The Planning Committee is currently in the process of building the conference schedule, and they are excited to share the details with you as soon as they are confirmed – stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can expect to participate in exciting and engaging keynote and breakout sessions on the following topics:

  • Advocacy for marginalized populations
  • Storytelling
  • Sexuality
  • Mindfulness and personal well-being
  • A panel discussion on human rights, including perspectives of self-advocates and human rights lawyers
  • Trauma
  • Universal design
  • Jordan’s Principle
  • Social media safety
  • More to come!

Visit this page regularly to learn more about speakers and sessions, or get in touch with us to provide a suggestion of what you’d like to see.


Jesse Wente: Broadcaster, Advocate & Pop Culture Philosopher, @jessewente


Jesse has appeared on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning as film and pop culture critic for 20 years. He previously served as Director of Film Programmes, at TIFF Bell Lightbox, where he oversaw theatrical, Cinematheque and Film Circuit programming. A self-described ‘Ojibwe dude’ with a national and international lens, he encourages audiences to consider diversity and inclusion into the future view of their organization, industry and country.

Ian Campeau: DJ, Co-Founder of A Tribe Called Red & Indigenous Advocate, @deejayndn


Ian, also known as DJ NDN, is the co-founder & former member of the music group A Tribe Called Red (ATCR). Through a powerful combination of art and activism, he uses his notoriety to draw attention to issues of racism, gender based violence, stigmas of mental health, and other forms of oppression. He is Ojibwe, Anishinaabe from the Nipissing First Nation.


Michael McCreary: Comedian & Speaker, @aspiecomicfullsizeoutput_eed

See the world through Michael’s eyes as he takes you on a comical journey through the lighter side of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Diagnosed at the age of five, he’s combined his love of comedy and his obsession with Hollywood movies into a career as a comedian.

Keith Macpherson: 
Certified Life Coach & Mindfulness Advocate, @keithmmac

For Keith, mindfulness and music are the universal languages that bring people together in harmony as one planet. As a certified life coach and longtime yoga instructor, he has a strong dream of accessible health and wellness for the global community.



Bio Picture (2)Charlie Appelstein: Instructor, @charlieap

Charlie is a youth care specialist and author whose focus is on teaching positive, strength-based theories and techniques to professionals who guide at-risk children and youth. He trains and consults primarily with treatment facilities, foster care associations, parent groups, schools, and juvenile justice programs. Charlie’s strength-based approach delivers a message of hope and possibility to our most vulnerable youth and those who shape and influence their lives.

fullsizeoutput_f05Alysha Farrell: Assistant Professor, Brandon University

Alysha is passionate about working with others to tell stories through drama that challenge social marginalization and open spaces for self-advocacy. She’s taught in the public school system in Manitoba and worked as an educational consultant for the Manitoba School Improvement Program to support youth-driven social justice projects. Currently, Alysha works with students to critically examine the stories we inherit about others and the stories we tell about ourselves.

fullsizeoutput_effAndrew Gurza: Disability Awareness Consultant, @andrewgurza

Andrew is a writer, podcast host and an accomplished voice on the intersectionality of queerness and disability. His written work has been featured in Los Angeles Times, Men’s Health, Daily Xtra, Gay Times UK, Huffington Post, The Advocate, Everyday Feminism, Mashable,, and several anthologies. He has guested on a number of podcasts including Dan Savage’s Savage Love and Cameron Esposito’s Queery. He is the host of DisabilityAfterDark: The Podcast Shining a Bright Light on Sex and Disability.

Dr. Jennifer Katz: Author & Assistant Professor

Dr. Katz received her PhD in 2008 from the University of British Columbia in inclusive education. She OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAis the author of three books on universal design and has taught in diverse classrooms from K-12 in Winnipeg and Vancouver for 16 years, including both special education classrooms and inclusive classrooms, in addition to working as a resource teacher, guidance counsellor, and consultant. Her work as an advocate of inclusive education has become known internationally. Dr. Katz is currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at UBC.


Peter Leidy: Consultant, @peterleidy fullsizeoutput_f2f

Peter has been learning from elders and people with disabilities since 1983. He is a speaker, facilitator, songwriter, and improviser who focuses on personalized supports and community membership. Peter is also an associate with A Centre for Conscious Care, based in Ontario, and works part-time with the Council on Quality and Leadership.

Yona Lunsky: Scientist & Psychologist

Yona is a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and director of ICESthe Health Access Research and Developmental Disabilities (H-CARDD) Program and the Azrieli Centre for Adult Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Mental Health. She is a clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. In addition to authoring nearly 200 research papers focused on developmental disabilities, she is involved in many educational efforts aimed at professionals, people with disabilities, and families.

Cara Milne: Instructor 

Cara is the award-winning author and owner of M-Powered Planning Ltd, a Calgary based business  fullsizeoutput_f03that promotes positive and valuable roles for people with disabilities. The variety of workshops and seminars encourage staff and families to see the strengths of their existing services, and simple strategies that create positive changes in the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities. Cara’s positive and energetic approach supports both common sense and sustainable change.

Grant Mitchell: Retired Lawyer and Instructor

Grant recently retired after practicing law for almost 40 years at Taylor McCaffrey where he focused on labour, employment and human rights law. He acted as an external counsel to the Human Rights Commission before they had internal counsel. Grant represented disability organization, People in Equal Participation Inc., as an intervenor in the Robert Latimer Murder Trial. The trial hit close to home to him as his eldest daughter has cerebral palsy. He also taught at University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law for 22 years in labour relations and trial advocacy.  He has represented many of the largest and most prestigious employers in Manitoba, including the largest universities, municipalities, manufacturers, construction companies, retail companies and service organization.

Lisa Morrisseau & Nikki Swirsky: Speakers

Lisa and Nikki are speakers from Visions and Voices, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Speaker’s Bureau.

Lisa has learned a lot about herself and FASD through raising her three children. She enjoys telling VV_intro_jpgstories of the challenges she has faced within health and education systems in a humorous and engaging way. Lisa says, “we all struggle, but we all struggle a little more or a little differently.”

As a single mom, Nikki relies on her relationships with her mom and siblings as she raises her daughter. Diagnosed with FASD as an infant, she has suffered from numerous health problems throughout her life. Nikki says, “I know I’m different, but I’ve also been taught that I can do anything if I just set my mind to it.”


Additional speakers to be announced soon.