Matthew Dawkins

Matthew is a Jamaican award-winning author and poet whose writing explores subject matters including adolescence, race, nationhood, and mental health. His short story about a brave and relentless Black girl is featured in the forthcoming THE ANNETHOLOGY, a collection of Anne of Green Gables re-imaginings (Acorn Press, 2024).

In Matthew’s debut YA novel UNTIL WE BREAK (Wattpad Books, 2022), a Black ballet dancer grapples with grief after a potentially career-ending injury and the death of her best friend. Matthew is currently at work on an adult novel about queerness and masculinity in World War II–era Jamaica.

His work has been featured in Westwind Poetry, Indolent Books, Pinhole Poetry, and in advertising campaigns for Western University and IKEA. Matthew was the 2022-2023 Student Writer in Residence at Western University, where he graduated with a B.A. in Arts and Humanities and English Literature.

Selected Speaking Topics

Spoken Word
In his performances, Matthew combines traditional poetic forms with contemporary subject matters such as adolescence, race, ecology, nationhood, and mental health. His engaging style is influenced by Toni Morrison and Amanda Gorman, and encourages audiences to snap, hum, and nod along. Matthew’s poetry is suitable for ages 16 and up.

Matthew is an avid reader, interviewer, and moderator with a passion for exploring the intersection of literature and diverse cultural experiences. His B.A. in English Language and Literature, as well as his lived experience, equip him with a deep understanding of the realities of diverse youth, particularly within the Jamaican/Caribbean and immigrant communities. Matthew’s insightful questions and ability to create a welcoming atmosphere allow audiences to engage deeply with topics such as identity, belonging, and culture. His passion and intention ensures every event is thought-provoking and enlightening.

Your Voice is a Key – Start Opening Doors
For Matthew, classrooms represent more than just homework and required reading; they are spaces where problem-solving skills and creative thinking are developed. In this session, Matthew uses interactive storytelling exercises to empower students, helping them refine their voices and showcasing how their passion and ideas can make a real difference. This workshop is ideal for students ages 12 and up.

In Defense of Storytime: Why We Need More Art in Schools
Matthew’s writing career can be credited to approximately ten staff rooms; worth of teachers who not only sharpened his talent but also supported him with resources. His experience forms the bedrock for this discussion on the significance of deliberately fostering creative talent among young people. In this session, Matthew will underscore the transformative power of a strong arts education and explore how and why adults, mentors, teachers, and administrators can support students’ creativity.

The Art of Self-Care
In this session, Mathew facilitates a brave space to help professionals explore the therapeutic benefits of creative writing and reconnecting with their inner artists. Through a series of hands-on activities, organizations will learn how to use art as a tool for self-care, stress relief, and personal growth. This session will leave teams feeling refreshed, inspired, and ready to tackle professional and personal challenges with renewed creativity and resilience.

To book Matthew contact Léonicka Valcius at

Riley Yesno

Riley Yesno (she/her) is a queer Anishinaabe scholar, writer, and commentator, from Eabametoong First Nation and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

She is highly sought after for her words and analysis— called an “Indigenous powerhouse” by the Toronto Star, “one of the brightest young minds in Canada today” by jury members of the Canadian Journalism Foundation, and “a rising intellectual giant by the University of Toronto.

She has been a contributor and commentator for some of the largest media outlets in Canada and the world, including the New York Times, BBC World News, The Globe and Mail, and CBC National News. Riley has also travelled the globe speaking at internationally renowned institutions and events, including the UN climate negotiations, the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality, TEDx stages, and many others.

She has taught Indigenous governance at Toronto Metropolitan University and is completing her PhD at the University of Toronto, where she is studying Indigenous / Canadian politics and is a Vanier Scholar. Riley is at work on the proposal for her first book of non-fiction, which will look critically at reconciliation in Canada, interwoven with her lived experience.


Beyond Reconciliation
It has been almost ten years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its Final Report and launched Canada’s reconciliation project into the country’s political and social consciousness. What progress has been made? Where have we failed to take action? In this talk, Riley charts the trajectory of reconciliation from its inception to the present— highlighting Indigenous people’s critiques and the work we must all do to go beyond reconciliation as it has been pursued to date.

