Speakers

Learn more about our expert speakers and the experiences they bring to the table:

Tracey Grose holds an MSW degree from the University of Georgia and a certificate in School Social Work from Wayne State University. She has worked in children’s community mental health in Detroit, Michigan and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. After returning to Ontario, Tracey obtained a permanent position as the first Black social worker, with the Durham District Board of Education. Tracey has been involved in many initiatives including as an Executive member of the  Durham Black Educators Network, facilitator of Community Connection for the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies’ “One Vision, One Voice” study, community representative on the African Canadian adaptation of Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) and she is currently the Chair of the Ontario Association of Social Workers School Social Work Advisory Group. Most recently, Tracey has assumed the role of Culturally Responsive School Mental Health Practices Lead with School Mental Health Ontario. 

Dr. Deepy Sur is the Chief Executive Officer at the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW). She is a visionary leader who brings a unique blend of innovative thinking with diverse social work expertise and management experience. She holds a PhD in Social Work Administration from Walden University, a Master of Social Work from York University, and a Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University. Deepy holds extensive clinical social work experience in mental health especially working with children and adults, trauma informed care, and sexual assault survivors. Her work in public health focused on promotion, prevention, and evaluation. During her 12-year tenure at Trillium Health Partners, Deepy held formal leadership roles in the Strategy Management Office, Ambulatory Care and Medical Education. She has led health system planning at the Toronto Central Local Health Integrated Network as a Director of Integration and Planning and has a passion for healthcare. In addition, Deepy has also been an Assistant and Adjunct Clinical Professor at McMaster University and currently is a Faculty Instructor and Curriculum Designer for the Medical Psychiatry Alliance’s Collaborative Care Certificate Program. She is also regularly involved in completing research publications as part of her ongoing commitment to the profession. Her research interests include interprofessional care and empathy in social work practice. Since joining OASW Deepy has been focused on the implementation of a new provincial member engagement structure and increasing professional development opportunities for social workers in partnership with government grants. Renewed strategic directions at OASW have resulted in over 10% growth in membership and a deepening commitment to equity integration. She looks forward to continued advocacy, partnership and raising the profile of social workers across Ontario. 

Zhawano Binesek, Atik Dodemii, also known as Tina Armstrong, is a member of Bearskin Lake First Nation within the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Territory. She is a grandmother of two beautiful children, mother of three amazing adults and an incredible partner of 36 years. Tina is a 2nd degree Midewin who belongs to the beautiful Minweyweyigaan Mide Lodge in Manitoba. Ms. Armstrong holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University, and is a Registered Social Worker. As a translator, educator, helper, teacher, mentor and seasoned facilitator, Zhawano Binesek brings with her over 30 years of experience working with the Indigenous Peoples in many different capacities from frontline roles, to leadership positions. Tina is currently an Elder within the Master of Social Program at Wilfred Laurier University and has been in this role for over 11 years. Zhawano Binesek currently has her own private practice as an Indigenous Cultural Practitioner and Clinician utilizing Indigenous ways of knowing, seeing, doing and being with the people she walks with. As a registered Health Care Provider for Health Canada under the NHIB and IRS programs, Tina works with individuals and families locally, and from the various First Nations within Northwestern Ontario. 

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her writing, research, teaching, and educational advocacy work meet at the intersection of education reform, anti-racism, carceral studies, abolition, and Black joy. The aim of her scholarship is twofold: firstly, to advance how the field of education understands and critiques the systemic and structural racism of public education within the U.S.; and secondly, to advocate for abolitionist approaches in the field of education that seek new possibilities for educational justice. In the pursuit of making her scholarship a reality, she works with activists, communities, youth, families, and school districts to build communal, civically-engaged schools rooted in the aspirations of abolitionist strategies that love and affirm Black and Brown children. In 2020, Dr. Love co-founded the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN). ATN’s mission is simple: develop and support teachers and parents to fight injustice within their schools and communities. In 2020, Dr. Love was also named a member of the Old 4th Ward Economic Security Task Force with the Atlanta City Council. The goal of the Task Force is to advance dialogue and form tangible solutions for guaranteed income.

