TEDxKanata 2016 : Breaking Barriers



Located just west of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Kanata is a hub of captivating people with extraordinary ideas. In addition to its fascinating, talented community of thought leaders, Kanata is also home to world-class companies such as Mitel, Halogen and You.i.

With so much talent in its very own backyard, TEDxKanata’s organizers and partners came together on March 31 to deliver a second annual event filled with engaging speakers, innovators and collaborators that nurtured interesting ideas and generated thought-provoking discussion throughout the entire evening. This year’s theme—Breaking Barriers—was sure to live up to its title.

The evening kicked off at 4 PM in a conference room at the grand Brookstreet Hotel, which was transformed to reflect the Breaking Barriers theme. As the crowd of over 275 anxious attendees took their seats, Jenna Sudds, TEDxKanata’s Curator, delivered her opening remarks and acknowledgements.

Craig Gauthier

Jenna’s welcome was followed by the first speaker of the night—Craig Gauthier, who shared the importance of perspective in our ever-changing technological landscape. A successful entrepreneur, investor, filmmaker, author and speaker, Craig overcame several challenging health problems at an early age—which fueled his lifelong drive for success. Perspective is everything, he told the crowd during his time on stage, and technology is an incredible tool. But does it separate us, rather than connect us? Are we losing perspective on real world problems, and our ability to contribute to something meaningful? Craig ended his talk with a call to action: let’s engage and connect with one another more in the moment to drive change.

Doug Smith

The next speaker was former NHL star Doug Smith, who at 18 years old, was drafted 2nd overall into the NHL to play for the Los Angeles Kings as their youngest player ever. The next 11 years were defined by hockey successes, hockey failures, his lack of awareness and the culture of a collision sport. His career ended suddenly at 29 years old when he shattered his spine during a game. Doug spoke about the mental vs. physical effects of trauma, and how the mind could very well be one of the strongest barriers we consistently face. As such, we don’t know the power of the mind, nor do we know much about what goes on “behind the scenes” – even in our own bodies. What can be said for our physical versus our mental boundaries? The reality is, he pointed out, is that at one point or another, we all suffer from a trauma. There are blurred lines between the mental and the physical – and also, a surprising beauty, opportunity, and positive outcomes that can be teased out from any trauma, or initially perceived negative experience.

Bruce Linton

After a short break, the crowd was ready to welcome its next speaker, Bruce Linton, CEO of Martello Technologies and CEO and co-founder of Canopy Growth, a medical marijuana provider. Bruce began by sharing his thoughts of business and entrepreneurship, and “the opportunity that happens when you’re there early, and when you navigate quickly.” He tackled numerous barriers during his time on stage, from legislation and regulation, to criminalization – all challenging when it comes to the issue of certain substances, such as marijuana. Throughout his talk, Bruce demonstrated the ability of barriers to create opportunities. “Barriers” are often perceived in a negative light. But, maybe – if we change our semantics and associations, and if we learn to thank our barriers, and to use them as an opportunity for growth rather than as a limitation – we can create something useful to many.

Alex Munter

Alex Munter, President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), was up next to discuss the barriers and limitations and the potential future trajectory of the Canadian health care system. He highlighted some major complex issues, such as childhood obesity, mental illness, poverty, creating healthy communities, and smoking. Behind solving these issues, he said, lies a question: do we want our collective interest to further the needs of society to trump or concede to our individual interests and beliefs? These often imply making controversial and difficult decisions, and involve using taxation and limitations on marketing and advertising.

Justina McCaffrey Antonia

The evening of inspiration kept right on rolling with the story of Justina Antonia, and her changing name. As a highly respected fashion designer, Justina shared her knowledge on the importance of branding. Businesses place a strong emphasis on the power of branding, she said, but also suggested that we should think of ourselves, individually, as brands as well. She asked, what happens when your name, or brand, becomes recognized not only locally, but globally? Is that success? And what happens when divorce hits? You realize that on top of the emotional turmoil, you’re also suddenly caught in the middle of negotiating in a heated battle of intellectual property. Who owned the brand? Who owned the designs? Protect your name, Justina urged the audience, and protect your work.

