6 Degrees at the AGO
Journalist and talk show host (Lebanon/Germany)
September 25, 2019
09:30 – 11:00
Jaafar Abdul Karim is an international award-winning journalist and the host of the interactive, personalized talk show JaafarTalk, broadcast on Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He is a typical trimedial reporter that tweets, posts, films, and interviews at the same time. He has reported from various war zones, such as Libya, Syria, and Iraq. With his previous award-winning talk show Shababtalk, he hosted discussions in Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon and Morocco.
Abdul Karim was born in Liberia, raised in Switzerland and Lebanon, and studied in Germany, France and Great Britain. He is now often considered a politically independent, brave, and free mediator between the German and Arab community. His work enables open and direct communication between Germany and the Arab world and provides a safe space for Arabic youth to discuss ideas, opinions, and thoughts openly.
Abdul Karim has been honoured as “Reporter of the Year” 2016 by the online publishing platform, Medium. Shababtalk has been honoured by the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) as “Best Arabic Talk Show” three years in a row.
In addition to being a TV host, Abdul Karim also works as a columnist for Zeit Online and has a vlog on the internet portal Spiegel Online. He is also the author of the book Fremde oder Freunde? (Friend or foe?).
Writer and activist (Canada/U.K./U.S.)
Cory Doctorow is a science-fiction author, activist, journalist, and blogger. He’s the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of sci-fi books for adults Radicalized and Walkaway, as well as young adult (YA) graphic novel In Real Life; the non-fiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free; YA novels Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother, and novels for adults Rapture Of The Nerds, and Makers.
He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab Research Affiliate; a visiting professor of computer science at Open University; a visiting professor of practice at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science; and he co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, he now lives in Los Angeles.
Rania El Mugammar is a Sudanese artist, liberation educator, anti-oppression consultant, multidisciplinary performer, speaker, and published writer.
As a writer, El Mugammar’s work explores themes of identity, womanhood, Blackness, flight, exile, migration, belonging, gender, sexuality, and beyond. El Mugammar’s primary mediums are poetry, spoken word and oral storytelling. She is a published poet, storyteller, and playwright. El Mugammar is deeply interested in poetic form and the auditory texture of words, as well as the visual/aesthetic impact of language and form.
She is co-chair of the St. Jamestown Collective Impact Steering Committee, a member of the Leaders Panel for the Economic Development and Culture Strategic Plan at the City of Toronto. She is also the lead anti-oppression consultant for the RECENTRE initiative, program director of B Inc at Bcurrent Performing Arts, and co-founder of the How to be an Ally Series at the Centre for Social Innovation.
El Mugammar is an experienced anti-oppression, equity, inclusion, and liberation educator and consultant who is unflinchingly committed to decolonization and freedom as the ultimate goals of her work. She has worked extensively with contemporary arts institutions, STEM- based enterprises, media organizations, educational institutions, and community/grassroots spaces, including VIBE Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage, Daniels Spectrum, Trinity Square Video, eBay, Facebook Canada, Toronto Cultural Music Lab, Canadian Art magazine, Bcurrent, Toronto Arts Council, WattPad, Women’s College Hospital, the University of Michigan, TPW Gallery, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, Regent Park Focus, and beyond.
Journalist and YouTuber (France)
Aude Favre was the first French journalist to start a YouTube channel. She decided to start her channel to fight against disinformation in 2017, shortly after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States (his election played a significant role in her decision). She has been debunking fake news since then, and is followed by 90,000 people. Before starting her YouTube channel, she worked in TV for more than ten years.
Rachel Giese is an award-winning Toronto journalist and the author of Boys: What It Means to Become a Man, which won the Writers’ Trust of Canada Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. She’s the editorial director of Xtra and a frequent contributor to CBC Radio and the Globe and Mail. Her work has appeared in the Literary Review of Canada, Real Life, NewYorker.com and The Walrus.
Caro Loutfi is the Executive Director of Apathy is Boring, working in a non-partisan manner and on a national scale to engage Canadian youth in democracy. A first-generation Canadian, Loutfi started as an intern at Apathy is Boring and took on the national leadership role a year and a half later.
She was previously a co-producer for Montreal’s Art Matters Festival, holds a BFA with distinction from Concordia University, and is a former board member for the Darling Foundry, which supports the creation and exhibition of contemporary art.
Loutfi currently sits on the Inspirit Foundation’s board, working to inspire pluralism among young Canadians, and is an adviser to Sid Lee’s C2 Conference, as part of the Sustainability Impact Unit. She regularly provides a youth perspective on topics of civic and political engagement and has been featured on CTV News, CBC, and Global News, among others.
She was featured as one of 19 prominent young Canadians to watch in the We Are Canada CBC series (2017). She was awarded the Walker Humanitarian Award by Concordia University and was named a Canadian Arab to Watch in 2015 by the Canadian Arab Institute.
Postgraduate Associate, Yale University; Program Manager, Radical Middle Way (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.
