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Our Speakers

 
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Sally Armstrong

Human Rights Activist | Journalist | Author

Sally Armstrong has covered stories in zones of conflict all over the world. From Bosnia and Somalia to Congo and Afghanistan, her eyewitness reports have earned her the Amnesty International Media Award four times over, as well as acclaim all over the world. Armstrong shares her experiences reporting from the front lines and imparts her audiences with the lessons she’s learned from the battlefields surrounding the complexities of “human rights” versus “human wrongs.”

 

In addition to her journalism, Armstrong is the author of several books, including Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan; The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor; Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan's Women; and her most recent title, Ascent of Women: A New Age is Dawning for Every Mother’s Daughter. 

 

In 2019, Armstrong delivered the renowned CBC Massey Lecture series, traveling across the country to discuss how improving the status of woman globally is crucial to our survival. The book version of her lectures, Power Shift: The Longest Revolution, is available now.  

 

In recognition of her work, Armstrong was promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017. She also won, along with photographer/videographer Peter Bregg, her fourth Amnesty International Canada Media Award for their work in Iraq, as well as the Gold Award for Investigative Journalism at The Canadian Online Publishing Gala for their work about the Yazidis called Resisting Genocide in 2017 as well.

 

Armstrong is a former member of the International Women's Commission at the UN, and is the recipient of ten honorary doctorate degrees.

 
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Ramesh Ferris

Polio Survivor & Advocate

Ramesh Ferris is polio survivor who was born in Coimbatore, India. At the age of 6 months he contracted polio and his legs were paralyzed for life. At the age of 1 and a half Ramesh’s birth mother Lakshmi placed him in an orphanage. After a lengthy adoption process at the age of 2 and a half Ramesh was adopted to the Anglican Bishop of Yukon and his family in 1982 becoming the first International Adoptee in Canada’s Yukon Territory. After his adoption he received corrective surgeries at the Vancouver Children’s Hospital and learned to walk for the first time at the age of 3 and a half with assistance of braces and a walker. Later at the age of 4 he was able to walk with braces and two crutches.

Ramesh grew up having many opportunities like many other Canadian children. He went to school, played and focused on his abilities vs his in abilities.

In 2002, Ramesh went to India for the first time as an adult. Ramesh was able to see the orphanage where he was adopted from, and even meet with his birth mother Lakshmi for the first time. It was during this time Ramesh got a glimpse into what his life could have been if he wasn’t adopted. During this return trip to India Ramesh witnessed human beings (polio survivors) who didn’t have access to corrective surgeries and rehabilitative supports (braces, crutches) crawling on the streets of India. These polio survivors were using cut up pieces of tire tread to pad their knees and sandals which they placed on their hands all just to be engaged and move around their community. Since that return trip to India Ramesh vowed to make a difference in the lives of polio survivors and to ensure the poliovirus does not claim new victims.  In 2008 Ramesh hand-cycled 7140kms across Canada from Victoria, BC to Cape Spear, Newfoundland & Labrador in a polio campaign he called Cycle to Walk. Through this campaign Ramesh raised $300,000 for Polio Eradication, Education, and Rehabilitation.

Since his Cycle to Walk polio campaign Ramesh has become a global advocate in the fight against polio. Ramesh has travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and many other places.  He has partnered with organizations including the (Global Poverty Project, Global Citizen, Rotary International, WHO, UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) all to encourage global citizens, and world leaders to continue to support our end of polio efforts.  He has completed hundreds of speeches to students in their schools about the importance of respecting each other, and supporting vaccines. He has met with countless leaders including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Education Right Activist Malala Yousafzai, Bill and Melinda Gates all to gain more support to end polio. He has met Australian Prime Ministers Rudd, Gillard, and Turnbull and he has met with hundreds of polio survivors worldwide.

Ramesh has his social work degree and has been inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award, and the Yukon Commissioner’s Award for Volunteer Public Service.

 
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Kasha Slaver

Award-Winning Filmmaker/Photographer | Entrepreneur | Social Justice Advocate

Kasha is an award-winning GenZ filmmaker/photographer, entrepreneur and social justice advocate. At 15, she founded The Global Sunrise Project, a youth-led, positive impact media organization which leverages the power of storytelling to create social change through documentary screenings, photography exhibitions, and workshops. The organization aims to provide youth with the tools to become actively engaged in their communities and take action on the causes they're most passionate about. 

 

At 16, she scripted, shot and edited her first feature documentary The Sunrise Storyteller. Since its World Premiere at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2017, the film has screened at 60 film festivals internationally and won 30 awards. 

Kasha has been a photographer, entrepreneur, and social justice advocate for over a decade, as well as a writer, public speaker and contributor to several publications, including National Geographic Learning.

Kasha is an 12x UN Youth Delegate and was selected as the first winner of the Kim Phuc Youth Peace Prize. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Diana Award and most recently selected as one of the Wonder Grantees for Sustainability by the Shawn Mendes Foundation.

She is long standing member of The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, one of the Voices of SDG16+ and 2021 Climate Ambassador of the Global Youth Climate Network, Youthtopia Ambassador, as well as a a liaison of One Better World Collective, and an alumni of the Yunus & Youth social entrepreneurship program, Global Changemakers, WE Social Enterprise &  We Are Family Foundation’s Global Teen Leaders program. A 2021 Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies Trailblazer, Basel Pacey Award Finalist and a 2022 Commonwealth Youth Awards Finalist, Earth Prize Ambassador, Evolutionary Leader and Leader for Tomorrow with UN Youth for Disarmament + more

 

Currently Kasha is in production with 1.5 Degrees of Peace, a feature documentary which explores the links between peace and climate justice with young changemakers at the nexus of both. The demo for this film was recently awarded 1st prize in  the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights short film festival. Estimated completion for the feature is Spring 2023.

 
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Peter Brown

Event Emcee | Speaker | Broadcaster | Writer

Peter Brown is a broadcaster, speaker, writer and comic based in Edmonton, AB. Educated at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Cambridge, he enjoyed a successful 25-year career as a CBC Radio host and producer, including stints hosting CBC Edmonton’s afternoon show Radio Active and leading the creative team on the award-winning comedy program The Irrelevant Show.

 

Peter has recently ventured into podcast production – he produced and mixed the acclaimed CBC podcast The Flamethrowers, and recently produced a major documentary about Canadian sports pioneer Lloyd Percival. He may be the only person in Canada who appears regularly on both the CBC comedy program, The Debaters and the prestigious documentary showcase, Ideas.

 

These days Peter is a popular emcee for events and conferences, and he speaks to a variety of groups about the science and social benefits of laughter. Peter's hobbies include writing about himself in the third person.