A collection of insights from 50 contributing authors curated by Jennifer Corriero
This learning resource is dedicated to young social innovators who have taken initial steps in leading community-based projects. The contributing authors draw upon unique experiences as social innovators and specialists in their areas of expertise to provide insights, advice and reflection questions.
Readers are taken on a journey across many diverse impact initiatives, with helpful tools, templates and tips to reflect and act on in their own community initiatives.
"When we thoughtfully participate and contribute to community building efforts, we are bringing an abundance of kindness into the flow of social interactions that allows people of all ages to flourish." Jennifer Corriero
Meet the Authors
Ivan Ngandjui Touko
Michelle Friesen is a TakingITGlobal – Rising Youth Alumni who is proudly serving as the first Indigenous woman on council for the City of Whitehorse which rests on the Traditional Territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and her family's First Nation, the Ta'an Kwäch'än Council.
When she’s not busy being mom, she works to empowers women through the sport of mountain biking while connecting them to mental health and wellness resources and shares her campaign experiences to encourage diversity and representation in leadership and politics.
Ivan Touko (He/Him) is the Co-CEO of La Connexional, one of Alberta’s Top 30 under 30 , AC Awards 2022 Artist of the year and a community builder that is passionate about bringing people together, organizing grassroots initiatives and uplifting underserved communities through collaborations and resources-sharing. Ivan is passionate about how the intersections between culture, technology and social innovation can be of service to underserved communities to increase their quality of life, generate social impact at scale and build generational wealth.
Jutta Treviranus is the Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and professor in the faculty of Design at OCAD University in Toronto. Jutta established the IDRC in 1993 as the nexus of a growing global community that proactively works to ensure that our digitally transformed and globally connected society is designed inclusively.Dr. Treviranus also founded an innovative graduate program in inclusive design at OCAD University.Jutta is credited with developing an inclusive design methodology that has been adopted by large enterprise companies, governments, and public sector organizations internationally. She speaks and publishes prolifically. Given her unique name, her talks and publications can be easily found by searching the web using the search prompt “Jutta Treviranus.”
During her time completing her Bachelors degree in Management and Economics at Dalhousie University, Sarah’s passion for community change through social entrepreneurship grew tenfold. A naturally driven person, Sarah makes grassroots change with her non profit organization, New Venture, which makes entrepreneurship a more accessible and equitable place for all. Along with holding positions at prominent international organizations like Social Shifters and Unite 2030, Sarah is a recognized community social enterprise advocate, and continues to engage in her community of K’jipuktuk through change work, song, and dance.
Vedanshi Vala is a Bachelor of Science student at the University of British Columbia, with multiple academic publications under her belt. She has authored academic essays exploring a variety of pertinent topics, such as: Homo floresiensis and the human fear of the 'other', Neanderthal DNA and the construct of race and ethnicity, discrimination in the medical field, the prodrome and antecedents of Schizophrenia, and the mental health and domestic abuse shadow crises exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enjoying hands-on, creative work, Vedanshi launched her jewelry brand MAZE. Recognizing that fashion is a luxury for many, a portion of MAZE sales are donated to support Covenant House’s work with youth in crisis.
As Co-Founder and Executive Director of BOLT Safety Society, Vedanshi actively leads grassroots efforts to foster safer and equitable communities. This includes the development of BOLT’s digital platform on the WIX mobile app, their national Safe Buddies service, and Safe Hubs network to redefine access to personal safety across Canada. Moreover, Vedanshi lead her team on-the-ground internationally to deliver workshops to participants from rural communities in India in partnership with the Princess Diya Kumari Foundation and the Royal Family of Jaipur.
Jaxson Khan is a Policy Advisor to the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry. In his role, he works to accelerate the growth of Canada's economy.
In the policy realm, Jaxson previously served as an advisor to Century Initiative, as a consultant for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and as a co-founder of Young Diplomats of Canada.
Prior to government, Jaxson worked in technology, including as Director of Growth at Fable, an accessibility platform that helps major organizations build more inclusive digital products for people with disabilities. Jaxson also co-founded a global consulting firm focused on artificial intelligence, education, and financial technology companies, working across North America, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Before consulting, Jaxson worked at Nudge.ai (acquired by Affinity), Influitive, Paddle (acquired by LinkedIn), and Microsoft.
Jaxson is a published author and speaker on technology, education, and policy, including with the International Economic Development Council and a TEDx talk. Jaxson graduated from Western University as a 3M National Student Fellow and one of Canada's Top 20 Under 20.
Vedanshi has advocated for safer and equitable communities in impactful Canadian media like CBC, Global News, and CTV News, and has been distinguished nationally as a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth. She was also listed on Surrey's Top 25 Under 25, and was named one of four 'Immigrant Women of Inspiration' across Canada.
In his free time, Jaxson writes, learns languages, sees live music, dances, and hikes mountains.
Natalie Wood is an award-winning Trinidadian-born, Toronto-based visual and media artist, a a PhD student in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University and a tenured Professor at George Brown College (GBC) where she specializes in teaching social innovation and social economies and is seconded to the role of Black Futures Coordinator. She is a cofounder of the Environmental and Urban Change Black Caucus, fellow at Black Lives Matter’s Wildseed Centre for Art and Activism, founder of the Blue Devil Posse and co-founder of the GBC Social Innovation Hub. Her educational pathway includes an MA in Art Education from the University of Toronto and studio courses at OCADU.