Comedian, writer, and media maker (Anishinaabe Aki)
Ryan McMahon is an Anishinaabe comedian, writer, and media maker from Couchiching First Nation in Treaty 3 Territory. In 2012, McMahon became the first Native comedian to ever record a solo one-hour mainstream comedy special for CBC, when he taped Ryan McMahon – UnReserved.
His five-part series, A 12 Step Program For Canada, in which he lays out a path to decolonization and reconciliation, aired on CBC Radio 1’s flagship Saturday show, Day 6 With Brent Bambury. The series won the 2018 RTDNA award for Best Opinion/Commentary.
When not standing onstage trying to make hundreds of strangers laugh, McMahon’s podcasts (Thunder Bay, Red Man Laughing and Stories From The Land) have garnered millions of downloads globally. Thunder Bay, a podcast deep dive into the legacy of colonialism on a small city in Canada, was named in dozens of “Best Of” podcast lists at the end of 2018, including lists in the New York Times, Globe and Mail, and Apple Podcasts.
A passionate transpartisan political disruptor, Dave Meslin has spent the last 20 years as a political biologist, exploring the strange and mysterious worlds of protest movements, party politics, and non-profit organizations. Wearing a suit and tie one day and shouting through a megaphone the next, Dave has worked as an executive assistant at both city hall and the provincial legislature, painted do-it-yourself bike lanes on the street, organized hundreds of volunteers, started a handful of non-profits, worked as federal lobbyist, helped draft provincial legislation, survived tear-gas riots in three countries, buried his car, and got thrown in jail. Not in that order.
His TED talk about apathy has more than 1.7 million views and his 90-second video clip from the 2016 Canadian election coverage, using colourful stacks of Lego bricks to explain how our voting system fails us, has over 2.5 million views on Facebook alone.
Dave’s bestselling book, Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up, is a roadmap for change and a cure for cynicism. His thesis is simple: We’re stronger and smarter when we’re all involved. By replacing cynicism with a culture of participation, we can re-imagine our role in the world and the possibilities of the future.
Poet and activist (Burundi)
September 25, 2019
13:30 – 16:00
Ketty Nivyabandi is a human rights defender, poet, and advocate for democracy and social justice. She was forced to flee her home as a result of her activism in May 2015, after she mobilized and successfully led women peaceful protests in her home country, Burundi. As a refugee, Nivyabandi continues to raise awareness on ongoing human rights violations in her country, particularly against women.
She has led several global awareness campaigns on human rights violations in Burundi, has testified before the Canadian House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights as a human rights defender, and regularly speaks on human rights, refugee issues, and the intimate effects of conflict on women’s lives.
Writer, independent researcher, and political analyst (Kenya)
Nanjala Nyabola is a writer, independent researcher, and political analyst currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her research and advocacy focuses on conflict and post-conflict transitions, particularly on refugees and migration, as well as East African politics generally. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Al Jazeera, World Politics Review, as well as in edited collections. She is the author of Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics: How the Internet Era is Transforming Kenya and the co-editor of Where Women Are: Gender and the 2017 Kenyan Elections.
Pambo is one of Mexico’s most beloved and multifaceted artists and activists. She has an outstanding capacity to transmit emotions as a composer and singer.
In her album La Princesa Caballero, Pambo shows a new side, collaborating with award-winning Mexican musicians such as Alejandro Sanz and Kinky. She has also composed for artists such as Reik, Alek Syntek, Eiza Gonzalez, and Danna Paola.
Pambo’s track “Perdón” was named the most played track in Mexico by SACM (Sociedad de Autores y compositores de México) in 2007, as was “Ya Me Enteré”, performed by Reik, in 2017. In 2018, “Ya Me Enteré” was awarded the BMI Latin Award in Los Angeles for most played Spanish song in the U.S.
Pambo is also a former ambassador for AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Mexico and is the current spokesperson and operator of #LoveArmyMexico, a humanitarian project with the purpose of rebuilding communities affected by the 2017 earthquake in central and southern Mexico.
Pambo has composed over 200 songs and is one of the first openly queer female singers in the country. She is increasingly becoming one of the leading voices on diversity in Mexico.
Civic Engagement manager, Scholars Strategy Network and 2018 Institute for Canadian Citizenship Fellow (U.S.)
At 24, Samantha Perlman is running to be the second woman and youngest person on the current city council in her hometown of Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Perlman’s enthusiasm for civic advocacy stems from studying abroad during the #FeesMustFall student protests around decolonization at the University of Cape Town. Witnessing youth mobilization and the capacity to be a change agent firsthand led Samantha to pursue civic engagement work at Generation Citizen and now as the Civic Engagement Manager at Scholars Strategy Network. Previously, Perlman worked within state and federal government internships, such as at the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Perlman is passionate about empowering young women to be involved in government and is an appointed member of her city’s Cultural Council. She got her degree from Emory University, and is a graduate of the Commonwealth Seminar, the Massachusetts Citizens’ Legislative Seminar, and the FAO Schwarz Fellowship in social impact. Recently, she graduated from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice’s Community Fellows Program and Emerge Massachusetts, an organization that trains women to run for office.
