Yearly Archives: 2018



How could cows milked by robots be better off?

By Fellow Sally Guy

On a crisp November morn, we pulled up to Ferme Roystein, one of the most technologically advanced dairy farms in Quebec. We’d read quotes from the owners about increased efficiency and freedom and welfare for the cows but were still skeptical. We’d seen ‘technologically advanced farming’ in person.

Some of the Fellows are vegans or vegetarians, with deeply held beliefs that make visiting any kind of meat or dairy farm emotionally difficult. How could cows milked by robots be better off?

There was no keening. There was no prodding. Far from it, in fact. Guy Roy and his son, Michael, who helps operate the farm, knew them by name. The cows stretched their noses out to be scratched and were calmly lining up *on their own accord, on their own timeline* to be milked. The robotic milker was gentle, quiet—and they really seemed to enjoy the process.

Now I’m not saying it’s a utopia: calves still get separated from their mothers pretty early and the males get sent to slaughter. There’s also the issue of climate change and the resources that go into producing milk. But what I am saying is that these were calm, content cows, owned by a family that clearly loves them. They told us about how much friendlier the cows are now that the robots milked them: they used to have to be roped and separated from their herd to be milked. Now, they are much less stressed.

After the tour and breakfast with the whole Roy clan, Fellow Julien Valmary got up to formally thank our hosts. He eloquently celebrated the marriage of evidence and values, a sub-theme of Action Canada this year, on their farm. These folks had taken a risk on the latest evidence and technology with the promise that it would increase efficiency and competitiveness, but also that it would increase their cows’ welfare — something they value so highly. And it’s working.


This most recent study tour took place Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, 2018 in Montreal and Montérégie, and I’d be remiss not to offer thanks.

Thank you also to the amazing mentors and advisors: Brian Topp, André Juneau, Guillaume Lavoie, Elaine Feldman and Don Buckingham who are all so giving of their time and expertise.

And thank you most of all to the incredible invite(é)s who made time for us during this tour:

Guillaume Lavoie, who did double duty as mentor and speaker on this tour, gave us Anglophones from ‘ROC’ a breakdown of Quebec politics in an invaluable session called Quebec 101. He also had us all into his home (while his two young kids just really wanted to watch a Disney movie and go to bed) for drinks and conversation.

Chantal Hébert, who spent nearly two hours with us (almost making herself late for a TV appearance) answering our questions about populism, history and how to overcome our insecurities in the pursuit of truth-telling. And I’m not going to lie, we were pretty star-struck.

Morris Rosenberg, a man with more policy and leadership experience than many organizations’ staff have combined, talked to us about the critical importance of connecting most authentically with those with whom we have differences in values or opinions.

Jean-François Harel, of La Coop fédérée, who gave us rich insights into the the strengths of the co-op model, and talked about the lessons it could teach us, and how certain of its tenets could benefit government policy. Like Morris Rosenberg, he also reminded us that “il faut se parler, surtout si on ne s’entend pas” (we have to talk, especially if we can’t hear each other).

Charles-Félix Ross, Executive Director of l’Union des producteurs agricoles, delivered an in-depth presentation on the UPA’s roles, advocacy work and hopes for a vibrant agricultural sector in Quebec. His team also connected us with the Roy family for our farm visit for which we owe a great debt!

Suzanne Nault was also doing double-duty this time, again guiding the Fellows through a peer-coaching process that let us bring our most pressing and often very sensitive professional roadblocks to a space of trust and honesty, where we can get feedback from our colleagues. She also took us through a session on conversational intelligence, challenging us think about what makes us defensive and why, and how we can ask better questions. And, of course, we know good questions are at the heart of any good policy design process.

Jonathan Plamondon, Nathalie Chapdelaine and Emilie Nicolas, three Action Canada alumni, who spoke beautifully on the theme of finding your place. Jonathan reflected on the power of reciprocal relationships — how you will burn out if you aren’t getting something back from your work — while Nathalie talked about the great importance of challenging those that our society has sanctioned, or normalized, as power holders. Emilie had many (or me, at least), moved to tears, speaking about how the personal is the political — and how while we are very privileged to be part of a group designing policy, it’s actually a function of privilege to have the ability to disengage from policy: for so many, activism and involvement is a form of survival.

