Reconstructing Resilience


On January 15th, 2016, ImCo and the IERH hosted a range of speakers who address sustainability from various perspectives.

Speakers are listed in alphabetical order by last name and, where approval had been given, each talk is available to listen to by using the audio players: 

Rob Shirkey (Keynote)


Rob Shirkey is a lawyer and a recognized global authority on the subject of climate change warning labels on gas pumps. He has given lectures on the topic across North America and has been featured in media all over the world. His proposal has been endorsed by over a hundred academics and leaders in various disciplines from universities across North America and is now getting legislative traction in several communities across North America.

Prior to founding the advocacy non-profit Our Horizon and launching its unique approach to addressing climate change, Rob operated a private law practice in downtown Toronto. He also has experience as an Assistant City Solicitor and Prosecutor. Before completing his law degree, Rob studied business, economics, and psychology at the undergraduate level. He graduated with distinction and was the university valedictorian. He also once rode his bicycle across Canada!

Shirkey talked about how communities can build resilience in the face of global challenges like climate change and explored sustainability through multiple arenas, including economics, ecology, politics, and culture. He used his organization’s advocacy as an example of an initiative that bridges all these areas of sustainability.

Rob Shirkey

Ian Clarke


Ian Clarke is the Associate Dean of Research and Academic Affairs in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies and is an Associate Professor of Graduate Studies at OCAD University in Toronto where he has been teaching biology and sustainability science since 2003. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Queen’s University in 1993 and has a diploma in Fine Art (printmaking) from OCAD University. Until 2013 he was a cancer stem cell researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto. He is a Biomimicry Fellow at the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute in Montana and is active in Biomimicry Design and Sustainable Design education and consulting. His research at OCAD University focuses on Sustainable Design, Urban Ecology and Urban Agriculture

Clarke’s research, the Passive Urban Greenhaus project works to optimize small, urban scale, passive solar heated greenhouse designs that will allow individuals and community groups to grow food throughout the winter without any CO2 emissions from heating. The same designs could be used on suitable rooftops or other surfaces in a modular and scalable manner. In addition, creating designs for alleyway parking pad spaces and rooftops would not remove valuable wild/park habitat that promotes urban biodiversity. This design can become a useful addition to a more resilient and sustainable urban agriculture.

Ian Clarke

Tanya Chung Tiam Fook


Tanya Chung Tiam Fook is a versatile and creative social entrepreneur and works as a researcher, educator, consultant, psychotherapist-in-training and writer. Her work focuses on environmental issues, climate change, Indigenous knowledge, community development, social transformation, mentoring youth, health and wellbeing issues. In addition to her writing for academic and policy audiences, Chung Tiam Fook has returned to her passion for creative and memoir writing — with several projects underway. She has a PhD in Environmental Studies (York University), an MA in International Development Studies (International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague) and recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship on a Canada-Caribbean partnership in community climate change adaptation (University of Prince Edward Island), and is currently training as a psychotherapist with a focus on integrative modalities.

Chung Tiam Fook has many years of experience advising and leading community-focused and collaborative research, education and local development projects with academic, nonprofit, local and government partners in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Netherlands. As a university educator, she has lectured at York University, UPEI, University of Toronto and URACCAN University on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. As a multi-ethnic Canadian woman of Indigenous and Chinese ancestry from Guyana and Dutch and Roma ancestry, Tanya has first-hand experience with navigating the multiple worlds and identities of diverse communities in Toronto.

Entitled Windows of Opportunity for Ecological and Social Resilience and Transformation, Chung team Fook’s presentation explored windows of opportunity for civil society and local institutions to be creative, collaborative and innovative as we envision and build healthier, adaptive and resilient communities and ecosystems in this contemporary context of intensifying climate, environmental and socioeconomic shifts. The persistence and global scale of adverse environmental and social changes underscore the untenable nature and inconsistencies of many dominant paradigms and systems that structure our societies and relationships with natural systems.

Tanya Chung Tiam Fook

Gilad Cohen


Gilad is an artist, human rights advocate and founder of Jayu, a non-profit that uses art to share human rights stories. Gilad has been actively involved in the human rights scene since 2006. Feeling the need to raise more awareness in his own community, Gilad launched Jayu in 2012, using art as the main vehicle. Gilad has been invited to speak on human rights in media and several platforms including CTV, CBC, The Globe and Mail, Al Jazeera America, and the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in 2012. In 2015, he was selected as Rothschild Fellow through The University of Cambridge in the UK.

Gilad Cohen

Singithi Kandage


Singithi Kandage is an emerging artist and educator, dividing her time between Toronto and her hometown of Kitchener. She graduated from with a BFA with Distinction from OCAD University, and has since attended residencies at the Banff Centre, The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Vermont Studio Center. Her multi-disciplinary practice investigates the human instinct to seek out distinctions and differences within a world full of ambiguities and interconnections, and frequently using pattern and ornament to visualize this process. She has exhibited widely within Toronto, including XPACE, Gallery 1313, the White House Studio Project, and the Gladstone Hotel. Her work has also appeared in Canadian Art, The Hart House Review, and various independent publications.

Her work is focussed on time banking – an alternative economic exchange system, which uses time-based currency in the place of money – as a tool to capitalize on and thrive within these conditions. Time banking in this context, becomes a highly effective tool to help artists both gain and create a model for culturally, economically, politically, and even ecologically sustainable lives and practices for themselves. Specifically, she wants to show how their own start-up time bank called The Artist’s Time Bank of Toronto, helps create connections and friendships that unite individuals into rigorous and intimately engaged community of artists, makers, thinkers, movers and shakers.

