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Insights Discussion Series announced

28 Sep 2019

The Insights Discussion Series complements the upcoming Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition with discussion topics focusing on systems of segregation and discrimination; youth activism; trans and two-spirit activism; and resilience, hope, and humanitarianism.

(TORONTO, ON – September 27, 2019)  As a complement to the upcoming Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition at Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), The Insights Discussion Series highlights our own human rights issues and the local activists currently fighting for the betterment of us all.

Curated by Timea Wharton-Suri and hosted by Garvia Bailey, the four discussions will be offered FREE to the public with registration.  Two of the Insights Discussion Series will be hosted at North York Central Library, one at Meridian Hall’s lower lobby (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts), and one at the Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts).   

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, developed by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg in collaboration with the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa and presented in Toronto by TO Live, runs from October 10, 2019 - January 5, 2020 in the Gallery at the Meridian Arts Centre.

Originally home to MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art), the Gallery at the Meridian Arts Centre consists of over 3,850 sq. ft. of exhibition space over two floors that are linked by the upper and lower levels of the lobby. The exhibition utilizes both floors of the Gallery and areas of the lobby. Themes of the exhibit include explorations of apartheid, defiance, repression, mobilization and freedom, and there are Canadian connections throughout. 

“The exhibition profiles Nelson Mandela and the movement that formed around him. Mandela: Struggle for Freedom is about one man, but it is also about the many who came together to oppose racism and injustice,” said curator Timea Wharton-Suri. “It’s important to continue to move the issues raised in the exhibition forward and The Insights Discussion Series will focus on the many diverse voices doing important activist work locally. 

Given the issues Mandela championed, it’s vital that robust discussions about the parallels between apartheid and Canada’s treatment of Indigenous communities, along with the social and economic concerns many face every day living in Toronto continue.” 

The Insights Discussion Series:

Parallels: Apartheid Policies in Canada and South Africa

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street
Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition
 Apartheid Zone: The Bantustans are the reserves of South Africa. Separate laws and reserves for racialized groups can be compared to the Indian Act in Canada and the reserve system for First Nations created during colonization. Indigenous peoples in Canada and South Africa have had laws imposed on them according to a colonial construct of race based on skin colour. What are the parallels in the colonial regimes of Canada and South Africa? What are the legacies of both regimes? Authors Dr. Lynn Gehl, Kagiso Lesego Molope and Dr. John S. Saul will provide insights into the parallels between and impacts of the colonial regimes of Canada and South Africa.

Catalysts: Youth Activism on the Rise

Wednesday, October 30, 2019    
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition Mobilization Zone: There is an exhibit area dedicated to the actions taken by Canadians to support the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. When it comes to global mobilization, local activists have always been at the frontlines of human rights movements, including youth. Today there is a heightened interest in advocacy and activist engagement among youth where they are more likely to be involved in issue-based actions or organizations, can address specific concerns, and mobilize others sharing similar views. What inspires local youth activists? How does activism in one’s youth evolve over time? Randell Adjei, Rana Nasrazadani and Caitlin Tolley will share their insights.

Pioneers: Trans and Two-Spirit Activists Generating Social Change

Friday, November 8, 2019 
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts), 1 Front Street East, Lower Lobby

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition Defiance Zone: The South African Freedom Charter could be compared to the List of Rights asserted by Louis Riel and his provisional government to protect the rights of all people in Manitoba and enshrined in the Manitoba Act. Like other freedom fighters of the past, trans and two-spirit community members are pioneers in human rights activism, working to secure rights for all people in defiance of systemic discrimination and violence. Activists are working toward social and institutional reform, focusing on poverty reduction, health care, violence, housing rights, and isolation. Canada is home to some of the world’s staunchest human rights activists for trans and two-spirit peoples. What are the strategies and forms of resistance these activists are employing to generate social change? How can we all get involved to create a more equitable society? Toronto’s Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and Manitoba’s Brielle Beardy-Linklater will share their personal experiences and insights.

Triumphs: A conversation with Former Child Soldier, Musician, Actor, and Refugee Activist, Emmanuel Jal

Tuesday, December 10, 2019        
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), 5040 Yonge Street

Mandela: Struggle for Freedom Exhibition Freedom Zone: The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is highlighted in the exhibit, as is the Canadian TRC. These Commissions are only the beginning of a long journey towards reconciliation in this country and others around the world. From his start in life as a child soldier in Southern Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has survived immense struggles to become an acclaimed recording artist, actor, author and peace ambassador now living in Toronto. He has performed his music at Live 8 and Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert. His triumph over his plight as a refugee taught him about the need to give back. Jal is the founder of We Want Peace (WWP) which aims to raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality and freedom for all through the power of music. 

WWP supporters include Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Richard Branson, George Clooney, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Yasir Arman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Emmanuel has received The Dresden Peace Prize, The Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Prize, and been awarded by Ban Ki-Moon at the UN for his peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan. He received his Canadian citizenship in the spring of 2019. Join Emmanuel for an inspiring evening of stories about his journey toward internal reconciliation and songs that celebrate the human spirit.