To all those who attended our dialogue dinner (and a huge thank you to the wonderful students at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, who served us an incredible meal), thank you for setting a place for us at the proverbial Action Canada table. Just due to proximity, I had the chance to speak most with Annie Sabourin — who shared a reminder about seeking the magic in the everyday — and Katherine Pineault — who I spoke to about the incredible importance of finding a balance and setting limits — so I owe them a special thanks for making me feel so warmly welcomed.

Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, who looked over each of our Task Forces’ work and offered up individual feedback to help refine our messages, all during the heaviest period of preparation for FSC’s 10th assembly, Resetting the Table. Us Fellows were actually lucky enough to have time to attend the opening plenary and a few other sessions: The Assembly brought together folks from so many different sectors, with many different viewpoints, but who all share a vision of a healthy, sustainable and fair food system for Canada.

I was lucky, in particular, to attend a session hosted by Anelyse Weiler, PhD Candidate and Trudeau Scholar whose research focuses on migrant agricultural workers, with two former workers from Jamaica who had been injured on the job. She facilitated an incredibly thoughtful dialogue between these two men and the audience, who was made up of union representatives, students, farmers, researchers, advocacy organizations, and, of course, us Fellows. If this session was any indication, Resetting the Table was a dynamic assembly indeed.

The Honourable Jean Charest, who invited the 16 of us up to his office and spent a good chunk of his day talking about his trajectory, the unexpected power of failure and the differences between being a ‘peace time’ and a ‘war time’ general. He challenged us to think big picture while never letting go of the everyday things that drive us: people, values, family.

Kate Heartfield, author and op-ed expert, who guided us through a wonderfully practical session on how to write effectively — and how to tailor to different audiences. As someone from the advocacy sector, she had me thinking about the danger of the ‘soft thesis’ (her term!): this general call-to-action, ‘you should care more because it’s the right thing to do’ trap that we can fall into when we work so closely on, and care so deeply about, a certain topic. I will carry this lesson forward in my work at the Canadian Association of Social Workers.

And thank you, of course, to the Roy family for taking the time to tour our noisy, unwieldy group through your farm, patiently answering our (often very *urban*) questions about the process and about the cows. At one point, while watching the robotic milker, I commented, “we’re in the future!” With a mix of pride and a tiny bit of mischief, Guy replied “no, we’re in the present.” It was an experience we won’t forget.

Thank you to Action Canada and Public Policy Forum Staff for another amazing tour. Anna Jahn, Jonathan Perron-Clow and Komlanvi Dodjro kept us organized and on-time, which you’ll know is a great feat if you’ve ever experienced the strange phenomenon of ‘toddlering’ (that is, the state of getting lost, bumping into one another, being suddenly unable to read a map) that afflicts any group of more than 10 adults who are transported together on a bus.

And to the other Fellows, like the opposite of that Shania Twain song, you impress me so much (I realize that it should actually be ‘That Do Impress Me Much,’ but, oh well). I think that will have to be a blog all on its own at some point.

Publié parPosted by Jonathan Perron-Clow
Nov 27th, 2018
27 Nov 2018



Saskatoon 2018: Who knew food was so controversial?

Hip young leaders pose for a selfie in front of cattle

Fellows and staff pose for a selfie with the cattle at the Pound-Maker Feedlot.

By 2018/2019 Action Canada Fellow Sally Guy:

As our cohort has been tasked with creating policy recommendations around the future of food, this was a question I heard whispered a number of times during the recent Action Canada tour in Saskatoon. And indeed, throughout our week in Saskatoon, Lanigan, Laird and other stops in between, many different tensions rose to the surface. Tensions around technological advancements, the environment, and also fundamental, ideological differences in what people value: the different ways we produce, eat, buy and live. That said, I didn’t leave the experience discouraged. In fact, quite the opposite. The tour left me energized, hopeful, and curious.

“What did you learn?”

That’s the question I’ve been asked the most since returning from Saskatchewan – and though I learned so much about agriculture, trade, the environment, and myriad other things – my lasting impression is more philosophical than practical: food is controversial because we care so deeply about it – because it touches each aspect of our lives, our planet. The tensions that exist are a sign of how very much people care. Each of the people we met genuinely – palpably – cared about their communities, their land and the impact of their practices.

“What’s your number one take away?”

That’s another one that comes up a lot – and after spending time in Saskatchewan, my takeaway is that people are incredibly generous. Generous with their time, with their patience and with their knowledge.

