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Here you can learn more about our panelists and their work. Be sure to check out the organizations they feel most passionately about!  
Friday  |  March 5 |  11am-12:30pm
Humanitarian Response: Healthcare in Emergencies
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Chiran Livera


Chiran Livera manages the stand-by team of Rapid Response Managers for global emergencies with the Canadian Red Cross. He frequently leads emergency responses and managed operations in Ebola, earthquakes, hurricanes, and armed conflicts across Latin America and Africa. Most recently, he led the Red Cross hurricane response in Honduras.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross Society is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world, with the mission to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.


Dr. Catherine Baillie Abidi


Dr. Catherine Baillie Abidi joined the Dallaire Institute in March 2018 as the Director of Training. Catherine has extensive experience researching, publishing and teaching in the areas of peace and conflict, international humanitarian law, forced migration, and adult education. Her recent book, Pedagogies for Building Cultures of Peace: Challenging the Constructions of an Enemy, explores how critical pedagogies and participatory methodologies can challenge and transform violence. Prior to an academic career teaching at Mount Saint Vincent University, Athabasca University and Saint Mary’s University, Catherine spent fifteen years working with the Canadian Red Cross where she developed multiple educational resources focused on the rules of war and the experiences of children in armed conflict. Catherine has led hundreds of security sector and community-based trainings oriented toward enhancing the protection of children in armed conflict. She received the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada for this work. 

Dallaire Institute

The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (Dallaire Initiative) believes that in order to progressively end the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, the world must focus on effective prevention. 

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Dr. Diya Uberoi


Diya Uberoi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, where her research looks into the role litigation plays in promoting health outcomes. She has a background in international human rights law and has worked with different international organizations. She holds a PhD in International Law from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, an LLM in Global Health Law from Georgetown University Law Center, a JD from Emory University School of Law, and an MPhil in Psychology from the University of Cambridge.  

Friday  |  March 5 |  11am-12:30pm
Gender and Global Health Development

Dr. Emily Kirk


Dr. Emily J. Kirk is a Research Associate in the Department of International Development Studies and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie University. She is the author of Cuba’s Gay Revolution: Normalizing Sexual Diversity through a Health-Based Approach and co-editor of the forthcoming Disaster Preparedness and Climate Change in Cuba: Management and Adaptation. Her current research focuses on the impact of disaster preparedness on health outcomes in the Global South.

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Dr. Meaghan Aston


Dr. Aston (RN) is a full professor at Dalhousie University School of Nursing. She is the Associate Director of Research and International Affairs and Director of the Center for Transformative Nursing and Health Research. She teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs with a focus on community health, family health and qualitative research. Her program of research focuses on maternal, child and newborn health as well as children with intellectual disabilities, their families and health care professionals who care for them. She has led research studies in Canada and Tanzania focusing on the work of midwives and nurses. She uses feminist poststructuralism informed by discourse analysis to examine how health care professionals and clients negotiate beliefs, values and practices regarding health care that have been socially and institutionally constructed through relations of power. Dr. Aston has travelled to Tanzania to co-lead research with nursing colleagues at Muhimbili University, participated in an HIV screening program in Sierra Leone and was a board member at the NS Gambia Association.

Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 national service offering bilingual (English and French) professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people. It operates three counselling centres and offers community engagement initiatives through staff and volunteers across Canada. 

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Melissa Banchette


Melissa began her career in the field of Veterinary Nursing with an internship at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL, providing care and conducting clinical and environmental research in collaboration with the veterinary specialists and conservationists. The research conducted during her time at LPZ garnered her an international scholarship award resulting in publishing the findings and helped change the face of laboratory processes for zoos worldwide. Melissa returned to Canada to launch and manage a new private veterinary practice for five years before joining the Extended Health Claims team at Green Shield Canada in 2002.

She joined GSC’s management leadership in 2012 with supervisory roles leading the Claims, Out of Province Travel and Drug Special Authorization teams resulting in the current oversight of all benefit eligibility research, health navigation and pricing optimization for our Group Benefits product. Melissa’s focus is equality for access to health care for all Canadians. This drove the multi-year Gender Affirmation benefit project - culminating in a new product offering for the transgender community, an update in corporate gender policy and an inclusive approach for our systems platforms.

