TEDxYorkU Part 3: Accelerator

TEDxYorkU 2014 just came to a close after our third and final round of talks and performances. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Father-daughter team Roger and Anjelica Scannura performed a set of 3 songs in the flamenco style. Roger played the guitar while his daughter danced, both exhibiting incredible grace. The strong rhythmic strumming of the flamenco style were match by Anjelica’s movement and tapping. This multidisciplinary collaboration was the perfect opening for the final third of the day. 

  • Jessica Cook, a Masters of Environmental Studies candidate at York University, spoke on the subject of Aboriginal culture. She highlighted how Aboriginal culture is often left out of Canada’s multicultural history. She said “We are educating aboriginal culture out of existence”, bringing to light how our education system doesn’t encourage the continued inclusion of Canada’s Aboriginal roots.

  • Debra Pepler spoke about how to raise healthy children in a social context. She said “Children need more than basic care-taking; they need guidance”. She stressed the importance of love and healthy relationships, which allow children to learn from their experiences and become healthy adults. 

  • Noah Wayne gave a talk on how we can systematically work towards getting more people healthier, He is a PhD candidate at York University, and spoke about his research project, which aims to connect people to health coaches using technology. 

  • Ayden Byle, a York University graduate, finished the day’s talks by speaking about how combustion is often unpredictable. “Not every spark will catch fire,” he explained, illustrating how even the most successful people experience failure before getting it right. He left the audience with a final thought: “Sometimes, you just have to stop and think”. 

Thank you to everyone who came out to the event. You helped make it an incredible success. We’ll see you next year when TEDxYorkU returns. 

TEDxYorkU Part 2: Ignition

The second session at TEDxYorkU 2014 has come to a close, but not before the audience was treated to an incredible collection of speakers and performers. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Mahmood Magic wowed the audience with their collection of tricks. Using their powers of the mind, they subtly influenced an audience member to pick the name of one celebrity from a list of dozens, all the while showcasing their slight of hand. 

  • Professor Andrew Eckford talked about his research on cutting edge advancements in communication and information theory. His lab at York University was the first to send a text message using molecular communication, which relies on chemicals instead of electricity. 

  • Jennifer Sipos-Smith inspired the audience with her speech on the incredible potential of 20-somethings everywhere. She spoke on York Students’ ability to ignite change with both rational thinking and emotion. She explained “Personal fulfillment and organizational success depends on our emotional connection to the workplace.”

  • Luke Durward outlined how to set goals and achieve change in all aspects of life without causing stress. He drew from his own experience as 2013’s York My Time winner, and as a kinesiology student, in order to change his little brother’s eating habits. He said “Make the environment work for you. Take willpower out of the equation.”

  • Colleen Johnston closed the second session with an incredible speech about women in business. She shared her personal motto of “attitude then altitude” with the audience in order to show how focusing on opportunities, not barriers, will help you get to the top. 

If you weren’t able to come to the event, you can still be involved! TEDxYorkU 2014 is being streamed here.

TEDxYorkU Part 1: Elements

We’ve reached our first break at TEDxYorkU 2014 and we’re off to a great start. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Serpentina North Ensemble opened the show with an incredible display of belly dancing. They danced to a remixed version of “Rock the Casbah by the Clash, giving the show a great east-meets-west feel. 

  • Jeff Perera gave the day’s first talk on the subject of male identity and violence. “Too many men are fluent In the language of violence”, he said, showing that sometimes males without privilege are sometimes encouraged to prove their masculinity through aggression. 

  • Jill Andrew spoke about body image and the power of words. “Fat is a description, not a prescription for hate or judgments about health or morality” she said, encouraging the audience to consider how our our perception of other people’s bodies can often lead to judgments of character. 

  • Janet Morrison ended the first bloc of the day with a talk about the power of higher education. She showed that students in University go on to be healthier and more engaged citizens. She said “Universities promote behaviors that increase the public good: good education is good politics.”

If you weren’t able to attend the event, you can still be involved! TEDxYorkU is being streamed, and you can access the feed here

Infinite: TEDxYorkU Salon Event

Even as we prepare for TEDxYorkU 2014, TEDxYorkU enthusiasts on campus have been busy.

On February 4th, the TEDxYorkU Club hosted its Salon event — an appetizer for the annual event in March. Thirty students gathered in the graduate lounge in Winters College to meet and discuss the theme, Infinite.