Perlman was a 2018 ICC Fellow where she pursued a civic tech project in Boston.
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is an Emmy-nominated journalist, producer and actor working as a senior correspondent with AJ+. He has worked for VICE on HBO, Al Jazeera English, the New York Times, the Huffington Post and PBS. He may be best known for creating and co-hosting Al Jazeera English’s flagship show The Stream, an interactive talk show nominated for an Emmy Award for Most Innovative Program in 2012.
In 2015, Shihab-Eldin was a correspondent on six stories on VICE on HBO. In 2015 and 2016, he was featured on the Arabian Business Power List “100 under 40: The world’s most influential young Arabs.”
In 2012, Shihab-Eldin helped establish HuffPost Live for the Huffington Post, producing and hosting World Brief, a 30-minute interactive global news show. He was also featured on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of young disruptors, innovators, and media entrepreneurs impatient to change the world.
Before joining Al Jazeera English in 2009, Shihab-Eldin helped launch the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar where he worked as a correspondent and led the site’s editorial content. Before that, he worked in New York as a digital producer for the PBS series Wide Angle, and a videographer for FRONTLINE/World, before joining the New York Times’ international desk.
In 2009, he began teaching digital media courses as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, his alma mater, where he graduated with honors in 2007. In 2013, he published his first book, Demanding Dignity.
Shihab-Eldin is passionate about telling stories that connect people across boundaries and borders that separate them. He appears as a commentator for CNN, NBC, BBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Yahoo and other platforms, and is often invited to speak at leading media, technology, and ideas conferences around the world—including the UN, World Economic Forum, SXSW, Aspen Ideas Festival, and Google Zeitgeist. The Network of Arab-American Professionals honored him with their Professional Excellence Award in 2013.
Alexandre Soublière is a novelist, screenwriter, and copywriter. His first novel, Charlotte Before Christ (Boréal, 2012), was unanimously praised by critics for its bold style as it ushered into literature an extraordinarily accurate portrait of an urban contemporary culture.
He studied at Concordia University, and currently lives in Montreal.
Artist, political activist, and Co-founder of Pussy Riot (Russia)
September 25, 2019
13:30 – 16:00
Nadya Tolokonnikova is a Russian conceptual artist, political activist, and co-founder of the art collective Pussy Riot, which has been the world’s most prominent art group in recent years and a global symbol of activism. In 2012, Tolokonnikova was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment following an anti-Putin performance by Pussy Riot in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Shortly after her release in December 2013, Tolokonnikova announced the opening of an independent Russian news service Mediazona.
She has spoken before the United States Congress, British Parliament, and the European Parliament to fight and advocate for human rights in Russia. She has lectured at many universities as an honorary speaker, including Harvard and Cambridge, and received an honorary degree from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Tolokonnikova has published two books: Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism (HarperOne, 2018) and Comradely Greetings: The prison letters of Nadya and Slavoj (co-written with Slavoj Zizek, 2014). She is a subject in the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (HBO, 2013) and appeared as herself on Netflix’s House of Cards. Netflix original series Russian Doll included one of her tracks, “Organs”, in Episode 7. The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018), a comedy starring Mila Kunis, has her song “Bad Girls” on the soundtrack.
In 2012, while in prison, she became a Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipient and has performed the song “Refugees In” as part of artist Banksy’s Dismaland, and performed live on world renowned stages, such as Glastonbury Festival.
By staging and merging her audio/visual and written art on a world stage and through meetings with world leaders, prison directors and wardens, political activists, philosophers, artists, Tolokonnikova has developed a continuous persistent and relentless fight for human rights that shines a unique light, often with humour to make it accessible, relatable, memorable and actionable, to a wider audience.
Ojibwe broadcaster, advocate, and pop culture philosopher (Canada)
September 25, 2019
09:30 – 11:00
Jesse Wente is one of Canada’s most prominent and recognizable Indigenous voices.In January 2018, he was named the first director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, which supports Indigenous sovereignty through storytelling on screen. He has been a columnist covering film and culture on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning for more than 20 years, and is also a culture columnist for CBC Radio’s Unreserved.
He has programmed film festivals, including Reel World, ImagineNative, and the Toronto International Film Festival, and curated retrospectives on Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Bernardo Bertolucci, Michael Mann, and Kelly Reichardt. In 2012, Wente curated the world’s largest retrospective of Indigenous films, titled First Peoples Cinema: 1500 Nations, One Tradition, and its accompanying gallery exhibition, Home on Native Land.
He is currently producing his first film, a screen adaptation of Thomas King’s best-selling book, The Inconvenient Indian, and has signed a book deal with Penguin Random House Canada to write a memoir exploring his family’s history, including their experience with residential schools and its impact on his life growing up in a large city.
An outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit art, he has spoken at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Canadian Arts Summit, Canadian Media Producers Association’s Prime Time, and numerous universities and colleges. Wente currently serves on the board of directors for both the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.