6 Degrees at the AGO
Journalist and op-ed columnist (Netherlands)
Yasmina Aboutaleb (1986) is a journalist and Op-ed columnist, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her successful weekly column on city life in Amsterdam appears in the major daily newspaper Het Parool. At present, she is working on a new book covering diversity within the Moroccan community in the Netherlands, which will be published in the fall of 2019.
Having studied political science at both the University of Amsterdam and in Paris (Sciences Po), Yasmina decided to pursue a career in journalism. Consequently, from 2011 to 2014 she held different (editorial and reporting) posts at the NRC Handelsblad, which is one of the 5 biggest daily newspapers in the Netherlands. In 2016, a collection of her columns were published as a book.
Currently Yasmina works as an independent journalist for several outlets, including Dutch newspapers, magazines and national radio (NPO). Her varied work covers a wide range of topics, with a specific focus on immigration, (islamic) feminism, diversity, class and the Dutch education system.
Scholar in Residence at Harvard University's Mahindra Humanities Center (USA)
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.
Award-winning poet, novelist and essayist (Canada)
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
Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist & Senior Editor at Thomson Reuters (Greece)
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.
Documentary filmmaker & writer (Netherlands)
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.
Director, Social Policy, Analysis and Research - City of Toronto (Canada)
Denise Andrea Campbell has been working nationally and internationally on social inclusion issues since the age of 16. Before joining the City of Toronto, she worked internationally on race and gender policies in numerous United Nations forums and more recently, the African Union.
She’s received numerous awards for these efforts and has been an avid media spokesperson on social inclusion-related issues.
Denise joined the City of Toronto’s Social Development, Finance and Administration Division in 2004. She’s worked in youth development, led the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy, and as Director of Community Resources, oversaw the City’s neighbourhood revitalization, Tower Renewal, community development, and community funding portfolios.
In April 2014, she became the Director of Social Policy, Analysis and Research, bringing a community development approach to complex social policy development and implementation. Her current policy agenda includes poverty reduction, human trafficking, affordable transit, undocumented Torontonians, and Confronting Anti-Black Racism.
She holds a Masters of Voluntary Sector Management from McGill University and completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa and University of Toronto. She passionately invests in young leaders and serves as a community leader.
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Migrant Offshore Aid Station - MOAS (Italy)
Born and raised in Southern Italy, Regina is the co-founder and director of the search-and-rescue organization MOAS. Inspired by the terrible shipwreck that took place off Lampedusa in 2013, Regina and her husband Christopher founded the Migrant Offshore Aid Station in April 2014. MOAS operates with a 40-metre vessel, the Phoenix, as well as a maritime patrol aircraft, to alleviate the needless suffering and death of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
Dedicated to saving lives at sea, MOAS has rescued and assisted over 40,000 people since its inception.
In founding MOAS, the Catrambone family hoped that their humanitarian initiative would inspire others globally, and help to dispel what Pope Francis called the “globalization of indifference”.
Regina strongly believes that entrepreneurs can play a relevant role in solving the current humanitarian crisis through innovation and creativity, with an eye as to how to react in the most efficient way. The world needs courageous entrepreneurs who have both the resources and vision to face current challenges. She is convinced that the combination of entrepreneurial spirit and humanitarian approach can achieve great results, as proven by MOAS and Tangiers.
When not fundraising and speaking on behalf of MOAS, Regina participates in the rescue operations themselves. She is also a member of the Board of Directors at their family company, the Tangiers Group.
Councillor for Ward 20 at the City of Toronto (Canada)
Joe was born and raised in downtown Toronto, in a family whose defining values are community building and public service – values that have driven him his whole life. Joe has been a lifelong activist and advocate for issues relating to peace, equity and social justice. Before being elected City Councillor, he served as a Director of Campaigns and Outreach at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports community-based HIV/AIDS organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.
As Councillor for Ward 20, Joe works tirelessly to build better neighbourhoods, expand and improve public green spaces, and make life in downtown Toronto more equitable. He is committed to making life better for all of us who live, love, work and play in Toronto.
