Young Leaders, The Future Of Saskatoon

It’s an exciting time to be living in Saskatoon; strong economy, booming population and an ongoing discussion about the future of our city. But I think the really exciting part is the exceptional group of young leaders that are striving to help make Saskatoon a better place for everyone. Since maybe of these young individuals often work behind the scenes, I believe there is value in highlighting their success stories.

If you want to know what Saskatoon will be like in five or ten years, ask these young change makers, because they are the ones shaping the future of our city.

Curtis Olson of Shift Development is a young developer interested in revitalizing older communities like Caswell Hill and Riversdale. His Shift Home got national recognition as a modern, green and affordable housing unit, sending a strong message to young families that living in the suburbans is not your only option. His recent project, The Two Twenty is a co-working space on 20th Street that aims to bring other bright young minds together for a shared conversation of change.

Daren McLean is the mastermind behind, a website design and marketing shop that aims to empower local community initiatives. He was the creator of I Heart Bike Lanes, a Saskatoon initiative to thank the city for improving bike lanes, the story reached over 500,000 people online. Daren’s other projects include 3twenty, VerEco Home, The Shift Home, Winter Shines, Lugo and The Two Twenty. He continues to support important local community initiatives.

Ellen Quigley is a local environmental activist passionate about sustainable solutions. Ellen helped form We Are Many (WAM), an innovative, award-winning youth-run arts and environmental organisation with a focus on practical outcomes. This past fall Ellen gave a fantastic talk at TEDxSaskatoon about her goal to make Saskatoon garlic self-sufficiency by 2012. She also is a Saskatoon Cycles board member and organizer of this year’s Ice Cycle. Ellen was also named Planet S Magazine’s Best Young Activist, for “her work with the We Are Many (WAM) group or any of theroughly gerbillion other causes this tireless young lady has dedicated herself to, our readers would like to honour Ellen Quigley for her efforts!”

Ainsley Robertson was nominated for YWCA Women of Distinction Award in 2008 and for good reason. She co-founded The Princess Shop, a nonprofit organization that helps create an enhanced graduation experience for female students in need, as well as providing mentorship so they can continue their success after graduation. Ainsley gave a heart-felt talk at TEDxSaskatoon sharing the story of the Princess Shop. Ainsley’s also ran in the recent Ward 5 city by-election, coming in a close second. She is a great example of a motivated young person passionate about helping others in our community. Hopefully this is not the last you’ll hear from Ainsley, because she’d make a valuable addition to city council.

Sean Shaw is a young leader passionate about improving the political scene in Saskatoon. His blog is a fresh voice about ongoing activity at city council. He also was one of the contributors to the Saskatoon Speaks blog, writing a number of articles on ways to improve our city. Sean also is a board member of Saskatoon Cycles, a nonprofit that “advocates for a city in which cycling is a viable, year-round, mode of transportation that is safe and convenient for all ages”. He was a main driving force behind this year’s Ice Cycle and continues to advocate for a more cycling-friendly city.

Victor Das is involved with Transition Saskatoon, a local chapter to the global movement helping reskill cities for a more resilient sustainable future. Their recent event, Know Your Food And Water was a great discussion bringing awareness to genetically modified foods. You can checkout Transition Saskatoon’s YouTube channel, including videos from People’s Assembly on Climate Justice.

Mairin Loewen, an advocate for curbside recycling recently became the city’s youngest councillor ever. Mairin utilized the power of social media to get her message out, helping represent the young, more diverse and growing part of Saskatoon. Loewen was right to say, “I think there’s sort of a really dynamic and interesting group of young people in Saskatoon. It’s a youthful place and I don’t think that energy is as well represented as it should be on council. The innovation and creativity of people in Saskatoon is outpacing many of the (large organizations).” Mairin will be a great voice on city council providing a fresh view to the often stale ideas.

Flavio Ishii, is a local software developer that is also a cycling advocate. He often contributes to community initiaties such as the Saskatoon Sustainability Series, a documentary series to promote sustainable success stories and discussion how these ideas could be applied locally. He also helped organize the Saskatoon Ice Cycle as well as collecting used phones on campus for Hope Phones. If there is an event advocating cycling, there’s a good chance you’ll find Flavio nearby.

Mike Tanton is a shining star in Saskatoon’s Cree-Metis community. He worked on the Aboriginal Faces of Saskatchewan project, that “highlights Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan who have used their talent and skills in their pursuit of personal excellence”. He now works at the White Buffalo Lodge, offering guidance to our city’s youth, another great example of an incredible young person in our community.

This is just a short list of some of the exceptional young people working everyday to help make Saskatoon a better place. Know of any other young leaders you’d like to see on this list? Would love to hear from you 🙂