Indigenous acknowledgement & Welcome
Molly Billows is swift waters, secrets, and salal berries. Northern Coast Salish from the Homalco nation, they were adopted-out and grew up in and around Victoria. They have been living as a visitor in Vancouver, on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations since 2011. They are a queer, mixed, urban Indigenous spoken word poet and facilitator. Molly enjoys holding space for complex conversations and using the transformative power of storytelling and the arts to shift perspectives. With their poetry, Molly hopes to weave together stories in ways that lift up their communities, and contribute to collective healing, rage, resurgence and love.
Ravi Singh is the founder of the international non-profit, Khalsa Aid. Khalsa Aid was created after Ravi led an emergency response to provide humanitarian aid to individuals and families displaced by the Kosovo war in 1999. Today, Khalsa Aid continues to provide humanitarian support to millions displaced by war and natural disasters. They have provided life-saving survival items such as food, water, and medical supplies in response to world crises, including the civil war in Yemen and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Khalsa Aid is the first Sikh non-profit to provide cross-border support internationally. Khalsa Aid responds to world crises by providing emergency assistance and their projects are expanding beyond borders as they strive to reach out to those in need regardless of their race, religion, and geographic location.
Donovan Tildesley is a 34-year-old Vancouver native. He has a BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia, and works full-time as an insurance broker. He is also an accomplished swimmer who has traveled the world extensively. In the winter, he loves nothing better than to rip down double-black Diamonds on Blackcomb Mountain. He has a passion for radio, and was the co-founder of 101.5 Whistler FM. Many have said that Donovan has accomplished much in his 33 years.
But there’s one more thing you should know about him … Donovan is totally blind, and has been since birth. Donovan was born with a condition known as Leiber’s Congenital Amaurosis, which left him without retinas.
Despite this fact, his parents were determined to expose him to any and all activities that a sighted child would be a part of. They first put him in the pool before he was six months old, and by age nine, he had joined his first swim team.
Three years later, at a provincial competition in Kamloops, he first heard about the Paralympics. Intrigued, the then twelve-year-old Donovan made it his mission to one day compete in the Games. Four years later, that childhood dream became a reality! Donovan joined the national team at age sixteen, where he competed in the Sydney 2000 Paralympics, winning a bronze medal in the 200 m individual medley (IM). Donovan’s first splash onto the international stage marked the beginning of an illustrious fourteen-year career in the pool. Coached by his father, Dr. Hugh Tildesley, career highlights included five Golds and one Silver medal at the 2002 IPC World Championships, participating in the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, multiple gold medals at the 2007 Para PanAmerican Games, two silvers and one bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. He also competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Having retired from competition in 2014, Donovan now focuses his energies on building his book of clients at Vancouver’s Buntain Insurance Agencies Ltd. as a General Insurance Agent, as well as inspiring audiences of all ages to overcome their own life challenges.
Natalie Tin Yin Gan (顏婷妍) is an independent dance artist specializing in performance and interdisciplinary collaboration. As first-generation Chinese-Canadian, she lives and learns on the unceded ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples. She has a double degree in Contemporary Dance and International Studies from Simon Fraser University. Her research often engages voice, the female body, and diasporic narratives.
Natalie has presented her work in Vietnam, the U.S, and across Canada. She has also been known to return from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Lebanon, and Ghana. Natalie has played rugby, played piano, played mind games, played mahjong, played brave, played white, played yellow, and played an iguana in her theatre stage debut in 2004. She is a late sleeper, a late riser, a late bloomer, a latecomer, and a late-night snacker.
Natalie is the Co-Artistic Director of Hong Kong Exile (www.hongkongexile.com) and the Youth Program Coordinator at PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Find out more at nataliegan.com.
Sukhmeet Singh Sachal is a 24 year old humanitarian, public health advocate, and environmental advocate who believes in the recipe of intercultural dialogue in order to promote peace in the world.
Sukhmeet’s commitment to the environment became evident when he travelled to the Arctic and lived in Inuvik, Northwest Territories for six months as a teacher.
While working as a teacher with a background in science, he explored the effects that climate change will have on human health. His extensive research prompted him to co-create Break The Divide with his brother. The purpose of this organization is to connect youth in the North to youth in southern Canada to explore the topics of climate change and its effects on mental health.
