This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


We Need to Talk About This: Our national talk series

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS is back (virtually, of course).

In fall 2018, we launched WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS, This Magazine’s national talk series! We held This Magazine talk series events in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Halifax, Montreal, and Toronto. Each city featured a different topic ranging from mental health to racism in Canada’s healthcare system and included a diverse range of speakers. You can find more details about past talks in the series below.

The talk series was on hiatus in 2020, but we relaunched it and presented a series of virtual talk events in 2021.

November 23, 2021, 7:00 p.m. (EST)
We Need To Talk About This: Pop culture
The Big Question: How is pop culture political?

Meet the speakers:

Sadaf Ahsan is a Toronto-based arts and culture writer, host of Frequency’s pop-culture podcast The Reheat and sex columnist for Best Health. She previously worked at NOW Magazine and the National Post, and her work has appeared in the Globe & Mail, Refinery29, Bitch, and Chatelaine.

Stacy Lee Kong is a writer, editor and the founder of Friday Things, a weekly newsletter that delivers smart takes on the week’s biggest pop culture stories—or at least, the ones she can’t stop thinking about. Her bylines have appeared in publications including Maclean’s, the Globe & Mail, Reader’s Digest and enRoute and she has worked at some of the largest magazine brands in Canada, including Flare, Canadian Living, House & Home and Chatelaine. She’s also an instructor at Centennial College in Toronto.

Amanda Scriver (she/they) is a journalist best known for being fat, loud, and shouty on the Internet. Ama is the co-host of High Low Brow, the podcast. The show is packed with high-brow takes on low-brow culture alongside co-host Danita Steinberg. Biweekly the two attempted to have thoughtful convos about pop culture that is often overlooked, laughed at, trashed, and brushed. When Ama isn’t busy with the pod, they write and have had their work printed in Refinery 29, The Toronto Star, The Walrus, Chatelaine, The Washington Post, Healthline, and Xtra. They live in Toronto, Canada with their partner who recently named Ama the Director of Snacks. Together they obsessively watch TikToks and memes and are trying to determine the best potato chip buffet combo. Suggestions welcomed!

Sydney Urbanek is a Toronto-based writer on movies, music videos, and things in between. She has an MA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where her thesis was largely about director Jonas Åkerlund’s collaborations with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. She also writes a music video newsletter called Mononym Mythology. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

If you missed the event, you can watch the video. Interested in our Pop Culture issue (November/December 2021)?

June 22, 2021, 3:00 p.m. (EST)
We Need To Talk About This: Canada’s housing crisis
The Big Question: How do we respond to a broken system that has left the country’s most vulnerable to fend for themselves?

Meet the speakers:

With a background in law, Karine-Myrgianie Jean-Francois has worked in the community sector in feminist and/or youth-oriented organizations for over 10 years. Born in Tiohtià:ke, this Black queer woman supports minoritized communities in their liberation. She is currently the Director of Operations and Projects at the DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada. (DAWN Canada). This eternal optimist believes in the power of communities and knows that we as folks that are always put at the margin have the power to change our world!

Jen St. Denis is a staff writer for The Tyee, an independent news magazine based in Vancouver, where she covers the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. She previously reported on housing and city politics for CTV News, the Star Vancouver, Metro News and Business in Vancouver. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star and the South China Morning Post.

Geordie Dent is the ED of the FMTA and has been a tenant advocate in Indonesia, Norway, Vancouver and Toronto.

Missed the event? Watch the video here. To read more about Canada’s housing crisis check out our Housing & Homes issue (May/June 2021).

CALGARY: June 27, 2019, cSpace King Edward, 1721 29th Avenue SW
We Need To Talk About This: Party politics vs. social change
The Big Question: How can we work for meaningful social change in a world polarized by left and right

Meet the speakers:

Calgary-born Adora Nwofor stands 6’1’ and commands the stage as a comedian, speaker, and activist. Founding grand marshal and host of the YYC Women’s March (2017 to 2019), she MC’d Canada Day 150 and is a regular keynote on diversity, inclusion, and the power of lived experience. Adora’s dark, feminist comedy has has been called “shock wit” and “ferociously funny.”