TO Live presents

The Insights Discussion Series 

Parallels: Apartheid Policies in Canada and South Africa

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street

Catalysts: Youth Activism on the Rise

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library’s 2nd Floor Auditorium - 5120 Yonge Street

Pioneers: Trans and Two-Spirit Activists Generating Social Change

Friday, November 8, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Meridian Hall (formerly the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts),

1 Front Street East, Lower Lobby

Triumphs: A conversation with Former Child Soldier, Musician, Actor, and Refugee Activist, Emmanuel Jal

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), 5040 Yonge Street

Admission to the The Insights Discussion Series is FREE but

Pre-registration is highly recommended.

Added Bonus: When you register, you’ll receive a discount offer of 15% off tickets to both South Africa’s Isango Ensemble, Bluma Appel Theatre, November 13 – 17, 2019 and The Kingdom Choir, George Weston Recital Hall, Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), November 5 & 6, 2019.

For more information and to register, visit https://www.tolive.com/insights

About Timea Wharton-Suri

Timea Wharton-Suri is an arts and entertainment professional with twenty years' experience directing dance productions, cultural programs, and arts education projects that are accessible to a broad range of communities. She is a programmer and producer of dance, multi-arts and literary events; an arts management consultant; and an advisor to arts organizations. Timea earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance from York University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Arts and Media Management Graduate Diploma from Schulich School of Business. She performed for several years with dance companies such as Ballet Creole and Ronald Taylor Dance before opening a dance/fitness studio – one of the first that now proliferate in urban centres. In addition to producing three of her own choreographic works, Timea produced four larger-scale entertainment presentations in Toronto and the Caribbean. While working as a programmer and producer at large, she is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Dance Media Group, an Artistic Advisor to Dancemakers Centre for Creation, and a funding advisor to the National Arts Centre's Creation Fund.

Participant bios:

Insights Discussion Series Host:

Garvia Bailey is inspired and driven by the power of sharing our stories. Stories are where art meets activism, where the personal embraces the political. For over 20 years her focus as a journalist, interviewer, educator and pundit has been on serving those who seek out beauty, meaning and connection through well-told stories. Most recently, she told the story of jazz and the colourful musicians who inhabit that world as host of Good Morning, Toronto on JazzFM.91 - Jazz and the Arts. Before that, she spent 10 years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as an arts journalist/producer and broadcaster. While with the CBC, Garvia served as the host of a variety of radio programs, including Big City Small World and Canada Live, as a columnist for Metro Morning and as a contributor at cbcmusic.ca, CBC Television, and as a producer on the documentary programs Global Village and Outfront.

As a freelancer, Garvia has contributed to Out In the Open and Tapestry, Sunday Edition among others, and been tapped as a commentator on CBC’s flagship news program, The National. Throughout her career in broadcasting, she has turned the spotlight on emerging talent from across the GTA and has also interviewed many celebrated international artists including cultural pundit Roxane Gay, author Lawrence Hill, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, director John Singleton, actor Chris Tucker, jazz icon Tony Bennett, and many others. She is a regular host/moderator for the Toronto Public Library and Hot Docs who prides herself on bringing wit, warmth and curiosity to her interviews.

Garvia recently joined the jury pool for the prestigious Canadian Hillman Prize, honouring the best in investigative journalism. She is currently working on her own major photo/storytelling exhibit with Black Artist in Dialogue (BAND), an upcoming book-focused podcast with the Toronto Public Library, and on various projects with the award-winning multi-media production company Pop Sandbox as a writer and producer. Garvia is a co-founder and host/producer of jazzcast.ca.

Parallels Discussion Panelists:

Lynn Gehl, Ph.D., is an Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe. She is an advocate, artist, writer, and an outspoken critic of colonial law and policies that harm Indigenous women, men, children, and the land. Her 2014 book based on her doctoral work ‘The Truth that Wampum Tells: My Debwewin on the Algonquin Land Claims Process’ was published with Fernwood Publishing. Her 2017 book, ‘Claiming Anishinaabe: Decolonizing the Human Spirit’, explores her journey to reclaim Indigenous knowledge after experiencing cultural genocide. In April 2017, after her 22-year legal battle, Lynn was successful in defeating Indian and Northern Affairs Canada’s unstated paternity policy when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the sex discrimination in the Indian Act was unreasonable.

Kagiso Lesego Molope is an award-winning author, human rights advocate, and an apartheid survivor. She is the author of the 2006 IBBY List Honour book, Dancing in the Dust.  

Her second novel, The Mending Season is on the school curriculum in South Africa and was a finalist for the 2008 Percy Fitzpatrick Price.  She won the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize for Youth Literature in 2014 for This Book Betrays My Brother, which was also a Globe and Mail Best 100 Book and Kirkus Review's Best Books of 2018.  He latest novel, Such a Lonely, Lovely Road was listed as one of CBC's Best Books of 2018.  She is a graduate student in English Literature at Carleton University.

