Highlights from RENEW: TEDxToronto’s flagship event series

Highlights from RENEW: TEDxToronto’s flagship event series

Spanning three thoughtfully curated evenings of new ideas, new perspectives, and engaging dialogue.

Guests gathered in the Royal Ontario Museum’s charming Eaton Theatre for TEDxToronto’s flagship event on May 17—the initiative’s first live event in over two years. “There’s an unmatched sense of connection that’s created when we gather in person,” says event co-chair Gillian Cameron. “While ideas are a huge part of why we gather, it’s the conversations we have about these ideas that make TEDxToronto events really special.” 

Inspired by the global resilience proven over the course of the pandemic, this year’s theme of renewal addressed a unique opportunity for pause and reflection. “RENEW is a chance to reestablish our perspectives and a chance for all of us to reimagine what our collective future could look like,” says Cameron. “In reflecting on where we’ve been, what we’ve been through and what we want to do differently as a global society, I hope our attendees can take these ideas and turn them into action.”

During night one of the three-evening event, four inspiring speakers shared the TEDxToronto stage—each advocating for different ways to shape ‘how we care’ through the ethos of business, news media, performing arts and the power of local community.

Tariq Fancy, former Wall Street investor turned non-profit founder, called out inaction within the corporate world; advocating for a generation of “young people today, who see a system that is not responding to long-term challenges.” Kelly Boutsalis, journalist and lead producer of CBC’s Six Nations Bureau, shared her experience in discovering the power of authentic representation, and what happens when Indigenous people are able to tell their own stories.

Chandra Maracle, founder of Kakhwa’on:we/Real People Eat Real Food, energized a new conversation around motherhood, postpartum and the role of healthy food access in preventative healthcare. Earning a standing ovation, award-winning human beatboxer Andre Gibson closed the show with a story of overcoming anxiety by way of creative expression and an incredible live performance.

The sold-out event, live-streamed for viewers at home, garnered laughs, tears and an eager audience that met after the talks for an open brainstorming and networking session. A common topic of discussion: the importance of access to such educational and inspiring events.

For the fourth year in a row, TEDxToronto has practiced a subsidised ticket program to break down financial barriers for attendees, and has donated more than 500 tickets to local organizations including The 519 Community Centre, ImagiNATIVE and FoodShare Toronto. As the city continues to move toward the end of a pandemic, and anticipates a greater sense of togetherness, the 70-plus volunteers that make up TEDxToronto are already working on the next chapter that will spread ideas, build community and change lives across Toronto and the world.

Chris Graham, speaker coaching lead, host, TEDxToronto


Tariq Fancy, founder and CEO, the Rumie Initiative


Andre Gibson, human beatboxer


Kelly Boutsalis, freelance journalist (left); Chandra Maracle, founder, Kakhwa’on:we/Real People Eat Real Food


Gillian Cameron (left) and Kapil Khimdas, event co-chairs