Photo credit: Richard Lautens / Toronto Star
Director, Democracy Unit at Global Affairs Canada (Canada)
Tara Denham is the Director of the Democracy Unit at Global Affairs Canada, which includes the Digital Inclusion Lab. Her team is responsible for supporting the department in defining and advancing democracy through various policies and programming initiatives, including looking at how technology can be used in innovative ways to advance foreign policy priorities. The Digital Inclusion Lab focuses on engagement, research, analysis, and testing of tools in order to understand the rapidly evolving intersection of technology and foreign policy. Previously, she managed programming teams within the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force, including the portfolios of the Middle East, Afghanistan, democracy and human rights, and peace support operations. She has also been deployed to Afghanistan as the Chief of Staff to the Representative of Canada to Kandahar (2009-2010). She has worked with the Department for 14 years, and previously worked in the non-governmental sector. Ms Denham has a Masters degree from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, with a focus on conflict studies.
Former Mayor of Mexico City (Mexico)
Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón served as Mayor of Mexico City from 2006-2012. In 2010, he was awarded the World Mayor Prize in recognition of his environmental and civil-rights initiatives within Mexico City. When he stepped down after six years in office, he was heralded for making the city cleaner, safer, and more inclusive and environmentally friendly.
During his time as Mayor, Ebrard introduced one of the most advanced human rights public policy programs in the world, introducing Mexico City’s legislation for same sex marriage and legal abortion. He also spearheaded the development of inclusive public spaces (urban beaches and ice-skating rinks) as an alternative form of community building and entertainment for underserved groups, and provided low-income students with funding to keep them in school and off the streets.
Moreover, Ebrard is known for his Green Plan, which included a vast expansion of public transport, introduction of the bike-sharing program called Ecobici, and more. The plan resulted in the reduction of Mexico City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 7.7 million metric tons between 2008 and 2012. Under his leadership, a World Mayors Summit on Climate Change in Mexico in 2010 resulted in the Global Cities Covenant on Climate. This Mexico City Pact was signed by 250 cities across the globe.
After leaving office as Mayor, Ebrard was elected President of the United Nations Global Network on Safer Cities, part of UN Habitat. For his distinguished contribution to society, he was also honored by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 2012, who named him a Grand Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau.
Ebrard is currently an international consultant and continues to collaborate with the United Nations.
Award-winning journalist (UK)
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.
Editor-in-Chief of the Bondy Blog (France)
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.
Parliamentary Poet Laureate and playwright (Canada)
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
Chief Executive Officer of Techfugees (France)
Nominated in both 2016 and 2017 by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, Goube is a “hacktivist” for migrants and refugees’ inclusion in Europe. As CEO of Techfugees, a non-profit based in London, coordinating the tech community’s response to the refugee situation, she promotes the use of mobile and new digital technologies to empower the displaced and provide them access to information, health care, and education. She previously worked as tech evangelist for the web-based cross-border recruitment platform, Yborder, worked as an informal expert on immigration for the EU commission and helped build a web-based A.I. for migrants that provides information about visas and immigration support at the tech startup and global platform Migreat.
Founding ED of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation & Co-Chair of the Africa Center (UK)
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.
President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking - INET (USA)
Rob Johnson serves as President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Global Finance Project for the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in New York.
Johnson is an international investor and consultant to investment funds on issues of portfolio strategy. He recently served on the United Nations Commission of Experts on International Monetary Reform under the Chairmanship of Joseph Stiglitz.
Previously, Johnson was a Managing Director at Soros Fund Management where he managed a global currency, bond and equity portfolio specializing in emerging markets. Prior to working at Soros Fund Management, he was a Managing Director of Bankers Trust Company managing a global currency fund.
Johnson served as Chief Economist of the US Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of Chairman William Proxmire (D. Wisconsin). Before this, he was Senior Economist of the US Senate Budget Committee under the leadership of Chairman Pete Domenici (R. New Mexico).
Johnson was an Executive Director of the Oscar-winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, directed by Alex Gibney, and is the former President of the National Scholastic Chess Foundation. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of both the Economic Policy Institute and the Campaign for America’s Future.
Johnson received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from Princeton University and a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario - AGO (USA)
Stephan Jost is the Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).
Upon his appointment in 2016, Mr. Jost demonstrated immediate leadership by thoughtfully exploring the AGO’s visitorship, collection and key strengths in order to strategically focus on three mission-aligned areas: art, access and learning. He has overseen the revitalization of several key areas in the Gallery, including Maxine Granovsky & Ira Gluskin Hall; helped clarify new target segments to ensure sustainable audience development; and launched Look:Forward, a major reinstallation of the AGO’s remarkable Collection.
Before joining the AGO, Mr. Jost was Director of the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) for five years, where he worked toward a goal of making the Museum a welcoming and accessible place for a more diverse audience to experience great art. Under his leadership, HoMA’s finances were dramatically improved; the education program expanded in reach and capacity; its membership increased by 64 per cent; and the visitor experience significantly energized.