The Future is Indigenous
Too often, Indigenous people are wrongly viewed as ‘past people’— stuck in a time of pre-colonization and unable to adapt to the modern world. In this presentation, Riley shows that Indigenous people are, contrary to this racist belief, one of the most adaptable people out there— surviving apocalypse after apocalypse and adapting to every change brought on by colonization— Indigenous people have never let up on their commitment to realizing futures where we all thrive. Drawing on a concept called ‘Indigenous Futurism, ‘ Riley will explain how Indigenous art and activism are writing the story of a bold new future— today.

Indigenous Queerness: The Colonizers Brought the Closet
Over the past few decades in North America, the term ‘two-spirit’ (2S) has been increasingly recognized. As a queer Indigenous person herself, in this talk, Riley aims to break down what ‘two-spirit’ means, where it came from, and common misconceptions of the identity. She will also highlight how colonization has impacted all of our understandings of gender and sexuality and challenge audiences to decolonize their relationships to gender and sexuality as well— whether you’re Indigenous or not.

How did an internet joke turn into a rallying call for Indigenous action that spans across the continent? This is the story of Land Back: Building off of a longstanding history of refusal of the settler-colonial status quo, Land Back has become a point of connection for supporters of Indigenous self-determination and, increasingly, for those who see Indigenous leadership as the world’s greatest hope against climate destruction. This talk will outline how Land Back came to be and how it fits into the larger story of Indigenous contestation, provide examples of Land Back in action, and suggest ways we can all take part in the growing movement.

Lessons in Youth Leadership
Riley was only sixteen years old when she started taking up prominent leadership roles in Canada and around the world. From the Prime Minister’s table and UN negotiating rooms to grassroots youth movements, she’s learned many lessons about what it means to be a truly strong and honourable leader. Drawing on these experiences and teachings from an Anishinaabe worldview, this talk asks audiences to deeply consider questions like: How do you define leadership? How do you move through challenges with integrity? Is leadership about having a seat at the table, or should we be challenging the idea of ‘the table’ altogether?

Transforming Education for Indigenous Peoples
In Canada, we know that public education is not serving Indigenous people in the way it should, even as the statistics improve from year to year. From the closing of the last residential school in 1997 to now, Indigenous people continue to have high school graduation rates far below our non-Indigenous counterparts, and Indigenous representation in higher learning is even further behind. How do we overcome this? How can we decolonize the classroom— both the physical environment and the learning approach— so that all students not just pass, but feel empowered and seen by their education?

Murdered and Missing: Canada’s Failure to Protect Indigenous Women, Girls, and Queer People
The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people was released to the general public in 2019, but it had been a conversation in Indigenous communities for much longer than that. In this talk, Riley traces the history of injustice against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people from the onset of colonization to now. The goal is to look beyond the data and the public reports and ask bigger questions like: How can we build communities and worlds that truly value non-violence, consent, and accountability?

To book Riley, please reach out to

Prince Shakur

Prince Shakur – author, journalist, podcast host, video maker, and educator – is a radical voice in today’s literary and cultural landscape.

With his thought-provoking articles in prominent publications such as Teen VogueAfropunkCatapult, and Vice, Prince explores queer culture, the impact of police and prison systems, diasporic representations in film, and the captivating inner lives of black icons. Notably, his career has been widely celebrated and recognized by GLAAD, The Hurston/Wright Foundation, and the Society for Features Journalism for his impactful media work.

His debut memoir, When They Tell You To Be Good, was described as “… a searing account of self-discovery amidst the unyielding weight of structural oppression.” (Publishers Weekly).

It was named one of TIME Magazine‘s Most Anticipated Books of the Fall.

Beyond the written word, Prince Shakur harnesses the power of visual storytelling. He collaborated as a writer, co-producer, and lead actor in BEFORE I DIE, a short film about two childhood friends on the precipice of an event that promises to reshape their lives. He has attended several prestigious artist residencies, including Sangam House, Studios of Key West, Norton Island, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and La Madison Baldwin.

