2004/2005 Fellows

The Fellows and Action Canada staff were privileged to have a private dialogue with the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson

The Fellows and Action Canada staff were privileged to have a private dialogue with the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson

Freddy AbnousiCraig CameronNadine CaronKevin ChanSevern Cullis-SuzukiSara EhrhardtKris FredericksonGinger GosnellJason HeinRoxanne JoyalAhmed KayssiCynthia MackenzieJean-Frédéric MorinAnil PatelBen PetersonLyndsay PoapsGeorge RoterBeverly SembsmoenJosh Silvertown

Freddy Abnousi
Freddy aspires to reduce inequities in health through medicine and policy, both in Canada and abroad. “I want to even the playing field,” says the Armenian-born North Vancouverite, who has a BSc from the University of British Columbia, an MSc from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Oxford. Currently in second year at UBC medical school, Freddy plans to specialize in trauma surgery and also become a provider of generic medicine to developing countries. He wants to help ensure Canada’s healthcare sustainability as well, through the implementation of medical information technology, and he recently consulted on a key project to decrease barriers to medical IT. Internationally, he has led projects for the Kenyan Agency for Rural Development, the British Medical Association, the American Enterprise Institute, the NESsT Venture Fund in Chile and the World Bank in India. Freddy regards Action Canada as a rare opportunity to meet public-minded contemporaries “who have already proven themselves as leaders at a very young age.”

Craig Cameron
Craig is a quintessential people person. “I’m passionate about the energy people have within them and how you can help bring that out,” says the Regina native, who is completing an MA in physical education at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s. After graduation, Craig hopes to use the inspirational power of sport to tap into that energy in disadvantaged children, enriching their lives and communities, especially in developing countries. It’s a goal that crystallized during his volunteer work in West Africa as a program coordinator for Right To Play (formerly OympicAid) after completing a BA in physical activities studies at the University of Regina. Craig has been politically active throughout his academic career and is extremely impressed by the social and political awareness of the people he has met through Action Canada. He believes his Fellowship “will introduce me to a lot of opportunities and also open up my eyes to the kind of issues that are facing Canada in the future.”

Nadine Caron
Nadine was astounded to learn, in 1997, that she was the first aboriginal woman to graduate from the University of BC’s medical school. The Kamloops native now regularly encourages aboriginal kids throughout the continent to attend university. “I tell them they can achieve anything if they work hard and believe in themselves,” says Nadine, who also holds a BSc from Simon Fraser University and a master of public health degree from Harvard, earned while completing her surgical residency. Nadine has won more than 20 major academic awards and was named one of Maclean’s 100 Faces of the Future. She s passionate about aboriginal health and Canadian health policy, and has served on committees with numerous stakeholders including the BC and Canadian medical associations and the BC health ministry. Nadine is currently studying endocrine surgery at the University of California at San Francisco, with plans to practice medicine in northern BC. She says Action Canada “has exceeded all my expectations, both from the other Fellows and our mentors.”

Kevin Chan
Kevin is Director of Policy, Parliamentary Affairs and Research in the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, an independent Agent of Parliament protecting the privacy interests of Canadians. In this role, he leads the teams providing strategic advice to the Commissioner on a wide variety of privacy issues, such as those related to public safety and the digital economy.
Previously, Kevin worked at the centre of both Government and politics. From 2009 – 2011 he was Director of Policy, and Senior Policy Advisor and Transition Secretary, to the Leader of the Opposition. From 2004 – 2009 Kevin served under two Prime Ministers in the Privy Council Office – including as Director, Office of the Clerk of the Privy Council. He also completed an Executive Interchange to the Government of Nunavut. Earlier, he was a management consultant at Monitor.
Kevin was Visiting Policy Fellow at Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy in 2011, and Visiting Faculty in SFU’s Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue in 2012.
He is a co-founder of DreamCatcher Mentoring, which won a Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative Award. He is also an associate of the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, a Loran Scholar mentor, and a past member of the Lawrence Centre for Policy and Management advisory council. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The Ottawa Citizen.
Kevin graduated from Harvard Kennedy School and the Ivey School of Business, where he was a President Scholar. He also studied at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and is an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music. A 2004 Action Canada Fellow, Kevin was awarded the Public Service Award of Excellence in 2006, was selected a member of the 2008 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, and received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He is fluently bilingual.
Kevin is married to Andréa Armijo Fortin and they have two children, Isaac and Éva.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki
From fishing on the seawall in Vancouver, to visiting small communities all over BC with her family, Severn Cullis-Suzuki has been ‘studying’ ecology and society since she was small. She started speaking out about social justice and environmental issues as a child, delivering a powerful speech at the UN Earth Summit at 12 years old (1992). She has continued to speak worldwide about the importance of understanding our interconnections in a globalized world, and to recognize our responsibility to it. Severn was a Commissioner for the UN’s Earth Charter, and an advisor to the Secretary General for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002). She is an Action Canada Fellow (’04 -’05) and co-edited the book ‘Notes from Canada’s Young Activists’ (Greystone, 2007). Severn has an MSc in ethnoecology from the University of Victoria and a BSc from Yale University. She is currently focussed on language revitalization of the Haida language on Haida Gwaii. She sits on the board of directors for the David Suzuki Foundation and the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society, and is a ‘Spark’ for the Girls Action Foundation, and a Champion for Earth Summit 2012 Canada.