This tour was a veritable embarrassment of riches: amazing food (shout out in particular to Chef Jenni and SaskMade Marketplace – just, wow), golden fields as far as the eye can see and inspiring company.


Huge thanks are owed to:

Professor Richard Gray, who started us off with an introduction to agriculture in Saskatchewan, introducing key concepts like zero tillage, and making sure we had a good footing for the rest of the tour.

Dr. Wilf Keller, CEO of Ag-West Bio Inc., who explained the Protein Industries Canada Supercluster and patiently answered questions like, “what’s the difference between a Supercluster and REGULAR cluster? (basically, it’s bigger).

Alanna Koch, who educated us about the political landscape in Saskatchewan and provided courageous reflections on being a woman in politics — and got us all talking about work around gender that still needs to be done.

Dr. John Pomeroy and Dr. Jay Famiglietti of USask, who provided two of the most good-natured doomsday predictions you could ever ask for, leaving us chuckling at their black humour but knowing our work is cut out for us on climate change – it’s no small feat to simultaneously frighten and inspire.

Rob Norris of USask who took the time to take us on an impromptu tour of a synchotron – Canada’s Brightest Light Source – which is used for thousands of scientific applications and innovations.

Clinton Monchuk of Farm and Food Care SK and his father, Fred, who toured us around their family farm DURING Clinton’s mother’s birthday celebrations (and who, instead of asking when we’d be done already, offered us tupperwares full of cake to take on the rest of our tour) answering our endless questions that ranged from inquiring about spirituality and religion in farming communities to the safety of Roundup. Plus, they even let us up on their combines.

Action Canada Fellows stand in front of a combine

Action Canada Fellows posed in front of combines on the Monchuk farm to highlight their sheer size.

Ryder Lee, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association and Ellen Grueter of SaskCanola, who spent an entire day with us, offering reflections on not only the values of farming communities, but on practical matters like “are all cows this chubby?”;

The folks at Pound-Maker Feedlot & Ethanol Plant who likely answered 10 or so variations of the question “so how similar is this to moonshine?”

Petros asks a question wearing a hard-hat.

AC Fellow Petros Kusmu asks a tough question, likely related to the moonshine-like properties of ethanol.

Chris Randall, Director of the Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership, who led us on a walk around west Saskatoon, reflecting on poverty, gentrification, reconciliation and the critical importance of not only housing, but community and a sense of place – and introduced us his friend Keith Sanderson, a knowledge keeper who shared his story of hope and advocacy.

Dr. Don Buckingham, CEO of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, who came with us on multiple tours to offer behind the scenes commentary; his knowledge of the industry often allowing him to act as a second tour guide.

Dr. Priscilla Settee of USask, who provided rich insight into the impacts of on-going colonialism on traditional ways of being and modern food security, reminding us that lived experience is a crucial form of knowledge.

Glenna Cayen, who talked about the really neat innovations going on in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and how they are collaborating with folks with expertise in permaculture to build new community resources/spaces like a food forest.

Prof. Rachel Engler-Stringer – who I can’t help but think of as an honourary social worker because of the focus of her work – provided concrete examples on the incredibly interconnected nature of the social determinants of health through her research on food security and health.

Cam Broten, former leader of the SK NDP and now of the Saskatchewan Egg Producers, who spent an hour with us, just chatting, answering all our questions about what politics is like behind the scenes, and what it takes to make it as a leader.

Shawn Harman, a third-generation egg farmer, who took us around Star Egg grading facility (and was extremely patient as we Instagrammed each station – the egg washing process is deeply hypnotic and oddly satisfying to watch, a little ASMR-ish even).

Diane Adams, André Bear and Max Fineday: three of the most engaging, gracious speakers you could ever wish to hear, who generously offered their time and their energy to – once again – educate settler folks on the diversity of Indigenous narratives and experiences, and how acknowledging complicity and sitting in that discomfort, should both humble us and act as a stepping stone to change.

John Cote and Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote of Black Fox Farm and Distillery, who guided us around their farm, explaining not only the nitty gritty details of gin and whiskey production, but talking about the importance of being a community hub – and, unexpectedly perhaps, of the role of courage and risk-taking in building a valuable, meaningful life.

George Kingfisher of Young Chippewayan First Nation, and Ray Funk, Wilmer and Barb Froese of the Mennonite Community in Laird, SK who shared an incredibly emotional afternoon with us, talking about living our values – offering us a screening of the powerful film Reserve 107 (an absolute must watch) and providing a concrete example of reconciliation in action.

