Tommy Douglas Institute 2019: Speakers, Facilitators and Artists

Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow  - Keynote Speaker

Maude Barlow is the Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She serves on the executive of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and is a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.

Maude is the recipient of fourteen honorary doctorates as well as many awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”), the 2005 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award, the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards, the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award, the 2009 Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award, and the 2011 EarthCare Award, the highest international honour of the Sierra Club (US).

In 2008/2009, she served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She is also the author of dozens of reports, as well as 18 books, including her latest, Blue Future: Protecting Water For People And The Planet Forever and Boiling Point, Government Neglect, Corporate Abuse and Canada’s Water Crisis.


Olivia Chow, Panel Moderator – Afternoon Session
Olivia Chow has been one of Canada’s most effective and well known public figures. She now leads the Institute for Change Leaders educational initiatives.  In 1991, Olivia became the first Asian-born woman elected as a Metro Toronto Councilor. She was re-elected to city council five times, serving with distinction for 14 years.  While at City Hall, she served as Chair of the Community Services Committee and Vice Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), among other senior responsibilities. First elected to Parliament in 2006, Olivia won re-election twice.  In Parliament, her Early Learning and Child Care Bill laid the legislative foundation for a universal, high quality, affordable and non-profit national childcare program.  She also pushed for faster family reunification and giving a chance for immigrants to succeed through recognition of foreign credentials and employment initiatives. Throughout her career, Olivia has been at the forefront, working for progress for all. She has reached across party lines and travelled across the country, forging alliances with municipal and provincial leaders, business and advocacy groups. Outside the political sphere, Olivia is known as a tireless spokesperson, fundraiser and champion of numerous charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society and related charities, Centre for Victims of Torture, Asian Community AIDS Service and Culture Link. www.canadianroots.ca

Dr. Rick Huijbregts, Welcome Message -  Morning Session
As Vice-President, Strategy & Innovation, Dr. Rick Huijbregts oversees strategic planning and partnership development to ensure George Brown College remains well positioned to evolve and adapt for the digital and rapidly changing future. He strives to advance community and industry innovation while providing students with relevant and hands-on learning opportunities through applied research and entrepreneurship. Rick is responsible for shaping George Brown’s vision for 2030 and developing the corresponding business strategy. He leads the Registrar's Office, Marketing and Recruitment, Publishing, and the International Center. Rick is also responsible for Alumni Relations, Strategic Partnerships, Applied Research, Institutional Research, and Entrepreneurship.

Nour Alideeb, Panelist – Afternoon Session
Nour Alideeb is the Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario, representing over 350,000 students. As official spokesperson of the organization, Nour helps with the development and implementation of a wide variety of campaigns and services. Prior to taking on this role, she served two terms at Local 109 - the University of Toronto Mississauga Students' Union as the Vice-President University Affairs & Academics, then President. Nour is a student at the University of Toronto Mississauga, completing a major in Economics and a double minor in Biology, and Women and Gender Studies.

Mohammad Ali Aumeer (The Socialist Vocalist), Performance - Morning Session
 Emcee, poet, author, and activist, Mohammad Ali ups the bar on protest music with a hard-hitting selection of workers’ anthems and gritty frontline labour narratives designed to instil new energy in the movement for workers’ rights. Having shared the stage with Hip Hop heavyweights Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang's Ghostface, and KRS-ONE, and performing at rallies from Queens Park to Parliament Hill and touring from Newfoundland to British Columbia, the Socalist Vocalist is redefining how his generation views political music. Follow him online on all social media platforms @SocialistHipHop

Melisa Bayon, Roundtable Discussion FacilitatorLabour
Melisa Bayon has been a Union Organizer for over 12 years. She worked extensively in Canada and in the United States on developing grassroots rank-and-file leaders in workplaces. Led campaigns to strengthen union locals and form unions in hotels, restaurants, casinos and in healthcare. She now works as Director of Political Action and Outreach at the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). Melisa immigrated with her siblings and single mom from Argentina at a young age. Their struggles motivated her to fight for justice.

Ashley Booth, Vote of Thanks – Afternoon Session
Ashley Booth is Professor/Coordinator of the Pre-Community Services Program as well as Professor in the Academic Upgrading Program. She began teaching for George Brown in 2009 after pursuing an M.A. in Adult Education and Community Development. Her thesis explored community food security, in particular, how it was impacted by FoodShare's Good Food Market (GFM) Program. In 2012, she brought the GFM to George Brown's St James Campus where it continues to thrive and has since spread to other campuses. Ashley has been a member of the TDI planning committee since 2014.

Lori Budge, Land Acknowledgement – Morning Session
As an Aboriginal counsellor Lori has had a profound impact on the integration and enrolment rate of Aboriginal students at George Brown College for over 20 years. She has also played an instrumental role in the establishment of two student centres for Aboriginal students. Outside of her counsellor duties, Lori provides assistance to other Aboriginal Services staff, serves on numerous external boards and committees and teaches the General Introduction to Aboriginal Studies course.

John Clarke, Panelist – Afternoon Session
John Clarke got involved in anti poverty organizing in the 80s when he helped to form a union of unemployed workers in London, Ontario. In 1990, he moved to Toronto to become an organizer with the newly formed Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and has been with OCAP ever since.

