On October 26, 1,300 people gathered at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto to celebrate our 10th anniversary conference, TEDxToronto: IDENTITY.
We heard from 14 inspiring speakers and watched four engaging performances. There was so much energy and emotion in the air as the speakers shared their ideas worth spreading. The audience then followed up by sharing their thoughts in depth within the TEDxToronto community. Needless to say, the passion was contagious.
If you couldn’t make it to the conference or watch online, sign up for our newsletter which will be going out in the coming weeks to notify you of when the talks and performances are published online. In the meantime, here’s a quick recap of everything TEDxToronto: IDENTITY had to offer.
The fitting theme for this year was IDENTITY. While it’s never been easier to share and celebrate our identities with the world, they also have never been more in danger of appropriation and scrutiny. Each talk this year reflected on how we discover, create and protect the things that makes us who we are.
The stage at TEDxToronto was a catalyst of inspiration. The audience was captivated by each speakers topic; from combating the stigma around mental health to pushing personal and professional boundaries, everyone was encouraged to challenge their inherent biases and see the world from a new perspective.
Several speakers left our audience at loss for words with standing ovations: Dave Dame, Sarah Keast, Mary Walsh, Eugenia Duodu, Director X and Sarain Fox received standing ovations for their anecdotal talks on how we can challenge our own identities, and change others’ perceptions along the way.
Some of our favourite moments throughout the day were when:
Our host, Hoodo Hersi kept the audience howling throughout the day, starting with her opening monologue where she joked “I feel like Batman… I’m black on the outside, but inside I feel like a white billionaire!”
Carol Off reminded us of the importance of accepting our diverse identities, with her beautiful analogy that “stories – like cookies – are things that you share with others. And then you start to see that we all belong.”
Dave Dame inspired the audience to first see a different world, then to realize that they can make that world available to them.
Masai Ujiri spoke about the importance of sports to bridge communities across Africa and the world.
Sarah Keast left the audience in tears with her moving talk on the importance of reducing the stigma around addiction, and the importance of treating people with love and compassion.
Mary Walsh took a load off our shoulders with her hilarious stance on the reality of aging.
Michael Bryant spoke about the importance of compassion, and how his personal experiences forced him to see others with more empathy.
Director X addressed the issue of reducing gun violence and offered a solution of leveraging mindful meditation to do so.
Akwasi Owusu-Bempah spoke about the importance of providing amnesty to those negatively impacted by the criminalization of marijuana.
Guest speaker, Dr. Peter Blecher spoke about the legalization of marijuana, a topic especially relevant given the recent legalization in Canada a couple weeks prior.
Dr. Eugenia Duodu provided a wake-up call on the importance of diversity in STEM, and the necessity for children to grow up in a world where they see themselves reflected in the professions they aspire to be.
Michael Arntfield hit the audience with some hard-hitting facts about the importance of disrupting and democratizing the crime-solving process through citizen involvement.
Suresh Doss connected 1,300 delegates by passing around and sharing the story of a single Thai dessert for everyone.
Jennifer Riel challenged the audience to challenge their own inherent biases and understanding of the world.
Sabarish Gnanamoorthy at just 15 years old, blew the audience away with his passionate and hopeful talk on the future of VR/AR technology.
Sarain Fox took hold of the stage in a powerful and compassionate way to educate the audience on how to speak their truth.
Members of From Later studios moved the audience with their beautifully futuristic love song, Compersia.
All-female trio, mashup, and their skits about female problems and the patriarchy kept the room howling with laughter.
The Toronto All-Stars Steel Orchestra followed through last minute with a stellar performance of classic pop tracks with a steel pan twist.
Big Smoke Brass Band closed out the show with a groove that got everyone up and moving for the cocktails & conversations.
Delegates also had a great time exploring IDENTITY through all our partnerships and activations. From enjoying coffee from Propeller Coffee, to connecting with like minds on the Troüpe app, to taking dynamic photos at Page Activations, there was plenty to do during the breaks. They even had an opportunity to meditate with Mindset Brain Gym and explore the Brim tech shop.
foodora provided some food for thought, which left delegates nourished and ready absorb the wisdom throughout the day. Some of our favourite snacks and meals came from Kinka Izakaya, Pantry Rosedale / Food Dudes, Kibo Sushi, Dufflet, Cluck Clucks and Basil Box.
Looking back, TEDxToronto 2018 was one for the books. These past 10 years would not have been possible without the support of our team of volunteers, partners, speakers, and delegates. Luckily, TEDxToronto 2019 will be just around the corner once again; and with our first decade wrapped up, we’re even more excited to see what’s next in store.