Sukhmeet has also attended the UNLEASH United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Conference as one of the 1,000 leaders from around the world to represent Canada. For all his work, Sukhmeet has been the recipient of many prestigious awards such as being named Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 for 2018.
Dr. Vicki Kelly
Vicki Kelly is an Anishinaabe/Métis Scholar from Northwestern Ontario who is currently working at Simon Fraser University. She teaches in the areas of Art Education, Ecological Education, Health/wellness Education and Contemplative Education. As an artist Vicki works with movement, visual art, music and poetry, she is a native flute player and traditional carver. Vicki is a trained Therapeutic Eurythmist and Visual Art Therapist and is actively exploring Indigenous artistic praxis as a knowledge practice and as a site for Indigenous Activism. In her most recent project she is collaborating with members of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations on a new graduate program for teachers in Indigenous Education: Education for Reconciliation. As a researcher she works with Indigenous Métissage and Indigenous arts-based methodologies.
Bryan Gidinski is an intermediate elementary school teacher with over twenty years of teaching experience. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with a minor in English, and completed his professional teaching certification in PDP at Simon Fraser University. He completed graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, earning a Masters of Education in Literacy Instruction.
He’s worked as a Faculty Associate and Sessional Instructor, teaching courses in Language Arts Methodology and Classroom Management as well as facilitating teacher education modules with Diversity and Literacy themes. He currently splits his responsibilities between teaching in a Grade 6/7 classroom, and a district leadership position (Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity Support Teacher for Elementary schools) in Burnaby. He has demonstrated a passion for writing and enjoys facilitating rich writing experiences for students, so that they develop comfort and become experimental with language and composition. In addition, he has been very sensitive to the issues surrounding boys and their learning, and strives to provide instruction that is highly motivating for both boys and girls, and that allows students opportunities to achieve to their highest potential. He is also an advocate for ensuring that LGBTQ+ students see themselves reflected in curricular resources, lessons, and conversations by promoting themes of diversity and acceptance.
He has been a popular presenter, presenting in a number of locations at conferences throughout British Columbia. He has a reputation for combining the theoretical and the practical. Throughout his workshops, his sense of humour, his creativity, and his experience are evident. He is the founder of Lost Boys Consulting and additional information can be found at www.lostboysconsulting.ca.
Abubakar Khan is a young American, Canadian, Pakistani Muslim. He is the co- founder of The Chosen Khan. An online platform that highlights diversity, interfaith and creative dialogue. He is the chairman of Social Sport, a charity that helps to integrate refugee youth through the power of team sports. He is also a member of Vancouver Helping Hands, a group that helps members of the DTES by providing them with care packages and conversations.
He has planned multiple rallies such as the Love Over Fear Rally against Islamophobia and the Love Over Fear Rally against Racial Discrimination, which in turn led him to co- founding the Love Over Fear clothing line.
Currently he is acting, producing and writing a short film and a documentary series aimed at humanizing and uniting people.
In conjunction to that he is also running for the position of Vancouver city councillor in the upcoming municipal election.
He hopes to connect as many people as possible during the short time that he's blessed to be on this planet
Paneet Singh is a playwright, filmmaker, and acting instructor. Paneet’s work is largely inspired and informed by Sikh and South Asian culture and history. Paneet’s first site-specific production as a playwright, The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson, has had sold out runs two runs – in January 2016, and again in August 2018 as a part of the Monsoon Festival. His second site-specific production, A Vancouver Guldasta, also sold out its entire first run and was presented by The Cultch Theatre again in October 2018. Both shows were based on Sikh and South Asian history in Vancouver. Other notable stage and screen credits include Menage (2016 - Director), Vigilance - Trailer (2016 - Producer/Editor), South Asian Stories (2017 - Camera Operator/Narrator), and Burning Point (Story Editor). Paneet also offers services as a dramaturge, script consultant, and story editor.
Outside of theatre and film, Paneet's work is mostly based in history and education. He is often invited to classrooms as well as by historical and community organizations to speak on topics related to Sikh and South Asian history. He is a founding member of the South Asian Canadian Histories Association and a co-host of The Nameless Collective Podcast, which follows histories of South Asians in British Columbia. Paneet was also a co-organizer for the Mewa Singh Centennial Commemoration and Sant Teja Singh Sikh History Tour in 2015. Currently, Paneet is curating a historical art display which will be on permanent display in South Vancouver's Punjabi Market at Main and 49th.