People

2004/2005 Fellows

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.”

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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.”

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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 is 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.”

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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.

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Sara Ehrhardt

Born in Atlantic Canada, Sara has alternated her career between the non-profit and public sectors, focusing on the intersection between politics, economic development and environmental resource management. As a student she helped to create Engineers Without Borders. She then served as the national water campaigner of the Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest public interest group. As a public servant, Sara managed the Alberta Government’s first policy team dedicated to oil sands environmental management, and served on the G20 Finance Ministers Expert Group on Climate Change Financing in the lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Accord and launch of the Green Climate Fund. She also served as a Community Relations Officer to the Premier of Nova Scotia in the province’s first New Democratic government.

Sara has been recognized for her achievements by the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, Action Canada, and Canada’s Public Policy Forum. She has degrees in engineering from the University of Waterloo and in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Sara has recently relocated to Stockholm, Sweden to join the Global Water Partnership, an intergovernmental organization dedicated to building a water secure world.

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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.

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Ginger Gosnell-Myers

Ginger Gosnell-Myers – of Nisga’a and Kwakwak'awakw heritage is passionate about advancing Aboriginal rights and knowledge, while breaking down barriers between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Throughout 2008-2011 Ginger worked on the Environics Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study as both Project Manager and Public Engagement Director. The UAPS is Canada’s largest research study on Aboriginal people living in urban environments, and has become the leading research on urban Aboriginal people’s values, aspirations, experiences, and identity. In 2010 the UAPS received the Public Policy Impact Award by the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, and the IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award for not for profit organizations.

She has facilitated and spoken at several provincial, national and international events, including the International Indigenous Women & Wellness Conference, the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, and the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples. Her commitment to advancing Aboriginal issues led her to work as the Western Assistant to the late and former Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Development Andy Scott, advising the Minister on issues pertaining to BC and Alberta. Ginger is the Aboriginal City Planner with the City of Vancouver where she is central to advancing the Year of Reconciliation.

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Jason Hein

Jason received his B.Sc. in biochemistry in 2000 from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. He then began his Ph.D. studies as an NSERC postgraduate fellow under the guidance of Professor Philip G. Hultin at the University of Manitoba. In 2006, he became an NSERC postdoctoral fellow with Prof. K. Barry Sharpless and Prof. Valery V. Fokin at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, and then joined Prof. Donna G. Blackmond as a senior research associate in 2010. In 2011 he became an assistant professor at the University of California, Merced. His research is currently focused on employing kinetic analysis as a means to rapidly profile and study complex networks of reactions.

These studies are aimed at solving a diverse set of problems, including understanding mechanisms of catalyst induction and deactivation, as well as developing techniques to resolve racemic mixtures using coupled preferential crystallization. This approach allows new, clearer catalysts to be designed, leading to more sustainable chemical manufacturing processes. In addition to his research, Jason is very actively involved in mentoring students and attracting young people to careers in science and technology.

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Roxanne Joyal

Roxanne Joyal is CEO of Me to We, an innovative social enterprise providing socially conscious products and experiences that support the work of Free The Children. Half of Me to We’s net profit is donated to Free The Children, while the other half is reinvested to grow the enterprise and its social mission. Roxanne Joyal is also a founding member of Free The Children, an international charity and educational partner that empowers youth to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. Since 1995, the organization has worked in more than 40 countries and built more than 650 schools and school rooms in developing regions, providing education to more than 55,000 children every day. A former parliamentary page in the Canadian House of Commons, her involvement with development work began at a young age when she spent six months in the Klong Toey slum of Bangkok, Thailand, caring for mothers and children afflicted with AIDS. Roxanne graduated with distinction from Stanford after completing a degree in international relations. A Rhodes scholar, she went on to complete a law degree at Oxford University with an emphasis on family and labour law. Roxanne completed her legal training by clerking for the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005. In 2012, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Nipissing in recognition of her innovative work in education and human rights.

She is directly responsible for corporate and family engagement at Me to We, seeking to create bridges and sustainable change by changing the way we live, act and conduct business. Roxanne created and established Bogani Cottages and Tented Camp, a first-of-its-kind facility designed to educate and engage youth, adults, families and corporate groups through international volunteer adventures. She is now heading up the expansion of Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp in Rajasthan, India. Roxanne also leads social and economic empowerment initiatives for women in Kenya, India and Ecuador as founder of Me to We Artisans. Me to We Artisans empowers women in Free The Children countries through financial literacy and employable skills. This initiative currently employs more than 600 women and their families, and proves that every dollar earned by a mother directly impacts her home, her children and her community. Me to We Artisans is growing at a rapid pace, having been warmly received and featured in media outlets such as Chatelaine, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Fashion and Canadian Living. A French-Canadian, Roxanne has been featured as “Faces of the Future: 100 Young Canadians to Watch” in Maclean’s magazine, and she is an Action Canada Fellow. In 2005, Roxanne was selected for the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100: Canada’s Most Powerful Women. Her work has been extensively covered by the CBC, The Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and the Winnipeg Free Press.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Ben Peterson

Ben Peterson is the Co-Founder and CEO of www.newsana.com. He also serves as Co-Founder and Chair Emeritus of JHR (Journalists for Human Rights). Newsana, launched in April 2013, is an online community where engaged people share, discuss and collectively surface the five most essential stories of the day. Newsana is designed to filter through all the junk, giving its visitors access to the best online content, quickly. It is where smart people come to find and discuss the highest quality news and ideas.

From May 2002 to October 2011, Ben served as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of JHR (Journalists for Human Rights). Under Ben’s leadership, JHR grew into Canada's largest international media development organization, running projects in 17 African countries and building one of Canada’s strongest student leadership networks. Ben continues to serve as Chair Emeritus of JHR's Board of Directors. 

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). Ben has received many awards for his work, including Canada's Top 40 under 40 Award and the Queen's University Alumni Humanitarian Award.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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Josh Silvertown

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.

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