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Stepping Up: Meet Canada’s new sources of inspiration and leadership

The Globe and Mail with Petra Molnar, Aerin Jacob, Janelle Hinds, Tamara Soma 17 January 2019

Dalhousie Indigenous student showing Canada the way to reconciliation

Aaron Prosper’s persuasive yet diplomatic push for Indigenous rights at Dalhousie University has turned him into a highly sought guide on reconciliation efforts throughout Nova Scotia. Mr. Prosper is a Mi’kmaw student who won his people a place to smudge after the university tore down its Indigenous Students’ Centre during campus renovations. Mr. Prosper made history last spring when he became president of Dalhousie’s Student Union, making him the first Mi’kmaw student to hold that position.

Toronto human rights lawyer sounds the alarm on Canada’s plans to use AI in immigration

Last spring, in an attempt to deal with backlog, the federal government piloted an artificial intelligence program to assist with immigration applications made on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Now, Petra Molnar, a Toronto human rights and refugee lawyer is sounding an urgent alarm. Though technology is often viewed as impartial, it’s anything but, Ms. Molnar argues. Discrimination, bias and violations of due process and privacy are just the tip of the iceberg with unchecked AI assisting or replacing the judgment of human decision-makers in the immigration sphere.

Vancouver teacher is schooling educators on the value of inclusive classrooms

Several provinces are struggling when it comes to including children with developmental disabilities in regular classrooms. Shelley Moore, through her approach to inclusive education, is helping these provinces better support children with complex and diverse needs.

How one artistic director is casting for more diversity on stage

After sitting through a set of auditions where actors listed their physical measurements before experience on their resumes, Brett Christopher, artistic director of the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ont., issued a challenge on Facebook “We cast for heart, brains, chutzpah and poetry. Not waistline.” Almost immediately the post was swarmed with comments.

The animation executive who makes parents’ lives easier

Jennifer Twiner McCarron is not a “yes” woman. The president of animation studio Atomic Cartoons – and recently named CEO of parent company Thunderbird Films (Blade Runner 2049, Kim’s Convenience) – knows that to get what she wants done, sometimes she has to say no. She chooses projects that make a positive contribution, and turns down those that don’t align with Atomic Cartoons’ values. So no gore, no guns, no violence.

A theatre company without a venue? Yeah, Why Not

Artists are hardly immune from the pressure to get on the property ladder. So when Toronto’s growing Why Not Theatre company recently had the opportunity to purchase a warehouse – a potential office, rehearsal and performance space – for $1-million, they were tempted. But instead, the company decided to double down on its itinerant lifestyle and strive to become Canada’s first nomadic theatre institution.

How a research lab is taking lessons from music

What lessons does a string quartet hold for a mother who is suffering from postpartum depression? How could the movements of a dancer help improve those of a Parkinson’s patient? Laurel Trainor, a neuroscientist and director of LIVELab at McMaster University and her colleagues have been researching questions such as these for four years and they’re coming up with some intriguing answers.

Moms united in grief and new purpose: to change how addiction is treated in Canada

Nearly 4,000 people died in Canada last year as a result of opioids. Now, three women who have each lost a son to drugs have founded Moms Stop the Harm, an advocacy group with a dogged purpose to change the way drug addiction is treated in Canada. Leslie McBain, Petra Schulz and Lorna Thomas are doing their best to turn their shared and unwanted bond into something positive.

Halifax councillor inspiring youth to have a say in how their communities are built and run

Getting youth involved in local government – helping them see it as their own – is a top priority for Halifax city councillor Lindell Smith. “It’s about making municipal politics accessible to folks who usually wouldn’t get involved,” Mr. Smith said of his political agenda. “In the community I grew up in, you had to be a go-getter and have sharp edges. I decided to run not only to show youth in the community that you can do this, but also … I want to change the narrative.”

Cannabis Amnesty founder pushing for change – and facts – around pardons for possession

When the Liberal Government stated their intention to waive the waiting time (five to 10 years) and fee (about $600) to have possession records suspended (not pardoned), Annamaria Enenajor was unimpressed. For Ms. Enenajor, there’s only one solution to dealing with criminal records for cannabis possession: “Delete.”


To spur change, conservationist urges scientists to speak up for themselves

Aerin Jacob is an advocate for a more independent and scientifically rigorous system of environmental assessment in Canada. She believes it is not enough to simply be fascinated by the scientific study of nature. Somehow that knowledge has to find its way to improving how humans and nature interact.

Mississauga app developer matches high school students with volunteer hours to get excited about

Janelle Hinds, 26, is the founder of Helping Hands, a groundbreaking mobile app that places students in the Greater Toronto Area with volunteer opportunities that actually engage them. Set to launch officially this winter, the youth civic engagement app helps students fulfill their graduation requirements and enrich their resumés, steering them toward promising fields they may have overlooked.

Cannabis company CEO determined to bring more gender equality into the industry

Lisa Campbell, CEO of Lifford Cannabis Solutions, is one of the few female leaders in the emerging cannabis industry. “The cannabis industry is predominately run by white men,” says Ms. Campbell, who is so passionate about her mission, she rhymes off related statistics without missing a beat. Women, she says, occupy just 5 per cent of publicly traded licensed cannabis producers’ boards, compared with 12 per cent of other companies on the TSX. She’s determined to change these stats.

Leading voice on food waste puts emphasis on cities to find solutions

Much of Tammara Soma’s work is not glamorous, but she is one of Canada’s leading voices on the issue of food waste. In Canada, an estimated $31-billion worth of food is wasted every year. Around the world, about one-third of all food produced (mostly fruit, vegetables and meat) is needlessly thrown out. Ms. Soma is dedicated to finding pragmatic solutions to this problem.

This city planner has big visions for the future of Hamilton

City planning is often about big visions. But a Hamilton city planner Jason Thorne focuses his energy on small and intangible things – live music, street festivals, helping cyclists get around – that create a sense of place and pride.

How a Montreal researcher is helping the blind experience visual art

Art aficionado Jean-Daniel Aubin lost his sight to glaucoma in 2012, so it had been years since he had seen one of his favourite Alfred Pellan paintings. Last summer, Mr. Aubin, 64, absorbed the painting’s influence once again. Combining art, graphic design and 3D printing, Patricia Bérubé is putting art at the fingertips of visually impaired individuals through silicone lines and textures.


At 21, this aerospace engineering student, former refugee has created her first invention

Three years ago, 21-year-old Shoushi Bakarian was sitting in Lebanon, part of a family of four Syrian refugees facing an uncertain future with hope of making a new start in Canada. Today, she is in her third year of aerospace engineering at Montreal’s Concordia University and the co-creator of The Ventus, an accessory charger for Cessna airplanes that runs off the aircraft’s air vents.