Keynote Speakers

We are excited to announce our keynote speakers for The Quest: Indigenous Education and Equity.

Check back as we continue to update our keynote speaker lineup. Click on each image to learn more.

 

Gabrielle Scrimshaw

Gabrielle Scrimshaw

Indigenous Leadership & Education Expert

Gabrielle Scrimshaw
Gabrielle Scrimshaw is an inspiring and engaging speaker, who regularly presents and provides input to large North American corporations, professional associations, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations.

Born and raised in Northern Saskatchewan, Gabrielle is a proud member of the Hatchet Lake First Nation. She has studied international business and policy in Australasia, Asia, the Americas and Europe. In addition, Gabrielle became the youngest Associate accepted into one of Canada’s most competitive post-graduate finance programs.

That same year Gabrielle co-founded the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada. The organization is of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area and offers services and programming to First Nations, Métis and Inuit professionals.

Gabrielle is the first First Nations representative to be selected for the honour in Canada’s history. Gabrielle is passionate about diversity, leadership and innovation. As the first in her family to pursue post-secondary education and travel the globe, she is a believer in what hard work and a positive attitude can accomplish.

Renu Mandhane

Renu Mandhane

Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission

Renu Mandhane
Renu Mandhane was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in October 2015. She is the former Executive Director of the award-winning International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. She has an LL.M in international human rights law from New York University. Renu began her practice focused on criminal law, and in that capacity she represented many survivors of sexual violence and prisoners. Renu has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations.

Most recently, Renu was recognized by Canadian Lawyer magazine as one of Canada’s most influential lawyers for her advocacy related to solitary confinement.

Maurice Switzer

Maurice Switzer

Maurice Switzer
Maurice Switzer, Bnesi, is a citizen of the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. A lifelong journalist, he has been a daily newspaper publisher, communications director for Indigenous political organizations, and an adjunct university professor. He lives in North Bay where he serves on the board of the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, the Nipissing University Council on Education, and as principal of a public education practice with a focus on the Treaty relationship. He was a Commissioner at Ontario Human Rights Commission from 2016 to 2018 and is currently a member of the OHRC’s Community Advisory Group.

Dr. Niigaanwewidam Sinclair

Dr. Niigaanwewidam Sinclair

Professor in Native Studies, University of Manitoba

Niigaanwewidam Sinclair
Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair is Anishinaabe (St. Peter’s/Little Peguis) and an Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba. He is an award-winning writer, editor and activist who was named one of Monocle Magazine‘s “Canada’s Top 20 Most Influential People” and he won the 2018 Canadian columnist of the year at the National Newspaper Awards for his bi-weekly columns in The Winnipeg Free Press. He has written national curriculums for Indspire and the Assembly of First Nations and is a former secondary school teacher who has trained educators and students across Canada.

Kike Ojo-Thompson

Kike Ojo-Thompson

Equity, inclusion and diversity expert

Kike Ojo-Thompson is the founder and principal consultant of Kojo Institute. An award-winning expert on equity, inclusion and diversity, Kike specializes in developing, facilitating and implementing innovative solutions for creating equity at an institutional level. A dynamic speaker and educator who artfully balances tact and honesty, Kike has over 20 years of experience leading engaging and effective workshops, lectures, mediations, and trainings for a broad range of organizations eager to create equitable outcomes for their staff and clients.

In addition to her equity work with Kojo Institute, Kike is a member of the Ontario Human Rights Community Advisory Committee, was formerly the senior facilitator for the province of Ontario’s carding review team, and formerly the project lead for One Vision One Voice, a first-of-its-kind initiative tasked with addressing anti-Black racism in the child welfare system. Of particular note, Kike is a former secondary school teacher and has since supported a number of Boards of Education throughout Ontario.

Jesse Wente

Jesse Wente

Broadcaster, Advocate & Pop Culture Philosopher

Jesse Wente
Well known as a film critic and broadcaster in Toronto and across Canada, Jesse Wente was the first nationally syndicated Indigenous columnist for the CBC, covering film and pop culture for 20 local CBC Radio programs. He has also been a regular guest on CBC Newsworld’s News Morning and Weekend Edition, as well as Q.

Jesse is Ojibwe, and his family comes from Chicago and the Serpent River First Nation in Ontario. He is an advocate for Aboriginal Arts, most notably on screen. He draws attention to the imagery used by Hollywood in portrayals of indigenous peoples and stresses the need for a culture to have influence on their own depiction. His pieces on The Revenant, Beyonce and sports mascots were among the most shared on CBC.ca

In 2017 Jesse was appointed to the Canada Council for the Arts.