Sara Ehrhardt
Sara is a 2004 Action Canada alum who passionate about using her skills to address complex public challenges. Born in Moncton, she has alternated her career between the non-profit and public sectors, working on oil sands environmental management, managing a volunteer labourers in Guyana, working with indigenous peoples in Mexico, serving as an economist for Canada’s Department of Finance, and played a key role in the development of Engineers Without Borders. In 2009 Sara was the winner of the Public Policy Forum Emerging Leaders Award. She now lives between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia serving as Executive Director of 21inc, an action tank dedicated to building Atlantic Canada’s emerging leaders. She has degrees in engineering from the University of Waterloo and public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Kris Frederickson
Kris Frederickson is a Water Management Engineer for global energy producer, Nexen Inc. His current work focuses on sustainable water management practices at the Long Lake Project, a joint-venture oil sands project with OPTI Canada. Kris graduated from the University of Manitoba with his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Biosystems Engineering. His post-graduate work centered on water treatment on Manitoban First Nations communities. Kris has been the recipient of numerous accolades including an Action Canada Fellowship and a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. Kris is the co-chair of 2335: A United Way Initiative and co-editor of the book “Notes from Canada’s Young Activists” published in April 2007.

Ginger Gosnell
Ginger is passionate about advancing aboriginal rights and titles, while breaking down barriers between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. And to help accomplish those goals, “I’m following my elders’ advice to build relationships within Canadian society,” says the New Aiyansh, BC-born member of the Nisga’a and Kwagiulth First Nations. Ginger is a member of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Liberal Party of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Commission National Executive, the 1st Nations Youth Caucus and the Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA). She has facilitated and spoken at numerous provincial, national and international events, including the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples. She is currently developing a leaders training initiative with the AFN for First Nations youth and is working with the UNYA to build a multi-purpose native youth centre in Vancouver. Ginger and her Action Canada colleagues “are united,” she says, “with a common purpose of wanting to play a role in making Canada a better country.”

Jason Hein
Jason loves infusing kids with his passion for science. “It’s really satisfying,” says the Winnipeg-born University of Manitoba chemist. In addition to volunteering with Let’s Talk Science, a group focused on attracting more students to the discipline, Jason’s own one-hour chemistry demonstrations attract hundreds of high school students annually. He is currently completing a PhD in synthetic-organic chemistry as well as following a BSc in biochemistry, both from the U of M, and looks forward to beginning post-graduate studies in sustainable chemistry. As an undergrad, he helped initiate ongoing research into Alzheimer’s disease at Wisconsin’s Synchrotron Radiation Center. Jason has attended numerous national and international conferences and is published in a number of international journals. He has held several positions with the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Manitoba section. He has also served as the chemistry graduate students’ association president and student liaison on the graduate studies awards committee. With Action Canada, says Jason, “I’ve put myself in the middle of some absolutely stellar people, including some amazing mentors beyond the scientific community.”

Roxanne Joyal
Roxanne may be a Rhodes scholar, but what she is most proud of is the Kenyan leadership education centre she established last year for international children’s advocacy group Free The Children, of which she was a founding staff member and is now interim director. “It was a challenging but ultimately an immensely rewarding three-year project,” says the Franco-Manitoban from Winnipeg. “I really enjoyed it from start to finish.” Roxanne used her Rhodes scholarship to complete a law degree at Oxford this year, following an honours BA at Stanford in international development. In addition to Kenya, where she is currently planning to launch a micro-enterprise in Nairobi, she has done fieldwork in Thailand and Zimbabwe. Her accolades include recognition by Maclean’s as one of Canada’s 100 Faces of the Future. In 2006, she begins a clerkship with the Supreme Court of Canada. For Roxanne, Action Canada offers “a chance to work with an incredible network of Canadians who are making a difference in many different fields.”