Prior to that appointment, Mr. Jost was the Director of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, the Director of the Mills College Art Museum in Oakland, California, and held several curatorial positions at the Allen Memorial Art Museum of Oberlin College in Ohio. He also worked at the esteemed international auction house, Sotheby’s, as part of the marketing department that coordinated the production of auction catalogues.
Born in Michigan, Mr. Jost holds a BA in art history from Hampshire College in Massachusetts and an MA in art history, specializing in the history of photography, from the University of Texas at Austin.
Journalist and Executive Director of the Gunda Werner Institute (Germany)
Ines Kappert is the Executive Director of the Gunda Werner Institute for Feminism and Gender Democracy in Berlin. An affiliate of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Gunda Werner Institute focuses on gender political questions and furthers the debate about feminism and gender democracy. Kappert’s work is focused on the examination and consequences of exclusion versus privilege in society.
From 2007-2015, Kappert worked as a journalist for the Berlin newspaper, taz. She has published more than 400 articles focusing on topics such as feminism, Syria and displaced people and has moderated several talks on the role of women in politics and the situation of Libyan migrants.
In 2016, along with 100 other women working in the fields of sciences and the arts, she co-founded, We Are Doing It, an initiative highlighting projects meeting the challenge of worldwide migration. In 2017, Kappert was a member of the artistic leadership team for the project “Weiter Schreiben” (Writing On), which publishes texts by authors from crisis areas, thus giving them a voice to make people aware of their issues.
Photo credit: Stephan Röhl
Co-Founder of the Common Action Forum & former Director General of Al Jazeera (Palestine)
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.
Esma Linnemann is a Dutch print and radio journalist. As a freelance journalist she wrote extensively about diversity and gender issues. In 2015 she published a ‘refugee guidebook’- a manual for newcomers based on extensive interviews with former refugees, and printed in Dutch, English and Arabian. She is currently editor of the weekend opinion edition of the Dutch newspaper The Volkskrant.
Award-winning London-based journalist, educator and organizer (Canada)
Abdul-Rehman Malik is an award-winning London-based journalist, educator and organizer. He is programs manager for the Radical Middle Way, which offers powerful, faith-inspired guidance and tools to enable change, promote social justice for all and combat exclusion and violence. His work has spanned the UK, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Mali, Morocco, Singapore, Canada and Malaysia. In January 2015, he became director of the Insight Film Festival, a unique year-round festival that celebrates the intersection between faith and film. Malik is a regular contributor to BBC Radio, offering Pause for Thought—contemporary perspectives on spirituality—on Radio 2 and presenting documentaries and programs for Radio 4 and the World Service. His recent documentary work includes “The Muhammadan Bean: The Secret History of Islam and Coffee” and “Finding Allah at 33rpm.” A trustee of the Sandford St Martins Trust, a UK-based trust which promotes excellence in broadcasting about religion, Malik has a keen interest in harnessing cultural capital for social change. In addition to providing content guidance to a variety of cultural and literary institutions, he is currently working with colleagues from around the world to establish a global network of Muslim cultural leaders committed to supporting cutting-edge artistic production and building cultural capital.
Founder and Creative Director of This is Worldtown (Pakistan/UK/Canada)
Sana A. Malik is the Founder and Creative Director of This is Worldtown, a platform featuring content exclusively by women of colour storytellers from around the world. Sana is Pakistani-British-Canadian and previously worked in gender and development in Lebanon,Tanzania, Burkina Faso and the UK. She is currently pursuing an M.S. in Documentary Journalism at Columbia University in New York.
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.
Anishinaabe-kwe inaugural curator of Canadian & Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Canada)
Wanda Nanibush is an Anishinaabe-kwe curator, image and word warrior, and community organizer. Currently she is the inaugural curator of Canadian & Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She holds a masters in Visual Studies from the University of Toronto where she has taught graduate courses. Nanibush has worked on the frontlines of Indigenous rights. Her curatorial projects include: Rita Letendre: Fire & Light (AGO, 2017), Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 (AGO, 2016), Sovereign Acts II (Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, 2017), The Fifth World (Mendel Art Gallery, 2015) and the award winning KWE: The work of Rebecca Belmore (Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, 2014).
