TEDxToronto has been bringing educated, elevated talks to Toronto since 2009. Now gearing for its 11th-annual run, 2019’s meeting of the minds will see discussion around concepts of RISE (last year’s theme was IDENTITY). RISE focuses on movements, people and technologies that are “on the rise” and creating new realities and ripples in society.

“Rise is optimistic as well as ominous” is how organizers put it.

On October 26, 12 speakers will present their ideas and theories at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works, a demonstration hub with a mandate to “enable flourishing cities” through innovation and sustainable practices. It is a great setting to host meaningful conversations in and has previously hosted conferences and events for the likes of Bloomberg and Audi.

Expect talks around AI, innovation, sustainability, politics and the general future to be on agenda. Speakers have been prepping their talks for several months with the help of TED coaches.

Below are five speakers we’re looking forward to hearing at the one-day event.


Michelle Xuereb

Innovation is driving life and Xuereb is one of the people helping do this as a director at Quadrangle, a Toronto-based interior design firm. Quadrangle’s work continues to be seen around the city, finessing building blocks and aesthetics for institutions like the Ontario College And Design (OCAD). Quadrangle was behind the development of the Artscape Daniels Launchpad, too, a 90-room modern incubator for creative entrepreneurs. The City of Toronto recently acknowledged Quadrangle’s DUKE Condos, completed in 2017 and located within Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. The seven-storey infill development won the Award of Merit at this year’s Toronto Urban Design Awards.

We’re excited to hear what Xuereb has in store on how to think about design, the future of work and commerce for the years to come. It’s a lot to tackle and fascinating to think about.

Name one thing, as a society, we aren’t spending enough time thinking about? What would be a good first step?

“Adaptation to our changing climate and what we can do on a personal level to help improve our ability to adapt. I believe we need to develop our compassion for ourselves and our empathy for others. Building deeper relationships and connections will build our resilience and help us to thrive through these times of change.” – via TEDxToronto

Mark Cohon

As a former executive with the MLB, NBA and the CFL, now serving as the chair of the Juno Awards, we’re itching to hear what Cohon has to say about building and securing a brand. Cohon was the commissioner of the CFL’s 100th Grey Cup and just four years ago he tried to get a “Tough Mudder-meets-Disney in a travelling Cirque [du Soleil] show” off the ground (but struck out). He is also the chair of Toronto Global, which is one of the foremost organizations in Canada helping international businesses expand into the Toronto region.

Name one thing, as a society, we aren’t spending enough time thinking about? What would be a good first step?

“The economic disparity between rich and poor and the widening gap that is happening. I would take people out of their comfort zone to expose them to the challenges facing millions of people today. Try to have a rallying cry and define solutions that involve both our political leaders and the private sector to tackle these challenges.” – via TEDxToronto

Cassandra Diamond

The work that Cassandra has done for those who’ve suffered from sexual exploitation, assault, or human trafficking is in itself enough for us to show up. She serves as the founding director of BridgeNorth, which is a survivor-led charitable organization that assists in professional and personal development of those recovering. She was also a big activist for the now executed Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (also known as Bill C-36).

We’ve previously documented the need for more awareness around sexually exploitative and destructive actions that continually happen in our country and around the world; hopefully this talk will continue to amplify the conversation. And if the quote below is any indication of what we’re going to be hearing on October 26, then we’re more than motivated to take a seat and listen. You may want to as well.

Name one thing, as a society, we aren’t spending enough time thinking about?

“As a society we are not properly recognizing that sex trafficking is not a women’s issue, it’s a human issue. As a matter of fact, men, not women, are buying women. Additionally, traffickers who are predominantly men and unfortunately tend to be disproportionately represented by societally marginalized groups are not provided with opportunities where they can be gainfully employed and properly diverted out of gangs. A good first step in resolving this societal issue is to firstly ask ourselves, am I contributing to this issue, and if not, what am I doing to alleviate this problem. Investigate how you can be part of the solution.” -via TEDxToronto

Danielle Goldfarb

Studying human behaviour and trends using data analytics and research is part of Goldfarb’s everyday as the global head of research for RIWI. RIWI’s patented Random Domain Intercept Technology (RDIT™) is a big development. According to the company, this technology is “the only all-device technology capable of randomly intercepting online survey respondents in every web-enabled country and territory in the world.” Her work aims to help marginalized voices get heard more, eliminate bias in content and provide real-time global measures to impact current and future generations. RIWI is also behind the first global measure of the online ‘gig’ economy, which is something we are looking forward to hearing more about. At TEDxToronto, Goldfarb will discuss how RIWI technology can better predict things like election results and social unrest. She will also argue that insights need to be examined of those that are often left out of data collection.

Where do you look for inspiration?

“I look for inspiration from leaders from diverse fields who challenge conventional wisdom with evidence. One book that has inspired me is Esther Duflo’s ‘Poor Economics’. In university, I learned that a one-size-fits-all approach could solve poverty, but Duflo provided hard evidence that a solution that works in one place does not necessarily work elsewhere, challenging the orthodoxy.” – via TEDxToronto

Joseph Palmer

Palmer works as an engineer at Dessa, a Toronto-based AI startup. You may know the name because the company’s “deepfake” computer-generated voice of Joe Rogan’s voice, but in case you need a quick refresh. We were impressed and now excited to hear more about modern machine learning, like what it will do for (or to) our souls.

If you could achieve one goal in the next 18 months what would it be? And why?

“My long-term goal is to advance civilization through technology—in particular, through artificial intelligence. By mastering the most important ideas in my field I will create a stronger basis from which to have an impact.” – via TEDXToronto

Tickets are on sale now at www.tedxtoronto.com. Get yours now before they’re sold out! See you there.