Her PhD is a research-creation project that explores the practice of Black Futures in Black Queer diasporic resistance in Caribbean Carnival. Her multimedia art-work cohabits the areas of popular culture, education and historical research and explores her fascination with counter-narratives, healing cultures and icons that liberate Black and Queer communities.
Selected awards include a SSHRC grant, several York University, Ontario Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships, a Canada Council creation grant 2020, a Black Leadership Award from the Black Student Success Network at GBC 2017, Community Based Research Award of Merit, from the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives & the Wellesley Institute 2007, the New Pioneers Award for contribution to Arts and Culture 2006, and the City of York Civic Recognition Award for using the Arts to support marginalized communities 1997, a NourbeSe Philips Arts recognition grant and numerous grants and awards from Toronto, Ontario and Canada Arts Council. Her artwork is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art.
Originally from southern B.C. she spent most of her twenties moving between 6 different provinces and territories, working in the service and tourism industry. Jessi has now been living in the Yukon for almost 3 years. In February 2022, she helped to produce and performed her original songs in a concert bringing awareness to the opiod crisis in the North made possible by Rising Youth. She continues to work with music personally and professionally and looks forward to future projects that bring positive experiences to her community.
Educator, artist, and podcaster is a Woodland Cree woman from Lac La Ronge Indian Band. She currently resides in Treaty 6 Territory in Saskatoon, SK. Roberts graduated from ITEP at the University of Saskatchewan in 2018 and went on to teach an elementary art and Cree culture program.
Jade is a trailblazer for Indigenous podcasting in Saskatchewan - she created the podcast Still Here Still Healing to bring awareness to the impacts of residential schools, share survivors stories, and feature discussions with youth on topics such as culture, language, identity, and community. Jade recently launched a second podcast titled The Sobriety Circle where she co-hosts and discusses her journey with sobriety.
Jade is a digital and traditional artist. In her digital work she is influenced by her Cree culture to create digital pieces that express Indigenous futurism and spark conversations about language, history, and identity. In her more traditional artwork she is focused on using land based approaches to create as she experiments with painting and wood burning birch bark, fish skin tanning, and beading.
In addition, Jade is a CBC Saskatchewan Future 40 Award winner, her podcast was nominated for a Canadian Podcast Award in 2020 & 2022, her artwork has been published in SAY Magazines 100th edition and The Polyglot. You can find her work and more information at jadeleviroberts.com
Patrick (also known as Nang Ḵ‘uulas) is a Haida award-winning film & television director, social entrepreneur, and university instructor from Haida Gwaii, BC. Selected as young Entrepreneur of the Year by the BC Aboriginal Business Awards, Patrick has founded over a dozen start-ups, social, creative, and non-profit initiatives that resulted in him being selected as one of the top 15 Emerging Innovators in Canada by Ashoka Changemakers, and one of the top 50 Young Cultural Innovators in the world by Salzburg Global Seminar.
Inspired by his cultural upbringing, Patrick endeavours to use technology, media, and education to empower locals in addressing the social & cultural issues within Canada’s remote and Indigenous communities.
With over 15 years of experience working within the Vancouver film, television and photography industries, Patrick currently operates film production company InnoNative, Indigenous modelling agency Supernaturals, and a media training and production initiative called the Haida Gwaii Media Collective.
Becky Han is an Inuk singer-songwriter who grew up in the small and beautiful community of Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay) in Nunavut. Believing that music is a creative and educational outlet, she enjoys writing most of her work in Inuktut. Her children's book, “Bee” is based on her award-winning song "Qaariaq".
Originally from Abeokuta, Nigeria, Ridhwanlai Badmos came to Canada at an early age. He is the driving force behind advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion in his communities. Ridhwan also volunteers regularly with Youth Empowering Youth, food banks, and social justice groups across Canada. In 2021, he was a co-host and discussion facilitator for the Beyond the Horizon Youth Summit. His most recent endeavour is founding a non-profit organization called Wake Up Mental Health where he facilitates workshops for youth in support of their mental wellbeing. When not connecting, mobilizing, and inspiring educators and youth with innovative solutions to act on global challenges, you can find him huddled up with a book, either watching or playing basketball with friends, or in the backyard gardening with his family.
Emel Tabaku (she/her) is a Master of Public Policy Candidate at the University of Toronto - Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from OCAD University, with a major in Drawing & Painting, and a minor in Art History.
Outside of academia, Emel Tabaku is the Founder and Executive Director of RCAD Initiative: Redefining Communities through Art + Design - a non-profit organization with the mission to amplify the voices of underrepresented youth through storytelling mentorship, entrepreneurial skills training and innovative dialogue. As an impact-driven and dedicated art-activist, social entrepreneur, and youth advocate with a significant background in multisectoral development spaces, Emel is incredibly passionate about fostering community resilience.
