Speakers and Performers

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Anthony Schrag

Regina Hartwick

Acting Associate Dean, Indigenous Education & Engagement
Humber College

A Kichi-Sìbì Anishinàbekwe, Regina Hartwick is honoured to serve as Acting Associate Dean, Indigenous Education & Engagement at Humber College. With eight years of experience in Indigenous Student Services, nine years of experience teaching within and developing Indigenous Studies courses, and sixteen years of combined academic experience in Canadian Studies, Indigenous Studies, Psychology and Social Services, Regina is an accomplished Indigenous scholar who recognizes the challenges, privileges and responsibilities of post-secondary education.

She has sought to transform education in ways that are more inclusive of Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing. Through her community work, teaching, research, and academic writing, Regina honours the gifts, offerings and teachings of those who came before, making tracks that are with each step a dedication to generations that will follow.

Under the mentorship of Michi Saagiig scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Regina is currently completing her Doctorate in Indigenous Studies at Trent University and is focusing her research on stories of presence that speak not only of dispossession but also of strength and resilience in the face of innumerable odds.

The intersection of narrative memory and beliefs on what it means to be Anishinabe within the complex relational nexus of the Kichi Sìbì, act as anchor that brings to the forefront a (re)imagining of how Anishinàbeg might realize the full potential of our human embodiment, with healthy hearts, minds, bodies and spirits

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Anthony Schrag

Dr. Anthony Schrag

Dr. Schrag (BFA, MFA, PhD, FHEA) is Senior Lecturer of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. He is also the Programme Leader of the MA Arts Festivals and Cultural Management and Co-programme leader of the MA Applied Arts and Social Practice.

He is a practicing artist and researcher who has worked nationally and internationally, including residencies in Iceland, USA, Canada, Pakistan, Finland, The Netherlands and South Africa, among others. He works in a participatory manner, and central to his practice is a discussion about the place of art in a social context.

Performer: Stephanie Tolev

Stephanie Tolev

Steph Tolev is a stand up and sketch comedian from Toronto, currently living in Los Angeles. Her unique brand of absurd and personal comedy has made her an audience favorite across North America both on stage and on television. As a stand up, Steph has done the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal four times and was featured in three TV Gala’s on The Comedy Network and one on the CBC from the Halifax Comedy Festival.  She was recently named one of Vultures "Comedians You Should and Will Know" and one of Comedy Central's “Up Next” comics to watch.

Steph had her first American TV debut this year on Bill Burr's new show "The Ringers" on Comedy Central. You can also see her web series on Comedy Central digital called "Steph & Deb" that she co-wrote and co-stars in. She was also featured in season two of "Corporate" on Comedy Central and on the Amazon show "Please Understand Me" produced by Sarah Silverman. Steph also won a Canadian Comedy award for Best Female Stand Up and was nominated for her sketch troupe Ladystache. 

She has now released two stand up albums that have all hit number 1 on iTunes "Hot N'Hungry" and her latest album "I'm Not Well" that is currently nominated for a Juno Award. 

Panelist: Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen

Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen

Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen is the Senior Coordinator -- Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility at the Royal Ontario Museum.

She works with over 100 community partners to facilitate inclusive and welcoming experiences at the ROM. She also coordinates accessibility for some of the ROM's exhibitions.

Panelist: Shawn Newman

Shawn Newman

Shawn Newman is the Research & Impact Manager at Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation. In this role, he leads all research, impact, and program evaluation projects for TAC grant programs and Foundation initiatives.

Currently, his research addresses the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts and culture sector towards developing reboot and recovery strategies in collaboration with colleagues at Ryerson University’s School of Creative Industries and School of Performance. His academic work has focused on performance, embodiment, identity, and power in and through black, Indigenous, and critical disability studies.

He is particularly interested in how ableism is mobilized in ways that support and amplify racism, sexism, and other forms of intersecting oppression. He has taught in the Department of Gender Studies and the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University as well as the Department of Dance at York University.

He holds a PhD in Cultural Studies and has had an international career as a dancer and choreographer. 