Dr. Love is a sought-after public speaker on a range of topics, including: Abolitionist Teaching, anti-racism, Hip Hop education, Black girlhood, queer youth, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic engagement, and issues of diversity and inclusion. She is the creator of the Hip Hop civics curriculum.

In 2014, she was invited to the White House Research Conference on Girls to discuss her work focused on the lives of Black girls. For her work in the field of Hip Hop education, in 2016, Dr. Love was named the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. In April of 2017, Dr. Love participated in a one-on-one public lecture with bell hooks focused on the liberatory education practices of Black and Brown children. In 2018, Georgia’s House of Representatives presented Dr. Love with a resolution for her impact on the field of education. She has also provided commentary for various news outlets including NPR, Ed Week, The Guardian, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. 

She is the author of the books We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including Educational Researcher, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and the Journal of LGBT Youth.

Patrick Case, LSM, LL.B., LL.M. is the Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Equity Officer in the Education Equity Secretariat of the Ministry of Education. Case was most recently an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph. He is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and director of the Osgoode Hall Law School Certificate Program in Human Rights Theory and Practice. 

Claudine Munroe is a policy professional who has worked in the Ontario Public Service for almost 20 years, half of which have been spent at the Ministry of Education in various roles. Since September 2018, Claudine has been the Director of the Special Education / Success for All Branch at the Ministry of Education. She has also served in a number of community organizations: working with dually diagnosed adults in a group home setting, in an emergency women’s shelter, as part time faculty at Centennial College and developing/implementing a culturally specific prevention and intervention program for youth and adults in or at risk of being in conflict with the law. Claudine holds a Master of Education from OISE.

Dr. Kathy Short is a Clinical Child Psychologist with research and practice interests in school mental health promotion, knowledge mobilization, and implementation science. She is the Executive Director for School Mental Health Ontario, a provincial implementation team supporting the uptake and sustainability of evidence-informed mental health promotion and prevention programming in schools. Dr. Short has served on several provincial advisory groups, including the Student Well-Being Advisory Committee for the Ministry of Education, the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council for the Ministry of Health, and the COVID-19 Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Table. She helps to lead the Canadian School Mental Health Leadership Network and co-chairs the School Mental Health International Leadership Exchange (SMHILE), a network of global leaders focused on key themes in mental health promotion.

Dr. Gillian Parekh is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Disability Studies and Education (Tier 2) within the Faculty of Education at York University. As a previous teacher in special education and research coordinator with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Gillian has conducted extensive system and school-based research in Toronto in the areas of structural equity, special education, and academic streaming. In particular, her work explores how schools construct and respond to disability as well as how students are organized across programs and systems.

Dr. Ann Lopez is a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Dr. Lopez's teaching and research focus on anti-racist, decolonizing, culturally-responsive and socially-just leadership in education and schooling. Her research methodologies include narrative inquiry, collaborative action research, case studies, and biographical research. Dr. Lopez is interested in examining school leadership across contexts, and especially the Global South. 

Laura Arndt is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the Survivors Secretariat for Six Nations. She was recently appointed as a lay member of the Law Society Tribunal in June 2021. She is a band member at Six Nations, and currently on leave from the position of Chair, in the School of Advancement at Centennial College to assume the CFO role. She has worked in human rights and child rights and social policy. Her work has taken her to the United Nations, Senate Committee hearings and before Inquest proceedings. She has authored and contributed to numerous reports. Notably, she has been involved with reports tied to the Review of First Nations jury representation; Coroner’s review into the deaths in Pikangikum, including, Indspire’s seminal report on the experiences of Indigenous Post-Secondary students in the post Truth and Reconciliation Landscape.

As featured in CTV, CBC, and other publications, Fauzia Agbonhin is a 19-year-old Nigerian-Canadian slam poet and author of I Never Truly Hated You. She has represented London in two national festivals. She and her London team were ranked fourth place in Canada at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word Poetry 2019. To add, Fauzia performed at the first ever BLM protest in London Ontario with over 10,000 people. Fauzia is a recipient of the 2019 Lewis Coray TrailBlazer Award from the London Police and was showcased in the 2020 Night of Hero’s for Community Living London. 
 