Melissa volunteered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windsor-Essex on the Program Committee reporting to the Board in 2017/2018 and is now an inaugural member of the GSC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team. She is a graduate of St. Clair College in Windsor, On.

Race & Ethnicity
Friday  |  March 5 |  1:30pm-3pm
Understanding the Relationship Between
Health, Race and Ethnicity
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Larissa Crawford


Larissa is a restorative circle keeper, published Indigenous and anti-racism researcher, award-winning ribbon skirt artist, and proudly passes on Métis and Jamaican ancestry to her daughter, Zyra. She is the Founder of Future Ancestors Services, a youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances equity and climate justice through lenses of ancestral accountability and anti-racism. Larissa is a CohortX Climate Justice Fellow, a Raven Trust Capital Fireweed Fellow, Action Canada Fellow, and a 2019 Corporate Knight’s Top 30 Under 30 in Sustainability.

Waashayshkwun Grants

The Waashayshkwun Grants are awarded to Indigenous, Black, racialised, LGBTQ2S+, and disabled independent service providers based in what is now known as Canada that, despite facing disproportionate barriers, continue to centre climate justice and systemic barrier removal in their education, lives, and services. These grants are intended to provide the recipients with financial relief and with the opportunity to invest in their business development.


Dr. Rahma Elmahdi


Dr. Rahma Elmahdi is a medical doctor and Postdoctoral fellow currently working in public health in Denmark. She is active in decolonizing medical education for healthcare equity and has a particular interest in equality, diversity and inclusion efforts within medicine and academia. After gaining her medical degree, PhD, and working as a junior doctor in the UK National Health Service for several years, she began undertaking decolonization projects of medical education, as a lecturer in Global Health. Here, she worked to foster critical thinking and challenge traditional pedagogies that reproduce race science and the biological racialization of patients and populations.


In an age of fake news and alternative facts, sharing fact-based content can be a radical act. has been tracking inequality-related news and views for nearly two decades. Our site aims to provide information for readers ranging from educators and journalists to activists and policy makers. Our focus throughout: What can we do to narrow the staggering economic inequality that so afflicts us in almost every aspect of our lives?

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Dr. Terrence Lewis 



Dr. Lewis is an Associate Professor at the Dalhousie University School of Social Work. He immigrated from the U.S. in 2019. He has clinical practice experience with individuals, families, and groups in community mental health and private practice settings. As a researcher, he has focused on the relationships between churches and marginalized populations, especially 2SLGBTQIA and African-American communities. His dissertation research was on the Phenomenon of LGBT-Affirming Black Churches and Their Responses to the HIV/AIDS Crisis. Dr. Lewis’s most recent research project was a narrative interview study with African-American pastors who have offered an affirmative ministry. The study was funded by the 2018 Louisville Institute Project Grant for Researchers. As an educator, Dr. Lewis has focused on developing curriculum that prepares students for culturally-responsive critical social work practice. In Nova Scotia, Dr. Lewis has committed to serving the 2SLGBTQIA and African Nova Scotian communities through clinical practice, research, and education. 

Association of Black Social Workers

Formed out of necessity, ABSW is a volunteer charitable organization consisting of Black Social Workers and Human Service Workers throughout Nova Scotia. A non-profit, volunteer group of Black social workers and human service workers, the Nova Scotia ABSW was formed by four women who were concerned with the responsibility of transforming a system that was not responsive to the problems and concerns of African Nova Scotians. ABSW takes a collective approach to provide education and financial aid to address concerns in the community.



Egale seeks to improve the lives of LGBTQI2S people in Canada and to enhance the global response to LGBTQI2S issues. Egale will achieve this by informing public policy, inspiring cultural change, and promoting human rights and inclusion through research, education, awareness and legal advocacy.

