Today at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, organizers of the upcoming TEDx event announced their line-up of 14 speakers bound by the theme “What are you waiting for?” It’s a diverse and impressive group ranging from a 15-year-old scientist and philanthropist from Thunder Bay to a roboticist who has designed one of the world’s easiest and most powerful robot building platforms. Familiar names include fashion designer Linda Lundstrom (who can forget those coats?), local artist Lora Northway (Definitely Superior Art Gallery), and Leah Parsons (mother of the late Rehtaeh Parsons).

The TEDx event is scheduled for June 10 and promises to be an interesting, informative, engaging, and inspiring day. Visit for details.

The Speakers

  1. Dr. Shohini Ghose: Next Up—Quantum Information

A 2014 TED Fellow and a rising star in physics, Ghose’s research in quantum information and chaos theory has received worldwide attention. She is an associate professor and director of the Center for Women in Science at Wilfrid Laurier University and an affiliate of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Ghose recently co-authored the first Canadian university textbook in introductory astronomy. She has a passion for breaking down barriers to women in science, and was named Woman Physicist of the Month by the American Physical Society. She has won several international awards and was recently featured in W Network’s list “15  Awe-inspiring Canadian Women You Need to Know.” She makes science accessible and will enlighten us on how physics will help shape our future.

  1. DJ Sures: Giving Apps Legs! Our Future with Robotics?

As a visionary Canadian roboticist, DJ Sures is making his mark. He has worked in the field of network and computer security, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Experience with Symantec, Cisco Systems, and NASA, all formed a solid base as he created his  successful company EZ-Robot Team.

By designing one of the world’s easiest and most powerful robot building platforms, Sures has been able to expand his product line to over 130 countries. Though the company is based in Calgary, Sures returns often to his hometown of Thunder Bay to enjoy a break and further cultivate his creativity on the shore of Lake Superior.

  1. Trina Diner: Telemedicine Innovations—The Results are Remarkable

Trina Diner has worked for over 20 years in computer programming, IT and project management and communications. She obtained her masters in management science from the University of Waterloo and is the current manager of Palliative Care and Telemedicine at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

As a pioneer focussed on change for the better using technology, Diner passionately works with terminally ill patients to help provide better quality medical care. She has been recognized as a hands-on expert in her field, as medicine and technology work together to the benefit and comfort of all patients regardless of age or situation.

  1. Kevin Kuchta: Finding the Path

Kevin Kuchta is the co-owner of a software development company specializing in key performance indicators and systems based in Thunder Bay. He was active helping others at an early age, managing a group home at just nineteen years old.  Subsequent to that he worked in the education system with children with disabilities for eight years.

Kuchta was a keynote speaker at the International Medical Informatics Conference in Dubai, and has been a best practises invitee for the director of Special Education for Ontario. The combination of his knowledge of computer software and systems with his passion for helping the disabled have led him to develop a best path method that continues to intrigue and engage those in the field of disability rehabilitation.

  1. Linda Lundstrom: Authenticity: It’s Ok to be You

From Red Lake, Ontario, Linda Lundstrom is a Canadian icon in the fashion industry. As an artist, pioneer, and leader, she has created more than 100 collections of clothing for authentic women.

Over her career Lundstrom has been honoured with doctorates from Ryerson University, Mount St. Vincent University, and Laurentian University, and was awarded the Order of Ontario. She is passionate in bringing her Sewing Circle Project, an economic development initiative, to First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario.

  1. Lora Northway: Breaking the Ties that Bind Us

As an outstanding artist in her own right, Lora would willingly give up her own work, just to help others discover the healing properties of creative art. Time after time, she has helped her students bloom into the best they can be, using art as the catalyst. This is a woman of passion who is walking the walk and wants to shine a light on the way art can help us.

Lora was named one of this year’s Emerging Cultural Leaders by the Artist-Run Centres & Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO). The first-time award celebrates people who are “exceptional, emerging, creative champions.”

  1. Wali Shah: Breaking Out

Selected by Plan Canada as one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 in 2014, Wali Shah is a musician and poet currently studying at the University of Toronto. He is a resident of Mississauga who you may have seen on MTV or read about in the Toronto Star.

