UC One Speakers

Speakers 2017-18

John Lorinc 

John Lorinc is a Toronto journalist and editor. He writes about urban affairs, business, technology and local history for a range of publications, including Spacing, Walrus, the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. Lorinc is also the Toronto non-fiction editor for Coach House Books. He is co-editor of The Ward, Subdivided and Any Other Way. His next anthology will be entitled, The Ward Uncovered: The Archeology of Everyday Life


Maanii Oakes

Maanii is an Anishnabek, Kanienhaka and  Swampy Cree woman from Saganak First nation. Maanii's pencil crayon drawings and oil paintings incorporate memory and wisdom of maternal figures, such as butchery practice, and medical botany, as her thematic work centers around womens cultural knowledge and impact, illustrating interconnectedness of women and land in a time of resource extraction and environmental racism. Her art brings awareness to issues of food security in the far north after the HydroQuebec Damming of the Rupert river, a deal that drastically reduced the populations of  animals and disrupted cree hunting routes, which her grandfather the late Henry Diamond greatly opposed as the government lying to the Cree people. Maanii is now working on a Community Arts grant through Jumblies theatre, for which she will be completing a graphic novel to record stories about fish and sustainable fishery practice from her home community, paying special attention to effects of Uranium mining on food sovereignty as a population with high cancer rates and no grocery store.


Ravi Jain

Ravi is the founding artistic director of Why Not Theatre and has established himself as a seasoned international producer and award-winning artist with collaborations with internationally acclaimed companies like the SITI Company and Complicite.He is on the Artistic Advisory Boards for ArtReach Toronto and the Daniel’s Spectrum, and an alumnus of the DiverseCity Fellows program with Civic Action.  He was the inaugural Artistic Director in Residence at The Theatre Centre, is a member of the Artistic Director’s Cabinet at Soulpepper Theatre Company and was selected to be on the roster of clowns for Cirque Du Soliel. He was awarded the Ken MacDougal Award for Emerging Director and most recently the Ontario Arts Council’s Pauline McGibbon Award as Emerging Director.


Daniel Brooks


Cathy Crowe 

Cathy is Canadian Street Nurse, educator, author, social justice activist and filmmaker, specializing in advocacy for the homeless in Canada. She is a frequent commentator on issues related to health, homelessness and affordable housing. She is currently a Distinguished Visiting Practitioner in the Faculty of Arts, Department of Politics an Public Administration at Ryerson UniversityShe is noted for her work with the homeless and poor populations in Canada's largest city, Toronto She is an activist for affordable housingpublic health and social justice. In 1998, along with other social justice activists and academics, she co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC).

Speakers 2016-17

André Alexis. Novelist, playright, short-story writer. His debut novel, Childhood(1997) won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and was winner of the Trillium Award.  His most recent novel, Fifteen Dogs, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize and Rogers Writer' Trust Fiction Prize, and was shortlisted for the Toronto Awards.

Mahmoud Allouch has a sister living in Washington D.C. and has her green card, which makes her a legal permanent resident of the United States.

Mahmoud Allouch. Mahmoud began as a volunteer with the Arab Community Centre, and has now put his engineering career on hold to manage the Syria Project at the Centre and help Syrian newcomers integrate socially, economically, politically and civically. 

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Vasiliki Bednar.  Manager of Engagement and Executive Assistant to the Director, UofT's School of Public Policy. Vice Chair of the Meal Exchange Board of Directors and Chair of U.F.C "Ultimate Fiction Club," a bookk club for women in Toronto.

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Donna- Michelle St. Bernard. Emcee, playwright, director and arts administrator working for change through the arts. 

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Carolyn King. Former elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and completed one two-year term in political office from December 1997 to December 1999.First woman ever elected as Chief of her First Nation. Facilitator, resource person for Aboriginal/First Nation Peoples in Canada and helps people develop a better understanding of Aboriginal/First National Peoples in Canada.

Speakers 2015-16

Maggie Helwig. Maggie Helwig has published six books of poetry as well as two novels, two books of essays and a book of short stories. She is the editor of the micropress Lowlife Publishing; has worked as literary editor at Canadian Forum and editor of Canadian Poetry Review. 


Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard is an emcee, playwright, director and arts administrator working for change through the arts. 

Ken Greenberg. Ken Greenberg is an urban designer, teacher, writer, former Director of Urban Design and Architecture for the City of Toronto and Principal of Greenberg Consultants.


Miriam Toews. Miriam Toews is a Canadian Novelist with 6 titles under her belt. Recipient of the Governor General's Literacy Award for fiction for her novel ' A Complicated Kindness'.

Previous Speakers

Dr. Kwamie McKenzie

Dr. Kwamie McKenzie is an international expert on the social causes of mental illness, suicide and the development of effective, equitable health systems.

Donna Michelle St. Bernard

Donna Michelle St. Bernard is an emcee, playwright, director and arts administrator working for change through the arts. 

Judith Thompson

Judith Thompson has been awarded the Governor General's Award for drama and is a recipient of the Order of Canada.

Fiona Crean

Fiona Crean is Toronto's first Ombudsman and has done internationaldevelopment work for governments and community organizations.

Anne Michaels

Anne Michaels is an award-winning writer and composer of musical scores for theatre.

Mitzie Hunter

Mitzie Hunter, the CEO of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, will be speaking on transforming obstacles in building the city.

Rahul Bhardwaj

Rahul Bhardwaj, President & CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation, has been working to engage philanthropy in Toronto to address challenges facing the city.

Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley is a celebrated Canadian actor, singer, film director, and screenwriter.

Denise Balkissoon

Denise Balkissoon writes about and explores interactions between communities, cities, countries and the world.

Brad Fraser

Brad Fraser is one of Canada’s best known playwrights, in addition to being a director for stage and film.

Matt Galloway

Matt Galloway is a radio personality, the host of Metro Morning. He makes Toronto sound like Toronto.


Cathy Crowe

Cathy Crowe is a Street Nurse in Toronto. She has worked in the area of homelessness since 1988.

Jane Farrow

Jane Farrow is a writer and radio broadcaster. She has a degree in Social Anthropology from University of Toronto and has worked at CBC Radio One since 1998.

Meric Gertler

Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto, speaks on the role of the university in the creative city.