Ahmed Kayssi
Ahmed Kayssi is a resident in general surgery at the University of Toronto. He plans to eventually become an academic surgeon involved in teaching and research. His research interests are in public health and quality of life outcomes for surgical patients. Ahmed graduated with a dual-degree in Engineering Chemistry and Business German before completing a Master’s in Physiology and a medical degree, all at Queen’s. He was the University’s 28th Rector and was active in its Arts and Science, Engineering, and Medical student societies. He also founded its Arab Students Association and helped the various campus international groups integrate into the Queen’s community. As part of the 2004 Action Canada cohort, Ahmed worked with Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Kris Frederickson, and Cynthia MacKenzie to co-author a book chronicling the stories of Canada’s young activists. He considers his experiences with Action Canada to be a highlight in his educational journey and still applies the many lessons and insights he learned during his fellowship year.

Cynthia Mackenzie
Cynthia is in Australia earning her political science doctorate, but Canada is never far from her mind. “I feel privileged to have been born Canadian into a wonderful family,” says the devoted human rights activist, whose BA from the University of Calgary and MA from York are also in political science. “I’m driven to work for more equity and social change in our country.” Cynthia was Manitoba-born and Alberta-raised, mainly in Swan Hills and Cochrane. But her compassion is global. From sex worker outreach in Calgary to community development in India and Costa Rica, safe streets planning in Victoria and refugee advocacy in Vancouver, Cynthia has worked for positive change. It’s a passion she plans to pursue as a career. Volunteer Calgary named her a Leader of Tomorrow and Maclean’s dubbed her one of Canada’s 100 Faces of the Future. But Cynthia calls herself “a proud Canuck” and her Action Canada colleagues “beyond inspiring.” Like her, “They see a world full of possibility and change.”

Jean-Frédéric Morin
Jean-Frédéric Morin is professor of international relations at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium. He has an interdisciplinary background in international relations, including a dual Ph.D. in political science and law. He leads research in international political economy, including on multilateralism, dispute settlement and intergovernmental organization. He publishes in the leading journals of his field, supervises a number of PhD thesis, and frequently advices decisions makers. Prior to joining ULB in 2008, Jean-Frédéric was SSCHR research fellow at the Center for Intellectual Property Policy at McGill University.

Anil Patel
Anil Patel was born in London Ontario in August 1974 and raised in the nearby farming community of Chatham. He was educated at Queen’s University, earning an Environmental Chemistry degree. Anil entered the work-force with Molson Canada. After 6 years of channel marketing, territory sales and business development experience, he made a decision to pursue an idea he had to get engage people his age in community work. In 2001, Anil along with some of his university friends co-founded Framework Timeraiser, a program aimed at engaging skilled and energetic Canadians to get involved in the community. The Timeraiser is a silent art auction with a twist: instead of bidding money, participants bid volunteer time, to volunteer agencies that need their skills and energy. Successful auction bidders have 12 months to complete their volunteer pledge. When they do, they get to bring the artwork home as a reminder of their good will. To date the Timeraiser has generated 41,000 volunteer hours, engaged 2,700 Canadians to pick-up a cause, worked with 260+ agencies in need of skilled volunteers and invested $225,000 in the careers of Canadian artists. Framework is the 2006 recipient of the Queen’s Alumni Humanitarian Award. In the decades ahead, he has made a commitment to rekindling the spirit of citizen involvement across the country. Anil volunteers with the United Way of Toronto Board of Trustees and is asked regularly to contribute to other initiatives in Canada focused on volunteerism, corporate social responsibility/employee-supported volunteerism and non profit capacity building.

Ben PetersonBen Peterson
Ben Peterson is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), Canada’s largest international media development organization. JHR is an NGO that harnesses the power of the media to combat human rights abuses in Africa and Canada. Within Africa, JHR trains local journalists in fifteen countries to reach 20 million people a week with human rights information. In Canada, JHR has established 25 Chapters (or clubs) at post-secondary institutions across the country, actively engaging over 20% of Canada’s journalism students in human rights reporting. Previous to JHR, Ben worked in Ghana’s Ministry of Justice, leading Ghana’s efforts to write reports to the United Nations on various international human rights treaties. Ben has also worked for the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy, and in the offices of David Bonior, the former Democratic Whip in the United States House of Representatives. Ben has been the recipient of an Action Canada Fellowship (’03-’04), Canada’s Top 40 Under 40™ award (2006, The Globe and Mail) and the Queen’s University Alumni Humanitarian Award (2007). Ben sits on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s youth advisory committee and the Emerging Leaders Network of the Toronto City Summit Alliance. Ben has a BA in Economics and a BAH in Political Studies from Queen’s University, and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Lyndsay Poaps
Lyndsay is the youngest elected official in Vancouver’s history, and the city park board commissioner is passionate about engaging her generation in community building and decision making. “I want them to become more critical of the world around them,” she says, “to find out information on their own and empower themselves to make decisions.” Lyndsay co-founded Check Your Head (CYH) in 1999 and now co-directs the youth-driven group, which “connects the dots” between global and local issues. CYH has reached some 15,000 people during 600 workshops. Originally from Ottawa, Lyndsay “escaped” to Vancouver in 1997 as the youth organizer of the APEC People’s Summit. She has worked as Lower Mainland coordinator of the Sierra Club of BC, co-chair of the BC Environmental Network, and a board member of Farm Folk City Folk. “Action Canada enables me to gain skills and understand myself better as a leader,” says Lyndsay. “Plus I get to meet others who are not a part of my network but who I really respect.”