Esmahan Razavi is a community builder who is passionate about empowering women. Most recently, Esmahan served as a political staffer to the Government of Alberta’s Minister of the Status of Women. In 2018, she flew to Kyrgyzstan for a week to act as a consultant on gender equality for the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs. She sits on the board of Equal Voice Alberta South, co-founded Ask Her (an organization dedicated to seeing more women run for city council), co-led the 2018 and 2019 Women’s Marches in Calgary and served as Chair of the Women in Politics committee for the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women from 2016-2018. For her work in empowering women, Esmahan was selected by Chatelaine magazine as one of the top 33 women in Canada for 2017. Esmahan also co-founded an organization called Ahlain to use technology to assist Syrian refugees moving to Calgary. Esmahan has worked on campaigns at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Pam Krause is the President and CEO of the Centre for Sexuality (formerly the Calgary Sexual Health Centre). She has been with the Agency since 2001, taking on the leadership role in 2004. Graduating from the University of Calgary with a BA in Political Science, Pam began her career in municipal and provincial politics. An advocate and activist on issues related to women’s equality and social justice, Pam has worked and volunteered in the Calgary non-profit community for 25 years. Pam’s leadership has been recognized by being named a Global Television Woman of Vision, and she is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her years of community service. In 2017 Pam was named as one of 150 Calgary women who have impacted Calgary over the past 150 years by the YW Calgary She Who Dares initiative. Most recently, Pam has been appointed to the Board of Governors at the University of Calgary.

The Alberta Advantage is an award-winning political commentary podcast offering news and analysis from a left-wing perspective. Motivated to share more of Calgary’s progressive history and engage with contemporary political and economic issues, the podcast’s lively group of commentators recorded and released the first episode in October 2017. The show has steadily continued on a bi-monthly basis, along the way getting picked up for re-broadcast on CJSW Radio 90.9 FM once per month, and becoming part of the Ricochet podcast network. In addition to full-length episodes, Alberta Advantage releases mini-episodes every month featuring lighter, more off-the-cuff responses to mainstream op-ed pieces, plus occasional interviews and diversions. In May 2019, the podcast won the Best of Calgary’s Best Podcast award, and was also a finalist for the Best Twitter Personality award, both in the Cityscapes & People category. These awards are decided by popular vote among Calgarians.

VANCOUVER: June 3, 2019, The Post at 750
We Need To Talk About This: Canada’s opioid crisis
The Big Question: Provincial efforts to deal with the opioid crisis vary and the upcoming federal election has brought on calls for an action plan: what can we do to address the epidemic on a national level and whose responsibility is it?

Meet the speakers:

Garth Mullins is a drug user activist and award-winning radio documentarian. He is host and executive producer of the Crackdown Podcast where drug users cover the drug war as war correspondents. This is Garth’s second overdose crisis. He used injection heroin for over a decade and is now on methadone. He is a member of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users and is also a trade union organizer and musician.

Krista Butler is currently developing Megaphone’s new Speakers Bureau program. She holds a degree in both Psychology and Environmental Studies, with a background in health research and non-profit program development as well as frontline support work for those experiencing homelessness and addiction. She is passionate about spiritual health, social equity, and building community. In her spare time, Krista is a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher, end-of-life doula and novice but determined skateboarder.

Nicolas Crier is an adoptee of Cree heritage and a freelance writer. At 40 years old he has spent approximately half his life surviving in the streets and more than a decade in the Downtown Eastside. It never occurred to him that being a drug user would ever be useful, but he’s parlayed his street smarts and community connections into a successful career as an overdose responder and outreach worker and, in 2018, became a coordinator and facilitator for the Speakers Bureau at Megaphone. He sends love to his six-year-old son, Money.

Dr. Mark Tyndall is a Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health and the former Executive Director of the BC Centre for Disease Control. He is an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist with a focus on urban health and addiction. He is an author on over 250 peer-reviewed publications, with a focus on HIV and Hepatitis C care and prevention, harm reduction, and community-based interventions. He was co-lead investigator on the evaluation of Insite, North America’s first supervised injection site and his TED talk on harm reduction has generated over 1.25 million views. Dr. Tyndall has taken a leading role in responding to the overdose crisis in Canada with a focus on harm reduction interventions, providing a safer supply of drugs and the decriminalization of all drug use.

Hawkfeather Peterson is an executive board member, secretary and BC representative for the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs. They were also recently elected as the vice-president of the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors and are a member of BC’s Overdose Emergency Response Center’s extended ops committee, as well as a member of BC Women’s and Children’s hospital’s overdose prevention and response task force and the Provincial Perinatal substance use project. From the Sunshine Coast BC, they also work locally with our Community Action Team as an advisor, doing peer outreach and overdose prevention work. Aside from being an advocate and activist as a drug user with lived experience, they are also a parent of six and a professional visual artist.

Samantha Pranteau is part of the Misipawistik First Nations, Winnipeg, MB. She currently coordinates the Tenant Overdose Response Organizers, who help build and foster communities of care within the private SROs.

Shelda Kastor is an Ochapawace of the Cree Nation. She has lived in Vancouver off and on since 1988. She works and sits on a few boards in the Downtown Eastside, including the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society Board for the last six years.

WINNIPEG: March 28, 2019, Carol Shields Auditorium, Millennium Library
We Need To Talk About This: Systemic racism in Canada’s health care system
The Big Question: “What can we do to address the racism and struggles Indigenous peoples face in accessing health care in Canada?”