Panelist: Lindsay Fisher

Lindsay Fisher

Lindsay Fisher is the founder and director of Creative Users Projects, a disability-led national arts service organization working on connecting communities, cultivating inclusion and making difference discoverable and vital in a world that’s transforming to digital.

Lindsay also works with a large team of researchers, artists, and community members at Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, a University of Guelph SSHRC research project. As an artistic producers, she helps build collaborative partnerships between artists, arts organizations, activists, scholars, and educators with the goal of opening dialogue about charged and difficult topics related to disability and access.

She has a background working in the arts sector as a multi-disciplinary artist and curator. She studied fine art at ECIAD University (Vancouver) completing her BFA and then later went on to complete her BDes in design at OCAD University with an interest in utilizing creative and strategic thinking to problem-solve with communities and help make the world a better place to live.

As a woman with lived experiences of disability and difference, Lindsay’s trajectory through the arts is motivated by a desire to build more opportunities and spaces for difference to catalyze art and human connection. 

Panelist: Cyn Rozeboom

Cyn Rozeboom

Cyn Rozeboom has over 25 years experience in the non-profit arts sector as a fundraiser, communications specialist, artist, and administrator. Since 2017 she has acted as the Executive Director of Tangled Art + Disability, a group boldly redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it; by supporting Deaf, Mad and disability-identified artists, cultivating Disability Arts in Canada, and enhancing access to the arts for artists, audiences, and enthusiasts.

Previous to Tangled, Cyn’s career highlights include founding the Art of the Danforth festival, a biennial multidisciplinary event presented in East Toronto 2010-2016; serving as the inaugural Managing Director of East End Arts; helping establish the Next Stage Theatre Festival during her tenure at the Toronto Fringe; and three years with Hospital Audiences Inc., a group which provides innovative arts-access services in New York City.

She has an MA in Communications, a Certified Fundraising Executive designation, and a college diploma in Radio & Television Arts. Cyn is particularly interested in the contradictions of human nature, construction of identities through story-telling, and the fluid dynamics of power within social structures.

Panelist: Heidi Persaid

Heidi Persaud

Heidi Persaud is an Event Coordinator for Tangled Art +Disability. Her interests focus on art administration and accessible event planning.

Heidi Holds a BFA at OCAD U and a post-graduate certificate in Arts Administration - Cultural Management.

She is currently a member of the Visual & Digital Arts/Art Foundation Program Advisory Committee at Humber College. 

Panelist: Gaëtane Verna

Gaëtane Verna

Gaëtane Verna has been the Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery since 2012. Previously, she was Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Musée d’art de Joliette (2006–12). From 1998 to 2006, she was the curator of the Foreman Art Gallery at Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke, while also teaching in the Art History department of both Bishop’s University and the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Gaëtane Verna holds an International Diploma in Heritage Administration and Conservation from the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris, France, and received a DEA and a Master’s degree in Art History from the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Verna has years of experience in arts administration, curating, publishing catalogues and organizing and presenting exhibitions by emerging, mid-career and established Canadian and international artists, including: Terry Adkins, John Akomfrah, Vasco Araújo, Fiona Banner, Ydessa Hendeles, Alfredo Jaar, Luis Jacob, Kimsooja, Yam Lau, Oswaldo Maciá, Javier Tellez, Denyse Thomasos, Bill Viola, YOUNG HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and Franz Erhard Walther, to name just a few.

She is the President of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Arts Council. In 2017 she was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) by the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France in Canada to spotlight and recognize her significant contribution to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.

Panelist: Dr. Julie Nagam

Dr. Julie Nagam

Dr. Julie Nagam (Metis/German/Syrian) is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media and is an Associate Professor in the department of Art History at the University of Winnipeg.  She is the inaugural Artistic Director for 2020/21 for Nuit Blanche Toronto, the largest public exhibition in North America.

Dr. Nagam's SSHRC research includes digital makerspaces + incubators, mentorship, digital media + design, international collaborations and place-based knowledge. She is a collective member of GLAM, which works on curatorial activism, Indigenous methodologies, public art, digital technologies, and engagement with place. As a scholar and artist she is interested in revealing the ontology of land, which contains memory, knowledge and living histories.