Additionally, she has performed for several organizations including Photography Without Borders, the Pillar Community Innovations Awards The Pathways to Prosperity National Conference, for the Minister of   Refugees, Immigration, and Citizenship, for the Thames Valley District School Board's Diversity Conference, the Black Employee Network at TD bank, the Black Students Association at Western University, the Journeys to Migration 2019 event, the Life as a Refugee 2019 conference, several events at LUSO Community Services and for the kids in care at the Children's Aid Society. In her poetry, Fauzia addresses diversity, racism, mental health, anxiety, and many other social justice issues that face our society today.

Jean Augustine attended Toronto Teachers’ College before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto. She earned her Masters in Education while working as an elementary school teacher with the Metropolitan Separate School Board in Toronto. She was later promoted to principal, then Supervisory Officer, where she helped shape the lives of a number of young students; all the while deeply involved in grassroots efforts out in the community. 

Ms. Augustine’s contribution expanded to many social causes through her involvement on boards such as that of York University, The Hospital for Sick Children, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Harbourfront Corporation. She also served as the National President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada. Her capacities and work ethic were recognized by political leaders who began to call upon her for various tasks ranging from the development and launch of Canada's official multiculturalism policy in 1971; to providing advice on cabinet level appointments. In 1988, she was appointed to chair the Metro Toronto Housing Authority, a multi-million dollar social housing authority serving 300,000 residents in rent-geared to income housing.

In 1993, Jean Augustine made history as the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons as the Member of Parliament from the Greater Toronto Area constituency of Etobicoke-Lakeshore. She served with distinction winning four consecutive elections until she decided to move on to new challenges in 2006. Over this period in Parliament, her work included Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Minister of Multiculturalism and the Status of Women; Chair of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade committee; Chair of the Human Rights Committee, three-time Chair of the National Women’s Caucus; and in her last year, she was elected Deputy Speaker by her peers. 

In 2007, Jean Augustine was called on by the Government of Ontario to lead an important initiative commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the 1807 British Slave Trade Act. Later that year, she was appointed the first-ever Fairness Commissioner for the Province of Ontario, a role in which she would set new regulatory standards for clarity, openness and more streamlined access to employment conditions for foreign trained professionals until her retirement in 2015.

In 2009, Jean was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for her extensive contribution to Canadian society as a politician, educator and advocate for social justice. In 2012, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2014, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to education and politics. In 2020 she was appointed to the Order of Ontario.

Today, Jean remains involved with community activities including co-chairing the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women recognition and database, and the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment. She also funds three annual scholarships – at George Brown for single mothers; at Centennial College for young entrepreneurs; and at Humber College for students in the community studies program.

Lois Agard is currently a Superintendent of Education with York Region District School Board. Over the course of her career, Lois has supported the holistic and comprehensive development of students in the Ontario education and residential care systems. Lois’s care for youth and their social and emotional well-being has roots in her work in government funded group homes for at-risk youth. During her tenures as the Subject Head of Guidance and Career Education and the Subject Head of Special Education, Lois implemented and sustained literacy and Social Emotional Academic Learning (SEAL) transitional programs for high school students. She worked collaboratively with local, provincial, and international groups focused on approaches that empower and liberate all students with a focus on Black students, while centering student voice and lived experiences. As a secondary school principal, Lois strategically worked to make the school the focal point of the community by supporting all stakeholders and community partners to promote student achievement for every student. As a principal in two school boards, Lois has intentionally examined Special Education programs through a critical lens to dismantle oppressive practices. Working as a centrally assigned system principal in two school boards, Lois supported K-12 school operations and programming. Following George Floyd’s murder, as the world awakened to deep-rooted racial violence and injustice, Lois cofounded Administrators’ Black Caucus (ABC) and brought together Black principals from Ontario’s three largest school boards. ABC’s mandate is to lead transformational change and to secure accountability in education policies, systems, and affiliates across Ontario in service of Black students, community, staff, and administrators. As a Superintendent of Education, Lois provides support to a family of schools, including both secondary and elementary schools Lois continues to fulfill her greatest passion by working with the collective to unlock the full potential of all students while breaking down systemic and structural barriers that oppress and marginalize students, families, and communities.

