PhD Media Studies Candidate
At 23 years old, Amara is highly passionate about education and communication and holds an MA in Communication Studies, a BA in English and Fine Arts, a Digital Media Specialization, and several teaching certifications. She is completing a PhD in Media Studies at Western University, and continues to apply her knowledge in marketing, social media, and self-branding in various positions as a Blog Editor/ Manager and a Strategic Account Manager.
Her recent academic paper titled “Musical Artists Capitalizing on Hybrid Identities: A Case Study of Drake the ‘Authentic’ ‘Black’ ‘Canadian’ ‘Rapper’" examines Drake's unique abilities to connect to many different audiences through the identities he creates in his music videos. In this study of identity politics, she examines Drake's marketing and self-branding strategies in his music videos through sounds, lyrics, and images.
Speaker + Masters of Social Work - Aboriginal Field
Amy Smoke is a Mohawk woman, Turtle clan, from the Six Nations of The Grand River. She is a mother, daughter, mature student, board of director, and active First Nations community member. She has overcome many of the intergenerational trauma that First Nations people feel when there are residential schools in their past.
She speaks of her own journey with substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and domestic violence. Returning to her culture has helped Amy connect to her family, their past, and their shared healing journey. She also sings with a local First Nations drum group, The Blue Sky Singers. She has continued her education by completing her GED, a college certificate, college diploma, two university degrees and was recently accepted into the Masters of Social Work - Aboriginal Field of Study program at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Educator + writer
Andrew Campbell is an educator and writer. He has taught in the public school system in Ontario for over 25 years, as well as two years in Kuwait. He is currently a Grade 5 teacher in Brantford, Ontario.
Andrew has written about education and technology for the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, the Hamilton Spectator, as well as for TVOntario’s website, the Canadian Educational Association and the National Education Policy Center in the U.S. He has been a guest on CBC radio, Rogers TV and several podcasts, speaking about education issues. Andrew has also presented at education conferences in Canada and the U.S.
Andrew studied at the University of Guelph, McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Born and raised in the north of England, Andrew moved to Ontario as a teenager. He is the father to three boys.
Executive Director, People for Education
Annie is the Executive Director and a founder of People for Education. A former theatre director, she became engaged in public education as a civil society issue during the late 1990’s when there was a great deal of disruption and debate in Ontario’s public education system. Since then, she has received numerous awards for her education advocacy and is regularly sought out by the media as an expert on public education issues. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences across Canada, in Europe, Africa and South America.
Musician + song writer
With nominations for three Juno awards, The Polaris Prize, The CBC’s "Heart Of Gold" AND a pile of albums under his belt, Danny Michel is unquestionably one of Canada’s finest songwriters. His thoughtful lyrics & earnest performances have earned him a devoted fan base. Past critics have praised Danny’s lyrics for having “something to say" without coming off preachy. An environmentalist, pacifist, romanticist and space enthusiast, Danny’s hopeful songs find a home in everyone’s heart.
In 2011 Danny relocated to Belize and founded the “Danny Michel Ocean Academy Fund” to help raise scholarships for a small non-profit community high school. To date he's raised over $70,000.00 for the school and volunteers there when he can. Danny’s most recent project “Khlebnikov” was written & recorded with film composer Rob Carli aboard the Russian ice-breaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov during an 18 day arctic expedition through the northwest passage with Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Educator + blogger
When Debbie was four years old, she introduced herself to her new neighbours by saying, “Hi, I am Debbie Donsky. When I grow up I want to be a teacher, get married and have babies!” And guess what? She did exactly that!
Dr Debbie Donsky has been an educator for almost twenty-five years. As an elementary teacher, principal and now a Student Achievement Officer for the Ministry of Education, Debbie believes deeply in creativity, compassion and empathy as the cornerstones to creating spaces of possibility. It is here where equity, inclusion and student voice are at the centre of all learning.
Debbie’s insomnia allows her to create through writing and drawing, read voraciously, and occasionally binge watch Netflix.
Associate Professor, OISE/University of Toronto
Garfield Gini-Newman is an associate professor at OISE/University of Toronto and the senior national consultant with The Critical Thinking Consortium. He has worked with thousands of teachers across grades and subjects, helping them to frame learning around engaging and provocative activities and authentic assessments. Requests for Garfield’s services have taken him from Asia to the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean and across North America. His interest in effective teaching and learning has led him to actively explore the challenges and opportunities presented by teaching and learning in the digital age. Garfield has spoken across Canada and internationally on critical thinking, brain compatible classrooms, curriculum design and effective assessment practice, and nurturing 21st century skills in a digital world. His most recent book co-authored with Roland Case, Creating Thinking Classrooms, has received widespread praise from leading educators.