Earlier this year, she completed her artist residency with Youth Climate Lab, as part of the FUTURES/forward mentorship program x ICASC/Judith Marcuse Projects where she drafted and designed the #DigitalArt4Climate Environmental Advocacy Toolkit. She also served as Councillor’s Aide at the Office of the Mayor, City of Toronto over the summer supporting the work of the Community and Stakeholder Relations department.
Emel is currently a Junior Professional Consultant with UNDP Accelerator Labs, Indonesia working within their urban resilience and climate mitigation portfolios.
Priscilla Amoah is a Co-Founder of BEELA Center for Indigenous Foods, supporting Ghana in building its first indigenous seed bank, guided by the principles of agroecology, farmer first advocacy, and food sovereignty. Prior to this endeavour, she worked as an Academic Peer Support Mentor and Course Facilitator at York University, building and implementing programming, curricula and events supporting York University’s commitment to a safer, equitable and inclusive campus as well as several initiatives to deliver events and programs on eradicating gender-based violence and African Indigenous foods. She brings over a decade of experience in women and gender equity, advising, operational
Abena Offeh-Gyimah is a Co-Founder of BEELA Center for Indigenous Foods, a project that seeks to preserve indigenous African seeds, foods, and practices. Prior to this role, Abena worked as the Project Lead for the Jane Finch Community Research Partnership, with extensive experience in community engagement, ethical research, program development, partnerships & collaboration, and with previous organisations like North York Community House, Black Creek Community Farm, Jane Finch Center, and with Building Roots Toronto. Abena brings years of experience in conducting ethical community engaged research practice, work in local food systems, seed sovereignty, and collaboration in food sovereignty movements. She is a writer, a researcher, a naturalist, and a conservationist.
management, program management, relationship management, community capacity building and collective action in the public and private sector.
sovereignty movements. She is a writer, a researcher, a naturalist, and a conservationist.
Aaron Williamson is a consultant, facilitator, designer, technologist and artist. Using participatory process, visual practice and data-driven design, Aaron focuses on complex, multi-stakeholder challenges.
Through the Value Web, an international impact collective and design association as well as Goal 17, his own company, Aaron has had the opportunity to work across a broad spectrum of organizations and industries. With a practice that spans governments, corporates, startups, non-profits and international organizations, Aaron brings a multidisciplinary approach that is rooted in the belief that each industry and each stakeholder, offers something we can learn from.
With UNICEF, WHO, IMF, UNDP, UNEP and the World Economic Forum, Aaron has learned how to work with global leaders to tackle issues of incredible complexity facing our food systems, environment and public health. With Airbus, HSBC, Facebook, Google, PwC and United Health, he learned the challenges companies face in aligning global teams around critical strategies. Accelerating and incubating hundreds of startups in Toronto's nascent tech ecosystem has taught him the challenges entrepreneurs face in building technology and scaling companies, while also drawing together support networks of investors, advisors and customers.
An avid cook, enthusiastic paddler, and closet macrame artist, Aaron lives with his two sons in Toronto, Canada.
Mary Hawk is CEO and Co-Founder of the Sheen for She Foundation, a multifaceted and full-service registered charity for marginalized women and children that operates at the intersections of self-care, women's health, and healthy concepts of self-identity (sheenforshefoundation.com). She is also a programmer, author, public speaker, innovator, and activist recognized as Starland Metro Media's 2021 Urban Hero in the Social Issues category, Judge's Selection. The organization that has worked with Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Women's Foundation, and nearly 200 organizations to reach thousands of women and children. Under Mary's leadership, the Perseverance Aid Project (PAP) represented a powerful self-care movement that raised over $500K CAD, and distributed 10,000+ Perseverance Aid Kits (PAKs) in Ontario. The Sheen for She Foundation has grown to more than 200 active team members across Toronto, Durham, Halton, Peel, and York.
Mary has been featured on Global News, CBC, Omni News, and Lifestyles Magazine for the Sheen for She Foundation's community achievements and impactful mission. Mary was awarded by Glendon College's Program of Recognition for her outstanding leadership and was a finalist for the Women of Inspiration award.
From Iqaluit, Nunavut, Jean-Claude (JC) currently works in the field of labour relations in public administration and recently completed his professional training with the Québec Bar. Very involved in his community, he is sitting on the board of directors of Carrefour Nunavut, whose mission is to promote the economic development of the Francophone community in Nunavut.
As a former #RY Alumni, JC was our Northern Francophone Coordinator in early 2022. He is now supporting our partners and helping youth applicants in the North to fulfill their reports and
JC is fully bilingual, speaks Spanish and has some notions of Inuktitut. He enjoys travelling, cooking, and playing roles in movies and television shows during his free time. He is looking forward to networking with other Francophones from across the country and bringing his energy and smile to motivate young people to make a difference in their community.
Gurbeen Bhasin is the founder and executive director of Aangen, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that focuses on advancing food security and social justice locally and globally.
A trained social worker, Gurbeen established Aangen in 2000, following in the footsteps of multiple ancestors who welcomed and supported community members facing challenges. She and her team run community service programs that help families in crisis access food, shelter and other essentials; and that provide jobs and support services to those who have faced homelessness, addiction, mental illness and other barriers to sustainable employment.
