Kiku Adatto is an award-winning teacher at Harvard University and an author, scholar and commentator on art, popular culture, and civic life. She is a Scholar-in-Residence at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard and teaches in Harvard’s interdisciplinary Social Studies Program. Her book, Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op explores the use and abuse of images in photography, television, movies, and social media. It has been published in multiple languages. Her writings on the media helped spark a national debate on presidential campaign coverage in the United States. Adatto’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Republic, Time Magazine, Commonweal, and the Huffington Post. Her current book project is The World Next Door: Crossing the Divide Between Neighbors and Strangers. With her husband, political philosopher Michael Sandel, she co-leads an international storytelling and civic education initiative for children—The Babayan Story Project.
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her latest book of short stories is Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (2014). Her most recent novel, The Heart Goes Last, was published in September 2015. Other recent works include the MaddAddam trilogy – the Giller and Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013). The Door is her latest volume of poetry (2007). Her most recent non-fiction books are Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008) and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination (2011). Her novels include The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; and The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye, The Handmaid’s Tale – now a TV series with MGM and Hulu – and The Penelopiad. In 2016, she published Hag-Seed, a novel revisitation of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, for the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, and Angel Catbird – with a cat-bird superhero – a graphic novel with co-creator Johnnie Christmas (Dark Horse). Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
Photo credit: Liam Sharp
Yannis Behrakis is a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist born in Athens, Greece, where he studied photography at the Athens School of Arts and Technology and received his BA from the Middlesex University. Since 1987, he has worked as a photojournalist with Reuters, covering some of the most important news and sports events around the world. Behrakis also lectures at various universities and colleges around the world.
He is the seven-time recipient of the Greek National Fuji Awards “Photographer of the Year”, and the three-time winner of the European News Photographer of the Year awarded by Fujifilm. In 2012 and 2015, he won awards from Pictures of the Year International (POYi) in Missouri University. He has also won multiple awards in the China International Press Photo Contest and is a three-time winner of the Bayeux-Calvados Award for war correspondents. In 2016, Behrakis and his team were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for their work covering Middle Eastern migrants arriving in Europe.
Sunny Bergman is documentary filmmaker and writer in the Netherlands. She often uses her own life as inspiration, putting the feminist credo “the personal is political“ into practice. Her oeuvre includes the Fairy Trade, in which she tried to solve hunger by trading West Kenyan corn for East Kenyan cows, Keeping it Real, a philosophical examination of modern man’s desire to bring authenticity back into his life, Over the Hill, a critical analysis of the cosmetic industry and its impact on female self-image. Her film and book, titled Slutphobia reveal the negative evaluation of female sexual behavior. Recently, Bergman has caused controversy with two films on racism and whiteness: Our Colonial Hangover examines the current blackface tradition in the Netherlands and The Colour White analyzes the concept of white privilege in society. Besides making films, instigating direct action, writing books and opinion pieces, Bergman travels internationally to give lectures and workshops on feminism, antiracism, filmmaking and activism.
26th Governor General of Canada (1999-2005) and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.
The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson arrived in Canada from Hong Kong as a refugee in 1942 and made the astonishing journey from a penniless child to accomplished broadcaster, journalist and distinguished public servant in a multi-faceted lifetime.
During Madame Clarkson’s mandate as Governor General, her energy, enthusiasm, and passion left an indelible mark on Canada’s history. A leading figure in Canada’s cultural life, she is the bestselling author of the 2014 CBC Massey Lectures Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship, Room for All of Us: Surprising Stories of Loss and Transformation, Heart Matters: A Memoir, and a biography of Dr. Norman Bethune.
Madame Clarkson has received numerous prestigious awards and honorary degrees in Canada and abroad. A Privy Councillor and Companion of the Order of Canada, she lives in Toronto.
Photo: Alyssa K. Faoro
Reni Eddo-Lodge lives in London and has spent half a decade writing, thinking and speaking about racism. Before she was a full-time writer, she was blogger and activist. During that time, The Guardian listed her as one of the 30 most exciting people under 30 in digital media. She has also been listed in Elle Magazine’s 100 Inspirational Women list, and The Root’s 30 black viral voices under 30. Her work can be found at The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Voice Newspaper, New Humanist Magazine, Buzzfeed, Vice, i-D Magazine and Dazed and Confused Magazine. Her first book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, has been called “one of the most important books” of 2017.
Nassira El Moaddem is a journalist based in Paris, France. She is a graduate of Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Lille where she specialized in TV reporting. In 2012, she began working as a reporter and news anchor with ITELE, a French news channel. In 2015, she joined France 2 as a reporter for the 20H News. In September 2016, she became the head of the Bondy Blog, a site that gives voice to the voiceless, particularly in the French “banlieues”, or city suburbs, where many immigrants live and work.
The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and 7th Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is revered in Canada. He invented the term Africadian and pioneered the study of African-Canadian literature. He wrote the libretto for James Rolfe’s acclaimed opera, Beatrice Chancy (1998), and saw his play, Whylah Falls: The Play, translated into Italian and produced in Venezia, Italy (2002). He is a noted artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry. Now teaching African-Canadian literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. Clarke’s work is the subject of Africadian Atlantic: Essays on George Elliott Clarke (2012), edited by Joseph Pivato.
Photo Credit: Camelia Linta
Founding ED of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation & Board Member of the Clinton Foundation (UK/Sudan)
Hadeel Ibrahim is the founding Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Africa Center in New York, whose mission is to promote partnership, collaboration, dialogue and understanding between African artists, business leaders and civil society and their counterparts in the United States and beyond.
She also serves on the boards of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, the Clinton Foundation, the BMCE Bank of Africa, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, and the Governing Board of the African Governance Institute.