Alanna Orsak, a farmer and researcher studying the genetic modification of chickpeas, who spent a good portion of the week with us and answered heaven-only-knows how many questions about GMOs, ethics and other difficult topics with grace and patience.

Prof. Peter Phillips of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy who made us laugh and reflect in equal measures, providing some of the most practical comments of the trip on the potential role of the federal government in ag-policy moving forward (big data and interoperability!).

Paul Ledoux of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation who spoke to us about the incredible innovation that was the urban reserve. Muskeg Lake’s was the first of its kind and we gained so much insight into the policy development process.

Brian Topp, who is also one of the mentors for the Action Canada program, devoted an entire afternoon to talking to us about public speaking: how to address our ticks (we all have ‘em) and proposing practical tips to improve, all delivered with a hearty dose of humour that left the fellows awed at having the opportunity to be molded by one of the political greats.

Suzanne Nault, whose expert guidance through a peer coaching process had us seeing things in new ways, forging stronger group bonds – and whose kindness and patience fosters such an incredibly warm environment for all those around her.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our other mentors, Elaine Feldman and Guillaume Lavoie. Their commitment to the program – and their experience – is remarkable.

The PPF team, Anna Jahn, Jonathan Perron-Clow and Katherine Chirke – and Dion Martens who made time to drop in and help out our direction-setting – and others behind the scenes for putting this incredible agenda together. I can’t believe the people and experiences we’ve been given access to. We are in such good hands.

Finally, I have to thank the other Fellows, who I am honoured to be spending time with. But I’ll have to save that for another post.

Serious Fellow writes on dry erase board.

The Task Forces are serious about their work. Fellow Geneviève Chabot sees the future of food as no laughing matter.

And to anyone who actually read this to the end, and who may be thinking about applying for next year’s Action Canada program: do it.

Publié parPosted by Jonathan Perron-Clow
Sep 20th, 2018
20 Sep 2018



Ottawa 2018: Cricket muffins, anyone?

Sixteen of Canada’s most dynamic emerging leaders gathered in Ottawa in June, eager to be told what policy issue they would be diving into for the next 10 months. When they were served cricket flour rhubarb muffins, it was clear what would be on their policy menu: Food.

The 2018-19 Action Canada Fellows will develop their leadership skills and policy expertise as they explore the future of food policy with visits to farms and labs, and by hearing from prominent experts in the field. And next March, they will present their carefully researched recommendations to policy-makers.

By following this blog, you’ll get a seat at the table as the Fellows complete the five study tours that make up the Action Canada program. Here’s what happened in the first course:

Why food?

Food policy isn’t just about what’s on our plates. It’s also about all the steps that get what we eat safely from seed to stomach. It’s about building our economy, too: As PPF and others have written, Canada has the potential to be an agri-food powerhouse. And it’s about recognizing that food brings people together: its use as a social convenor is as powerful as its ability to nourish us.

What the Fellows heard

  • Don Buckingham of the Canadian Agriculture Policy Institute enthusiastically shared his passion for agriculture with a quick history lesson. Throughout history, he told the Fellows, food safety has been people’s primary concern and that remains true today. The cricket flour rhubarb muffins he had baked and served to the group were not only safe but tasty and high in protein. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommends that much of the new protein the world’s growing population needs could come from insects.
  • Chris Forbes, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, provided an optimistic assessment of science and innovation’s ability to mitigate potential food shortages and impacts of climate change, and experts from the federal public service drilled down further on a range of issues including food safety and security and Canada’s food policy and explained how they consult with Canadians. Among their revelations: A vast majority of respondents in consultations are women. And the Canada Food Guide is the second most downloaded document from federal government websites, so it’s important to get it right. (In case you were wondering, the most downloaded one is a tax form.)
  • A food tour of the ByWard Market capped off the thematic study tour, weaving Ottawa’s history with interactions with farmers and producers—and a taste of local haskaps, too.
  • The University of Toronto’s Sunil Johal, followed by Action Canada alumni Jim Mitchell (a former advisor) and Catherine Jobin (a former Fellow), gave the Fellows an insider’s view of the policy-making process in Canada.

When the media calls

No matter what policy theme each Action Canada cohort studies, the participants get robust leadership training to support their career and their efforts to change Canada’s policy landscape. Communicating their message and steering the media narrative is a critical skill that the Fellows learned from MediaStyle. Their media training included tools to respond to a crisis, and each did an on-camera interview so they could put theory into practice.