As an organizer, he brought racial justice issues to Ohio University as a student organizer and writer. While in Seattle, he defended worker rights as a boycott organizer and then worked as a bank teller at Compass Housing Alliance for people without housing. Since then, he has participated in numerous environmental actions/movements, including Standing Rock; organized cultural events, protests, and abolition trainings as a lead organizer with Black Queer and Intersectional Collective; raised funds to support migrant caravans support efforts at the US/Mexican border; and organized against fascism through art and political action.

Prince, the host of the Black anarchist podcast “THE DUGOUT,” has a decade-long history of grassroots organizer. He brought racial justice issues to Ohio University, defended worker rights in Seattle, and worked as a bank teller at Compass Housing Alliance from 2014 to 2016. His activism extends to environmental movements like Standing Rock, cultural events with Black Queer and Intersectional Collective, fundraising for migrant caravans, and organizing against fascism through art and political action.

Since 2023, Shakur has served as an adjunct at Lehman College and a writing instructor for various queer/BIPOC writing organizations on memoirs, Black history, archival, and radical narratives. He is additionally a vital source for writing resources and reflections online as the founder of Millennial Writer Life, an Authortuber, and a political commentator to a TikTok following of over 8,000.

To book Prince, please reach out to

Petra Molnar

Petra Molnar is a lawyer and anthropologist specializing in migration and human rights.

A former classical musician, she has been working in migrant justice since 2008, first as a settlement worker and community organizer, and then as a researcher and lawyer. She works on digital border technologies, immigration detention, health and human rights, gender-based violence, as well as the politics of refugee, immigration, and international law. Petra also works on issues around knowledge production, decolonial community work, and strategies of resistance in migrant justice.

Petra has worked all over the world including Jordan, Turkey, Philippines, Kenya, Colombia, Canada, and various parts of Europe. She is the co-creator of the Migration and Technology Monitor, a collective of civil society, journalists, academics, and filmmakers interrogating technological experiments on people crossing borders. She is also the Associate Director of the Refugee Law Lab at York University and a 2022-2023 Fellow at the Berkman Klein Centre for Critical Internet at Harvard University.

Petra is the author of numerous academic and popular press publications on technology and migration and one of the first and leading international voices on these issues. Her work has been widely featured in The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and the New York Times, among others, and she is frequently quoted in international and local media as well as various policy briefings at the national and international level including frequently speaking at various institutions within the United Nations. Her first book, Artificial Borders (The New Press 2024), chronicles high-risk technological experiments and their impacts on people crossing borders.

Petra holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, a Masters of Anthropology from York University, Centre for Refugee studies, and an LL.M in International Law from the University of Cambridge.

Selected Speaking Topics


Border technologies and their human rights impacts

AI lie detectors in airports, algorithms placing refugees in detention, drones patrolling sea and land crossings, robo dogs at borders. There are just some of the examples of various border technologies being tested out across the world. What are the human rights implications of these technologies? Why are mobile communities used as testing grounds for these experiments? What can we do to better understand the lived experiences at the sharpest edges of technological innovation

Other topics of interest:

  • International human rights and refugee law – a primer
  • Impacts of immigration detention and carceral technologies
  • Gender based violence, surveillance, and new forms of oppression


Regulating new technologies from a human rights perspective

As states and the private sector increasingly develop and deploy new automated technologies, surveillance, and other projects relying on big data, what can effective and meaningful accountability look like? What are some of the ethical implications of using high risk technologies and what are the current conversations around governance (such as the EU’s upcoming AI Act?). What responsibilities do private actors have to ensure that whatever products they are developing meet human rights standards across the world?

Other topics of interest:

  • Human rights impact assessments – what are they and how can they help?
  • International organizations and their roles in developing new technologies
  • Bridging the gap between technologists, human rights workers, and affected communities


Working with community, from the ground up

What counts as expertise and why? Why are perspectives from affected communities often relegated to the sidelines, if not outright silenced? Working from a participatory perspective when designing projects, implementing technologies, and strategizing advocacy and policy direction requires framings which center an analysis of power, history, and systemic violence against marginalized groups.