Shah has volunteered hundreds of hours, and helped raise over a million dollars for the United Way and, along the way, has even freestyled with hip hop artist, Kendrick Lamar. Shah has gone from at risk student in jail to a life of helping others and has a unique way of connecting to listeners.

  1. Leah Parsons: A Kinder Way

Leah Parsons is an award-winning change-maker, compassionate global steward, and powerful keynote presenter who speaks from the heart about her daughter’s rape and subsequent suicide. Her determination to make things right gave her the courage and tenacity to go public with Rehtaeh’s story, advocate for her daughter and ensure that changes were made.

Leah has appeared in news articles all over the world, been featured in documentaries, appeared on Dr. Phil, and has had personal meetings with heads of state. She continues to honour Rehtaeh by educating and keeping the conversation moving about sexualized violence, cyber-harassment, and mental health.

  1. Omer Aziz: Engineering the Mind for Peak Performance

Omer Aziz is a professional engineer who crossed over to become the vice president of Human Resources with Blackberry in the United Kingdom. His passion is exponential growth and how to achieve your “A” game.

Using an engineering approach, Aziz speaks clearly and effusively on techniques that apply to everyone from small children to 90-year-olds to achieve at a peak performance level. He is currently the senior vice president of Human Resources at Sysomos, a data analytics company.

  1. Kacey Ronaldson: Tissue Engineering – Personalized Medicine of the Future

Kacey Ronaldson attended Columbia University where she received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. Her graduate studies were with Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, and she now works with “human on a chip models” for drug screening and disease modeling. In addition to working with the Womensphere Foundation, Ronaldson also spends time mentoring and inspiring young women to pursue STEM related fields.

As one of the cofounders of TARA Biosystems, she will be developing a lab in New York to further their astounding research in developing better solutions, faster, for health care enhancements the world over.

11.       Dr. Sherri Mason: So You Like Clean Water?

By complete accident, Dr. Sherry “Sam” Mason found her passion while sailing on the Great Lakes and has been an advocate of clean water ever since. She poses the question: what will happen to our water systems if we continue our habits with plastics of all kinds? The answer is the continuing erosion of our fresh water system.

When Mason’s discovery that Lake Erie had higher concentrations of microplastics than any other body of water on Earth, with concentrations exceeding data collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, alarm bells started to ring. Her passion and ideas to help protect our water and wildlife will definitely challenge your thinking.

  1. Tamara Barnard: Another Lens to See Through

Speaking on a topic where there is often an awkward silence, violence and vulnerability of indigenous women and women in general, Tamara Barnard pays homage to her murdered great-grandmother in a talk that will stir emotions and make us think.

Offering an alternative perspective, she looks at life through a new lens. For the last eight years, Barnard has dedicated herself to learning, studying, giving guest lectures, working at art showcases, and helping with the CTV’s “See Me” MMIWG art installation project. Barnard wants to shine a light on violence and women, and, in a positive manner, bring awareness to the hidden reality of what is happening and has happened, and to give us the lens to understand.

  1. Emily Cross: What Was I Waiting For?

Fifteen-year-old Emily Cross of Thunder Bay was selected as one of the twelve young scientists representing Team Canada at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. She speaks of her passion to pursue interests in unconventional fields, the stumbling blocks she encountered, and how she overcame them. Her discovery of false aging systems for artefacts has led her to speak in Canada and as a guest representative/speaker for several mining and school events in Minnesota.

Cross has started a program in which she mentors local students in their scientific inquiries and was recently appointed the regional director of Sustainable Youth Canada.  Not finished yet, she also runs a charity that provides toys to an orphanage in Cambodia.

  1. Sebastian Gendron: It’s Not Science Fiction – Coming Soon. The HYPERLOOP!

Sebastien Gendron, founder of Transpod, works with the University of Toronto toward the goal of having a commercial prototype hyperloop by 2020. Dynamic,  bilingual, and with 10 years’ experience in the aerospace industry from Airbus, Bombardier and Safran, Gendron has had a life-long dream to create positive change in the field of transportation.

Gendron has managed international teams in challenging environments and has a masters degree in Aerospace Engineering from SUPAERO and the University of Aix-Marseille II, France. He will speak of the hyperloop, its impact, and the fact that it is real and closer around the corner than we think.

About TED

TED is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.