George Roter
George believes technology can profoundly improve the lives of the world’s poor – and he’s acting on that conviction. Engineers Without Borders (EWB), the Canadian non-profit group he co-founded in 2000 and currently leads as co-CEO, has some 10,000 professional and student members coast-to-coast. EWB has sent over 100 volunteers to projects in more than 20 developing countries, helping local entrepreneurs spread simple technologies such as pedal-operated irrigation pumps that are transforming their impoverished communities. His efforts have earned him numerous awards, and Time magazine has called him one of the country’s next generation of social leaders. George is also a fervent believer in social change at home and says Action Canada has introduced him to “a quality and diversity of people” who have been very successful in numerous different fields. “It has allowed me to grow as a person,” adds the Toronto native, who holds a BASc in mechanical engineering from the University of Waterloo, “and to explore public policy issues I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Beverly Sembsmoen
Beverly never expected to be selected as an Action Canada Fellow. “I don’t have any initials at the end of my name,” jokes the legislation development manager with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (CTFN) near Whitehorse, Yukon. What Beverly does have is considerable experience forging aboriginal land-claim and self-governing structures. She has also been instrumental in numerous grass roots initiatives and has a distinguished record of commitment to the environment, health, education and traditional values of her people. A Dakl’aweidí clan member of Tagish and Tlingit heritage, Beverly played a key role in negotiating the CTFN’s treaty and self-government agreements with the federal government from 1996-2004. She also chairs the Four Mountains Resort development, a $24-million facility scheduled to open around 2007. The CTFN-affiliated resort will create a sustainable tourism economy in the region while protecting aboriginal culture and traditions. Though initially sceptical, Beverly says the genuine compassion other Action Canada Fellows have shown regarding aboriginal issues “has given me an incredible boost of hope.”

Josh SilvertownJosh Silvertown Action Canada Fellow
Josh is currently the CEO of Armour Therapeutics Inc, a Toronto-based biotechnology company commercializing anti-cancer therapeutics for prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. Josh is also the Vice President of Corporate Development of Quantum Dental Technologies, a medical device company selling The Canary System, a diagnostic tool for early tooth decay. Recently, Josh was Director of Business Development and Scientific Affairs at AXON consulting for biopharma and medical device companies engaged in clinical research and leading the global business development program from Toronto and New York City, where he opened up the AXON office in Manhattan. Prior to AXON, Josh was an NSERC Post-Doctoral Fellow for three years conducting prostate cancer research at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto. During his 10 years in translational and biomedical research, Josh published over 20 scientific works, including publications in notable endocrinology and oncology journals. Josh is an active member in the Ontario biosciences sector, specifically with The Biotech Initiative (TBI), MaRS, and the Ontario Biosciences Industry Organization (OBIO) communities. Josh is on the Scientific Advisory Board of iProgen Biotech Inc. Josh has taught courses at the University of Guelph (Guelph), Michener Institute (Toronto), and the Togliatti Academy of Management (Togliatti, Russia). Josh had been acting as a research consultant for the Rotman School of Management/Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on Ontario’s colorectal cancer care system. Josh has been involved in mentoring programs with Big Brothers since 1997, and has been responsible for implementing science and engineering leadership programs in Ontario and the Northwest Territories for Aboriginal non-Aboriginal communities. Josh is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of DreamCatcher Mentoring – an e-mentoring program that connects northern Canadian high school students with Canadian professionals around the world working in the students’ chosen ‘dream careers’. DreamCatcher Mentoring was a spin-off in 2005 from an Action Canada public policy project. Josh is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, where he completed an MBA, specializing in the Health Sector as a Canadian Institute of Health Research “Science-to-Business” Fellow. He also holds a PhD as an NSERC Scholar in Biomedical Sciences and an Honours BSc in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Guelph. Josh is an Action Canada Fellow from 2004.