Other topics of interest:

  • Workshop on how to work with the media and developing advocacy strategies for community groups and human rights activists
  • Security training when developing human rights research projects
  • Participatory action research methodology (centering community groups)

To book Petra Molnar, contact Brenna English-Loeb at

Natasha Negovanlis

Natasha Negovanlis is a Canadian bi/pansexual actor, writer, producer, advocate, and host who is best known for having played the titular role in the hit series and feature film Carmilla which lead her to winning the Fan’s Choice Award at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards with over two million international votes. 

Since gaining notoriety for her portrayal of the “broody lesbian vampire” she has had a number of starring roles on TV shows and in female-driven movies, and has grown a dedicated global fanbase of over 269,000 collective followers on social media, where she is admired for writing candid posts about mental health awareness, intersectional feminism, sexual wellness, and positive 2SLGBTQ+ representation and fundraising for non-profits.

In addition to acting and her social influence, Natasha has a background as a classically trained soprano, having studied Voice Performance at McGill University, and experience as a host, interviewer, and presenter as the former face of the YouTube Network KindaTV. In 2017, Natasha co-wrote and co-produced the digital comedy CLAIREvoyant with Executive Producer Shaftesbury Digital which won a 2018 NYC Web Fest Award.

She has also performed in improv, sketch, musical, and cabaret shows around North America, has sat on the jury for Inside Out LGBTQ Film Festival, and has moderated panels on women directors at Whistler Film Festival. As a strong youth role model, she has also spoken for Kids Mental Health Ontario, volunteered at CAMH, and has participated in panels about web series creation and marketing to queer millennials at MIP TV in Cannes and YouTube Space Los Angeles. When she is not wearing many hats, she enjoys long walks on the beach… with her adopted rescue dog and a perfect cup of coffee. 


“Map To The Scars” – A Rising Star’s Struggle With Dermatillomania

In this vulnerable talk, Natasha opens up about her OCD diagnoses and how her launch into fame and the patriarchal standards of beauty upheld within the entertainment industry triggered body-focused repetitive behaviours and an excoriation disorder that left a map of scars on her skin. Natasha will discuss how she learned to reclaim her scars as a “constellations” and found the confidence to return to screen acting after years of healing and inner work. She will also explore the importance of online mental health awareness, how social media can be used to find and build community, and how folks can support people like her who are struggling with their mental wellness. 

“The Little Web Series That Could” – The Power of Positive Queer Representation in Media 

In this talk about on-screen queer representation, Natasha discusses her experiences as the titular role in the internationally acclaimed web series Carmilla and co-creator of the award-winning digital comedy CLAIREvoyant and shares what she has learned from being a leader of a global 2SLGBTQ fanbase, through the lens of her own bisexuality. Geared towards entertainment industry professionals and students alike, this chat will convince you why queer projects and creatives are a worthy investment – both monetarily and socially. 


“Improv For Confidence Building” – A Community Focused Workshop

Explore your creative side and gain confidence in public speaking in just a few hours. Using techniques learned from studying and performing at the Montréal Improv Theatre, as well as The People’s Improv Theatre and Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York City, Natasha will guide your team through gentle warmups and games practiced by both amateur and professional improv comedians and actors alike. This workshop can be altered for accessibility needs and includes easy-to-learn theatre exercises that explore physicality, voice work, and character development, in a non-judgemental and welcoming environment, with a goal of encouraging you to get out of your comfort zone and say… YES, AND! Through the playfulness of this medium, Natasha will teach skills that can be applied to both your workplace and social life, such as listening, eye-contact, and teamwork. Discover that laughter really is the best medicine!


With experience on both sides of the lens and stage, Natasha is also a skilled and experienced interviewer and facilitator, available to moderate panels at marketing and media conferences, and fan and comic conventions. 