Dr. Nagam’s scholarship, curatorial and artistic practice has been featured nationally and internationally. She is the Director of Aabijijiwan New Media Lab and Co-Director of Kishadigeh Collaborative Research Centre in Winnipeg, Canada. 

Dr. Julie Nagam
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Collaboration and Digital Media
Artistic Director of Nuit Blanche Toronto 2020/21
Director of aabijijiwan New Media Lab and Co-Director of Kishadigeh Collaborative Research Centre
Associate Professor at the University of Winnipeg  


Panelist: Devyani Saltzman

Devyani Saltzman

Devyani Saltzman is a Canadian writer and curator with a deep interest in relevant, multidisciplinary, programming at the intersection between art, ideas and social change. She is the Director of Public Programming at the AGO, working across all disciplines and was previously the 2014-18 Director of Literary Arts at the Banff Centre, the first woman and first woman of colour in that role, as well as a founding curator at Luminato, North America's largest multi arts festival.

Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, The Atlantic and Tehelka, India's weekly of arts and investigative journalism. She sits on the boards of the Writers' Trust of Canada and SummerWorks Performance Festival, and has been a juror for the National Magazine Awards, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and The Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Saltzman has a degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Oxford.

Performer: Bageshree Vaze

Bageshree Vaze

Bageshree Vaze is an Indo-Canadian dance artist and musician. Raised in St. John’s, NL, she initially trained in Bharatha Natyam and studied Hindustani vocal music with her father, Damodar Vaze. She later trained in Kathak with Jai Kishan Maharaj in New Delhi and studied with the renowned vocalist Veena Sahasrabuddhe in Mumbai.

Bageshree has choreographed numerous dance works and has five CDs to her credit. Her breakthrough album Tarana (released as Khanak through Times Music in India), a CD of songs adapted and arranged for Indian dance, is accessed by dancers worldwide.

Bageshree has been commissioned by and has performed in major festivals including Dusk Dances, the CanAsian International Dance Festival, and Pt. Birju Maharaj’s Vasantotsav festival in New Delhi, and in 2010 she was a co-recipient of the K.M. Hunter Award in Dance.

Bageshree has a Masters degree in Dance from York University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Carleton University.

Panelist: Menon Dwarka

Menon Dwarka

Born in Guyana, Menon Dwarka returned to Canada after almost 20 years in New York City, serving as Music Program Director for the 92nd Street Y, Harlem School of the Arts and Greenwich House. Since his arrival in 2013, Menon has contributed greatly to Toronto’s cultural ecology.

- Board Member of the Canadian Opera Company, as well as chair of the COC's EDI committee
- Member of City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Thought Leader Panel
- Support Lead for the Metcalf Foundation’s Creative Strategies Incubator
- Member of the inaugural cohort of the Banff/Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leaders Lab
- Member of the Toronto Arts Council’s Board Nominating Committee

Menon has also lead several Canadian organizations including 918 Bathurst, Arts Etobicoke and Soundstreams. A more complete listing of his professional activities can be found on his LinkedIn page.

Panelist: Charity Chan

Charity Chan

Charity Chan is an Arts professional with a long-standing history of working across practices and communities to investigate and showcase the overlaps between the social and the cultural. With a focus on programming and creative production she has worked as producer, curator, presenter, musicologist, composer and performer with specializations in improvised music traditions, multidisciplinary performance, sound art and social aesthetics.

She is currently the Performing Arts Manager at the Aga Khan Museum. In addition to Toronto, she has worked in Montreal, throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America, including time spent at organizations such as the Ontario Science Centre, Pride Toronto, Suoni per il Popolo, Productions SuperMusique, Princeton University and McGill University.

She was an Andrew Mellon Fellow at the Centre for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and has been a research fellow at Columbia College’s Centre for Black Music Studies.

She holds degrees from McGill University and Mills College and has conducted doctoral research at Princeton University. Her work can be found on Innova Records, Tzadik, Ambiances Magnetiques and Carrier Records.

Performer: Nicole Sealey

Nicole Sealey

Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, forthcoming from Ecco in fall 2017, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the 2015 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize.