Laptop in foreground says Activity: In the hot seat

Alumni advice

Almost 200 policy leaders from across the country are Action Canada alumni—a network of support and advice that will serve the Fellows throughout their careers. This year’s cohort broke bread with some of their predecessors and heard from alumna Ayesha Harji on her experience in 2015. She outlined the program’s deliverables: an op-ed and a major report to be presented at the end of the program in March. Through practical advice and a bit of levity, she put the cohort at ease; while this is a substantive exercise, it isn’t meant to fix all the world’s problems. Alumna and HR expert Rann Sharma spoke on team-building as the newly formed Task Forces got together for the first time and attempted to build structures out of spaghetti and marshmallows.

At the end of the first study tour the Fellows fanned back out across the country to their homes. Over the course of the summer, the Task Forces will focus their research topics and the Fellows will hear speakers on food and leadership during webinars. They’ll reconvene in Saskatoon in September to see agri-food policy in action.

Publié parPosted by Jonathan Perron-Clow
Jul 19th, 2018
19 Jul 2018

Zakaria Abdulle

Zakaria Abdulle

Zakaria is a community advocate who works towards building vibrant communities informed by inclusive public policy. Zakaria enjoys work that involves empowering youth and marginalized groups so they can influence and shape public policy decisions that have a social impact. Zak has a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Sociology and a Certificate in Social Work and will be graduating in the fall with a Masters in Public Administration from Western University with a focus on local governance in Canada’s growing cities.

Zakaria works as a Program Coordinator at Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s Community Economic Development Division. Prior to this position, he was an intern in the Mayor’s Office of John Tory in Toronto building connections with marginalized communities to improve community development initiatives. In the past, Zakaria served as the chair to the Premier’s Youth Council on Opportunities where he led a group of 25 young leaders across Ontario as they gave policy advice to over 18 ministries in the Ontario Government on policy development which could improve outcomes for youth across Ontario.  At Western, Zakaria advised the municipality of Sarnia on the development of their policy response to the legalization of cannabis, and he is currently completing a major research project on the city of London’s ongoing efforts to inform residents of the upcoming use of ranked ballots in their 2018 election.  Zakaria hopes to build upon his local and provincial experience with policy development by gaining senior leadership skills needed to launch impactful public policy projects in Toronto.

Dr. Tahara Bhate

Tahara Bhate

Tahara Bhate is an early career physician with a dual practice in Hospitalist Medicine and Critical Care. As a faculty member at the University of Calgary, she is highly involved in undergraduate medical education, including curricular design in evidence-based medicine and simulation, while also undertaking a medical education fellowship program next year. Active in research with numerous publications, she focuses on both basic clinical research and quality improvement, with a developing interest in complex care delivery models which draw on her passion for health systems improvement.

A long-standing supporter of advocacy in medicine, Dr. Bhate spearheaded the development of a provincial advocacy program for UBC Medical students, now entering its 5th consecutive year. Supporting the movement towards a social accountability mandate in medical training, her concept of a competency-based advocacy curriculum was published in a leading medical journal, and later included in a national framework. Passionate about removing barriers to medical education, Tahara has been involved in numerous outreach initiatives, including organizing province-wide presentations from medical students to high school students in rural communities. Dr. Bhate holds a Bachelors of Science in Honors Biochemistry and a Medical Doctorate, as well as a Masters in Health Sciences (MHSc) with a focus on clinical epidemiology, all from the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Masha Cemma

Originally from Latvia, Masha Cemma is a biomedical scientist and a science policy professional. Recruited into federal government through the Recruitment of Policy Leaders program, she is currently a policy advisor to Canada’s Chief Science Advisor. Prior to her current role, Masha completed a Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). At the CFIA, she helped built and supported a high containment laboratory network that span five countries and fostered international cooperation, knowledge translation, and exchange with the goal of strengthening preparedness to high-consequence pathogens. Masha was recognized by CFIA President’s award in Innovation and Best Practices and was selected as an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity with the John Hopkins Centre for Health Security.

Masha earned her PhD in 2016 from the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. During her PhD, she examined the role of autophagy machinery in host defence. Her research was supported by scholarships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and her extracurricular activities were recognized by the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Awards. Masha received her first exposure to policy in 2014 through a fellowship at the World Health Organization.

