TEDxToronto, the 6th annual local TED event (carrying on the mission of “Ideas Worth Spreading”) took place yesterday at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The event brings in engaging speakers to do short 10-15 minute presentations. This year’s theme was “Relentless Pursuits” and, as such, all the speakers were selected based on their drive to achieve their goals. As described by TEDxToronto, “Relentless pursuits feed our curiosity of the world, and present worthwhile challenges that bring meaning to our lives.”
The annual event is always live-streamed, and the videos are eventually posted on the TedxToronto website soon after the event. If any of the below speakers sound appealing, check them out when you get a chance. This year, 14 different speakers took the stage to share their stories.
After a performance of “Ravel’s Bolero” by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the first speaker took the stage. Keith Vanderlinde, a cosmologist, shared his story about spending eight months at the South Pole exploring the universe (showering only twice per week for two minutes). The next speaker was Gabriela Mastromonaco, the Curator of Reproductive Programs and Research at the Toronto Zoo, who talked about the necessity of zoos in the world and how the perception of them is all wrong. While tens of thousands of animals around the world are at risk of extinction, zoos help to maintain and even grow what would otherwise be dwindling populations.
Nav Bhatia (aka the “Raptors Superfan”) explored how basketball relates to community and equality. Sharing stories about racism (such as being referred to as a “towelhead” or mistaken as a cab driver), Nav went on to say that, “If there is heaven on Earth, it is here in Canada.” He finished his talk with a challenge: to go outside of your comfort zone, or where you do not feel welcome, and change perceptions. Colin Boyd Shafer and Rachel Parent also presented before the lunch break.
In the second half, there were talks by Tarik Sayeed, Jamil Jivani, Pantea Razzaghi, Dr. Margot Taylor, Ana Serrano and David Fleet. The two talks that felt most engaging in the afternoon were Sabrina Jalees and John Cruickshank. Sabrina, a comedian, talked about the growth of her stand-up and herself as a person as she came out of the closet. She learned that coming out is “a lot like cliff jumping. In relationships that matter, eventually the water is there.” Her talk was both interesting and hilarious, with lines like, “My dad’s Muslim so when I came out, he was expecting me to get 12 wives.”
Next up, John Cruickshank, the publisher of the Toronto Star, talked about the world and politics. News literacy and political literacy go hand-in-hand, and both are lacking in society: “We need schools to teach kids what’s going on in our communities and teach them to care.” The day ended with a presentation on chasing your dreams and a desire to be the best in the world from Olympian and world record holder Adam van Koeverden.
You can check the full schedule, including bios and introductory videos for each of the speakers, at TEDxToronto on the website (where you will also soon be able to find all the full published talks from the event).
If you attended the talks, which ones were your favourites? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.