Her other honors include an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, a Daniel Varoujan Award and the Poetry International Prize, as well as fellowships from CantoMundo, Cave Canem Foundation, MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere.

Nicole holds an MLA in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She is the executive director at Cave Canem Foundation.

Performer: John Murillo

John Murillo

JOHN MURILLO is the author of the poetry collections, Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way Books 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way 2020).

His honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Recent poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in such publications as American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020.

He is an assistant professor of English at Wesleyan University and also teaches in the low residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada University. He lives in Brooklyn.

Panelist: Ben Dietschi

Ben Dietschi

Benjamin Dietschi is a senior consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, with 10 years of arts management experience informed by a 16-year career in the arts.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ben was executive director of Soundstreams, Canada’s leading contemporary music and opera producer. Starting in 2013, he quickly rose through roles of increasing responsibility until his appointment as administrative head in 2016, the result of an international search for the position.

Ben has served on the boards of several cultural institutions, frequently speaks at industry forums and conferences, and has served on numerous award and grant assessment panels. He received a distinguished alumni award from Brandon University.  Ben completed the DeVos Institute Global Arts Management Fellowship from 2017-2019.Fundamentally, his arts management ethos rests on formative years as a saxophonist and composer, performing and recording across North America and Europe, experiencing the transformative power of the arts firsthand.

Ben holds a graduate degree in jazz performance and composition from the University of Toronto.

Panelist: Michelle Yeung

Michelle Yeung

With over 15 years of not-for-profit and management experience in the arts, Michelle Yeung has a successful track record in arts administration, with a commitment to a culture of philanthropy and to the arts. Prior to joining the team at the School, Michelle has held positions with the Canadian Stage Company, Factory Theatre, Shrimp Magnet Theatre Company, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and most recently, the Toronto Arts Foundation.

She holds a B.A. (Hons) from York University, a B.F.A. from Ryerson University, post-graduate certificates from the Boston University, and Ivey Business School, and she is a Certified Fund Raising Executive. Michelle is also on the board of directors of Prologue to the Performing Arts, and the Network Group Conduit of Mass Culture.

Panelist: Mimi Moko

Mimi Mok

Mimi Mok has over 10 years of experience in the arts and culture sector in Canada and Asia, primarily in development and board relations. She is currently the Business & Development Director at The Theatre Centre.

Mimi previously worked in development for Canadian Stage, Esprit Orchestra, Canada’s Ballet Jorgen, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Highlights include the Marty Bragg Endowment Fund for Canadian Stage, a $1.5M campaign for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra’s 40th Anniversary, and winning the Aviva Community Fund for Canada’s Ballet Jorgen and The Theatre Centre.

In addition to development, Mimi also managed Esprit Orchestra’s China Tour in 2014, where the Orchestra performed 3 concerts in 2 cities on a 10-day tour, giving the Asian premieres of four works by iconic Canadian composers such as Murray Schafer, Alexina Louie, and Alex Pauk.Mimi recently completed her MBA at Schulich School of business, with a specialization in Arts, Media and Entertainment Management.

Moderator, Malindi Ayienga

Malindi Ayienga

Malindi Ayienga is a Toronto based artist, activist and founder of Diva Day. She has an Honours Bachelor degree in Musical Theatre Performance and a passion for people.

For the past year, Malindi has been combining her love of theatre and her love for children by performing at Young People's Theatre. Malindi strives to debunk shame through various mediums, including her Youtube channel Malindizoo, where she unpacks the stigma around mental illness, identity, and the musical theatre industry.

As a menstruator, Malindi found the DivaCup to be the most comfortable and convenient option when existing and performing in this world. When she heard that the young menstruators of her Fatherland were not attending school due to lack of access to menstrual health products, the DivaCup seemed like the perfect solution.

In 2017 Malindi founded "Diva Day International", and with the help of her team of fellow artists, have provided over 1000 girls in Kenya with access to DivaCups and menstrual health education.

