Plenary speakers

Plenary speakers

Plenary sessions will be formatted with one keynote address, followed by a panel discussion.


Opening plenary: October 29th, 8:30 AM
Leaving no one behind? Reflection for action in a changing world

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau (invited)
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

Before entering politics, Minister Bibeau began her career at the former Canadian International Development Agency. She went on postings to Morocco and Benin. After settling down with her family in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, she became a successful businesswoman and was actively involved in her community.

In her capacity as Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Minister Bibeau has a mandate to refocus Canada’s international assistance to help the poorest and most vulnerable people, and support fragile states. In May 2016 she launched the International Assistance Review to determine how best to fulfill her mandate. This review calls for consultations with Canadian and international partners, as well as civil society and interested individuals, particularly women and youth, both in Canada and in developing countries. Later this year, Minister Bibeau will deliver a new five-year plan to Cabinet.


Keynote: Paul Farmer
Partners in Health, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Paul Farmer, physician and anthropologist, is chief strategist and co-founder of Partners In Health, Kolokotrones University Professor and chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He also serves as U.N. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Community-based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. Dr. Farmer has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. His most recent books are In the Company of the Poor: Conversations with Dr. Paul Farmer and Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction, and To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation.


Shakira Choonara
Southern Africian AIDS Trust

Dr Shakira Choonara is considered to be a young leader, researcher and activist at the forefront of public health and development both in South Africa (SA) and globally.  Dr Choonara is currently employed as a regional advocacy officer at the Southern African AIDS Trust where she is responsible for driving innovative youth activism programmes throughout five African countries. She recently completed her PhD in Public Health focussing on financial management in the health sector and also hold an Honours (Cum Laude) and a Masters in Demography from the University of the Witwatersrand, SA. She has also contributed substantially to multi-country research through the Resilient and Responsive Health System (RESYST) project which aims to improve healthcare across various African and Asian countries. Ms Choonara’s writings and involvement in other research such as Universal Health Coverage (UHC- Health for All), fostering leadership in the health system and malaria prevention has been widely published, engaged with internationally and feeds into improving the health system in SA and other low-and-middle income settings. Additionally, she has been the recipient of several prestigious research and leadership awards throughout her career. She was recently named 2017 Woman of the Year in Healthcare by the Woman of Stature network, SA.  Internationally, she was selected as the European Union (EU) Development Days Young Leader for Health in 2015 and an Emerging Voice for Global Health in 2014.  

James Orbinski
Balsillie School of International Affairs

Dr. Orbinski is a humanitarian practitioner and a leading scholar in global health. He believes in humanitarianism, in citizenship and in actively engaging and shaping the world in which we live, so that it is more humane, fair and just. As of September 2012, Dr. Orbinski is CIGI Research Chair in Global Health at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and professor of International Policy and Governance at Wilfrid Laurier University. At the University of Toronto, which he joined in 2003, he is full professor of Medicine at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and Senior Fellow at both Massey College, and the Munk School of Global Affairs.


Julia Sánchez
Canadian Council of International Co-operation

Julia Sanchez is President-CEO of the Canadian Council of International Co-operation (CCIC) since August 2011. Before joining CCIC, Julia was the National Campaigns Director for the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA), known as the “tcktcktck” campaign. She has extensive experience in top‐level international development management, including many years working in developing countries (Bolivia, Guatemala, Nepal and India) and with numerous Canadian and international partners and donors. Julia has designed and managed programs in areas such as humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, governance, democratic development, community-based economic development, international volunteering and, more recently, campaigning on climate change.

Plenary 2: October 30th, 8:30 AM
Health of marginalized populations during and following periods of crisis

Keynote: Guy Standing
University of London; Basic Income Earth Network

Guy Standing is a Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a founder and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), a non-governmental organisation promoting basic income with members in over 50 countries. Before joining SOAS, he was Professor of Economic Security at the University of Bath, UK, and Professor of Labour Economics at Monash University, Australia. He previously directed the Socio-Economic Security Programme of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. A labour economist with a doctorate from the University of Cambridge, Professor Standing has worked in both developed and developing countries and in the “transition” countries of eastern Europe. He has been a consultant to many governments and international agencies, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Commission.


Closing Plenary: October 31st, 3:30 PM
Sustainable and equitable environmental action

The Honourable Catherine McKenna (invited)
Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Catherine McKenna practiced competition and international trade law in Canada and Indonesia and was senior negotiator with the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in East Timor. She also served as senior advisor on the former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer’s review of Canada’s military justice system. Catherine co-founded Canadian Lawyers Abroad, a charitable organization that works in developing countries and with Indigenous communities in Canada. She served as Executive Director of the Banff Forum, a public policy organization for young leaders. Catherine taught at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Catherine and her husband live in Ottawa with their three children. She was elected on October 19, 2015 and was appointed Minister of Environment and Climate Change on November 4, 2015.

Keynote: Blake Poland
Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Dr. Blake Poland is a professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, current co-Director of the Environmental Health Justice in the City Research Network and former Director of the Collaborative Program in Community Development (2007-2008) and MHSc Program in Health Promotion (1999-2007). Trained in social/health geography (PhD McMaster 1994), Blake’s research has focussed on the settings approach to health promotion (see Settings for Health Promotion, Sage, 2000), the health of marginalized groups, the sociology of tobacco control, and community development as an arena of practice for health professionals. More recently his attention has turned to environmental health promotion and building community resilience for the transition to a post-carbon society, including work in the global Transition Town movement. Blake also teaches introductory qualitative health research methods. His research is inspired by the work of Paulo Freire, Pierre Bourdieu, complexity theory, arts-enabled and community-based participatory approaches. He has led or worked on projects employing visual methods (photovoice), participatory research, research-based theatre, interactive multimedia installations.

Max FineDay
Canadian Roots Exchange

Max FineDay is a nêhiyaw napew from the Sweetgrass First Nation and currently Co-Executive Director of Canadian Roots Exchange. 

Max is known nationally for his work on youth leadership development, and centers efforts on ideas and projects that move Canada toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. He is focused on delivering results, building relationships, and speaking to both the challenges and opportunities that exist for Canada and Indigenous peoples today.

He is currently based in Toronto and can be found on twitter, @MaxFineDay.