Kevin Vallely – Explorer

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In 2003 Kevin Vallely was named one of Canada’s leading adventurers by the Globe and Mail. His adventuring resume is stacked with compelling expeditions to all parts of the world including skiing Alaska’s 1,860 kilometre Iditarod Trail; scampering over Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail in record time (10 hours, 13 minutes); attempting to bike and climb the island of Java’s 13 -10,000-foot volcanoes (a trip cut short when post-9/11 Indonesia became too dangerous); competing on the only Canadian team to finish the last and most difficult Eco-Challenge adventure race held in Fiji in 2002; retracing a 2,000 kilometre Klondike-era ice-bike route through the dead of an Alaskan winter, and most recently, with teammates Ray Zahab and Richard Weber, breaking the world record for the fastest unsupported trek from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole.

Kevin is a member of the esteemed Explorer’s Club and was an Explorer’s Club Flag Recipient for his attempted traverse of the Northwest Passage in 2013. His book Rowing the Northwest Passage: Adventure, Fear and Awe in a Rising Sea was published by Greystone Books in 2017.

Kevin is a registered architect and runs his own company Vallely Architecture. He graduated from the McGill University School of Architecture in 1988 where he was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada medal as top graduating student. He’s a recipient of a Commonwealth Scholarship to Cambridge University.

Dr. Liam Brunham – Changing How We Prescribe Drugs

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Liam Brunham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of British Columbia and a Principal Investigator at the UBC Centre for Heart and Lung Innovation. He is an attending physician at the Health Heart Program Prevention clinic at St. Paul’s hospital, one of the largest specialty lipid clinics in Canada. He is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar. In 2017, he was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40. Dr. Brunham’s research focuses on genetic aspects of cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and pharmacogenomics. Active projects in his laboratory include SAVE BC (www.savebc.ca), a long term study of families with early onset CVD; using genome-editing in human stem cells to study mechanisms of drug-induced cardiotoxicity; and studying the use of genetic testing for inherited dyslipidemias. His laboratory is funded by the CIHR, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Genome BC.”

Erika Bergman – Submarine Pilot

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Erika Bergman is a submersible pilot, a virtual reality engineer, and an enthusiastic ocean explorer. She began her career in chemical oceanography, studying at the University of Washington, while working as a diesel engineer and a steam ship engineer. In 2013 she was named a National Geographic Explorer for her “Classrooms Under the Sea” Expedition — live streaming video from submersibles. She now produces 360 video for National Geographic as well as writing for NG publications. Weaving together her passions for submersible engineering, rich media storytelling, and outreach, she founded GEECs, Global Engineering & Exploration Counselors, providing a network of engineering camps and mentorship to girls around the world.

Mebrat Beyene – Executive Director WISH Drop-In Centre

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Mebrat is an Ethiopian-born Eritrean who was raised in Montreal and who has made the Lower Mainland her home for the last seventeen years. She is a mother, community developer, teacher, and singer known for her passion, enthusiasm, and energy. Mebrat has worked in social justice, and non-profit management and community development for over twenty years. As WISH Drop-In Centre Society’s executive director, Mebrat brings a collaborative spirit, a deep understanding of both community engagement and governmental and stakeholder relations and a passion for women’s health and safety.  She currently serves as co-chair of Living in Community, and sits on the City of Vancouver’s Black History Month Planning Committee.  Mebrat has worked closely with women and women-serving organizations as a Programs Officer with Status of Women Canada; and served as executive director of PeerNetBC (formerly the Self-Help Resource Association of BC). In a volunteer capacity, Mebrat has served on a variety of Boards, committees, and roundtables over the years. In her spare time, Mebrat volunteers with the Vancouver Youth Choir, and is an avid singer and performer.

Emad Armoush – Music From Syria

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Emad Armoush is an accomplished professional musician living in Vancouver, Canada and pursuing a very active career in World Music since 2000. 