Sheema Khan

After a second short break, the crowd returned refueled and recharged, and ready to welcome the next speaker—Sheema Khan. Sheema emigrated from India to Montreal at three years of age and earned her Masters in Physics and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard University. She also completed her post-doctoral research at MIT and McGill. She began her talk by asking the audience, who’s writing your story? Are you? Or are you living the story that has been written for you by others? “Writing our own story speaks to our individuality, our independence, our integrity,” she said. “It speaks to our humanity.” Sheema continued by discussing the spread of constructed narratives and agendas concerning the traditions, heritage and culture of Indigenous people – and how we apply this critical view to all cultural identities. She added that the Canadian landscape is a diverse and multicultural one, and posed the question, how do we preserve our cultural identities? How do we protect a culture, and prevent cultural genocide? Sheema closed with her most powerful question of the night: “I choose to write my own story, with the pen of my conscience. And so I ask you, will you buy into an official story, written for you, by others – or will you be your own author, and using the pen of your conscience, write your own story?”

Katherine Kortes-Miller

When you open your TEDxKanata talk with the line, “Life is a terminal illness, which is sexually transmitted” – you’ve officially got everyone’s attention. That’s what Dr. Katherine Kortes-Miller did as she took to the stage to share her insights on death and dying. A researcher, author, lecturer and former social worker, Kathy has also taught a variety of subjects including gerontology, social work, grief and loss. Kathy highlighted the importance of opening a dialogue about death and dying, and envisioned an ideal world where we no longer avoid “the elephant in the room” and feel comfortable to talk about, and explore, the reality of our mortality. She encouraged the audience to take back the narratives on death and rely on strengthening our communities and personal support systems in handling the transition to “the other side.”

Andrew Pelling

Dr. Andrew Pelling rounded out the evening as the final presenter at TEDxKanata. A biohacker and experimental scientist, Andrew uses low-cost, open source materials to create technologies of the future – including his team’s current work of growing human cells in apples and living skin on LEGOs. Andrew has studied around the world, earning a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a senior research fellow at the London Centre for Nanotechnology. He has also been published in several patents, books and publications. Andrew began by asking the audience, how can we break the boundaries between the academic world, and the everyday world? Academia influences our culture, society, economy, politics, along with our relationships, our city’s stories – basically, every aspect or our lives, and yet, we rarely get to take a look, contribute, participate in, or sneak a peek behind the scenes at how all this research and intellectual community functions. Andrew shared his vision of relying on the curiosity and creativity of the community, in providing them with accessibility and resources, to accomplish great things. He believes that once you provide the necessary ingredients in the recipe, you are destined to yield a fruitful result. Bringing research off campus and into the local, accessible scene allows for people of the community to just walk in off the street and be transported into a world of real research, cutting-edge design, and brand new developments, all ahead of the curve.

That’s a Wrap for 2016

With tons of excitement, social media buzz, and over 275 attendees at this year’s extremely successful, sold-out show, not only did TEDxKanata have everyone reflecting on the question of the night: ‘What does the concept of “Breaking Barriers” mean to you?’ but it also firmly established Kanata as a collaborative and inspired community that is paving the way for Canada’s future.

Introducing Andrew Pelling


He’s not your conventional hacker. Dr. Andrew Pelling, a biohacker and experimentalist scientist, uses low-cost, open source materials to create technologies of the future –including his team’s current work of growing human cells in apples and living skin on LEGOs.

Cross-appointed to the University of Ottawa’s biology and physics departments, Dr. Pelling directs the Laboratory for Biophysical Manipulation. The laboratory is an innovative convergence of scientists, artists and engineers who combine their disciplines to create new insights into scientific approaches.

