“It’s important to honour people’s pronouns, have physically accessible all-gender washrooms at events, and talk about gender in less binary terms. It’s also important to check in on your trans and non-binary friends, and make room for them.”     -Nicole Jones-Abad

Age: 23

Hometown: Quito, Ecuador

Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta

Affiliations: Shades of Colour, RAYE (Rainbow Alliance for Youth of Edmonton), QWTF (Queer Women and Trans-folk Fest), The Edmonton Shift Lab

What influenced you to become a change-maker?

While I’ve lived in Canada virtually my whole life, I was adopted from Ecuador at seven weeks old, which is something that has influenced the way that I directly, and indirectly, navigate the world. I entered university dreaming of becoming either a doctor or a clinical psychologist, but realized that academia just wasn’t what I was meant to do. I found other things that got me excited, like public speaking, making videos, navigating governance, planning festivals, managing campaigns, and administrative work. But most of all, I have realized how important community is. I think when we have bodies that are politicized in particular ways, it becomes an act of survival to care about politics, and to care about, and hold space for each other.

How does your work promote gender equality in Canada and around the world?

I wear many hats within the queer and trans communities, but I would say that my main focus of work would be with Shades of Colour (SOC). SOC is a community in Edmonton for people that are QTIBPOC (queer and/or trans, Indigenous, Black, and/or People of Colour). This kind of space is needed because often queer spaces are white-centred and dominated, while spaces that aren’t white-centred may not always feel queer- or trans-friendly. In SOC, we acknowledge that our existence is political; however, we also acknowledge that it’s political to sit with each other, laugh sometimes, eat food together, build community, and hold space. The group has seen a lot of growth and community support in the past half year, and my amazing co-organizers and I are excited for what this could mean for outreach and becoming a self-sustaining group.

What change would you like to see in the world by 2030?

I feel much of the work in the trans community (especially for QTIBPOC) surrounds survival and basic needs, so it would be nice to move beyond that. Trans rights have become a highly politicized issue and currently there’s a lot of backlash. It makes so many of us feel hyper-visible and unsafe whenever we see the news or social media. With a provincial election this year, many of us fear what will happen to our rights that we were granted only recently, and we’re preparing for the worst.

More 2019 Top 30 Alumni

Janica Altea L. Echavez

"Encouraging young women and men in STEM is key to gaining more leaders and problem solvers that can address our current concerns in new, innovative ways." -Janica Altea L. Echavez Age: 23 Hometown: Cebu, Philippines Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: Next 36 Canada, Canadian Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group, Science Expo Canada, Foundation of Student Science and Technology I was born and raised in the Philippines. While we owned a family exporting business, I was...

Bryce Thomsen

"I invite all youth in our community to identify opportunities to create change and to not be afraid to pitch their ideas to mentors for support." -Bryce Thomsen Age: 23 Hometown: Camrose, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: TEC Edmonton, Health City, University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine Growing up in a small town in rural Alberta, I always wondered what life was like on the global stage. I was fascinated with various cultures and their ways of life, but soon...

Vivian Kwan

"Everyone can be a change-maker for gender equality by educating themselves about the prominent issues and showing respect for diversity." -Vivian Kwan Age: 26 Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: Centre for Race and Culture, UN Women, Edmonton Mental Health Awareness Committee, World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, Lieutenant Governor’s Circle for Mental Health and Addiction Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, I was never...

Gideon Mentie

"Stories can multiply the impact of a good initiative, so let’s learn how to be captivating storytellers!" -Gideon Mentie Age: 22 Hometown: Brooks, Alberta Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: SPECT, FullSoul Uganda, CAWST (ACGC Member), Canadian Foodgrains Bank I am a 22-year-old Ethiopian-Canadian civil engineering student, born and raised in the little prairie town of Brooks, Alberta. Growing up in Brooks, where over 100 different languages are spoken, I was always...

Ameer Farooq

"To improve gender equality, we need to understand the issue through data and research and make informed decisions that get at the heart of the problem." -Ameer Farooq Age: 29 Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: Alberta Health Services The corridors of Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital are smeared with the stains of spit-up paan. There are people everywhere—under the stairs, in every chair, in every bed, some moaning, some simply staring with large...

Janine Heber

"Continually question and re-evaluate how spaces can be made more accessible, and take action to reduce barriers for marginalized folks." -Janine Heber Age: 19 Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: Queer Flex, Sexual Violence Awareness/Office of Human Rights, Plan International Canada Speakers’ Bureau, Rainbow Alliance Youth for Edmonton, The Quiltbag, MacEwan Office of Sustainability I am a queer, non-binary artist, activist, and student. I have a...

Saige Godberson

"In the face of adversity, do not settle but rather speak up and create change." -Saige Godberson Age: 23 Hometown: Spruce Grove, Alberta Currently Residing In: Spruce Grove, Alberta Affiliations: Youthnited Nations International, Stollery Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Sigma Nursing Honors Society, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Special Olympics Edmonton I often say that “if everyone makes a small change, together we will make a big difference.” As a registered nurse in...

Peter Anto Johnson

"People become change-makers when they work towards a mutually benefiting outcome, one based on tolerance and respect." -Peter Anto Johnson Age: 22 Hometown: Angadical, Kerala, India Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: Run for Support and Health (RuSH), University Infant Toddler Centre – University of Alberta, Student Health Committee, Health & Wellness Movement, Obesity Canada - Students & New Professional I’m a women and children’s health researcher, community...

Sonia Lal

"Reflect on the stereotypes and prejudiced views you may apply to others. Recognize if you’re discriminatory, and rectify your behaviour. Change starts with you." -Sonia Lal Age: 18 Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta Currently Residing In: Edmonton, Alberta Affiliations: John Humphrey Center for Peace and Human Rights (ACGC Member) Students Invested in Health Association, Live Different, Big Brothers Big Sisters From a cheerleader with a bow in her hair to a Taekwondo competitor gearing up to spar on...

Ashley Anderson

"Become informed and be aware of how gender inequality manifests itself in your own circles and your own experiences." -Ashley Anderson Age: 23 Hometown: Olds, Alberta Currently Residing In: Calgary, Alberta Affiliations: Mama na Mtoto I was raised in a rural community in Central Alberta. Although I love my hometown, I also really love travelling and learning about other cultures. During my undergraduate degree, I spent two semesters abroad, studying in both Sweden and in Singapore. For my...
Share This