John S. Saul, Ph.D., was educated at the Universities of Toronto, Princeton and London and, on the ground, across Africa. He taught for many years both at York University in Canada where he serves as Professor Emeritus and in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa. Saul has been a liberation support/anti-apartheid/anti-imperialist activist both in Canada and in Southern Africa since the 1960s, notably with the Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa (TCLSAC) and with Southern Africa Report magazine. He has published 25 books including: The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in Southern AfricaDevelopment after Decolonization: Theory and Practice for the Embattled South in a New Imperial Age; and Recolonization and Resistance: Southern Africa in the 1990s. He is presently completing his 26th book, The Thirty Years War for Southern African Liberation, 1960-1994: A History, for publication in 2020 by Cambridge University Press.

Catalysts Discussion Panelists:

Randell Adjei is an entrepreneur, speaker and spoken word practitioner who uses his gifts to empower through Edutainment. He is the founder of one of Toronto's largest youth-led initiatives, Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E Edutainment). In 2018, R.I.S.E received the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Mayor’s Youth Arts Award. Randell is the author of “I am Not my struggles,” a powerful Anthology released in 2018. He is a cohort 2 Studio Y MaRS DD Fellow and one of four coaches involved in the Toronto Public Library (Poetry Saved Our Lives) project. Randell was the Black Canadian Awards Best Spoken Word award winner in 2015. He was also named CBC’s Metro Morning’s Torontonian of the Year in 2015 and NOW Magazines Local Hero in May 2017.

Rana Nasrazadani is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Rights and Equity Studies at York University. Her advocacy work focuses on education, accessibility, human rights and centering youth voice. Rana has been advocating for youth with Disabilities from a young age.

She was an ambassador for Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital for over 15 years and was involved in several public awareness campaigns. As a project coordinator at the Ontario Child Advocate, Rana designed and facilitated workshops for non-profit organizations, the private sector, and government agencies focused on challenging ableism and educating on accessibility and inclusion. Rana is currently a member of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee which is working to develop a province-wide standard to improve accessibility within Ontario’s education system. Rana has been featured in the Toronto Star and CBC’s The Current and was a featured speaker at the Toronto Women’s March in January 2018. Advocacy work focuses on education, accessibility, human rights and centering youth voice. In 2019, Rana spoke to the Senate of Canada on the issue of inaccessibility in Ontario’s education system. Her years of advocacy work have been recognized with features in the Toronto Star and on CBC’s The Current, and with her serving as a featured speaker at the Toronto Women’s March in January 2018. 

Caitlin Tolley is Algonquin from Kitigan-Zibi, Quebec. She received an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Ottawa. Caitlin was recently called to the Ontario Bar. She is currently working in the legal department for a large financial institution. In 2018, Caitlin was recognized by the Public Policy Forum as the emerging leader award recipient.

Pioneers Discussion Panelists:

Brielle Beardy-Linklater is a Two-Spirit, Transgender, Queer woman from the Nisichaweyasihk Cree Nation. She is an advocate for 2SLGBTQ+, Indigenous and poor/working-class struggles. She also made history as the first trans woman to sit in the Canadian Parliament on International Women's Day in 2017. Brielle speaks out about the need to challenge transphobia in her community and in society, and in 2014, she helped organize the first Pride North of 55 celebrations in Northern Manitoba. Brielle is the winner of the 2018 Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award, which recognizes Manitobans aged 25 and under who fight for people’s freedoms.

Samson Bonkeabantu Brown is a self-described Jamal Of All Hustles, with a primary focus on trans advocacy and the arts. He uses the arts (acting, tap dancing, playwriting, stage and production managing) to create visibility for men of trans experience and to educate the general public on trans issues.

Through matrilineal ancestry, he is South African; through patrilineal ancestry, he is Portuguese. He wrote and stars in 11:11, which explores fear through the eyes of a young black transman struggling to obey the ancestral messages saturating his dreams. Samson was featured in a recent Gillett commercial demonstrating a transgender man learning to shave with some coaching from his father. 

Triumphs Discussion Participant:

About Emmanuel Jal - From his start in life as a child soldier in Southern Sudan in the early 1980s, Emmanuel Jal has survived immense struggles to become an acclaimed recording artist, actor, author and peace ambassador now living in Toronto. He has performed his music at Live 8 and Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday concert. His triumph over his plight as a refugee taught him about the need to give back. Jal is the founder of We Want Peace (WWP) which aims to raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality and freedom for all through the power of music. WWP supporters include Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Richard Branson, George Clooney, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Yasir Arman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Emmanuel has received The Dresden Peace Prize, The Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Prize, and been awarded by Ban Ki-Moon at the UN for his peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan. He received his Canadian citizenship in the spring of 2019.

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