  • Women in Film & Television
  • 2SLGBTQ Representation on Screen
  • Dismantling Patriarchal Beauty Standards
  • Finding Your Creative Voice
  • Mental Health Advocacy & Awareness 
  • Bisexual Myths & Visibility 
  • How To Ensure Inclusive Productions
  • Vampire Tropes & The Queerness of Sci-Fi & Fantasy
  • Incorporating Allyship Into Social Media Influencing 
  • Web Series Creation: From Ideas To Funding & Producing
Selected media:

To book Natasha Negovanlis, contact Rob Firing at

Stephen Dorsey

Stephen Dorsey is the author of the critically acclaimed book Black and White, “An Intimate Multicultural Perspective on “White Advantage” and the Paths to Change. (Nimbus 2022). In his deeply personal and insightful debut, he offers readers intimate and unfiltered access to his lived experience of anti-Black racism around the world, including Canada, the United States, and Europe, focusing on his formative years growing up in 1970s Montreal as a Black child in a white family headed by a racist stepfather, and details his personal awakening inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

He is a sought-after speaker and moderator working with diverse audiences to help bridge the divides of understanding on the important challenges facing organizations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Stephen’s “no-shame zone” approach is inclusive and accessible, and focused on bringing people together to learn and drive towards real change together.

For two seasons now, Stephen has also been heard globally hosting his impactful Black and White podcast (Evergreen Podcast Network) engaging with corporate and institutional leaders and luminaries actively who are working to make change happen.

Stephen is also a volunteer director on the board of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) , Canada’s leading association supporting Black professionals and entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast. His articles, essays, and Op-eds have been widely published nationally and internationally and he is a frequent on-air commentator on national television and radio media speaking to societal challenges and progress around DEI.

Professionally, Stephen is a senior-level business, brand, and marketing strategist, with three decades of international experience, and a creative writer, director and producer of visual content. He is the principal of The Fractional CMO, a strategic consultancy, and of Dorsey Studios, a content production development company. Stephen’s book, podcast and presentations look to inform and build bridges of understanding, with an aim to create opportunity for action that can lead to positive change for all.


Stephen Dorsey speaks on many issues related to inclusivity, diversity, resilience, and perseverance – sharing his personal and professional lived experience in successfully overcoming headwinds and adversity.

1.    “A Path to Inclusive Excellence”: Tangible Steps Towards Positive DEI Organizational Transformation
Expanding from his ground-breaking book that tackles the urgent need for more equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) across organizations and public and private institutions, Stephen’s customized talks are rooted in stories of his lived experiences and present a comprehensive guide to achieving tangible change and true organizational transformation. A practical and actionable roadmap for those seeking to recommit to EDI and effect real change- to “Be Better and Do Better, Together”.

Taking a “shame free” approach, Stephen anchors his talks in the principles of truth and reconciliation with a purposeful intent and openness to bridge the divides of understanding. Audiences are guided through key strategies that drive transformative action to achieve change big and small.  From making EDI a business imperative to securing leadership buy-in, defining measurable goals, and establishing partnerships with in-community organizations, Stephen suggests the paths and provides the insights necessary to build more inclusive, diverse, and equitable environments.

2.    Resilience & Perseverance – Overcoming adversity to live a thriving life:
Building on the topics explored in his best-selling book Black and White, Stephen shares learnings from his lived experience of growing up through paradox: Black and White, French and English, Poor and Upper-middle class. A positive story that has many lessons about how to achieve success in the face of adversity including the harrowing and unbelievable story of the racially-based challenges he faced in his youth. As a compelling storyteller, Stephen takes his audience on an emotional journey, from his formative years growing up black in a white world, through to his ascension as a thriving adult and professional. In his engaging talk, he shares many relatable messages and lessons about how to persevere, overcome challenges and ultimately succeed.

