Keynote and alumni speakers

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At the conference, our inspiring speakers included prominent author Margaret Atwood, the IB’s Director General, Siva Kumari and talented former students from across the region.

Keynote speakers

Margaret Atwood, author

"We make art because that’s who we are. We are art-making beings, and we understand art at a deep level for the same reason. Any educational system that ignores that fact is ignoring our essential human being…If you’re interested in human wholeness, the humanities must be engaged."

Toronto native Margaret Atwood is the award-winning author of bestselling novels The Handmaid’s Tale, The Blind Assassin and many more. In this clip, Atwood discusses the ‘tug of war’ between arts and science teaching and the nature of educating the whole child.


Siva Kumari, IB Director General

"No machine can take the place of the teacher… facilitation is not just a powerless, mindless activity. It is not simple. There may be many teaching machines of the future that can take on the content delivery better than a human can. They may be powered by artificial intelligence in ways that we now can’t see. But we accept that’s a possibility. They can adapt the content put forward to the child. They can pace the learning based on the keystrokes the child is making. But only you, the human in the classroom, the thinking human being in that classroom with that child, can make that child into a thoughtful, organized individual with the full self confidence of a humanitarian who can change this world."

In her keynote speech, Director General Siva Kumari looks at the way technology has ‘disrupted’ education and the continuing value of teachers in our digital culture.


Wab Kinew, University of Winnipeg

"In a multicultural, pluralistic society and world, like the one in which we inhabit, in order for us to have a good life together it’s not necessary that we all be the same. Rather, we can accommodate and celebrate differences if we learn a bit about one another."

Former musician and broadcaster Wab Kinew is the Associate VP for Indigenous Relations at The University of Winnipeg. He spoke about culture, identity and leadership in a globalized world.

More speakers

Andrew Arida, University of British Columbia

"We in higher ed [sic] and the IB are partners. We play different roles in a student’s educational journey but we work to achieve the same outcome. We speak the same language, and we value the same things."

Andrew Arida is the Associate Registrar, Undergraduate Admissions at the University of British Columbia (UBC). In his speech he discusses the relationship between the IB and higher education, as well as the research into IB programmes undertaken by UBC over the past thirteen years.


Bob Rae, Canadian former politician

"The idea of the IB, the idea of international education was intensely idealistic. It was about how do we create a curriculum and a way of looking and understanding the world that recognizes that there’s room for all. And that vision, that inspiration…goes beyond just a curriculum."

Bob Rae was Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and was interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 2011 to 2013. An IB graduate, he spoke about how the international education movement has grown and its role in promoting intercultural understanding and respect.

Alumni speakers

Isabel Duque – Alumni

"The IB gave me the freedom to make my own choices, therefore allowing me to learn about myself and what I like to do, while simultaneously offering the help I needed to make sure I swam instead of sank."

Isabel Duque is a student at York University, where she is studying Linguistics. Isabel is from Colombia and attended school in Ecuador, where she gained her IB Diploma. Isabel used her linguistic skills to deliver her speech in Spanish, French and English.


Jasmine Burton – Alumni

"The IB programme transformed the way that I think. It taught me to question the why, it revealed to me the innate biases of people in organisations that present information as facts, and it taught me to assess information to develop my own opinions and worldviews rather than just accepting those of others."

Jasmine graduated from the Diploma Programme in 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. Now a social entrepreneur, Jasmine discussed the way her IB education helped her develop a questioning, global perspective.


Saba Mirabolghasemi – Alumni

"Through my involvement in various class experiences, including my role in the social justice council at my school, through the knowledge that I’ve gained in the TOK course among other globally-oriented courses offered in the IB programme, I’ve learned to not view the world through just one lens, but to analyse varying perspectives that might differ from my own. I can honestly say that I’m not the person that I was when I first entered the IB programme."

Saba is a student in Ontario, having just completed the first year of the Diploma Programme at the time of the conference. Saba praised the welcoming nature of her school and how the IB programme unites students of all backgrounds who share a passion for learning.


Harry Gandhi – Alumni

"The two stories that I shared today are stories of learning to learn and stories of trust, and I think that’s what has led me to be the type of person that I am and I am thankful to my teachers for making that a possibility."

Recently awarded the Thiel Fellowship, Harry's passion for healthcare has motivated him to take some early strides in the health monitoring space. He is working on Medella Health, a start-up focused around creating a smart contact lens that monitors glucose levels to help patients better manage their diabetes. Harry went to Turner Fenton Secondary School, an IB World School in Brampton, Ontario, and graduated in 2010.