Vivek Shraya is a multidisciplinary artist who tackles topics such as community, diversity, identity, leadership, failure, and pop culture in her talks, her artwork and her music. Her work How to Fail as a PopStar, has become a book, a play and currently being adapted into a television pilot script with the support of CBC. Her best-selling book, I’m Afraid of Men, was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel.”
In 2021, she was invited to give the Kreisel Lecture where she addressed themes including the importance of showing up, the value of reflection, of communicating with intention and care, the vast extent of wellness, and more. She was also selected as a representative with Pantene for their 2021 campaign on the power of self expression.
Her work, The Subtweet, explores online living, and the promise & peril of being seen, described by Lambda Literary as “riveting…vividly centered in the here and now.”
Vivek was featured on The Globe and Mail’s Best Dressed list, was a Pride Toronto Grand Marshal, and chosen by M.A.C Cosmetics to represent their Originals campaign, celebrating nine Canadians who embrace their values of inclusivity, artistry and a love of high-performing makeup.
Her South-Asian heritage and her ‘aims to educate and inspire audiences about topics including mental health, queerness, and inclusion,’ was featured by Vogue India, as one of five fearless Indian LGBTQI+ personalities to follow on Instagram.
A Polaris Music Prize nominee, she is one half of the music duo Too Attached and her album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part-Time Woman, was included in CBC ’s list of Best Canadian Albums of 2017. She’s also currently a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation.
She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary. She’s the author of more than 10 books and is a seven-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, who’s also earned honours from The Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Publishing Triangle. She’s founded VS books, and in 2021, is offering a mentorship and publishing opportunity for an Indigenous or Black writer, or a writer of colour, over the age of 50 living in Canada.
Her body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, spoken word, and film.
Dr. Alika Lafontaine (MD, FRCPC) is an award-winning physician, social innovator, and the first Indigenous doctor listed in Medical Post’s 50 Most Powerful Doctors. He was born and raised in Southern Saskatchewan with a mixed Indigenous ancestry of Metis, Anishinaabe, Cree and Pacific Islander.
Alika has served in provincial and national medical leadership positions for almost two decades. In August 2022 he will become the first Indigenous physician to serve as President of the Canadian Medical Association, the national voice of Canada’s physicians. Dr. Lafontaine is a respected authority on health systems, change management, social innovation, anti-racism, and reflective practice.
From 2013 to 2017 Dr. Lafontaine co-led the Indigenous Health Alliance project, one of the most ambitious health transformation initiatives in Canadian history. Led politically by Indigenous leadership representing more than 150 First Nations across three provinces, the alliance successfully advocated for $68 million of federal funding for Indigenous health transformation in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. He was recognized for his work in the alliance by the Public Policy Forum, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented the award.
In 2020, Dr. Lafontaine co-founded Safespace Networks with his brother Kamea, an Indigenous dentist and software developer. Safespace Networks is a Web 3.0 learning platform for safe and anonymous reporting of healthcare harm and waste. Patients and providers use the platform to share their lived and observed experiences, providing insights into healthcare systems without risk of retaliation. These insights can be used by patients to better navigate health systems, or by decision-makers, advocates, and funders to make better informed decisions.
Dr. Lafontaine continues to practise anesthesia in Northern Alberta.
Vu Le is the former executive director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by supporting leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Vu is a founding board member of Community-Centric Fundraising, a movement that aims to ground fundraising practices in racial equity and social justice. Vu was born in Vietnam. He and his family came to the US when Vu was eight. He spent several years in Seattle, attending elementary and middle school, before moving to Memphis, Tennessee for high school and St. Louis for college and graduate school. He has a BA in Psychology and a Master in Social work. He is a vegan, a father of two kids (ages eight and five), and a staunch defender of the Oxford Comma.