General Director of DestiNATIONS (Canada)
Marie-Josée is Mi’kmaq and Acadian. She holds a BA in philosophy and a MA in art history. She is the General Director of DestiNATIONS an indigenous cultural organization co-promoter of the First Nations and Inuit legacy project an Indigenous Cultural Embassy project based in Montréal. In 2012, she was a fellow of Action Canada a pan Canadian leadership and public policy program. From 2010 to 2013 she was the director of LesTerritoires, an artist run center proposing an innovative and experimental exhibition format. She served for three years on the Visual Arts Committee of the Arts Council of Montreal and on the board of the Aboriginal Community Development Centre of Montreal. She currently sits on the Steering committee and on the ART and CULTURE Committee of the Montreal Aboriginal Urban Strategy NETWORK. She recently joined the cultural commission of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Marie-Josée is also a lecturer and curator. Her work in the public space questions the notion of state and social propaganda, the role and cultural definitions of art and culture and the ways in which cultural practices can discuss social, community and political issues.
Senior Researcher at the Citizen Lab (Indonesia)
Irene Poetranto is Senior Researcher with the Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary research lab on cybersecurity and human rights at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research interest is on the intersection of politics of identity and information and communications technology (ICT) policies. She has a Master’s degree in Political Science and Asia Pacific Studies from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia.
Author, storyteller and LGBTQ-refugees activist (Syria/Canada)
Ahmad Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-born author, storyteller and LGBTQ-refugee activist who calls Canada home. His work in activism has supported bringing over 10 Syrian queer refugees to Canada, and his advocacy helped shape the queer community in Vancouver into a sanctuary community for queer refugees. He runs the annual fundraiser “An Evening in Damascus” which brings an authentic cultural exchange between Syrians and Canadians. Ramadan released his debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, in May 2017. He was named the local hero marshal for the 2016 Vancouver Pride Parade and in 2017, was included in the RBC Top 25 Immigrant Awards, celebrating immigrants who have made a significant contribution to Canada. Also in 2107, Ramadan was given the StandOUT! Award for social activism from the Vancouver Pride Society. Ramadan lives in Vancouver, and presently works at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
Executive Director of Kompass (Netherlands)
René Rouwette is the Executive Director of Kompass. Kompass is the new national organization for civil rights, social justice and equal opportunities within the Netherlands. The organization focuses on topics related to ethnic profiling, racism in football, lack of human rights education, treatment of undocumented migrants, statelessness, discrimination of the elderly, and equal access to education.
Previously, Rene was a senior advisor for Public Affairs Company Dietz, Droge & Van Loo. Moreover, he worked for development cooperation organization Hivos, facilitating a group of Syrian women to get access to the General Assembly, the White House and the peace talks. He was the Chairperson of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights, a researcher/lecturer at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), a member of the human rights group of the Foreign Ministry’s Policy Evaluation Unit, and a visiting professional at the Dutch Permanent Representation to the UN.
ICC Co-Chair, award-winning essayist and novelist (Canada)
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
Managing Editor of OpenCanada.org and former Editor of The Santiago Times (Canada)
Eva Salinas is managing editor of foreign affairs news site OpenCanada.org. She was previously the editor of The Santiago Times in Chile, where she was also a freelance correspondent for The Globe and Mail, The Times of London, and the CBC, among others. She has also worked for the Financial Post, Journalists for Human Rights and Athletes for Africa. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University and a Master’s degree with McMaster University’s Institute on Globalization. Her educational book for children, Latin Americans Thought of It, was published in 2012 with Annick Press.
International-affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail and award-winning writer (Canada)
Doug Saunders writes the Globe and Mail’s international-affairs column, and also serves as the paper’s online opinion and debate editor. He has been a writer with the Globe since 1995, and has extensive experience as a foreign correspondent, having run the Globe’s foreign bureaus in Los Angeles and London.
He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and educated in Toronto. After early success in magazines and journalistic research, he first worked for the Globe and Mail as a general news reporter, then as an editorial writer and feature writer. In 1996, he joined the weekend section where he created a specialized writing position on media, culture, advertising and popular phenomena. In 1999, he became the paper’s Los Angeles bureau reporter, covering both social and political stories in the American west and the broader developments in wider U.S. society. From 2003 until 2012, he was the paper’s London-based European bureau chief, responsible for the paper’s coverage of more than 40 countries. He has also done extensive reporting in the Middle East, North Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and East Asia.
He has won the National Newspaper Award, the Canadian counterpart to the Pulitzer Prize, on five occasions, including an unprecedented three consecutive awards for critical writing in 1998-2000, and awards honouring him as Canada’s best columnist in 2006 and 2013. He has also won the Stanley McDowell Prize for writing and has been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award.
