The Walrus ready to get Western talking

Sexuality. Identity. Disability. Bullying. Discrimination. Western is not shying away from these tough conversations. Sponsored by Western Alumni and the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Walrus Talks Belonging will bring together the Western community on Oct. 17 at the London Music Hall, for eight speakers who explore what it really means to belong.

The Walrus Talks is a national series of events about Canada and its place in the world. Each event offers thoughtful, inspiring thinking from scholars, writers, performers, scientists, artists, and business leaders. This is the third year Western has partnered with Walrus Foundation a charitable non-profit with an educational mandate to support writers, artists, ideas, and debate on matters vital to Canadians. This is the event’s first year off campus.

“Western is not sitting outside the community,” says Michael Milde Dean, Faculty of Arts & Humanities. “We are embedded in it. This event will be a catalyst to start a conversation on what it means to belong in today’s society. We’d be really disappointed if the discussion ended there.”

This year’s lineup of speakers also includes:

  • Kamal al-Solaylee – Exploring the intersections between being gay and being Muslim, al-Solaylee will talk about the choices people have to make to live their lives with truth while finding places they belong;
  • Molly Burke – The YouTube star will focus on how a disability may be more of a social construct than we typically imagine, and will explore the creativity of people with disabilities and will challenge the way we think about accessibility;
  • Hanny Hassan – With his own personal history in London, and a rare view of the community’s development, Hassan will tell us what it takes to create a society truly welcoming of people from diverse backgrounds;
  • Jonathan Hood – A former linebacker for the Toronto Argonauts. Hood has made a name for himself off the football field as a motivational speaker, a youth mentor, a leadership consultant and an entrepreneur. But getting there was never a sure thing;
  • Erik Mandawe – As a multi-disciplinary artist, actor and medical anthropologist, Mandawe has approached belonging from many angles. His grassroots work on addictions and mental health in rural Indigenous communities put him into areas where questions of belonging are front and centre;
  • Heather O’Neil – A novelist, poet, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist, O’Neil was named by Chatelaine as one of the most influential women in Canada. Her critically acclaimed first novel was about young life on the streets – and the strength, wits and luck necessary for survival;
  • Kim Samuel – Samuel’s work focuses on social isolation as a critical experiential and measurable component of multi-dimensional poverty and underscores the importance of social connectedness to human dignity and human rights struggles globally; and
  • Carol Todd – Mother of Amanda Todd, the educator and advocate will explore the meaning in her daughter’s story, and also share stories about her own life and struggles trying to fit in.