Dr. Pelling has studied around the world, earning a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and was a senior research fellow at the London Centre for Nanotechnology. His work is published in several patents, books and publications.

His appearance on the TEDxKanata stage will mark Dr. Pelling’s third time delivering a TED talk. In 2012, he spoke about the manipulation of cellular behaviours at TEDxUOttawa and Dr. Pelling is one of only two Canadians to join this year’s impressive roster of 21 international TED fellows.

Dr. Pelling shares his lab’s innovative work through @pellinglab and at www.pellinglab.net.

Andrew is the last, but certainly not least, of eight speakers to be announced for TEDxKanata 2016! Take a look at our blog to learn about the rest of the Breaking Barriers speakers.

Introducing Justina McCaffrey Antonia


From Toronto to New York, Justina designs reside in fashion capitals around the world. Her bridal and couture gowns have been enjoyed by the likes of Laureen Harper and former ballerina Karen Kain.

She outfitted Kate Hudson in a custom gown when her character married Richard Gere in the 2000 romantic comedy Dr. T & the Women. Her dresses are sold in Kleinfeld, the bridal shop of Say Yes to Dress, and One Tree Hill’s Bethany Joy Lenz married in one of Justina’s gowns.

Outside of bridal wear, her other creations have garnered international acclaim. She designed a tutu for the National Ballet of Canada and advised Knock out!, a lingerie line based out of Asheville, North Carolina.

Justina’s personal career highlight occurred when she designed a pluvial cope, a long and ornamental cape, for Pope John Paul II. The garment is currently archived in the Vatican.

She recently opened Justina Atelier in Gatineau, a bridal and evening wear store dedicated to walking clients through the design experience and giving them the royal treatment.

Last October, Justina joined Ottawa Life Magazine as a fashion columnist and her first piece came out in January.

Take a look at Justina’s designs at http://www.justinabridal.ca or follow her on Twitter @justinabridal.

Introducing Craig Gauthier


His Twitter profile says nothing ordinary, which is probably the best way to describe our next speaker. Craig Gauthier, a self-professed creative geek, wears many hats as an entrepreneur, investor, filmmaker, author and speaker.

Before his sixth birthday, Craig was diagnosed with having severe asthma after a handful of terrifying near-death experiences. I was allergic to everything. There were many sleepless nights just trying to breathe. Craig credits his childhood health problems with his diversity and internal drive. You don’t really know what you’re capable of until you face adversity. Overcoming adversity builds confidence. Confidence helps you believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself – you never give up.

Craig’s journey has been anything but linear. I was a film major in University. But, I didn’t want to be a starving artist. I had an affinity for numbers and statistics. So, the latter won out and I began trading futures and derivatives at the age of 19. This triggered a series of unconventional business ventures that included gumball machines, brokering tickets, repairing personal computers and handicapping thoroughbreds to help fund his trading business and University education.

After becoming a certified Enterprise Network Architect, Craig entered the dot com era with his first tech start-up EworldIT. After a few lean, but profitable years Craig decided to exit just as the Internet bubble burst in 2000.

Shortly after, Craig found his passion for leadership and teaching when he accepted a position as a professor in the School of Advanced Technology at Algonquin College. During his five-year tenure, Craig won multiple awards for teaching and program development including the Most Outstanding Teacher award nominated by his students and peers.

Recognizing the positive impact of sharing knowledge and a desire to grow and expand internationally, Craig started Strategy Line – a company focused on helping businesses grow through leadership, engagement and marketing.

This past decade Craig has traveled over a million miles speaking and consulting for various organizations. His client roster has included some of the biggest global brands – National Hockey League (NHL), New Balance, Coke, Lexus-Toyota, Nautica, Cisco, Texas State University, Microsoft, Google, and Disney-ABC Television Group.

His philanthropic endeavours have included work with Clinton Global Initiative, Wayne Gretzky Foundation, Rogers House, Virgin Unite and the Sears Great Canadian Run.