Friday  |  March 5 |  1:30pm-3pm
Trade and Pandemics: COVID Recovery
and the WTO Waiver Dispute
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Dr. Gavin Fridell


Professor Gavin Fridell is the Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s University and a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian Fair Trade Network. He has researched widely on trade justice issues over many years, and his publications include the books, Fair Trade Coffee: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Driven Social Justice, Alternative Trade: Legacies for the Future, and the co-edited book, Beyond Free Trade: Alternative Approaches to Trade, Politics, and Power.

Trade Justice Network

The Trade Justice Network is comprised of environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that have come together to challenge the scope and secret negotiating process of most free trade agreements. They seek to highlight the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.


Sangeeta Shashikant



Ms. Sangeeta Shashikant is the coordinator of Third World Network’s Development and Intellectual Property programme. She has 15 years of research and advocacy experience in intellectual property and public policy matters in particular access to medicines. She monitors and engages with international discussions at the World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization. She has authored and contributed towards several publications on IP and access to medicines including “Negotiating a ‘Development Agenda’ for the World Intellectual Property Organisation,” “The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Protocol on Patents: Implications for Access to Medicines” and on “Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health and Impetus for Access to Medicines.”

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Dr. Mustaqeem De Gama


Mustaqeem De Gama holds a doctoral degree and is appointed as an extra-ordinary professor at the University of Pretoria. He is currently a Counsellor with the South African Mission in Geneva and accredited to the WTO and UN. He previously worked at the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa and headed the Legal International Trade and Investment Directorate. Mustaqeem was also previously the South African representative to the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Council, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law for Arbitration and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Saturday  |  March 6 |  11am-12:30pm
Climate Change and Health: How Does the Environment
We Live in Compromise Our Health?
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Dr. Kristie L. Ebi


Kristie L. Ebi (Ph.D., MPH) is Professor in the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington. She has been conducting research and practice on the health risks of climate variability and change for nearly 25 years, focusing on understanding sources of vulnerability; estimating current impacts and future health risks; designing adaptation policies and measures to reduce the risks of climate change in multi-stressor environments; and estimating the health co-benefits of mitigation policies. She has supported multiple countries in Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific in assessing their vulnerability and implementing adaptation measures. She has been an author on multiple national and international climate change assessments. She has more than 200 publications and has edited four books on aspects of climate change.

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Chúk Odenigbo


Proudly Franco-Albertan, Chúk’s passion lies in the interactions between culture, health, and the environment. Outside of his work with Future Ancestors Services, he is the co-founder of The Poison and The Apple, and is completing his PhD in Medical Geography after completing a masters degree from the School of Public Health at the University of Montréal. Chúk is your typical urbanite, in love with technology and fashion, all the while retaining a connection with nature and integrating greens and blue spaces into his everyday. His vision is to reconnect humanity with nature in a way that accommodates modernity, sparking that green revolution without decimation of the future.

Waashayshkwun Grants

The Waashayshkwun Grants are awarded to Indigenous, Black, racialised, LGBTQ2S+, and disabled independent service providers based in what is now known as Canada that, despite facing disproportionate barriers, continue to centre climate justice and systemic barrier removal in their education, lives, and services. These grants are intended to provide the recipients with financial relief and with the opportunity to invest in their business development.

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Dr. Kelsey Leonard


Dr. Kelsey Leonard is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, where her research focuses on Indigenous water justice and its climatic, territorial, and governance underpinnings. As a water scientist and legal scholar, Dr. Leonard seeks to establish Indigenous traditions of water conservation as the foundation for international water policymaking. She represents the Shinnecock Indian Nation on the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean, which is charged with protecting America's ocean ecosystems and coastlines. She also serves as a member of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board of the International Joint Commission. Dr. Leonard has been instrumental in safeguarding the interests of Indigenous Nations for environmental planning and builds Indigenous science and knowledge into new solutions for water governance and sustainable oceans. In collaboration with a global team of water law scholars Dr. Leonard has published in Lewis and Clark Law Review on Indigenous Water Justice and the defining international legal principle of self-determination under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Her recent scholarship explores legal personhood for water and her TEDTalk “Why lakes and rivers should have the same rights as humans” has nearly 3 million views. Dr. Leonard is a member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature Academic Hub and affiliate of the Earth Law Center.  She is an enrolled citizen of Shinnecock Indian Nation.

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