Aangen funds these programs by operating social enterprises that sell farm products and provide catering and cleaning services. Her primary purpose with Aangen is to foster personal empowerment and nurture communities by responding to community needs as they arise with sustainable and equitable solutions.
Her professional journey has included serving as project manager of a global human rights initiative; as a senior analyst at the Canadian Mental Health Association; and as an entrepreneur and creator in Toronto’s independent arts sector.
Gurbeen holds a master of social work degree from the University of Michigan, a master of arts degree in international relations from the University of Windsor, and a bachelor of arts degree in political science from York University. She is best known for her mile-wide smile, her funky shoes and creating videos of her mom’s timeless life wisdom.
From Batchewana First Nation, Karen Bird is an Associate Branch Director and Investment Advisor with RBC Dominion Securities celebrating 17 years with RBC. She is a previously designated Project Management Professional with over 24 years of varied business and financial industry experience including, personal and commercial lending, business advisory services, housing property management, renewable energy management, co-management, business plan writing and start-up company coaching. In addition to her work experience and credentials, Karen was the proud recipient of a 2015 Influential Women of Northern Ontario’s Aboriginal Leadership Award, the 2018 ATHENA Leadership Award and the 2019 RBC Regional President’s Diversity Leadership Award. Karen is the proud mother of four, who has spent most of her life on reserve. She values her language and carries many cultural teachings. Karen has served one term on Band Council, was the past President of Batchewana Band Industries, past Board member for Northern ON Angels and currently sits on the Board for TakingITGlobal and is the first Indigenous President for the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. Karen is a strong advocate for women in business, Indigenous inclusion, Indigenous youth and sexual assault survivors through numerous seminars, panels and guest speaking engagements.
My name is Mallika Saggoo (she/her) and as of right now I’m currently residing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I’m getting my Bachelor’s in Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba with the hope of either going into medicine or pursuing graduate studies. I am extremely passionate about science and mental health and if you let me, will ramble on about either for quite a long time! I’ve lived in five different cities so far, which makes me want to call myself an adventurer sometimes. That urge is probably explained by my hobby of reading as many books as I can. I also enjoy crocheting and any form of physical exercise, as it gives me a chance to get rid of all the extra energy I have. I’ll finish off this short bio by saying that I am a firm believer in sleeping for at least 7 hours so if you didn’t sleep that much, please go take a nap.
Madyson Campbell was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. She is a 4th year Bachelor of Science student at the University of British Columbia. Madyson is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario and is currently the Region 2 Representative on the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council. She is also the co-founder of the Thunder Bay Free Store, a local community service initiative.
Hunter MacKenzie was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from Lakehead University in 2022 and is currently a first year law student at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. He is also the co-founder of the Thunder Bay Free Store, a local community service initiative. In his free time, he enjoys playing sports and spending time outdoors.
Joanna Pyres is a passionate and accredited partnership broker and advocate of collaborative change, working globally through the Partnership Brokers Association to build recognition of this role and the vocational skills critically needed to make collaborative change effective. Coming from a Corporate Citizenship background, Joanna is now focused on working as a local changemaker in rural Goa (India) using participatory and collaboration processes to nurture a Statewide active citizenship ecosystem for climate resilience, circular economy and green transition. Joanna has co-founded both Circlewallas.net and Actforgoa.org to help ensure community, village and youth participation in green development journeys.
Images from this chapter are sourced from the Brokering Better Partnerships Handbook.
Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm Blumbergs in Toronto and works almost exclusively advising non-profits and registered charities on their work in Canada and abroad. Mark has written numerous articles, is a frequent speaker on legal issues involving charity and not-for-profit law. He is the editor of a blog www.CanadianCharityLaw.ca, and created the largest portal of data on the Canadian charity sector, www.CharityData.ca Mark also edits www.SmartGiving.ca, which provides information on due diligence when selecting charities.
Mark has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, an LLB from the University of British Columbia and an LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School in Tax Law.
Maddy Sawyer is an associate lawyer at Blumbergs. Her practice focuses on non-profit and charity law. Maddy provides legal services to non-profit organizations and charities, including advising clients in their dealings with the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency. Maddy is also a regular contributor to www.CanadianCharityLaw.ca – a Canadian charity law website dedicated to news about the Canadian charitable sector as well as legal and ethical issues for Canadian charities operating in Canada or abroad.
Maddy obtained a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree from the University of Toronto in 2017 after completing a Master of Arts degree from Ryerson University in 2013 and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree from the University of Calgary in 2012. Maddy was called to the Ontario Bar in 2018 and is a member of the Law Society of Ontario.