Craig’s next venture will have him embarking on a 150-day cross Canada tour producing a daily video series called Show Me Canada as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration in 2017.

When Craig isn’t travelling you’ll find him coaching hockey in Canada’s capital, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

You can interact with Craig directly on twitter @gochay or keep up to date with his latest ventures at gochay.com.

Craig is one of seven TEDxKanata speakers. To hear him and the rest take on our 2016 theme, Breaking Barriers, apply by February 29th to join our audience.

Introducing Doug Smith


Doug Smith is passionate about performance, recovery and the process required for successful change. His best selling story is captivating and his literary work is making a positive difference in the world.

At 18 years old, Doug was drafted 2nd overall into the NHL to play for the Los Angeles Kings as their youngest player ever. The next 11 years were defined by hockey successes, hockey failures, his lack of awareness and the culture of a collision sport. His career ended suddenly at 29 years old when he shattered his spine in professional game #607.

Despite paralysis from the chest down, Doug learned how to walk again, skate again and successfully transitioned into the corporate world holding the position of Director of Business Development for a National Internet Service Provider and then managing Canadian sales for a multinational software company. He accomplished this by developing and using a system to raise his level of awareness.

For over 2 decades, Doug has worked to identify, organize and document the 3 priorities and 8 behaviours he has used to thrive through transition and continuously drive high performance. His simple but awakening process has been used to help thousands of people find a happier, healthier, more prosperous life.

In his presentation and in his latest book, The Trauma Code Unlocking your Performance, Doug unveils his simple yet repeatable model for continuous improvement. It is a model that he has used himself and a model he strives to share with others. Today this core work goes beyond the individual to help teams, organizations and society as a whole.

Learn more about Doug at dougsmithperformance.com or follow him on Twitter @DougSmithNHL

Apply by February 29th to be part of our 250-member audience and hear more from Doug about breaking barriers in his life and how you can too!

Introducing Kathy Kortes-Miller


Kathy Kortes-MillerDr. Kathy Kortes-Miller says researching dying and palliative care helps her live each day to the fullest. As a lecturer at Lakehead University for over 15 years, she has taught a variety of subjects including gerontology, social work, grief and loss.

In her work as the Palliative Care Division Lead at the Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health at Lakehead University, Kathy works hard to ensure future healthcare providers will be better prepared to support those who are dying and their families. She received Ontario Research Councils Early Researcher award in 2012.

She uses her experiences as a palliative care social worker and a cancer survivor to ask hard questions and try to change the ways we talk and think about dying and death. Kathy is working with Pallium Canada (located in Ottawa) to mobilize Palliative Care as a public health issue, and adopt a Compassionate Communities paradigm.

Kathy has also been the author and co-author of numerous scholarly publications and is currently a research fellow with Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network (TVN). She is studying how simulation impacts the palliative care education of healthcare providers in long term care.

In March 2015, Kathy and colleagues published results of their research:Dying with Carolyn: Using Simulation to Improve Communication Skills of Unregulated Care Providers Working in Long-Term Care in the Journal of Applied Gerontology.

Kathy brings her professional and personal experience to Hospice Northwest as the past Chair of the Board of Directors. She also facilities workshops on palliative care and promotes community engagement through Die-alogues.

Tweet with Kathy @Kathykm.

Dying to hear how Kathy is Breaking Barriers? Apply by February 29 to listen to all of our speakers on March 31.

Introducing Sheema Khan


Sheema_KhanSelf proclaimed ‘Canadian hockey mom’ Sheema Khan emigrated from India to Montreal at three years of age. Sheema enjoyed immersing herself in Quebecois culture and cheering for the Montreal Canadiens.

She earned her Masters in Physics and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard University. She also completed post-doctoral research at MIT and McGill. She is trilingual in English, French and Urdu.

Sheema took on the science field as a research and development scientist and as an inventor of various drug delivery technologies. She is currently a patent agent for Shapiro Cohen LLP, an Ottawa-based intellectual property firm offering legal counsel.