3.    Be Better.  Do Better. Live Better, Together: Building and Transforming Communities through Practical Activism:
Stephen brings to life innovative and transformative ideas curated from diverse sources on how to affect real change at the community level including how to build more successful, diverse, and inclusive communities. Using compelling narrative, Stephen inspires his audiences to see and act to; build stronger communities to best address society’s greatest challenges. He shares how we can all play a role in creating positive change by taking big and small steps to action at a local level. Stephen extensive experience involved in civics, volunteer board engagements with community impact organizations, and thought leadership rooted in extensive research undertaken for his book Black and White provides an authentic perspective from a recognized community leader.


Speaker: Stephen Dorey from DORSEY on Vimeo.

To book Stephen Dorsey, contact Rob Firing at

Toufah Jallow

It takes extraordinary courage and vision to induce social change in a single lifetime, and Jallow has done just that.

The New York Times.

Toufah Jallow was just nineteen years old, looking forward to a university education, when she entered a presidential competition in 2015 created to support the country’s young women. She won, and caught the attention of Gambia’s dictator, Yahya Jammeh, who, after presenting himself with fatherly generosity, asked for her hand in marriage. When Toufah declined, he drugged and raped her.

Justifiably terrified, she kept what had happened to her a secret, even from her parents, and fled to Senegal, eventually settling in Canada. In 2019, after Jammeh was deposed, Toufah returned home to testify against him, making a stand for herself and for women on the African continent and everywhere. She continues to advocate for survivors of sexual violence today. Her book, Toufah: The Woman Who Inspired an African #MeToo Movement, is published by Penguin in Canada and Steerforth Press in the United States.

Speaking Topics

Toufah has a powerful message to share. The language she speaks in her native Gambia does not even have a word for rape, and yet, she organized the first protest march in Gambia seeking justice for survivors. She asserts that to fight against gendered violence and reduce the power of rape culture, women must proclaim loudly their right to safety, and, as a society, we need to do better to bring justice to victims. This message is especially important on university campuses, where rape culture, regrettably, still prevails among student populations.

Toufah’s message is also inspirational. With her tenacity and enduring resistance, she has stared down a notorious dictator whose power vastly outweighed hers. She bravely testified against him at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and at the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission in the Gambia, where she was the only witness to reveal her identity. And yet, as a young, lonely refugee in a foreign country, dealing with trauma, she resembled so many others, and her story gives a human face to the refugee crisis that has affected so many people. Her activism has now catapulted her into the ranks of the top young activists in the world. Audiences will find in Toufah a young woman with extraordinary resilience, who is determined to make change during her lifetime.

Selected media: 

CTV News

To book Toufah Jallow, contact Rob Firing at

Samra Zafar

Samra Zafar is an award-winning, internationally renowned speaker, bestselling author, and educator for equity, mental health, and human rights. She has been recognized among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, Top 25 Inspirational Women in Canada, and Top 25 Canadian Immigrants. Her book, A Good Wife: Escaping The Life I Never Chose, based on her journey of escaping an abusive child marriage to pursue her education and shed light on gender-based oppression, is a national bestseller, was one of CBC’s Best Books of 2019, and is being adapted to a premium TV series. She serves as a Governor at the University of Toronto, a Celebrated Ambassador for Plan International, and a board member for Women’s College Hospital Foundation. Her work has impacted millions and has been extensively featured in global media. Samra’s speaking portfolio includes three successful TED Talks, and many leading corporations, universities, and nonprofits around the world.

To find out more, please visit


How Vulnerability Inspires Collective Resilience, Authentic Leadership and Human Connections

Do you feel you’re hiding your true self in order to fit in? Do you find yourself stressing to present a perfect self? Do you suffer from impostor syndrome—discounting your accomplishments and focusing on your weaknesses? If so, what can you do to lessen the grip of perfectionism and other-centred focus in your life, to lean in to your authentic self, and to simply be? People often walk around in self-made prisons of judgment, with the key held by others from whom they seek validation and approval. However, by embracing our authenticity and allowing ourselves to be seen, we foster genuine trust, real connection, and collective resilience that enables us to unlock our true potential and to become leaders in our communities and our lives. Join Samra on a journey of resilience, leadership and personal discovery of the power of vulnerability.