Rana Nasrazadani is an advocate, educator, public speaker, and policy analyst. Her work focuses on the intersections of accessibility, human rights, and education in Canada. Informed by her lived experience navigating interlocking systems of oppression, Rana uses her passion for accessibility and equity to drive her comprehensive strength-based approach to disability rights advocacy. Rana has designed and facilitated workshops based on challenging ableism, creating accessibility, and centering the importance of youth voice and lived experience. Rana is currently a member of Ontario’s K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, which is working to develop a province-wide standard to improve accessibility within the education system. Rana has been featured in The Toronto Star, CBC, and has been a guest speaker at many advocacy events across Ontario. Rana holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Human Rights and Equity Studies and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law at York University. 

Charline Grant is currently the Chief Advocacy Officer with Parents of Black Children. Charline is an accomplished consultant in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion and a trailblazer in reforming the Canadian education system to create equity. She is dedicated to standing up against all forms of racism and hate. A passionate advocate for racialized students, she successfully won a human rights challenge against one of Ontario’s largest school boards. She was the chief advocate for a landmark change in the Ontario education system: hate-related incidents by teachers toward students are now included in the Ontario College of Teachers’ definition of professional misconduct. Charline is the first person appointed to the position of Provincial Education System Navigator for Parents of Black Children, advising parents on how to deal with racism in schools. She is active on the board of York Region Children’s Aid Society representing the needs of Black families. Charline also co-founded Parents of Black Children foundation to effectively engage school boards to create an equitable and peaceful educational experience, free from oppression and anti-Black racism for students of African Canadian descent.

Richard Marcano has dedicated his career to amplifying the voices of youth in Ontario’s systems of care. He is the president of the board of directors for the HairStory Project, an initiative that brings together black youth living in care to discuss their experiences, learn their rights and advocate for change. Richard has participated in a roundtable with the federal government, consulted on a bill with the Ontario government, presented the HairStory project to UN delegates and worked with the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the issue of racial profiling. 

Akiesha Absolon is a Registered Social Worker who completed her MSW at Wilfrid Laurier University through the advanced standing Indigenous field of study. Akiesha brings over a decade of experience in child welfare, corrections, mental health. Currently, Akiesha works as the Indigenous School Social Worker at Waterloo Region District School Board and Clinician through Noojimo Health. She is also an aunty, yoga teacher, and drum maker. Akiesha is of mixed settler ancestry and Anishinaabe from Flying Post First Nation.

Nick Bertrand is a proud Kanyenkeha:ka and member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. He is a father, partner, uncle, and educator. Coming from a background that has been deeply impacted by colonization, sharing truth alongside messages of hope and resiliency through the vehicle of education is what interests and drives Nick.  

Nick has worked in education for over 15 years in many roles including: an OCT certified teacher, a school board Indigenous Education Lead, and more recently as an Education Officer in the Ministry of Education. In September 2015, Nick was seconded to the Ministry of Education where he had the opportunity to work collaboratively on the development of Ontario’s curriculum strategy for the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Nick currently works in the Indigenous Education Office within the Ministry of Education.  

Grounded by the incredible support and generosity of Elders, Knowledge Keepers, community, family, and friends has allowed Nick to share space in a variety of educational settings. In life and in the education world, to move forward with a good mind, Nick has always believed that the foundation of this journey is rooted in strong relationships built on respect, understanding, and reciprocity
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Lakhdeep S. Dhaliwal has a passion and purpose for front line leadership in the field of Anti-Racism, Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion. Upon completion of a Master’s Degree in Education, Lakhdeep went on to become certified as an International Language Instructor and he has held various positions in academia such as Elementary School Teacher, Language Assessment Officer, LINC & ESL Teacher, College Instructor, and IELTS Invigilator. He has worked with school boards during New Teacher Induction Programs in both public and private settings. From community service providers to global corporations such as Shell Petroleum Global Solutions, YMCA Canada, Crown Indigenous Relations Northern Affairs Canada, Halton Regional Police Service, City of Cambridge, Oregon Institute of Technology, Federal Ministry of Diversity Inclusion Youth, Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers, and Parks Canada promoting dignity and respect for all. More recently, Lakhdeep fully transitioned from Instructor at Conestoga College School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services to Vice President of Equity Education with unlearn. Recently, Lakhdeep began a two year project with Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) as a program lead on Hate Crime Reporting.


Note: Speakers are listed by order of appearance in the Symposium program. Additional speakers may be added as they are confirmed.