Panelist: Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including in a solo show at Grunt Gallery, Vancouver (2068:Touch Change) and new work commissioned for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art and the Ryerson Image Centre (Antarctica and Ancestors, Do You Read Us? (Dispatches from the Future)) and in group shows at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Art Gallery of York University, the Art Gallery of Windsor and as part of the curated content at Nuit Blanche 2017 (The Stolen People; Wont Back Down). His performance works have been part of festivals across Canada, including at Cripping The Stage (Harbourfront Centre, 2016, 2019), Complex Social Change (University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, 2015) and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres (University of Winnipeg, 2015).

He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmed Crip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. Syrus' recent curatorial projects include That’s So Gay (Gladstone Hotel, 2016-2019), Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014) and The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013). Syrus is also co-curator of The Cycle, a two-year disability arts performance initiative of the National Arts Centre.

Syrus is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter- Toronto. Syrus is a co-curator of Blackness Yes!/Blockorama. Syrus has won several awards, including the TD Diversity Award in 2017. Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award (2012). Syrus is a PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Panelist: Sage Pentahtegoose

Sage Petahtegoose

Sage Petahtegoose is Anishnaabekwe and Elk clan from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, a reserve in Robinson Huron Treaty Territory.  A graduate of Humber’s Film, and Television Production program, Petahtegoose is an experienced actor having performed a leading role in the 2010 film Every Emotion Counts directed by Darlene Naponse. Petahtegoose is also an assistant director, location mixer, post-sound editor and experienced Moccasin maker/ instructor with Manitobah Mukluks.

Sage has learned her traditional craft-making from her grandmother and her mother, as well as taking on their beadwork, leatherwork, and sewing styles. Sage loves connecting with other young people through teaching and learning and hopes that in through her work with Manitobah Mukluks she will encourage others to walk in their culture with respect and pride.

Panelist, charles c. smith

charles c. smith

charles c. smith is a poet, playwright and essayist who has written and edited fourteen books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios, drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, edited three collections of poetry and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Poetry Canada Review, the Quille and Quire, Descant, Dandelion, Fiddlehead and others.charles is the Executive Director of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario and Artistic Director of the wind in the leaves collective. His recent books include: travelogue of the bereaved, The Dirty War: The Making of the Myth of Black Dangerousness, and, whispers (2014) and destination out (2018).


Baobá is a trio formed by Toronto’s top female percussionists taking traditional beats to the next level. Empowered by the natural musicality that flows from South American bodies, Anita Graciano, Y Josephine, Carla Dias and Mari Palhares, representing Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, respectively, demonstrate an ideal mix of voice, melody, and instrumentation. The seed for the group was planted on the common ground of friendship and perpetual art-making; performing primarily original songs, the quartet also throws in the occasional old-school Latin classic, all the while letting cumbia, salsa, funk, and Afro-Brazilian/Colombian/Venezuelan-inspired rhythms drive the sound.

Special Artists

Jacquie Comrie

Jacquie Comrie is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist whose vibrant body of work intersects contemporary art and wellness at a global scale, using colour as a medium of social impact and mental health. Whether as murals on buildings, large scale structures, or canvases, her body of work is a dynamic exploration of the science of colour as the universal language of human emotion.

Colour has been proven to have a direct effect to human emotion, for which her palettes are consciously designed and orchestrated aiming to cater to mental wellbeing at large. In such divisive times, and with mental health issues on the rise across the globe, her work aims to contribute to much needed spaces of mental elevation and reset,  to ultimately help improve quality of life of all individuals- one wall at a time.

Graphic Artist: Michelle Buchholz

Michelle Buchholz

Michelle Buchholz is a proud Wet’suwet’en woman and is a member of the Witset (Moricetown) Band and was raised in Smithers, BC. She is a member of the Gitumden clan and the Cassyex house. Michelle is a graphic facilitator and recorder and has worked with various clients including provincial and federal government, First Nation communities and organizations, universities, health authorities, consulting groups, youth groups, etc.

Her passion is working with Indigenous communities to raise Indigenous people up, with an emphasis on the health and wellness of Indigenous peoples.  Michelle holds a Master of Public Policy from SFU and completed her capstone project on developing policies to address anti-Indigenous racism in health care.