Geneviève Chabot

Geneviève Chabot is currently the Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. A native of Québec City, she holds a B.A. in Psychology from Laval University, a dual LL.L./J.D. degree from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Harvard Law School. In 2009-2010, she clerked for the Honourable Justice Louis LeBel at the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to joining the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Ms. Chabot worked in the litigation department of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Montréal, before moving to the Yukon to join the Department of Justice Canada. Her areas of expertise include Aboriginal law, constitutional law, administrative law, and human rights. Very involved in her community, Ms. Chabot has held a number of leadership positions, including Deputy Chair of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, President of the Canadian Bar Association – Yukon Branch, and member of the boards of the Yukon Legal Services Society and the Yukon Public Legal Education Association. In 2016, she was appointed to the Federal Judicial Advisory Committee for Yukon.

Sophie Gagnon

Sophie Gagnon is Executive Director at Clinique juridique Juripop, a legal clinic promoting access to justice by offering affordable legal services to vulnerable populations.  She previously practiced as a litigation lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright, where she notably specialized in anti-corruption law.

Sophie holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Juris Doctor from Université de Montréal.  She also studied international human rights at the London School of Economics and international law at the Saint Joseph University of Beyrouth.  She remains involved with her almla mater as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, where she counsels the dean on development and strategic orientation.

Sophie is actively involved in her community as an advocate for social justice and public interest matters.  She is Vice-President of the Women Lawyers Forum of the Canadian Bar Association – Quebec Division, where she promotes women’s stature and influence in the legal profession.  Sophie also sits on the board of Gender Creative Kids Canada, an organization providing resources for supporting and affirming gender creative kids within their families, schools and communities, which she also represents in a constitutional litigation pertaining to children and immigrant’s rights to change gender markers on government-issued documents.

Sophie regularly comments legal news and social issues in the media, notably as a radio columnist for CBC.

Shawn Grover

Shawn works for the Government of Canada, currently with Infrastructure Canada as part of the team that has launched the Canada Infrastructure Bank. Previously, he worked at Finance Canada in the Financial Sector Policy Branch and as a corporate lawyer at Dentons in New York. Shawn holds an undergraduate degree in math from the University of Waterloo, a JD from Harvard Law School, and a Masters in Economics from the University of British Columbia. Outside of work, Shawn enjoys pub trivia, playing basketball and reading on his balcony.

Sally Guy

Sally Guy is the Director of Policy and Strategy at the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), a role that touches on government relations, policy analysis, and communications. She is honoured to work on behalf of a profession with a mission to advance social justice. Sally holds a Bachelor of Social Work from St. Thomas University, as well as a BA in English Literature and Linguistics and a MA in English Language and Literature, both from Queen’s University. Born and raised in Ottawa but influenced by her father’s Maritime roots, Sally spent several years on the East Coast before returning to her hometown in 2015.

Umang Khandelwal

Umang Khandelwal

Umang recently graduated with a degree in law from the University of Cambridge, having served two terms (2016-2018) on University Council, the highest governing body of the University. She spent a summer at Hootsuite as a legal student, assisting in international expansions, providing contractual support and improving internal legal processes. Umang’s prior degree in International Relations was from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where she spent a term abroad at Sciences Po Paris studying economics and politics of the EU, earning a Certificate in Social Sciences and the Humanities. As a Hansard Scholar, Umang worked for a Peer in the House of Lords in London as a legislative assistant, focusing on prison reform for women and increasing the representation of women in politics. She is committed to fostering inclusion in communities, having practised as an anti-discrimination workshop facilitator at UBC.

Umang has participated in the WTO’s Public Forum in Geneva, the Council of Europe’s World Democracy Forum in Strasbourg, and the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington D.C. In 2016, Umang represented Canada in China as part of a five-member delegation at the Y20, one of the official stakeholder groups of the G20, and presented the negotiated policy document to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She is dedicated to increasing access to justice for immigrants, refugees, Indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups, and has volunteered with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Access Pro Bono. She has been named a Darpan Magazine Newsmaker 2016, Barclays Top 100 Women to Watch 2017, and an RBC Top 75 Canadian Immigrant 2018.

Since moving to Canada with her mother in 2009, Umang carries with her fond memories and values rooted in her childhood in India, which continue to shape and guide her.