Education for Empowerment

Education is a right – yet for many around the world, it is a privilege that is often denied. Join Samra as she shares her own heartbreaking and empowering story of being trapped in a forced, abusive marriage as a child bride, using education to escape and build a new life, and now advocating for change so that others don’t face the same obstacles to building a fulfilling, enriching life. Samra’s experiences illustrate how the power of continuous learning allows us to expand our minds, connect through mutual purpose and values, and unlock our individual and collective potential.

The Gift of Adversity

As a child forced into a marriage and being subjected to years of abuse, Samra moved forward from a place of no hope to creating a happy new life for herself and her daughters. As she shares her story of pain, despair, hopelessness, and subsequently freedom, happiness, and self-love, Samra talks about the gift of adversity and how it helps us cultivate a deep gratitude for life. “We have the power to let our experiences shape us into ‘bitter’ or ‘better’. The choice is ours to make.

The Culture of Honour

Breaking the silence around honour-based, structural abuse – a hidden reality that creates a vicious and complex cycle of mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, physical and societal violence. What can we do as leaders, individuals and community members to make a difference? Related Topics: Intersectionality of abuse and culture; Generational cycle of abuse; Family Violence and Children; Educating youth on Gender-based Violence.

Violence Against Women – What Can Workplaces Do to Make a Difference?

One in three women in North America are affected by intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. Every day, around the world, 137 women are killed by an intimate partner. Factoring in “invisible” violence, such as stalking and emotional and mental abuse, the number is much higher. Recent movements like “MeToo” and “Time’s Up” have demonstrated how women from all walks of life, educational backgrounds, professional achievements and financial status are affected by violence. Change starts with our surroundings – families, communities, schools, and workplaces. Often times, the workplace is the only place that a woman feels safe. However, fear of judgment, of being perceived as a “victim”, or of diminished career prospects makes a woman feel unsafe to come forward. With recent policy reforms like paid “off” days for a woman affected by violence and greater funding for this sector, it is more important than ever before for workplaces to play a role in supporting women affected by violence by building inclusive, non-judgmental work environments, so women feel safe to ask for that help. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do – because safe and supported employees mean productive employees.

(various topics including types of abuse, gaps in support mechanisms, importance of awareness, and how workplaces can play a role)

Samra’s talks can also cover themes of Authentic Leadership and Mentorship, as well as issues surrounding Gender Equality, Poverty and Community.

Previous keynotes and workshops:

• National Family Violence Conference keynote, “The Power of Mentorship” (Edmonton)
• Manulife Leadership Event keynote
• Schulich Business School career event keynote
• Ivey Business School – Women in Management Leadership Conference keynote
• Brilliant Minded Women Gala – receiving Self Development Award (Toronto)
• Presidents’ Circle featured speaker, “Education for Empowerment” (University of Toronto)
• Edmonton Public School Board keynote speech, “Resilience and Mental Health”
• Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (Chatham)
• Enbridge and Union Gas executive leadership conference keynote, “How Authenticity Inspires
• The Citizen’s Foundation keynote, “Education for Empowerment” (Montreal)
• Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society keynote, “Bringing Inspiration to the Workplace” (Montreal)
• Family Transition Place Shelter keynote, “The Gift of Hope” (Orangeville)
• Rexdale Women’s Centre 40th anniversary keynote
• Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade – official national spokesperson and winner of Malala
Yousafzai Women Empowerment Award
• Harper Collins National Sales Conference keynote
• United Nations Status of Women Commission (finalist nominee as Canadian delegate)
• Two TED Talks (selected as top 10 talks on gender equality)
• National Magazine Awards (nominated for Toronto Life article, “A Good Wife”)
• TVO International Women’s Day keynote (Ottawa)
• Women in Leadership and Business (Halifax)
• Women’s Presidents Organization (Halifax)
• Keynotes at universities: Yale, U of T, York, Ryerson, Schulich, Queen’s, Western, Florida, Humber,
Sheridan, and many other colleges and schools
• Toronto and Peel District school boards (keynotes)
• National Family Violence Conference (Edmonton)
• Northeast Support Services (Saskatchewan)
• Circles of Hope Shelter (Calgary)
• RBC Private Banking National Office International Women’s Day keynote (Toronto)
• University of Toronto Presidents’ Circle “Building a Better Tomorrow” featured speaker
• WE Day Atlantic Canada (Halifax)
• RBC Women’s Forum ERG event
• Peel Children’s Aid Foundation keynote and award recipient
• Women’s Business Network International Women’s Day Keynote
• WE Kenya (with Kisaruni school)
• Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs IWD keynote (Toronto)