Lauren got involved in social and environmental activism at a young age after watching several documentaries about world issues, and through her lived experiences with bullying and exclusion. She is an entrepreneur at heart - starting several ventures, including a skincare business at the tender age of 15. Currently, Lauren is a Master's of Environmental Studies candidate at York University with a specialization in Business Sustainability & Social Change. At the same time, she is the Co-Executive Director of Regenesis, one of Canada’s largest student-led environmental organizations. She is also the founder of the Green Career Centre, where she prepares underrepresented youth for green careers. Over more than five years, Lauren has reached thousands of youth through developing environmental entrepreneurship programs and sharing career development resources. In her undergraduate research, Lauren met with policymakers at the Government of Canada to influence the inclusion of underserved youth in their policies and employment programs. Impressively, Lauren has secured more than a million dollars for BIPOC-led and impact-driven organizations which has financed the creation of scores of environmental events, dozens of green jobs, three community gardens, and a space for a soup kitchen. Lauren has been recognized by Corporate Knights, The Starfish Canada, Metroland Media and politicians like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion of Canada, Carla Qualtrough for her work. As a passionate problem solver and community leader, Lauren is looking forward to continuing to use her activism and skills for the betterment of people and the planet.
Chloe Chow is a seasoned leader with over eight years of experience in both the non and for profit sectors. She is currently the Director of Operations at Breather, where she has held various leadership roles since 2017. Chloe also founded and serves as the Chairman of the Board for Vent Over Tea, a company that helps individuals and organizations navigate stress and mental health challenges by offering them a free in-person active listening service. In addition to her corporate experience, Chloe served as a spokesperson for Bell Let's Talk, a national initiative to raise awareness about mental health and support people in need. Chloe is passionate about using her skills and expertise to help others and drive positive change.
Ingrid Wilson is a Senior Human Resources Executive, CHRO and Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Strategist, with over 30 years of global experience in corporate human resources strategy, board, and business strategy. Ingrid is a recipient of the Top 25 DEI Person of the Year Award, 2021, The Canadian Multicultural Group and LINKEDIN DIRECTORY OF 1000+ WOMEN WHO INSPIRE THROUGH THEIR WORK, Jul 2022. She serves on non-for-profit, community and advisory member boards and committees, including as a Board Director, Governance and Audit at the Canadian Association of Black Insurance Professionals (CABIP).
Ingrid has organizational experience with crown corporations, non-for-profit, public sector, private and public companies, in regulatory environments, and with global expertise working for organizations with diverse operations. She has a deep knowledge and understanding of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity through lived experiences and
working with vulnerable and racialized communities. She develops and executes on strategies through inclusive talent management strategies, inclusive leadership development and strategies, culture assessments and focus groups, speaking circles, interactive awareness programs and webinars, and accessibility strategies focused on identifying and eliminating systemic racism issues, and physical, and technological barriers to foster inclusive, equitable, and respectful workspace environments.
Ingrid has pursued excellence in human resources, board, and leadership strategy through the CHRP and CHRL designation, and through programs at Queens University and the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto where she currently serves on the HR Advisory Group for Executive Development programs focused on HR Leaders. Ingrid currently serves on the Appeals (Regulatory) Board Committee, Human Resources Professional Association.
Ingrid Wilson, Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL)
Senior Human Resources Executive & CHRO
Equity and Inclusion Strategist
Justine Abigail Yu
Cassidy is the president of Threads That Thrive, a not-for-profit that focuses on improving mental health for gender diverse individuals. He is also on the steering committee for Stonewall Recovery Centre, Canada’s first 2SLGBTQ+ addictions recovery centre. What little free time he has is spent with his husband Eddy, two dogs, Cabbages and Mulfuf, and cat Lily. Currently a student, Cassidy is pursing a double major in accounting and management, and has goals for a master’s in social work.
Justine Abigail Yu (she/her) is the Founder of Living Hyphen, a community and multimedia platform that explores what it means to live in between cultures as a hyphenated Canadian – that is, an individual who calls Canada home but who has roots elsewhere.
She is an award-winning writing workshop facilitator whose work with Living Hyphen has been featured on international, national, and local media outlets including the Globe & Mail, CTV National News, and the CBC. She was also named a “Changemaker” by the Toronto Star in October 2021.
Justine Abigail is a fierce advocate for equity and anti-oppression. Her mission is to stir the conscience and spur social change. Learn more at www.justineabigail.com and www.livinghyphen.ca
An award-winning innovator, Vinod Rajasekaran is Founder/Publisher/CEO of Future of Good, a fast-growing digital media organization covering the social impact world for changemakers. Future of Good is the essential source of journalism, knowledge and analysis to make sense of a sector and society in transition. Tens of thousands of changemakers read Future of Good everyday to fuel their learning, development and decision-making. Future of Good's groundbreaking summits on Black Leadership in Social Impact, Dismantling Digital Barriers and Transforming Funding Models have convened more than 3500 changemakers to learn and accelerate change.
In addition to leading Future of Good, Vinod teaches a Master's level course on the trends and debates shaping the future of philanthropy at Carleton University. Prior to launching Future of Good, Vinod oversaw strategy and business model development as the founding Managing Director of Rideau Hall Foundation, chaired by former Governor General David Johnston. He was Co-founder and Executive Director of Impact Hub Ottawa, the largest multi-sector coworking environment in Canada's capital. Vinod also launched Canada's social R&D network as a Fellow with SiG and McConnell Foundation working to strengthen R&D capacity in Canada's non-profits. His ground-breaking work in social R&D is referenced around the world. Vinod has also worked abroad with various international development organizations.
Vinod is on the Advisory Board to the Equality Fund. He was designated as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, a winner of the prestigious Lewis Perinbam Award for social innovation, is a member of the Banff Forum and NEXUS communities, and is a recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to Canada.