Ibrahim serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Architecture and Planning at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a member of Amnesty International’s Secretary-General’s Global Council, a member of the International Advisory Committee & Jury of the London Design Biennale and is a Patron of Restless Development, a youth-led development agency.
She previously served as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, on the Boards of The Synergos Institute, Refugees International, the Carter Center (UK) and the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards Judging Panel.
Wadah Khanfar is the Former Director-General of the Al Jazeera Networks. He is currently President of Al Sharq Forum, an independent international network with a mission to develop long-term strategies to ensure the political stability and economic prosperity of the Arab world and the region. He is also a board member of the International Crisis Group and the Global Editors Network (GEN). Khanfar was named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 global thinkers of 2011, as well as one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” of the year.
Kent Monkman is well-known for his provocative reinterpretations of romantic North American landscapes. Themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience – the complexities of historic and contemporary Native American experience – are explored in a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation.
His glamorous diva alter ego, Miss Chief, appears in much of his work as an agent provocateur, trickster, and supernatural being, who reverses the colonial gaze, upending received notions of history and indigenous people. With Miss Chief at centre stage, Monkman has created memorable site specific performances at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Royal Ontario Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Compton Verney, and most recently at the Denver Art Museum. His award-winning short film and video works have been screened at various national and international festivals, including the 2007 and 2008 Berlinale, and the 2007 and 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. His second national touring solo exhibition, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience will visit museums across Canada until 2020.
Monkman has been awarded the Egale Leadership Award (2012), the Indspire Award (2014), the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award (2014), the Bonham Centre Award (2017) and an honorary doctorate degree from OCAD University (2017).
His work has been exhibited internationally and is widely represented in the collections of major Museums in Canada and the USA.
He is represented by Pierre-Francois Ouellette Art Contemporain in Montreal and Toronto, Trepanier Baer in Calgary and Peters Projects in Santa Fe.
Essayist and novelist, John Ralston Saul proposes a new humanism through what he calls responsible individualism. His 14 works have been translated into 29 languages in 38 countries. His philosophical trilogy and its conclusion — Voltaire’s Bastards, The Doubter’s Companion, The Unconscious Civilization and On Equilibrium: Six Qualities of the New Humanism — has impacted political thought in many countries. In A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada, he argues that modern Canada is profoundly shaped by Indigenous ideas. He is general editor of the Extraordinary Canadians biographical series and contributed his own biography of Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine & Robert Baldwin. The Comeback, his latest release, explores how Indigenous peoples are empowering themselves for a grand return to a position of power and influence.
Saul is President Emeritus of PEN International, and Founder and Honourary Chair of French for the Future. He also founded the LaFontaine-Baldwin national lecture series. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. His many literary awards include Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal, the Governor General’s Award and the inaugural Gutenberg Galaxy Award.
Photo Credit: Gianluca Battista
Bernhard Schlink is a writer and a professor of public law and legal philosophy; for many years he was also a judge at a German constitutional law court. Born in 1944, he grew up in Heidelberg, lived in Germany, France, and USA, and now teaches at Humboldt University in Berlin and at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. He began publishing crime novels in 1987 and other fiction in 1995. His first fiction to appear in English was his novel, The Reader (1997). Since then, he has published collections of stories, “Flights of Love” and “Summer Lies“, the novels Homecoming, The Weekend and The Woman on the Stairs and a trilogy about the private detective Gerhard Self, Self’s Punishment, Self’s Deception, and Self’s Murder. His essays “Guilt about the Past” deal with Germany’s recent past, collective and individual guilt, forgiving and forgetting, law and morality; his scholarly work focuses on fundamental rights, the role of the police, and the meaning of justice.
Photo Credit: Gaby Gerster / © Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich
Omar Sharif Jr. is an actor and activist. He has appeared in television series in Egypt and Canada. In 2015, Sharif was hired by six-time Oscar nominated director Jim Sheridan to act opposite Eric Bana and Rooney Mara in The Secret Scripture. In 2016, they collaborated again on 11th Hour, with Salma Hayek, in an artistic response to the global politics of division. The film was selected by the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017. Shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood was elected to parliament in Egypt in 2012, he published an open letter in The Advocate, in which he came out as gay and half-Jewish and questioned the new Egyptian government’s commitment to basic human rights and diversity. He is the first public personality to ever come out as openly gay in the Arab World. He immediately faced a barrage of condemnation, criticism and threats of violence. Sharif currently serves as Ambassador for the Human Rights Foundation and travels extensively promoting freedom. He previously served as National Spokesperson for GLAAD; an organization which serves to promote LGBT equality by ensuring positive media portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community.
Dr. Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe, originally from St. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Settlement near Selkirk, Manitoba, and is an Associate Professor and current Head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. He is an international commentator on Indigenous issues for outlets like Al-Jazeera, The Guardian, and national broadcasters like CTV, CBC, and The Globe and Mail and was named one of CBC Manitoba’s “Top 40 under 40” in 2015.
Niigaan is an award winning speaker, writer, and editor of such books as the award-winning Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water (Highwater Press, 2011) and Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories (Michigan State University Press, 2013), The Winter We Danced: Voices of the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement (Arbeiter Ring Press, 2014).
Fabrice Vil is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Pour 3 Points, an organization that transforms sport coaches into life coaches for youth in low-income neighbourhoods in Montreal, Quebec. Vil is also a columnist at Le Devoir newspaper and was a lawyer in civil and commercial litigation from 2007 to 2013, as well as a basketball coach from 2001 to 2009. In 2013, he was a finalist for the Echoing Green Fellowship, an organization that identifies and supports the most promising of rising social entrepreneurs worldwide.