He has published three books. His first, Arrival City (2010) chronicled the unprecedented wave of rural-to-urban migration and the rise of urban immigrant enclaves, using firsthand reporting on five continents. It has been published in eight languages and has won numerous honours, including the Donner Prize for best book on politics and a runner-up for the Gelber Prize for the world’s best international-affairs book. His second, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (2012), examined the effects of immigration from Islamic countries to the West and has been published to acclaim in Canada, the United States and Germany. His third, Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough (Knopf, September 2017).
Jurist & award-winning author of The Reader (Germany)
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.
International commentator on Indigenous issues (Canada)
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).
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Access Now (Australia)
Brett Solomon is co-founder and Executive Director of Access Now. Access Now defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. By combining innovative policy, user engagement, and direct technical support, the organization fights for open and secure communications for all. Solomon sits on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet. Previously, he was Campaign Director at Avaaz.org, a global movement which has rapidly grown into the largest online activist community in the world at almost 20 million subscribers in all 193 countries. He was the first Executive Director of GetUp, an Australian independent political movement which uses new technologies to facilitate Australians’ participation in democracy. Prior to this, he was the Campaign Coordinator for Amnesty International Australia, where his main focus was refugees and asylum seekers.
Heike Steinweg is a German portrait photographer based in Berlin. Her photographs have appeared in various magazines and newspapers including Die Zeit, The New York Times, Le Monde, and The Sunday Times Magazine. Her photographic work focuses on the exploration of political and social issues. She has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions, including: “Open History: Israelis and Germans” (2015-2016), as well as “The Last Line – Writing in Berlin” (2016), shown in New York City, Washington D.C. and Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. “The Last Line” depicts authors from around the world and asks them to reflect on the last lines of their books.
In her latest project, “I never said good bye – Women in Exile,” Steinweg portrays women who were forced to flee their war-torn home countries, and now aspire to overcome their struggle to integrate and make a new country home in a very intimate photographic approach. In 2018, these portraits will be shown at the Museum Europäischer Kulturen SMB in Berlin.
Soulful and powerful singer/songwriter (Canada)
September 27, 2017
Dione Taylor is a soulful and powerful Canadian female singer/songwriter.
Co-Founder, What Design Can Do (Netherlands)
Richard van der Laken, is an acclaimed Dutch graphic designer, entrepreneur, initiator and on a fearless mission as an unlikely globetrotting ambassador for the social impact of design.
His work is well known in graphic design circles. His Amsterdam design agency, Design Politie (Design Police) has shaped the cultural scene in Holland and shot to fame in the ‘90’s on a wave of interest in the Dutch design.
Today, he divides his time between designing for clients and running a global project called What Design Can Do. It started as a conference on the impact of design. It rapidly attracted thousands to Amsterdam’s state theatre and to exhibitions at the Stedelijk Museum. Earlier this year civic leaders in São Paulo invited What Design Can Do to Brazil. Now Richard is talking to the UN about a design response to the humanitarian crisis.
In his career Richard was honored with many awards and nominations for D&AD, DesignMuseum Design Of The Year, ADCN (Art directors Club Netherlands), Dutch Design Awards and more. In 2008 a monograph about Designpolitie’s work came out under the title ‘The ABC Of The Designpolitie’.
In 2015 What Design Can Do launched the book ’31 brilliant Ideas For A Better World’, curated by Richard.
Richard is a frequent lecturer at creative conferences and art schools worldwide.
Journalist and screenwriter (Netherlands)
Natascha van Weezel (1986) is a Dutch journalist and screenwriter. She published her first book ‘Skinny Years’ at the age of 20. Together with her father she writes an alternating column for the daily newspaper Trouw. Her main topics of interest are diversity, minorities within the Dutch society, and Israel/Palestine.
In 2012, Natascha graduated as a screenwriter from the Dutch Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam. However, soon after she switched focus to non-fiction: directing the documentary film ‘Lets talk about the war again’. In 2015, she wrote the book ‘The Third Generation’ on the same topic: grandchilderen of Holocaust survivors. Ever since she has been a freelance journalist working for leading Dutch newspapers. Earlier this year, she published her third book ‘Meeting the enemy’, about the relationship between Jews and Muslims in the Netherlands.
Co-Founder & Executive Director of Pour 3 Points and columnist at Le Devoir (Canada)
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.