The Salon featured what has come to be the signature of TEDx events everywhere: collaboration and appreciation of ideas. Gathering around food and light refreshments, students watched and discussed three TED videos featuring Neil Parischa, Raghava KK, and Drew Dudley. These talks focused on the infinite nature of choice and how it can be used to change our lives in dramatic ways.

Also featured were four student speakers from the York community:

  • Andy Xia spoke at length about his work as a teaching student in the Jane and Finch area. His words challenged everyone in the audience to think about how we look at children in the educational system.
  • Luma Kawar gave three powerful poetry readings on the subject of love and self-discovery. Her performance was perhaps the most powerful of the night, as she showcased her lyrical talent and soulfulness.
  • Glendon student Duncan Field also spoke about love, and challenged the cultural notion of falling in love.
  • Sam Kim presented an exceptional talk about how he found the idea of infinity absurd, and how we should live our finite lives with the knowledge that we only have one opportunity to get it right.

The salon event was a great success, helping to get the York University community excited for the annual TEDxYorkU event.

Attending TEDxYorkU 2014? Which speaker are you most excited about?

MC Announcement: James Allan

With a background in communications, research and academia, James Allan has been a member of York’s Alumni Relations team for the past 9 years, and has been leading the office since 2005. After completing his Ph.D. in Communications, James taught as a lecturer at a number of universities in Massachusetts and New York before joining the team at York. In addition to his academic experience, James has worked in advertising at Toronto’s Grey Interactive and in publishing at New York’s Adventure House.  
James was one of the founding members of TEDxYorkU in 2010 and has been responsible for connecting alumni as speakers and audience members.

MC Announcement: Jessica Thyriar


Currently serves as the President of the York Federation of Students, Jessica Thyriar is a York alumna with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology. Prior to that, she has served previous positions as the Vice-President Campus Life, and the Liberal Arts and Professional Studies Director. Jessica also currently serves as the Racialized Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students.

Featured Speaker: Jeff Perera

Jeff Perera is a Community Engagement Manager for White Ribbon, the world’s largest movement of men working towards a new vision of masculinity, inspiring men and boys to help end gender-based violence. Jeff speaks across the country to people of all walks of life about embracing the impact we make, and difference we can make. Jeff also started Higher Unlearning, as an online space to explore how ideas of gender and masculinity impact us in everyday life.

Featured Performers: Serpentina North Ensemble

The Serpentina North Ensemble is a Toronto-based, tribal fusion troupe. The troupe was originally formed in December 2007 by American ex-pat, Orkideh, and the lineup has expanded since then. Serpentina North’s style is based in American Tribal Style® bellydance, but incorporates other types of bellydance, kathak, classical Persian, and other dance forms that inspire them.

Featured Speaker: Andrew Eckford

Unconventional communication systems are Professor Andrew Eckford’s specialty. As an educator and prominent researcher in the field of electrical engineering and computer science, Andrew’s research on molecular communication has been covered by everyone from CTV News, the Discovery Channel and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few. A graduate of the Royale Military College of Canada and the University of Toronto, Andrew has been a member of the York community since 2006, where he continues to encourage his students to find the connections between science and communication.

Featured Speaker: Jill Andrew


A columnist, educator, and media consultant on female body image, PhD candidate Jill (Ji!!) Andrew speaks regularly on body acceptance. Andrew is founder/director of BITE ME! Toronto Int’l Body Image Film & Arts Festival, Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser, co-founder of FatinTheCity.com a plus-size fashion ‘fatshion’ blog, and the annual Body Confidence Canada Awards. Her reflections on race, gender’, and size analysis through a feminist, fat studies lens is a crowd favourite on-air and in print.

Jill’s awards include the Michele Landsberg Media Activism Award, the Soroptimist Foundation of Canada Grant, and York University’s Patrick Solomon Memorial Award in Urban Diversity. In 2010, she was also 1 of 120 women across Canada selected to participate in Canada’s inaugural Governor General Women’s Conference. Most recently, she was inducted into Humber College School of Social & Community Services’ Hall of Inspiration as an Alumnus of Distinction.

Featured Speaker: Noah Wayne


PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science, Noah Wayne’s research focuses on health coaching and the use of technology to help improve chronic disease management.

As a certified Exercise Physiologist (CSEP), Noah created and coordinates a clinical and community based Exercise Education program, aimed at integrating exercise into primary healthcare settings. His love of health and teaching have helped him to share his knowledge with those who suffer from chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, by teaching them how to stay active in a safe and healthy manner.