As a complement to the upcoming Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition at Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts), The Insights Discussion Series highlights our own human rights issues and the local activists currently fighting for the betterment of us all.

Curated by Timea Wharton-Suri and hosted by Garvia Bailey, the four discussions will be offered FREE to the public with registration. Two of the Insights Discussion Series will be hosted at North York Central Library, one at Meridian Hall’s lower lobby, and one at the Greenwin Theatre, Meridian Arts Centre.

Caitlin Tolley, Rana Nasrazadani

Caitlin Tolley, Rana Nasrazadani

Catalysts: Youth Activism on the Rise

Wednesday, October 30, 2019     
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street - 2nd Floor Auditorium

The Catalysts discussion is a complement to a section of the Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibition dedicated to the actions taken by Canadians to support the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. When it comes to global mobilization, local activists have always been at the frontlines of human rights movements, including youth. Today there is a heightened interest in advocacy and activist engagement among youth. They are more likely to be involved in issue-based actions or organizations that address specific concerns, and are more likely to mobilize others sharing similar views. What inspires local youth activists? How does activism in one’s youth evolve over time? John Samuels, Rana Nasrazadani and Caitlin Tolley will share their insights.

Samson Bonkeabantu Brown

Samson Bonkeabantu Brown

Pioneers: Trans and Two-Spirit Activists Generating Social Change

Friday, November 8, 2019  
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Meridian Hall (formerly Sony Centre)
1 Front Street East, Lower Lobby

The South African Freedom Charter could be compared to the List of Rights asserted by Louis Riel and his provisional government to protect the rights of all people in Manitoba and enshrined in the Manitoba Act. Like other freedom fighters of the past, trans and two-spirit community members are pioneers in human rights activism, working to secure rights for all people in defiance of systemic discrimination and violence. Activists are working toward social and institutional reform, focusing on poverty-reduction, health care, violence, housing rights, and isolation. Canada is home to some of the world’s staunchest human rights activists for trans and two-spirit peoples. What are the strategies and forms of resistance these activists are employing to generate social change? How can we all get involved to create a more equitable society? Toronto’s Samson Bonkeabantu Brown and Manitoba’s Brielle Beardy-Linklater will share their personal experiences and insights.

Emmanuel Jal

Emmanuel Jal

TRIUMPHS: A Conversation with Former Child Soldier, Musician, & Refugee Activist Emmanuel Jal

Tuesday, December 10, 2019
7:00 PM – 8:15 PM

Greenwin Theatre at Meridian Arts Centre (formerly Toronto Centre for the Arts)

Nelson Mandela and his Foundation played prominent roles in efforts to counter xenophobia and racism, including on several occasions, working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help counter the devastating consequences of apartheid's destabilisation policies. And Mandela noted that, as long as armed conflicts persist, we will need to formulate more progressive and humanitarian policies to deal with the refugee crises experienced around the world. How did one artist transform his experiences as a refugee of war into global humanitarian activism?

About Timea Wharton-Suri

Timea Wharton-Suri is an arts and entertainment professional with twenty years' experience directing dance productions, cultural programs, and arts education projects that are accessible to a broad range of communities. She is a programmer and producer of dance, multi-arts and literary events; an arts management consultant; and an advisor to arts organizations. Timea earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance from York University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Arts and Media Management Graduate Diploma from Schulich School of Business. She performed for several years with dance companies such as Ballet Creole and Ronald Taylor Dance before opening a dance/fitness studio – one of the first that now proliferate in urban centres. In addition to producing three of her own choreographic works, Timea produced four larger-scale entertainment presentations in Toronto and the Caribbean. While working as a programmer and producer at large, she is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Dance Media Group, an Artistic Advisor to Dancemakers Centre for Creation, and a funding advisor to the National Arts Centre's Creation Fund.

About Garvia Bailey

Garvia Bailey is inspired and driven by the power of sharing our stories. Stories are where art meets activism, where the personal embraces the political. For over 20 years her focus as a journalist, interviewer, educator and pundit has been on serving those who seek out beauty, meaning and connection through well-told stories. Most recently, she told the story of jazz and the colourful musicians who inhabit that world as host of Good Morning, Toronto on JazzFM.91 - Jazz and the Arts. Before that, she spent 10 years with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as an arts journalist/producer and broadcaster. While with the CBC, Garvia served as the host of a variety of radio programs, including Big City Small World and Canada Live, as a columnist for Metro Morning and as a contributor at, CBC Television, and as a producer on the documentary programs Global Village and Outfront.


As a freelancer, Garvia has contributed to Out In the Open and Tapestry, Sunday Edition among others, and been tapped as a commentator on CBC’s flagship news program, The National. Throughout her career in broadcasting, she has turned the spotlight on emerging talent from across the GTA and has also interviewed many celebrated international artists including cultural pundit Roxane Gay, author Lawrence Hill, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, director John Singleton, actor Chris Tucker, jazz icon Tony Bennett, and many others. She is a regular host/moderator for the Toronto Public Library and Hot Docs who prides herself on bringing wit, warmth and curiosity to her interviews.


Garvia recently joined the jury pool for the prestigious Canadian Hillman Prize, honouring the best in investigative journalism. She is currently working on her own major photo/storytelling exhibit with Black Artist in Dialogue (BAND), an upcoming book-focused podcast with the Toronto Public Library, and on various projects with the award-winning multi-media production company Pop Sandbox as a writer and producer. Garvia is a co-founder and host/producer of