• A Good Wife, to be published by Harper Collins in Canada in March 2019 to mark International Women’s Day
• International rights currently being sold in USA, UK, Europe, Australia, India


• RBC Global Citizen Award 2017
• Ascend Canada Mentor Of The Year Award 2018
• Malala Yousafzai Women Empowerment Award – Canada Pakistan Affiliated Chamber of Trade 2018
• Woman of Courage Awards – several organizations
• Spotlight Award – Canada Pakistan Professionals Association
• Brilliant Minded Woman Award 2018
• Pink Attitude Award 2018
• Proclamation by Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio 2017
• John H Moss Scholarship (University of Toronto)
• Gold Medalist in Economics (University of Toronto)


Toronto Life
Global News
CTV News
CBC Radio One, As It Happens 
TEDx Mississauga
WE Day

To book Samra Zafar, contact Rob Firing at

Eric Walters

Eric is a teacher and began writing for his class to entice them to become more enthusiastic readers and writers. He has published 97 books which have been translated into thirteen languages and have won over 150 awards, including 4 Red Maple, 3 Silver Birch, a Golden Oak and children’s choice awards from across the country. Most recently, The Rule of Three won the Sakura Medal – voted the favourite book of international school students in Japan. In 2014 he received the Order of Canada. Eric presents each year to more than 100,000 students across Canada and around the globe. He is the co-founder of a children’s program in Kenya ( and will be leaving to spend February with the orphans and staff of the program.


Putting the Adventure into Writing
Join Eric as he describes the process of climbing Kilimanjaro, trekking the Sahara Desert, and walking across Kenya to do adventure research for his book.

The Teacher as Writer
Eric shares his journey from teacher to writer as well as from student to writer.

Caring – The Creation of Hope
From a chance meeting of an orphan in a market in rural Kenya to the creation of an organization that provides for hundreds of orphans and impoverished children and this has impacted on, and been impacted by, his writing.

To book Eric Walters, contact Rob Firing at

Amy Stuart

Amy Stuart is a #1 bestselling author, an educator and a competitive hockey coach. She melds this wealth of experience to help companies improve their corporate culture. She worked for fifteen years as a public school educator before shifting her focus to writing, speaking and facilitation. Her first two novels, Still Mine and Still Water, were top bestsellers and she is currently at work on the third and final instalment in the linked series. As one of the rare female head coaches in youth competitive hockey, Amy has a particular insight into issues around inclusion and how that impacts companies and organizations and the individuals working within them. A lifetime fan of the Maple Leafs, Amy lives in Toronto with her husband and their three young sons.


“The Only Woman in the Room”

In this talk, Amy uses her experience of as “the only woman in the room” in the hockey world and addresses the sexism and obstacles she faces. She discusses how that has shifted her thinking about gender and inclusion in the other professional areas of her life and provides companies with the opportunity to reflect on their own workplace environments and steps they can take to improve it.

“Creativity and Performance”

As a creative person who has logged countless hours in traditional workplace environments, Amy uses stories and research to discuss the benefits of giving people space for creativity in their professional lives, regardless of their roles within an organization. She addresses how to nurture creativity among employees and the many ways this creative energy will benefit companies in terms of retention, efficiency and improvements to workplace culture.


As an experienced and trained group facilitator, Amy uses her wealth of experience to lead smaller-group workshops on a variety of topics, including:

  • Improving listening skills
  • Recognizing and addressing unconscious thoughts and biases
  • Promoting an inclusive workplace culture
  • Fostering creative thinking in the workplace

To book Amy Stuart, contact Rob Firing at