Vinod is a regular commentator in the media, an invited speaker to conferences around the world on emerging trends in social impact, social finance, innovation, philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility.
Emily O’Brien is an entrepreneur and the Founder of Comeback Snacks—a specialty popcorn company that challenges the status quo. After being sentenced to a four-year jail term following an abusive relationship, Emily set out on a mission to transform herself and make her time in jail as meaningful as possible. Using her entrepreneurial pre-sentence background and experience, Emily birthed the idea for Comeback Snacks (formerly ‘Cons and Kernels’)—a popcorn brand that uses high-quality, health-conscious ingredients to create unique flavours inspired by the ones Emily developed in prison. In June 2021, Emily opened Comeback Commissary, Comeback Snacks’ first-ever retail store, with a focus on telling her story and the stories of other inmates in a physical setting. Through her trailblazing efforts, Emily is an example that positive change can happen within correctional institutions with passion, drive, and a positive mindset.
Emily is determined to help remove the stigma surrounding people with prior convictions, as well as give them opportunities for reintegration through training, empowerment and education. As a leading voice in this unique movement, Emily is frequently called upon by media, including CBC, CTV, Global, Toronto Star, iHeartRadio, CHCH, VICE, and more. Emily was awarded the Business Leadership & Entrepreneurship award at the 2020 YWCA Hamilton Women of Distinction Awards and, most recently, was named a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by the Women’s Empowerment Awards. In 2022, she also received The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee for Community Service in recognition of her dedication to social justice. Emily is currently penning a memoir outlining her experience throughout the criminal justice system and beyond. For more on Emily, visit her website.
James is from and lives on Tiohtià:ke (so-called Montréal). He is of Portuguese descent (Portugal/Açores) and is a French-Québécois speaker. He has completed a Master's thesis on decolonization and Canadian economics pedagogy to better understand how settler-colonialism is reproduced through Canadian post-secondary introductory economics classrooms. James is also very interested in critical thinking methodologies, data management, data science, machine learning and hopes to eventually develop the capacity to apply decolonial and anti-oppressive processes to emerging information technologies. As for his non-geeky side, James loves to surf and is learning about his Portuguese ancestral roots through the art of cooking and baking.
Topaza Yu has been an active and trusted advocate for anti-racism and anti-oppression (ARAO), sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for over 5 years. Her dedication to ARAO and SRHR can be seen in her involvement with being on Action Canada’s for Sexual Health and Right’s Board of Directors and ARAO committee. She is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, where she provides guidance and advice regarding ARAO and SRHR-related issues that are affecting Canadians to the Prime Minister, Ministers, and high-level government officials.
Sara is a Professor of Liberal Studies at Humber College, teaching politics and sociology courses.Since 2019, Sara has been part of a faculty team coordinating the Map the System competition at Humber. She has also been co-leading diverse systems thinking initiatives across the college.
Prior to this, Sara worked for TakingITGlobal, where she coordinated student voice, social entrepreneurship and global education programs for youth around the world. Sara has also spent several years working on international development projects in Guyana (Youth Challenge International), Honduras (Proyecto Aldea Global), and Tanzania (Aga Khan Foundation Canada). She has a B.A. in International Development Studies from York University and an M.A. in Globalization Studies from McMaster University. She also has a B.Ed from the University of Toronto. Her research interests focus on international development, humanitarian and global citizenship education discourses.
Elinor Bray-Collins is a professor of politics and political economy at Humber College in Toronto in the faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Together with her colleague Sara Hassan, Elinor won the Innovation of the Year award in 2020 for bringing Map the System - a global systems thinking competition for students - to Humber College and adapting it to the polytechnic classroom context. Since then, she has been working with students, faculty, NGOs and youth from around the world to create learning opportunities that allow diverse young people to voice their visions for equality, sustainability and systems change.
Prior to joining the Humber faculty, Elinor worked in global development and peacebuilding in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and East Africa where she collaborated with young political leaders from diverse communities to address complex issues affecting their lives. She was also a founding staff member of a successful start-up company in the private sector which conducted research on consumer culture.
Elinor’s recent publications include work on youth politics in Lebanon, gender and development, transformational learning, and education for systems change. Elinor holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto and an MA in Adult Education and Transformative Learning from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She lives in Toronto with her daughter and their two cats.
Ilona is the Co-creator and Managing Director of the Youth & Innovation Project at the University of Waterloo. She is an award-winning social innovator and a regular voice in the Canadian media advising business, civil society and government on how they can tap into the value and unique abilities of young people. She has extensive leadership and governance experience having co-founded several successful organizations. In 2004, she Co-founded Apathy is Boring, a non-partisan social enterprise that educates Canadian youth about democracy and encourages them to vote. Ilona is a PhD student in political science at the University of Waterloo, a speaker with the Speaker Spotlight agency and an Ashoka Fellow.
Michael Furdyk is the Co-founder of TakingITGlobal (www.tigweb.org), which provides innovative global education programs that empower youth to understand and act on the world's greatest challenges. TIG was awarded the 2013 Intercultural Innovation Award by BMW and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. In the past, he turned his interest in technology into several successful online companies, including MyDesktop.com, which sold to Internet.com in 1999. He was named by Contribute Magazine as one of 10 Tech Revolutionaries Redefining the Power and Face of Philanthropy.
