love and gratitude,