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Crawford Gordon ’56 Speaker Series

From environmental activists and bestselling book authors to Olympic athletes and Governor Generals, the Crawford Gordon ’56 Speaker Series is an intellectual beacon to the Ridley community.

Ridley College has welcomed illustrious individuals from an array of disciplines as a part of the Crawford Gordon ’56 Speaker Series, including environmental activist David Suzuki, Governor General Michaëlle Jean, and Olympian Jason Dorland ’83, to name a few. Our accomplished speakers delve into their journeys, challenges and triumphs, offering lessons for attendees to glean.

By inviting luminaries from diverse fields to share their insights and expertise, the engaging speaker series fosters thought-provoking discussions that enrich the minds of both students and faculty. Beyond its role as a platform for intellectual discourse, the speaker series is integral in nurturing critical thinking, empathy and understanding.

As our community unites to listen, question and engage with our speakers, the Crawford Gordon ’56 Speaker Series continues to uphold its legacy of inspiring flourishing lives and shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

2023-2024 Schedule

The 2023-2024 school year boasts an exciting line-up of speakers. Please explore the biographies of the individuals we are excited to welcome to campus over the next several months.

Marie Da Silva
Tuesday, October 24, 2023 at 7:30p.m.
Mandeville Theatre 

Marie Da Silva emerges as a remarkable beacon of compassion and dedication in the realm of education and social change. Born in Malawi, Africa, she weathered personal adversity and saw the first-hand devastation that the HIV/AIDS epidemic can bring to a community. Fueled by her own experiences and unyielding commitment to improving the lives of others, Marie founded the Jacaranda School for Orphans. A school that has grown to over 400 students, providing children with the gift of education and a nurturing environment where their potential can flourish. 

In recognition of her transformative work at the Jacaranda Foundation, Marie was announced as a Top Ten CNN Hero for her dedication to orphans in Malawi. Among many other awards received for her work, Marie holds a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President of Malawi. Marie Da Silva continues to be a source of inspiration, reminding us that even in the face of adversity, one can create ripples of change that can be felt across generations.  

Today Marie spends most of her time in Malawi at the school and frequently travels abroad for fundraising and speaking engagements. 

Tomson Highway
Wednesday, November 29th, 2023 at 7:30p.m.
Mandeville Theatre 

Tomson Highway, OC, playwright, novelist, pianist and songwriter, is one of the most prominent and influential Indigenous Canadian artists. Born as a full-blood Cree in northern Manitoba, his early childhood was infused with the oral traditions and storytelling that would later shape his creative identity. At the young age of six, Tomson was placed in a residential school where he decided to pursue a career in music, obtaining his degree and Bachelor of Arts.  

Highway’s life journey encompassed activism and advocacy for Indigenous rights and cultural revitalization. Highway immersed himself in the field of native social work, working in several reserves and urban centres across Ontario. Following his seven years of social work, he decided to combine his artistic training and Native social work experience to write music, plays and novels documenting his experiences. Tomson worked in the Toronto theatre industry for several years and achieved national and international recognition for his work, most notably, the multi-award-winning ‘The Rez Sisters.’ 

In 1994, he was made a member of the Order of Canada and has recently received his latest award, the 2022 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.  

With his compelling narratives and harmonious melodies, Highway continues to illuminate the beauty and struggles of Indigenous life, contributing to a more inclusive and empathetic understanding of Canada’s diverse cultural tapestry. 

Dr. Greg Wells
Wednesday, January 17th 2024 at 7:30p.m.
Mandeville Theatre 

Dr. Greg Wells is a wellness advocate, scientist, TedX speaker and best-selling author who has dedicated his career to studying the science of human limits and developing practical strategies to help individuals perform at their best – even under the most challenging circumstances.  

Wells has participated in some of the most gruelling physical challenges on the planet, including the Nanisivik Marathon, 600 miles north of the Arctic Circle; Ironman Canada; and the Tour D’Afrique, the longest cycling race in the world at 11,000km. He has also explored every terrain and condition in more than 50 countries, making him a true adventurer. 

Wells is the author of five books that are all insightful guides to achieving optimal health and high performance in all areas of life. He is most recognized for his book The Ripple Effect.  

Wells is currently a senior scientist at SickKids Hospital in Toronto and the CEO and founder of Wells Performance, a global consulting firm committed to helping teams, schools and businesses become places where people get healthy, perform optimally, and reach their potential. Wells continues to embark on a journey of exploration, bridging the gap between art and science to enrich lived and invigorate minds.  

50 Years of Women at Ridley – An Evening with Georgina Black ’85 and Friends
Thursday, April 18th, 2024 at 7:30p.m.
Mandeville Theatre 

Georgina Black is managing partner of Government and Public Services for Deloitte Canada, where she leads a team of professionals committed to making Canada better. Black is a member of Deloitte’s global Executive for Government and Health care and serves on the global COVID command table, focused on capturing and sharing leading practices across jurisdictions.  

Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, Georgina is a frequent speaker and panellist on the future of government and healthcare. She recently co-authored Building Back Better, The Future of Canada 2030 and Reimagining Seniors Care in Canada. She is a graduate of McGill University and the Institute of Corporate Directors and has served on several boards in education and healthcare. 

The event will feature a four-alumnae panel featuring Amber Kanwar ’04, Margaret Koons ’08, Vida Han ’19 and Chantal Ramsay ’74, moderated by Georgina, in celebration of 50 Years of Women at Ridley.