Keynote: Artist & Educator on Self-Expression, Identity and Inclusivity 
An acclaimed artist, Vivek Shraya uses music, literature, visual art, theatre, and film to engage audiences on topics like mental health, queerness and inclusion. Inspiring audiences to celebrate who they are, she challenges the ways we are taught to think about gender and offers insights on how to create change. In each presentation, Vivek highlights her experience while creating space for audiences to reflect on and share their own. Her work has been featured on CBC’s Best Canadian Albums and The Globe and Mail’s Best Books.
Meet your Keynote Speaker

Bold, cultural insight” – On Vivek Shraya’s work by Booklist 

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, PartTime 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.   

Meet your Moderator

Michael Green (he/him) was born in a small coastal town in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Growing up isolated from supports and resources, he has a deep understanding of the value of supporting mental health. His career has spanned provinces and industries, a journey from hospitality and sales to management and advocacy, bringing him now to the Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta Division where he proudly serves Youth Hubs Alberta as Learning and Resource Coordinator. At this point in the bio, Michael would like to remind you to take a moment for yourself to breathe. And also hydrate, he always forgets so he wants to remind you, too.

An Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton) resident for a decade, Michael has spent much of that time supporting and leading grassroots advocacy work across rural Alberta with fearless whimsy. His work in 2SLGBTQ+ education and mental health support taught him the revolutionary power of sustaining hope through connection, storytelling, and empathy. When he’s not pondering the perfect metaphor to describe a frustratingly complex topic, you can find Michael listening to astoundingly niche science podcasts or walking his baby-faced rescue dog, Davey, in the beautiful river valley.

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Tansi — Cree | Oki — Blackfoot | ​Aba washded — Stoney (Nakota) | ​Ɂedlanet’e — Dene |  We respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional lands and territories of Indigenous people in Alberta. We want to recognize the significance of our relationships with the land and the peoples who call this ‘home.’ We commit to a reciprocal relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews that honour and respect ways of knowing and being.