Victoria Fenner, Roundtable Discussion Facilitator - Media
Victoria Fenner is executive producer of the rabble podcast network (rpn) at the progressive online magazine rabble.ca. In her work as a podcaster, she draws upon many years of experience in community radio, and over a decade's experience as a current affairs journalist, audio engineer and producer at the CBC.  Victoria  has also worked as worked in programming, management and training  at community radio stations in the United States and Canada and has created many projects which encourage people to find their voice through media.  She is one the board of  The Community Radio Fund of Canada and works as a consultant with The Canadian Association of Community Television Stations and Users (CACTUS).

Amina Hagar, Introduction to Speaker – Morning Session
Amina Hagar is a recent graduate from Community Worker Program. She has worked with refugees and immigrants and the Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy with the City of Toronto. She is passionate about advocacy and human rights, and hopes to work in fields that address equity in education and promote environmental activism.

Kofi Hope, Panelist – Afternoon Session
Kofi Hope is a change maker.  He is a Rhodes Scholar and has a Doctorate in Politics from Oxford University.  Currently, he is Senior Policy Advisor at the Wellesley Institute, a strategic consultant to the Vice President HR/Equity at the University of Toronto and the Bousfield Visiting Scholar at UofT’s School of Urban Planning. In 2017 he was the winner of the Jane Jacobs Prize and in 2018 he was named as A Rising Star by Toronto Life in their Power List. He is the founder and former Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals.  In 2005 he founded the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, which became a leading voice for advocating for real solutions to gun violence in Toronto and led to him being named one of the Top 10 People to Watch in Toronto in 2006 by the Toronto Star.

Vicky Mochama, Panelist – Afternoon Session
Vicky Mochama is a podcaster and columnist. She was the national columnist for Metro News where she wrote on race, gender and Canadian politics. She has also written columns for the Toronto Star and Flare Magazine. She is also a humour writer and a co-author of the best-selling Canadaland Guide to Canada. Her writing has been published in the Globe and Mail, TVO, NOW magazine and CBC.ca. 

Francisco Rico-Martinez, Roundtable Discussion Facilitator - Migration
Francisco Rico-Martinez was a law professor at the National University, writer, political analyst, human rights advocator and investigator for the Archbishop office of San Salvador as well as refugee issues advisor for the Jesuit Refugee Service, El Salvador.  In Canada, Mr. Rico-Martinez is currently co-director of FCJ Refugee Centre which strives to meet the needs of uprooted people, refugee claimants and non-status people. Mr. Rico-Martinez is past-president of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and was member of Immigration and Refugee Law Advisory Committee of Legal Aid. He received the 2001City of Toronto William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award and the 2006 YMCA Peace Medallion Award.

Samba Squad, Performance – Afternoon Session
Founded in 1999 by award-winning percussionist Rick Shadrach Lazar, Samba Squad is an innovative bacteria (drum corps) born out of the Brazilian tradition of Batucada and Samba de Carnaval. This joy-instilling percussion posse takes you on a dance-till-you-drop tour of global grooves. Samba Squad shows bust out in energy and excitement and are a seething cauldron of infectious dance grooves. Samba Squad: ONE HEART ONE MIND ONE GROOVE.

Dusha Sritharan, Roundtable Discussion Facilitator - Environment
Dusha Sritharan has been involved over the last decade in grassroots environmental work in Toronto. Focusing on climate change issues, Dusha takes an intersectional approach in connecting her work to broader movements around social justice and equity. She has been a strong community advocate who has a passion for building greater civic engagement and cross-sectoral collaboration. She is an active member of the Toronto Climate Action Network. Dusha holds a Masters Degree in Tourism, Environment and Development from King's College at the University of London. 

Ricardo Tranjan, Roundtable Discussion Facilitator - Education
Ricardo Tranjan is a senior researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Ontario office. Before joining the CCPA, Ricardo was the policy lead and manager of the City of Toronto's Poverty Reduction Strategy. Ricardo has also conducted research in universities in Ontario, Québec, and São Paulo, specializing in the interplay between democratic processes and socioeconomic development, with an emphasis on sub-national economic policy. His publications include the book Participatory Democracy in Brazil: Socioeconomic and Political Origins (University of Notre Dame Press). Ricardo holds a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo; he speaks English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Ryan Walsh, Q&A Moderator / Vote of Thanks – Morning Session
A member of the Shabot Obaadjiwan Algonquin Nation, Ryan was raised in Kingston and has called Toronto home for almost two decades. Ryan has worked at Aboriginal Legal Services for over 10 years in the Giiwedin Anang Council, an Aboriginal approach to ADR for families involved with CAS. Ryan teaches Restorative Justice in the Community Worker Program at George Brown College.

Anna Willats, Roundtable Discussion Facilitator Poverty/Inequality
Anna Willats has been a Toronto-based social justice and women’s rights educator, advocate, and organizer for over 35 years. She is a professor in the Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counsellor/Advocate Program has managed the Women Transitioning to Trades & Employment Program at George Brown College since 2007. She is committed to working collectively in a variety of ways for meaningful and progressive socio-economic change, from the ground up!​

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