Matthew Klassen

Matthew Klassen is policy professional and problem solver.  He was fortunate to be a part of the 2017-2018 cohort of the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme (OLIP) at Queen’s Park where he provided non-partisan support to Liberal and Progressive Conservative MPPs.  He is currently working with the British Consulate-General and Department for International Trade in Toronto.

Matthew studied in the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Knowledge Integration (KI) program at the University of Waterloo.  While studying KI, he gained a passion for human-centred design and design thinking, and was able to connect his interests in political science, international politics, and climate change.  He also holds a Master of Science in International Relations (Research) from the London School of Economics.  Matthew has pursued opportunities in museum design, international politics, and environmental policy.  He has worked with a social enterprise that promotes credit harmonization among Canadian universities, as well as Sustainable Waterloo Region, an organization that works to build resilient and sustainable communities within the Region of Waterloo.  He as also participated on boards like the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy and the Millennium Journal of International Studies.

Although he has lived in various places around Southern Ontario, Mitchell and Perth County will always be his home.  When not addressing policy challenges or working with interesting people, Matthew likes to work outdoors, travel or canoe.

Petros Kusmu

Petros Kusmu

Petros Kusmu is an accomplished public policy advocate, experienced strategy consultant, and international trade scholar. Born in Edmonton, Petros’ upbringing in Northeast Africa inspired him to pursue a Bachelors (Double Honors) in Economics & Political Science at the University of Alberta.

Post graduation, Petros was President and VP External of the U of A Students’ Union—a $13.5M organization representing +31,000 students. He successfully co-led efforts to change provincial election laws, bolster federal post-secondary education funding schemes, and create Ignite—Canada’s largest student-led consultative PSE project. The campus media acclaimed his Presidency as “one of the most successful terms an SU president…has had.”

Consequently, Petros was awarded a full-ride scholarship (Chevening) to pursue a Masters in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics. There, he consulted the European Parliament on trade policies and co-published his findings in a book recognized as 2015’s “Best Policy Study Produced by a Think Tank” by the University of Pennsylvania.

As a Senior Consultant at Monitor Deloitte, Petros operates at the intersection of innovation, exponential technologies and strategy for public and private sector organizations across North America. Leveraging his experience scaling startups nationally, he helps organizations achieve breakthrough innovations and business transformations.

Concurrently, Petros continues his activism—from representing Canada at the G20’s youth summit to providing pro-bono consulting services for local not-for-profits as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. He is passionate about making PSE and careers in professional services more accessible to Canada’s underprivileged youth.

Petros was previously featured on CBC’s “Canada’s Smartest Person” program and is currently a member of the Banff Forum.

Anna Laurence

Anna Laurence

Anna Laurence currently works as Senior Manager, Government Affairs at Rogers Communications, where she focuses on Rogers federal government relations issues relating to broadcasting, copyright, accessibility, and cyber security. Prior to joining Rogers Anna worked in government relations with The Canadian Real Estate Association, dealing with a variety of housing issues and leading the internal coordination of the association’s annual grassroots lobby days – one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

Anna has long been passionate about politics and grassroots involvement. She first directed grassroots advocacy efforts as the Chapter Advocacy Coordinator of STAND Canada, a student led human rights advocacy group. She later pursued her interest in politics working on Parliament Hill while taking part in the Parliamentary Internship Programme (PIP). Since finishing PIP she has assumed various roles on the alumni Board, including as President. She is a board member of Voice Found Canada, a survivor led national charity that aims to increase awareness of and educate individuals and organizations on how to identify, prevent and respond to child sex abuse and sex trafficking. She also actively volunteers with the National Capital Region YMCA and chaired the organizing committee for the 2018 Y Cycle for Strong Kids. A former competitive fencer, equestrian and soccer player she likes to keep active. Having hung up her foil nowadays she teaches spin classes on a regular basis instead. A proud maritimer Anna may live in Ottawa but still calls Halifax home. She holds an MA in Political Science from McGill University and a BA in Political Science and Film from Carleton University.

Madeleine Lyons

Madeleine Lyons

Madeleine Lyons is currently the Director of Research, Policy and Accountability for Canadian Operations with the Canadian Red Cross. Within the organization Madeleine plays an incubator function, developing and implementing new capabilities focused mainly in the area of quality and information management. Currently Madeleine works to leverage data to equip internal and external stakeholders for operational decision-making, organizational strategic design and public policy guidance in the area of emergency management.