Jonathan is a proud classroom teacher. He is currently teaching Grade 6 at Ray Lawson Public School. He has also taught grades 2 to 5 and is one of the lead instructional technology and math coaches at his school. He is a proud parent of three young children: Izzy, Micah, and Levi.
He is always looking to promote creativity and exploration in his family, students, and colleagues. Jonathan completed his Masters of Education looking at how his questions impacted his students’ learning of part-whole relationships in fractions. His interests lie in math, assessment, and technology (not in any particular order). He is also passionate about inquiry and the endless possibilities it has for his students.
Educator + musician
Josh Hill is currently the Head of Music at Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute in Kitchener Ontario. He received his Honours Bachelors degree in Music Education from Western University in London, where he was a flute major in the studio of Anne Thompson.
Josh is passionate about using music as a vehicle to create inclusive communities where staff, students, parents, and community stakeholders can find belonging and meaning. Just this year Cameron Heights has partnered with a MA student in Community Music at WLU, the KW Alzheimer’s Society, and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church to establish an intergenerational choir for students to connect with community members who are suffering from Alzheimer's. This choir seeks to create spaces where students can have the opportunity to see the importance of music in the community, and for the seniors with Alzheimer’s to experience the joy of music making in a supportive environment.
Educator + blogger
Matthew is a father, mathematics educator, TEDx speaker and thinker. He believes that math should be full of surprise, wonder, and play for all kids. What if every kid said, "math is surprise and wonder, and playing with numbers"? What if every kid said, "math is play"? All kids should feel the power and pleasure of playing with big and powerful mathematics ideas.
Educator + writer
Matthew R. Morris is an educator, writer, speaker, and Anti-Racism activist from Toronto, Ontario. He currently teaches middle school in the Toronto District School Board. He has earned an M.A in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. His work has been featured in Education Canada, the Toronto Star, and Huffington Post. His blog, www.matthewrmorris.com speaks to aspects of race, culture, and education.
Nada is a mother, daughter, teacher, and advocate. She is currently a curriculum leader in a public school board in the Greater Toronto area. Prior to becoming an elementary teacher, Nada was a course instructor and research associate at Harvard University and Wellesley College, respectively.
Nada has worked for the United Nations World Health Organization with a focus on Maternal and Child Health in ‘nations in transition’. A learner of English as an additional language herself, Nada now serves as advocate for responsive systems and pedagogy for students developing their proficiency in English.
She continues to learn with and from her own sons of what it means to navigate the world through racialized and Muslim identities. It is through her boys that she has come to understand the true meaning of courage, integrity, and compassion.
CEO, Engineers for Hope
Nirbhay is the Chief Executive Officer of Engineers for Hope, who has successfully delivered their first Project in Bangladesh and is now moving to India. The group is working from the award winning startup incubator the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo, Ontario. He grew up in India until grade 12 and recently completed his engineering degree from University of Waterloo.
Nirbhay has seen the conditions of people living below the poverty line without having any access to basic human amenities and education. He believes he is a voice for his people and that he can certainly make a difference in their lives through his organization which is focused on water/sanitation, education, and women empowerment through a village model technique. Nirbhay was also the Engineering Ambassador for United Nation’s HeForShe program where he strongly advocated education for females in order to have a gender-balanced community in universities, startups and leadership positions.
Co-founder, We Matter
Tunchai Redvers is an Indigenous queer/two-spirit woman, social justice warrior, poet, and wanderer. With Dene and Métis roots, she comes from Treaty 8 territory, born and raised in the Northwest Territories. By the age of 22 she has been named one of MTV and WE Day’s Top 10 Drivers of Change in Canada, is a recipient of territorial, university, and nationwide scholarships, has been published in a number of works for her poetry and academic articles, is the recipient of the Lawson Foundation's Emerging Leaders Award, and is the Co-Founder of We Matter, a national non-profit organization committed to Indigenous youth empowerment, hope, and life promotion.
Her advocacy work and writing focuses on intergenerational trauma, LGBTQ and two-spirit rights, youth and women's empowerment, and the decolonization and indigenization of identity, mental health and healing.