The demand for change is on the rise across the country —as it should be. On Oct. 26, I had the privilege of attending the TEDxToronto event at Evergreen Brickworks. With the theme “RISE,” twelve speakers touched on the question of what it means to rise today, within a landscape of ever-rising things. Hosted by Kardinal Offishall, the audience was challenged to think about what it would take for us to rise together as a whole. 

I left this event feeling disappointed with the current state of society, yet also full of hope that we can create and implement necessary change if we work together. Below, I’ve listed five speakers who truly impacted me with their presentations, leaving me to wonder what I can do to implement change in my life. 

Umbreen Inayet

Artistic Producer at Nuit Blanche, City of Toronto

While the name Umbreen Inayet might not light an immediate spark inside your head, it should. Inayet teamed up with Director X to create a masterpiece called “Death of the Sun,” which became significant stage art for Drake on his Boy Meets World tour. In her talk, Inayet spoke about how she uses storytelling as a way of healing, something she encourages people to do within her role as a social worker. The biggest takeaway from this talk was her discussion of narrative therapy, in which Inayet showed how people can use art as a form of therapy —something that university students could certainly gain from.

Anthony Morgan

 Human Rights and Civil Liberties Lawyer

Anthony Morgan is a professional lawyer and the Training & Development Consultant in the City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit. During his talk, Morgan discussed unwarranted over-policing. The biggest takeaway from this talk was his introduction to the idea of Sankofa and the phrase ‘nothing about us without us,’ meaning that no policy should be created by anyone without participation from the people directly affected by its mandate —a moral guideline we should all live by.

Shireen Ahmed

Writer, Podcaster, Activist for Muslim Women in Sports 

Demanding equality, Shireen Ahmed spoke about how sports are woven into storytelling, revealing the presence of stories within sports. Throughout her talk, Ahmed expressed the need for equal opportunities for individuals with different identities, including race and gender. The biggest takeaway from this talk I would like to offer everyone was Ahmed’s personal experience with discrimination, which she was able to channel into a serious passion that demands for change —inspiriting the entire audience to join her in the movement for equality.

Sage Paul

Writer, Podcaster, Activist for Muslim Women in Sports

One of the most thought-provoking speakers, Sage Paul asked the audience, “who are you wearing?” —a question that got everyone thinking about their own role in the world. In her talk, Paul spoke about how fashion has the power to express our values. Ending on a positive note, Paul offered everyone some advice that I would like to pass along: when it comes to ethical engagement with the fashion industry, make it a priority to only take what you need, prove common misconceptions wrong, and know the social and economic impacts of the manufacturer you’re supporting. It’s important that everyone thinks about their purchases before making them. 

Mark Cohon

Chairman of Toronto Global and Former Commissioner of the CFL

In a bold move, Mark Cohon started his talk by admitting his past failure: he made the mistake of assuming he had the confidence of the owners when he started his new job as the 12th commissioner of the Canadian Football League. Speaking about the support he received from his father, George Cohon, the founder and senior chairman of McDonald’s Canada, throughout his childhood, he passed along the knowledge that he gained as a young boy. He told the audience it’s important to live by the values of your company, and to speak directly to people as its fans and supporters because they drive your company’s success. Face-to-face interactions are critical in the process of relationship building and collaboration.

Header Image Source: Katherine Lidtke
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