Singithi Kandage

Soyang Park


Dr. Soyang Park is an Assistant Professor at OCADU (Toronto), and her research areas cover the 20th-century art history, cultural studies, critical theories and contemporary Asian art and culture with specific interest in art, activism and community. Her PhD dissertation at Goldsmiths College (London, UK) was on South Korean dissident minjung art (people’s art) and culture (’80s). Since 1999, her research interests in minjung developed into wider social and historical issues, especially those concerning the question of how the minjung reformist forces continue to evolve into diverse artistic, cultural and social forces in the post-authoritarian Korean society and culture.

           Park received a B.A. in Science of Art from Hongik University in Seoul in 1995. She completed a Master’s degree in History of Art (20th century) in 1999 from Goldsmiths College (the University of London) and received her doctoral degree in Historical and Cultural Studies (20th century art theory) in 2004, also from Goldsmiths. She held two postdoctoral research degrees: Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford (UK) and joint Post doctoral fellow at Center for Art for Society and Humanities Studies at Carnegie Mellon University (US). Her scholarly and journalistic works have been published in the Journal for Cultural Research, Third Text and Palgrave Transnational History Dictionary in English, and Journal of Modern Korean Art and Art World (Misulsaegae) in Korean.

Park’s ongoing case study—“The Jirisan Project” (“2014 Jirisan Project 2014 : Universe·Art·Zip”: the chief curator is Kim Jungi) is an on-going new form of community art project initiated by artists, curators, religious leaders, and community leaders, who tried to foster community revitalization through the mutually interrelated ecological, cosmological, national, and global perspectives and imaginations as well as the initiatives of artists. Their slogans of “from the region to the nation/world/cosmos” and “from the nation/world/cosmos back to the region” well elucidate this point. This was conceived in 2013 as the artists started producing works through residency from June 2014. The public opening and various participatory workshops and forums were held between October 3rd and November 2nd, 2014 to publicise the spirit of the community project and provoke the interest from the wider public.

Soyang Park

Clelia Rodriguez


Clelia O. Rodríguez is a Salvadorian-Canadian educator, born and raised in El Salvador, Central America. She graduated from York University with a Specialized Honours BA in Spanish Literature and earned her MA and PhD from The University of Toronto in Latin American Literature. Professor Rodríguez has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at The University of Toronto, Washington College, and The University of Ghana.

She is currently a Human Rights Professor in the United States, Nepal, Jordan, and Chile as part of the International Honors Program (IHP) for the School of International Training (SIT). She teaches Comparative Issues in Human Rights and Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods. She is also an Assistant Professor (status-appointed) in the Department of Social Justice Education (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, OISE) at the University of Toronto. Her international experience conducting inter-disciplinary research and engaged critical pedagogy derives from studies of literature, ethnicity, culture, race, gender, class, religion, cartography, refugees, identity, memory, trauma, and decolonization in El Salvador, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana. She has published in Postcolonial Studies, Revista Iberoamericana, and Women & Environments.

Professor Rodriguez addressed her excruciating need to 1) discuss the dialectics of doing human rights work/social justice/instigators as educators, mentors, unlearners and activists as institution-sanctioned liberties in the service of northern canons, and 2) the complex intersections of economic, political, cultural, and educational interests that took her and a group of university students to study indigenous rights in the name of education, and 3) to expose and reflect on the ripple effect that a female Mapuche leader caused in students, and how they re-framed solidarity work based on her questions.

Sarah Tranum


Sarah Tranum is an Assistant Professor, Tenure-Track, in Social InnovationDesign at OCAD University. Since 2009, she has taught several courses across the Faculty of Design, including MAAD Professional Practice, Internship, Think Tank, and Socially Responsible Design Practices. She has led the Design Abroad: India course since its inception in 2013. Tranum also created the newly launched online course, Creative Practice: Preparing for a Changing World and coauthored the new Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation Minor. She received a Master of Design in Designed Objects degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her undergraduate degree from Cornell University. She worked as a microfinance practitioner in the U.S. and Canada and completed the Institute without Boundaries program in Interdisciplinary Design Strategy.

When she is not teaching, Tranum runs TrickleUp Design, a firm with the mission to create innovative and sustainable products and services. As part of TrickleUp Design, Tranum is leading a Canadian-government funding research project, called Clean Cube, which is based in India. The goal of the project is to work in slum communities to develop a product that provides clean water and can be manufactured locally. Tranum is also working on a sustainably designed and produced consumer product targeting the North American market.

Sarah Tranum

Lindy Wilkins


Lindy Wilkins is a feminist cyborg and Maker currently based in Toronto. As co-founder of Make Friends TO, Community Technologist at STEAMLabs, and Director at Site 3 coLaboratory, Wilkins’ work centres around inclusivity and diversity in technology based DIY organizations. She holds an MFA from OCAD University, as well as a BFA from Concordia University. Between adventures in collaborative exploration, she spends her time cycling, building whimsical robots, and being a general enthusiast.

From community bike shops, to maker spaces, to repair cafes, something big is happening. This culture of DIY fabrication and collaborative spaces is emblematic of the Maker movement. With over 757 maker-spaces worldwide, it is important we critically analyze the intentions and outputs of this initiative. The democratization of technology, tools and production has lead to the empowerment of populations. Objects once only able to be produced by large companies are now available as open-source projects for experimentation. What is the cost of these freedoms on our environment, economy, and education? Wilkins’ talk examined the realities of our 3D printed future.

Lindy Wilkins













Photo credit: Komal Faiz