Michael has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, presented at TED, and was named one of Teen People's "Twenty Teens that will Change the World". Over the last decade, he has keynoted over 100 events across sectors, sharing his social media expertise and insights on youth engagement and education to audiences in over 30 countries. He completed his Master of Design (MDes) in Inclusive Design at OCAD University and has served as Adjunct Instructor for the Master of Education Technology at Long Island University.
Esther created Project Agape with the desire to change the way we see domestic violence and rape. Her inspiration comes from growing up in an environment where she was exposed to domestic violence. She has also had lived experience from being in an environment where she was exposed to sexual violence through an unhealthy and abusive partner. She has extensive experience as an educator and aims to educate the youth on domestic and sexual violence. She also aims to serve as a support system to black survivors like herself through the wellness workshops offered with Project Agape.
Hannah joined Project Agape because she wants to support BIPOC survivors to gain access to crucial resources that bridge the inequalities they face in society. She is passionate about breaking generational curses. To her, Victim Advocacy is providing the information, support and resources necessary for survivors to heal. It is healing that takes an intersectional approach at gender-based violence. A part of Survivor Justice is fostering and nurturing healing that will have a meaningful impact on many generations to come.
Shirley Joubert is a university student in New Brunswick, Canada. During her high school years she received a grant from RisingYouth which allowed her to create a safe space in her school for students struggling with their mental health or various states of overwhelm. She received a lot of support from the community, appearing in a CBC article and working with various mental health organizations within the greater Moncton area to complete her project. Shirley is now in the process of branching out, and is hoping to set up similar spaces in multiple schools across the country. She is working with government officials and education professionals in order to ensure that schools across the country are able to take on this project, as well as contacting a number of businesses to broaden her horizons and move into creating safe spaces for all types of environments. When she isn’t hard at work, Shirley’s hobbies include D&D, collecting cassette tapes and DVDs with her dad, writing stories and poems, and participating in the recent TikTok trend “Dabloontok”.
Chivon John is a Workplace Wellness Leader and Mental Health Advocate devoted to helping high achievers bridge the gap between being well in pursuit of doing well.
Inspired by her own journey of learning and unlearning what it means to be well at work, Chivon helps organizations and individuals re-define having a strong ‘work ethic’ as one that includes caring for their overall wellbeing. Featured in The Globe and Mail, Fast Company, CBC and TVO’s The Thread, she regularly speaks on topics ranging from workplace wellness and self-care for helping professionals, leaders and achievers.
Outside of her work in wellness advocacy, Chivon serves on the Board of Directors for Taking It Global and is the founder of LightWork - a brand that develops products and research at the intersection of work and well-being.
Jay is a serial collaborator, possibility (over) thinker, youth mentor and mental health advocate. She works as a program design consultant and wellness educator, focused on equity and inclusion for non-profit organizations across Canada.
Over the last decade, she has worked in community and youth development, focusing on how we can use existing community capacity and resilience to strengthen physical and mental wellness. With experience working with communities in over 10 countries, she has been able to gain knowledge on diverse approaches to creating and maintaining healthier communities. Her work is centred around the following core values: Resilience + Autonomy, Intersectionality, Trauma-Informed Care, Equity + Accessibility, and Humility.
Eden holds a previous BSc from the University of Alberta (2018) and is currently enrolled in a MSc in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University (exp. 2024). In concert with his studies Eden has worked in a wide breadth of basic and clinical research labs across neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, and physiology since 2015. With a deep interest in computational neuroscience and community building Eden has been merging his two passions for several years now; starting with a student project team that formed in early 2019, titled NeurAlbertaTech.Later taking on the role of Director of Edmonton Strategy for NeuroNexus 2020, an interdisciplinary 6-week Alberta-wide brain-centric design competition. Presently, NeurAlbertaTech is an NPO, annually hosting Canada’s biggest BCI hackathon, with nearly three hundred participants in its second year (2022). Eden is the Executive Director of NeurAlbertaTech and works with an incredibly talented team in Alberta to maintain and expand the province’s leading neurotechnology innovator network, promoting education and professional development in the brain-computer interface (BCI) space.
Carly Chartier identifies as First Nation and Metis and is rooted in Treaty 1 Territory in Manitoba Canada.She has a certificate in Human Resource Management as well as a certificate in Management Development and Indigenous Consultation and Engagement from Red River College. Currently Carly works for an Indigenous Non Profit In Administration, Program Development and Consultation.
Ashley Richard is a proud Indigenous and Filipina woman from Winnipeg with family from Pine Creek First Nation and Camperville, Manitoba. Her Spirit Name is Forever Woman. Ashley’s life purpose is to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother, Mary Richard, a lifelong advocate for Indigenous rights. Ashley’s career, both professional and volunteer, has spanned across many grassroots collectives, entrepreneurial ventures, private sector firms, and non-profits. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and is part of the Class of 2021 cohort for the Masters in Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at Queen's University. As a survivor of sexual assault and having been homeless at a young age, Ashley is a public speaker and travels across Canada speaking about her journey and the importance of resilience, empathy, and self-acceptance.While Ashley is always busy with many commitments & engagements, she makes sure to prioritize her personal physical & mental health. In her spare time, you can find her either at spin class or playing with her two Siamese cats, Taco & Armani.