He is a multi-instrumentalist and singer, Emad formed his own groups “Aire Flamenco Arabic Music” and “Rayhan” in 2002, and performs with them regularly at music festivals and venues in Vancouver. He has also collaborated with various local and internationally touring groups such as “Flamenco Flow” and Flamenco de la Mission” from Europe, the “Lache Cercel’s Roma Swing Ensemble” and the “Orchid Ensemble” from Vancouver. 

Emad has performed in theatres in Paris. He has appeared and recorded on CBC Radio, Zed TV, Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver Jazz festival, Mondo Music, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Harmony Art Festival, Asian Heritage Month Festival, the Showcase of Global Discoveries, the Fringe Festival and many others.

Adrian Crook – Urban Advocate

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Adrian Crook is a single father of five who lives in downtown Vancouver and blogs at 5Kids1Condo.com. He’s obnoxiously passionate about sustainability, housing, transportation and minimalism. Because of that, Adrian co-founded two non-profits – Abundant Housing Vancouver and Abundant Transit BC – to advocate for better housing and transit options. Adrian is a Director or Advisor to several technology firms, ranging from workforce solutions to game design to blockchain. In his spare time, he enjoys being involved in civic life and spending time with his kids.

Adrian often writes and speaks on the subject of urbanism, families and raising independent children. He spent two years training his kids to take the city bus, riding with them daily, before the government intervened. With the help of the ensuing outpouring of support from around the world, Adrian is in the midst of a Charter challenge to that decision.

Adrian often dreams of a less busy life, but also realizes he’d hate it.

Zoë Pawlak – This Side Up A Look At Sober Life

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Zoë Pawlak is a contemporary, Canadian, artist and designer, working with private clients, interior designers, and brands. She is an active participant in the Canadian creative community and has made a significant contribution toward supporting and promoting female entrepreneurship.

Known primarily for her decade-long career as a painter, Zoë’s rug collections, and furniture collaborations earned her a reputation as a notable, emerging designer. Zoë possesses a dynamic personality with a unique capacity to maintain a strong personal aesthetic. She provides her clients and collectors with a wide range of new work, due to her evolving and prolific practice.

Zoë’s work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Interior Design Magazine,  Design Milk, and Domino Mag. Zoë has worked with The Property Brothers, Love It or List It, Lululemon, and Playboy. She is represented in New York by Uprise Art. Zoë’s paintings are in the private collections of Cobie Smulders, Cristina and Trevor Linden, and Club Monaco.

Sirish Rao – Myth Making

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Sirish Rao is a writer, festival producer and cultural curator with deep connections to the international cultural world. He spent a decade as Director of Tara Books, one of India’s most respected publishing houses and has worked in publishing and event production in India, the UK and Europe. Sirish has authored twenty books, from commentaries on street art, to children’s books and retellings of Greek plays for the Paul Getty Museum. His books have been translated into seventeen languages and won several international awards.

Sirish has worked with some of the world’s leading cultural institutions including the Franfkurt Book Fair, Museum of London, Musee du Quai Branly, Kunsthal Rotterdam and the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Since co-founding Indian Summer Festival eight years ago, Sirish has served as the festival’s Artistic Director. In this capacity, he has been responsible for introducing some of the world’s most noted contemporary artists to Vancouver, in a roster that features Nobel, Booker, Grammy and Oscar winning artists alongside local emerging talent. Sirish is deeply committed to playing his part in ensuring that Vancouver is engaged in global conversations.

Sirish has been a member of several juries including the BC Book Awards and the City of Vancouver Book Awards. He maintains his connection to international publishing in his role as Adjunct Professor in the Publishing Department at Simon Fraser University.

Sirish sits on the advisory board of the Global Reporting Centre (a non-profit organization dedicated to highlighting important neglected stories around the world) and on the advisory board of 2+10 industries (a creative production enterprise and community space for refugee and recently-immigrated youth). He is also a member of the external advisory committee for the City of Vancouver’s Creative City Strategy.

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