Dr. Debbie Donsky

Dr. Debbie Donsky

Dr Debbie Donsky is currently the Coordinating Principal for School Effectiveness in the Peel District School Board. Throughout her 25 years in education, she has worked in several boards in the Toronto area and at the Ministry of Education both in eLearning and Student Achievement. She has taught all levels in the elementary panel and has been a school administrator for the last fifteen years. Debbie has worked with the Ontario Principals’ Council as a PQP instructor, online instructor and workshop presenter on various aspects of leadership including Equitable and Inclusive Leadership. Debbie’s doctoral thesis focused on Knowledge Building in an Antiracist Classroom. Debbie continues to examine how power and pedagogy intersect in our classrooms, schools and education systems through her blogging, presenting and leadership practices.

Debbie has made a career focused on creating spaces of possibility–whether as an advocate, leader, speaker or writer. If you want to learn more, check out her website at www.debbiedonsky.com and follow her on Twitter @DebbieDonsky.

Andrew Kushnir

Andrew Kushnir

Playwright/Director/Actor

Andrew Kushnir
Andrew Kushnir is a playwright, director and actor who lives in Toronto. Since 2012, he has been artistic director of Project: Humanity, a company specializing in documentary theatre and other socially-engaged arts practices. Andrew’s produced plays include The Middle Place (Toronto Theatre Critic’s Award, Best Production), Small Axe, WormwoodThe Gay Heritage Project (co-created with Paul Dunn and Damien Atkins) and Freedom Singer (co-created with Khari Wendell McClelland). His most recent work Towards Youth: A Play On Radical Hope premiered in February 2019 in a co-production between Project: Humanity and Crow’s Theatre. Andrew is a 4-time Dora Award nominee, and one time recipient. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta (Alumni Horizon Award), a Loran Scholar, and a current member of the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival. In 2019, he became the inaugural recipient of the REACH Residency prize, awarded by the Shevchenko Foundation.

Pamala Agawa

Pamala Agawa

Anishinaabe-kwe from Batchewana First Nation

Pamala Agawa
I am a mother, a daughter, an auntie, a niece, a cousin, a granddaughter and a sister. I am a coach and a lifelong learner who seizes every opportunity possible to grow as a person. Currently, my interests are focused in decolonizing instructional practice to create amazing spaces for learning for all (especially Indigenous youth). I know this is a journey and have to acknowledge that this is rooted within the colonial/ western structure we have all adopted as a system in public education. I believe with intentional practice, learning and facilitation we can support leaders to shift their pedagogical practice to better serve our students.

I love working alongside and in service of our youth and I am committed to being a strong advocate and accomplice for them.

Dr. Avis Glaze

Dr. Avis Glaze

Edu-quest International Inc.

Dr. Avis Glaze
Dr. Avis Glaze is a well-known international education adviser, school system reformer, teacher, capacity builder, leadership coach and public speaker. She has worked in a variety of K-12, college and university settings, advised governments and worked with teachers, principals and policy makers to improve education systems and schools worldwide. She is known for her work in helping to close achievement gaps and ensuring that all students achieve regardless of personal, social or economic backgrounds. Her extensive experience acquired over 40 years in education leaves those with whom she works with new insights, inspiration and strategies to take their organizations to new heights of attainment.

 

For Avis, excellence and equity must go hand in hand.  Variables such as poverty, gender, race, social class of postal code should not truncate the life chances of students, narrow their career choices, nor determine their destiny in any way.  She focusses on teaching both hard- and soft skills and on the research-informed strategies that are known to be effective in school and system improvement efforts.   She believes that educators have both the will and the skills to improve their systems and that parents, community and business partnerships play an essential role in education reform.  She urges educators to build upon their successes and redouble their efforts to ensure that all children achieve success in our schools. We must prepare them to think critically and analytically, feel deeply and empathically, and act wisely and ethically.  For her, graduates of our schools must become solution finders – confident, productive and engaged citizens of character –who contribute to nation building. There can be no ‘throw-away-kids,’ she asserts.

 

Dr. Glaze has worked with educators in some 50 jurisdictions across the globe. She knows what world class education systems look like. She served as Adviser to the Minister of Education in Ontario and New Zealand and was engaged to reform the administrative governance system in Nova Scotia.  Currently, she is working as consultant to the review of the Manitoba education system and is also serving as one of the International Education Advisers working with the First Minister of Scotland on their mandate to improve their education system.

 

Visit her website at:  www.avisglaze.ca