What haven’t you done?” That’s really the only question to ask Justine Barber. She’s put more into her 26 years than most fit into a lifetime: from studying abroad… to monitoring sea turtles for signs of cancer in Costa Rica… to learning French in Quebec and Portuguese in Brazil… to preparing a position paper for the Conflict Prevention Program to be launched at the European Parliament… to working alongside Stephen Mandel and other mayors in an effort to end homelessness in Alberta. hers is an extensive—and impressive—resumé.
While earning her commerce degree at the university of Alberta, Justine spent a semester in Italy, an experience that would spark her passion for volunteering and international issues.
“having gone to Italy by myself… I realized how difficult it is for new students coming to Canada,” she says. Inspired, she became a Peer leader with the university of Alberta’s International Centre, where she helped students familiarize themselves with Canadian customs, and served as a student ambassador for the business faculty.
Internships with various government departments and private firms sparked an interest in just communities with strong economic and political foundations. This took Justine to Belgium for her Master’s in International Conflict Analysis at the university of Kent, Brussels campus. She graduated first in her program, and wrote an award-winning dissertation that explored the mass levels of rape in the Congo. Currently, Justine is working for Alberta housing and urban Affairs as a senior program planner, homeless cross-ministry initiatives, to implement the province’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, something she says is incredibly rewarding.
“When you’re in a room with people working on it, whether it’s an agency or people in government, there’s always this huge conviction that you’re doing the right thing.” And, despite her hectic work schedule, Justine continues to volunteer within her home community. She coordinated open your Eyes, a Red Cross working group to stop sexual exploitation in Canada, and was a youth leader for Alberta’s first ever global youth Symposium. The marathon runner is a mentor with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, maintains an urban Eden Community garden, and is a member of the downtown Community league, to name a few.
One has to wonder what her own 10-year plan looks like. Justine foresees a lot of travel but, for the meantime, she’s content learning new skills here in Canada.
“I’ve always been grateful to Edmonton, in life and in my career, and I like being a local in a city that I know.”
For Justine, there’s just no place like home.