SGEU supports youth leadership with Next Up partnership - September 17, 2013

SGEU has recently partnered up with Next Up Saskatchewan, a progressive youth leadership training program focusing on environmental and social justice issues.

Sarina Gersher shares her experience in the program:

Next Up: Strengthening Saskatchewan's Community

In the fall of 2012 I was offered the opportunity to participate in a life changing program called Next Up. This leadership program offers young people the opportunity to build and expand their social and environmental justice understanding, skills and networks. Next Up runs for seven months and the participants, aged 18-32 meet on a weekly basis to learn and discuss social and environmental issues while also learning tangible skills for social change. Next Up runs in British Columbia, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatchewan and Ottawa. The sessions vary each week but some of my most memorable sessions were anti-oppression training, social determinants of health, climate justice, organizing and campaigning and unions 101.

I joined Next Up to find my social and environmental justice community within Saskatoon. Having just graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in Land Use and Environmental Studies, I was anxious to put my education to practical use. I was looking for an opportunity to meet like-minded people who were also passionate about the environment and strengthening the community. The twelve other participants in my cohort each brought areas of speciality which opened up my eyes in regards to such things as queer issues, migration and immigration, front line work within healthcare and feminism. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to expand the lens with which I view the world and I owe that to this program.

The majority of my work experience has been in unionized work spaces but it was not until the unions 101 session held during Next Up that I realized the importance of unions and their significance in Saskatchewan. I feel very fortunate that I am in a work place which guarantees such things as a pension, sick leave, dental coverage and a channel for voicing my workplace concerns. I plan to join my local bargaining unit at the next available opportunity to continue securing our workplace rights.

I would also like to extend a thank you to SGEU, the SFL and other unions, for helping sustain Next Up. I believe this program is fostering the connections needed in Saskatchewan for socially and environmentally just communities. After completing this program I now have a national network of like-minded individuals to provide support and guidance in the environmental projects I am a part of. I have also learned new tools which have strengthened my ability to organize and campaign for the social and environmental changes needed in our community and our world.

Sarina Gersher
SGEU Local: 2083


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