Madeleine holds an MSc from the London School of Economics, a BA (Hons) from the University of British Columbia and a certificate in French language and civilization from the Sorbonne. Madeleine has worked for a variety of voluntary, academic, private and public-sector organizations including PwC, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, the War Child Canada and the Canadian Consortium for Human Security as well as being a participant in the BC Legislative Internship Program. Madeleine represented the Canadian Red Cross in the finals of the Impact Challenge and has been the recipient of a number of awards, including Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs Summer Practicum Award, the World University Service of Canada’s Alumnae Seminar Award and the Community Care Foundation scholarship.

Madeleine currently lives in Toronto with her partner and Old English Sheepdog.

Charlotte-Anne Malischewski

Charlotte-Anne Malischewski

Charlotte-Anne Malischewski is a lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, where she maintains a broad civil litigation practice with an emphasis on civil and professional liability, class actions, and appellate law as well as an active pro bono practice with an emphasis on civil liberties issues. Throughout her studies and work, she has had a leadership role in a number of initiatives advocating for feminist causes and refugee rights. Charlotte-Anne holds a B.A. Honours in International Studies and Music from Earlham College, a Masters with Distinction in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford, and Bachelors of Common and Civil Law from McGill University. Born and raised in Newfoundland, Charlotte-Anne is also a fiddle player with a passion for promoting traditional music.

Anne-Marie Rouleau

Anne-Marie Rouleau

Born in Québec City, Anne-Marie (Ana) Rouleau recently joined the Government of Canada’s Advanced Policy Analyst Program, a rotating program for perfecting and training leadership. She currently works as an analyst for the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat of the Privy Council where she works on issues regarding North America.

Passionate about big democratic issues, she is particularly interested in citizens’ place in democratic life and the development of public policy. In this regard, she has participated in the implementation of consultations conducted by the Government of Canada on a potential free trade agreement with China. She has also taken part in election observation missions by the Organization of American States in both Peru and Haiti.

Ana Rouleau has a bachelor’s degree in international studies and modern languages, for which she studied in Mexico and China. She also has a master’s degree in international relations from the l’Institut québécois des Hautes Études Internationales. She was the recipient of a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council, which allowed her to take an intensive one-year Mandarin course at the Shanghai International University.

She places particular importance in her international experiences which gave her a more inclusive vision of the world. In her spare time, she is an apprentice ballerina who loves to learn new languages – she already speaks five! She is always ready to take on a new challenge. We are very happy that she will be joining the Action Canada Team.

Karl Schownik

Karl Schwonik

Albertan Karl Schwonik has had an extensive and successful career in the arts, education and entrepreneurial sectors. In 2008, he founded the Wetaskiwin Jazz Society (WJS): a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing education to rural Alberta. While serving as President and Artistic Director, the WJS’s programs reached nearly 20,000 rural students and collaborated with stakeholders from local small businesses to international banks and multinational energy companies. Karl has served on a plethora of boards including appointments to the Government of Alberta’s Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Travel Alberta. In addition to teaching and working at several prominent post-secondary institutions, Karl currently serves as an Associate Dean at Medicine Hat College. He has completed studies in music, business and arts leadership at Cambridge University, University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of Calgary. Additionally, he has received numerous awards and honours including: the Lt. Governor of Alberta’s award, Queen’s Jubilee award, Canada Council and SSHRC grants, and was named one of Calgary’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ by Avenue magazine.

Julien Valmary

Julien Valmary

A native of Toulouse, France, Julien Valmary is the Director of Grant Programs and Strategic Initiatives at Conseil des arts de Montréal – a position he has held since 2014. He is responsible for providing leadership on inclusive initiatives to the Conseil. With over 15 years of experience in arts management in France and Canada, he’s a theatre studies’ graduate of Université Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3) Institut d’études théâtrales and holds a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Management from École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre in Lyon. After a career in arts administration in France, he relocated in Toronto in 2005 and completed the Income Managers Program, a post graduate program in conjunction with the Centre for Cultural Management, University of Waterloo, and the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario. He has been with many arts organizations over the last decade in various positions as Administration Director, Head of Donations, Communications Director and Associate General Manager including at Tarragon Theatre, Théâtre français de Toronto, and since moving to Montreal in 2010, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts and Grands Ballets canadiens de Montréal.

His main interests and expertise fields: public policies in arts funding, philanthropy, arts management, inclusive policies, grants management and government relations.

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