Since 2002, Sheema has also offered commentary and insight into culture and religion in the Canadian landscape as a monthly columnist for the Globe and Mail. In 2009, a compilation of her columns was published in the book Of Hockey and Hijab: Reflections of a Canadian Muslim Woman.

In 2012, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada. In 2013, the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation celebrated Sheema’s columns on the intersection of culture, gender and religion in the contemporary landscapes. As the foundation’s keynote speaker, she challenged all Canadians to adopt inclusive practices.

Though she’s hung up her hockey skates, Sheema is often found on a soccer field both as a participant and as a coach.

Interested in Sheem’s take on our 2016 theme “Breaking Barriers”? Apply here by February 29th to be one of 250 audience members at our March 31st TEDxKanata event.

Introducing Alex Munter


Alex Munter has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Childrens Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) since 2011, but hes been an activist for public policy issues since elected as a municipal councillor at 23 years old.
Before joining CHEO Alex led Ottawa and Ontario to stronger public, mental and childrens health programs. As a city and regional councillor in Ottawa Alex played an integral role in the citys 2001 smoke-free regulations while working on other public health initiatives. He later worked at Youth Services Bureau, one of the provinces largest youth mental health agencies, as the executive director. He led the organization in its innovative clinic for street-youth.
He went on to the Champlain Local Health Integration Network as Chief Executive Officer and worked to improve networks and programs that help the elderly stay independent while having proper healthcare.
Alexs leadership and public health experience have helped him invigorate CHEO as he spearheads the hospital to a new future and vision after completing its most in-depth strategic review.
Alex is a Certified Health Executive from the Canadian College of Health leaders and taught at the University of Ottawa and Concordia University. The Ottawa and greater Canadian community recognize the importance of Alexs work. Hes received awards from various organizations including United Way/Centreaide Ottawa and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In 2012 Alex was the recipient of the Ontario Francophonie Award and the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Keep up with Alex at @AlexMunterCHEO or visit cheo.on.ca.
Interested in Alex’s take on our 2016 theme “Breaking Barriers”? Apply here by February 29th to be one of 250 audience members at our March 31st TEDxKanata event.

Introducing Bruce Linton

Bruce Linton plays double duty as CEO of telecommunications software company Martello Technologies and CEO and co-founder of Canopy Growth, a medical marijuana provider. 
Under Bruce’s helm, Martello was named Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company 2015 after achieving three-year revenue growth of over 600 per cent. While headquartered in Ottawa, Martello has staff in Canada, the United States and France. Martello is partnered with Ottawa-based Mitel Networks, providing software-as-a-service (SaaS) that manages the performance of Mitel solutions.

Founded in Ontario and cultivated on Canadian soil, Canopy Growth owns and operates three sites, including Tweed Marijuana, which sits on 1 Hershey Drive in Smiths Falls, Ontario – previously known as the first Hershey factory outside of Pennsylvania. Licensed under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, Canopy has reached a $300 million market cap since its creation a few years ago.

A businessman leading two different companies, Bruce has a diverse history in Canadian business and the local hi-tech community. He started his career with Newbridge Networks Corporation before accepting positions as General Manager and Re-Founder of Computerland.ca and President and Co-Founder of webHancer Corp.

Bruce’s work has impacted worldwide markets as he’s engaged with the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank. Among many countries, his work has focused on India, Peru and Columbia. Bruce was an establishing team member of CrossKeys Systems Corporation, leading the team as well as Clearford successfully into the Chinese Market.

He’s received international acclaim for his work, and in 2009 Clearford received an award from the Canadian-Chinese Business Council.

Learn more about Bruces successful corporations at martellotech.com and tweed.com.
Interested in Bruces take on our 2016 theme “Breaking Barriers”? Apply here by February 29th to be one of 250 audience members at our March 31st TEDxKanata event.