Proudly Franco-Albertan, Chúk is passionate about the ways in which the environment impacts human health and the role of justice in our understanding of how our societies function. This passion manifests itself in his work as one of the founding directors of Future Ancestors Services where he focuses on environmental and climate justice in his efforts to not only make green spaces accessible for everyone; but to fight environmental racism in all its forms and to popularise the understanding that you cannot create a society that is environmentally friendly if that same society is not just. Chúk is also a PhD candidate in medical geography where his research seeks to build from several forms of knowledge to better understand the impacts of the environment (biophysical, socio-cultural, socio-economic and socio-political) on the vulnerability/resilience of a community to disease.
Chúk has worked in a variety of industries, including oil and gas, fashion retail, and academia. He is interested in the multidisciplinary nature of our existence and in exploring new solutions that respond to recurring problems. Chúk was ranked amongst the top 30 Sustainability Leaders under 30 by Corporate Knights, the top 30 Change-Making Albertans under 30 by the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation, the top 10 young Franco-Albertan leaders by Radio-Canada and the top 25 environmentalists under 25 in Canada by the Starfish for three years. Chúk was MEC's ambassador for the outdoors and is an alumni of the first Ocean Bridge cohort, a group of young Canadians leading ocean health and literacy projects across Canada.
Albertan leaders by Radio-Canada and the top 25 environmentalists under 25 in Canada by the Starfish for three years. Chúk was MEC's ambassador for the outdoors and is an alumni of the first Ocean Bridge cohort, a group of young Canadians leading ocean health and literacy projects across Canada.
Brandi, Tori and Keeley MacCuish
Our names are Brandi, Tori, and Keeley MacCuish, we are three sisters who grew up in Trenton, Nova Scotia, a small and close-knit town. We were born throughout the 90s and from the moment we realized we were sisters, we have been best friends! Our early years were spent playing many different sports, hanging out at the local youth centre, and attending summer recreation in the lovely Trenton Park. Throughout high school, all three of us were avid hockey and rugby players, with Keeley continuing rugby throughout her years at StFX university, capturing two National Championships. Keeley is now working as a teacher in Arviat, Nunavut. Brandi has an extensive background working with non-profit organizations throughout Nova Scotia and Tori has been working for many years in the local restaurant scene in Pictou County. From attending numerous proms ourselves, we realized the need for this initiative in our community and we quickly got to work and began planning and collecting dresses for the local students. This project has not only brought our community closer, but as sisters we feel closer than ever. Having the chance to effect change in the community that has supported us through all our endeavors has been life changing.
As a project manager, consultant, facilitator, and social entrepreneur, Kristle has dedicated the past 20 years to leading initiatives that create sustainable impact in the citizen sector and social economy. Having coached over 400 young social innovators, she is passionate about her role at TakingITGlobal in supporting young people to translate their energy and ingenuity into lasting change. When not at work, you can find Kristle leading service projects in her lakefront community, developing her green thumb through garden-to-table practices and celebrating everyday joy with her children and dogs.
Partner, Deloitte Digital, Experience Design
Leading the 65+ person Experience Design and UX Research team across Canada. Elevating other designers to achieve their goals, to truly create delightful products for humans, and strive to help our clients and partners build design excellence in their own organizations. As part of the executive team, Marilyn provides strategic guidance, direct organizational initiatives, and execute the roadmap by working cross-functionally within the company.
With over 20+ years of experience in user experience (UX) design and digital marketing, she connects the dots between business challenges and, human-centred solutions across a range of technology platforms. Working closely with clients, Marilyn assists them in translating their strategic roadmaps into effective customer journeys that achieve key business results. Throughout her career she has developed and delivered innovative digital and user experience solutions for global and Canadian organizations, across various sectors.
Marilyn recently completed a Masters in Analytics for Leaders at Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC), building on her passion for data-driven design to improve the customer experience. A passion for Inclusive & Ethical Design, Data-Driven Design, and Machine Learning.
Lisa is passionate about social innovation and sustainability, she enjoys helping her community and creating illustrations that are whimsical. Her #RisingYouth project was raising awareness for Fairtrade chocolates during Valentine's Day. She and a group of youth gave out fair trade chocolate while educating the public about Fairtrade through trivia, brochures and discussions.
Kim Boucher-Morin has worked with TakingITGlobal on a variety of projects since first joining the team in 2017. She curated art exhibits and organized community-building events as part of the Explore150 program, worked on expanding the francophone network and supporting grantees of the #RisingYouth Community Service Grants, and has sporadically supported initiatives led by TakingITGlobal. Kim obtained her Bachelor of International Development Studies from McGill University in 2017, and is currently completing a Master of Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po Paris. As part of her Master’s degree, Kim has developed her interest in and knowledge of topicsof Project Management and Social Innovation, and was thrilled to apply these skills to her role as Co-Editor of the Flourish Workbook.