Meet the speakers:

Elissa Black Wolf Kixen is an Anishinaabe Two Spirit Comedian/Producer who’s roots lay in Couchiching First Nation, Ontario. They have travelled across Canada and the USA as a Comedian and improviser. They use comedy as a tool in dealing with racism, homophobia and sexism. They are the Co-founder/producer of WOKE Comedy Hour, featured on APTN’s The Laughing Drum, Co-produces Queer and Present Danger MB and they are the executive producer for Minogondaagan: the good voice podcast.

Dr. Barry Lavallee is a member of the First Nation and Metis communities of Manitoba. His ancestral territories are located at St. Laurent, Duck Bay and Lake Manitoba First Nation. He is a member of the Bear Clan. He practices Family Medicine in Winnipeg. He serves as medical advisor to the Diabetes Integration Project of the First Nation Health Services and Social Secretariat of Manitoba. He remains a mentor to Indigenous, white and other settler health care learners.

Vanessa Tait was born in northern Manitoba and raised in the Cree community of O-pipon-na-piwin Cree Nation – South Indian Lake, Manitoba (12 hour drive from Winnipeg), where her parents Kenneth and Janet Tait reside. Vanessa left home to pursue her educational journey and completed her Masters in Development Practice: Indigenous Development degree from the University of Winnipeg, where she received the award for Graduate Student with Highest Distinction. Vanessa also holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Degree from the University of Manitoba (2012) and completed the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program (Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 2011) and Building Local and Indigenous Knowledge for Community Resilience (Kenya, Africa, 2018) from Coady International Institute. Currently, she works as a Policy Analyst/Researcher with the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM) in the area of community engagement where she has had the opportunity to listen and hear many stories from First Nation community members in regards to the health care system here in Manitoba.


HALIFAX: February 27, 2019, The Bus Stop Theatre
We Need to Talk About This: Diversity in media
The Big Question: “What can we do to make Canada’s media more diverse”

Meet the speakers:

Arielle Twist has work published with Them, Canadian Art, The Fiddlehead, PRISM International, This Magazine,and CBC. Her debut collection of poetry ‘Disintegrate/Dissociate’ is forthcoming March 2019 with Arsenal Pulp Press.

Trina Roache brings 18 years of experience to APTN Investigates as an award-winning journalist. A member of the Glooscap First Nation in unceded Mi’kmaq territory, Trina has covered Indigenous issues from politics to land protection, treaty rights, and more. Trina’s favourite place is behind the camera, and is honoured when the people living the story trust her to tell it.

Haleigh Atwood is the editorial assistant for Lion’s Roar magazine, America’s leading Buddhist publication. In her final year at the University of King’s College, she wrote an in-depth feature on how LGBTQ journalists navigate the workplace. From the perspective of a queer journalist, Haleigh thinks a lot about the landscape of Canadian media and how it can be more diverse.

Sandra C. Hannebohm has been writing about politics and race for five years. Together with fellow journalist Tunde Balogun, she started an independent media company that used community-based investigative journalism to produce a documentary on issues facing black Nova Scotians. She reports on a range of topics from housing to health-care, to racism in the workplace, and the rise of Korean pop music. In 2016 she wrote and hosted podcasts on media and racism in the legislature.


TORONTO: September 27, 2018, Glad Day Bookshop
We Need to Talk About This: LGBTQ issues
The Big Question: “In what ways are LGBTQ communities experiencing violence today, and how are we working to fix it?”

Featuring Farrah Khan, RM Vaughan, and Alex Verman

Missed the event? Listen here:

Meet the speakers:

Farrah Khan has spent two decades raising awareness about the intersections of gender-based violence and equity through education, counselling and advocacy. She is Manger of Consent Comes First, co-founder of femifesto and host of the upcoming podcast Pleasure Principle. Her self care activities this week is reading Babysitter’s Club books, button making, and watching red panda videos.

RM Vaughan is a Canadian writer based in Toronto. Originally from Saint John, Vaughan holds an MA in English from the University of New Brunswick. He is the author of 11 books and hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines. Vaughan’s latest book, Bright Eyed: Insomnia and its Cultures (Coach House Books) was critically acclaimed in Canada and the U.S. and has been translated into Korean. Vaughan is a contributing editor to This Magazine.

Alex Verman is a writer and communist who lives and works in Treaty 13 territory currently occupied by the city of Toronto. Alex writes about the politics of identity and narrative, particularly focusing on issues of representation and exploitation. Alex’s work ranges from reported stories to personal essays, and has appeared in publications like This Magazine, Briarpatch, Canadaland, them., and Teen Vogue.


MONTREAL: October 24, 2018, Musée des Beaux-Arts
We Need to Talk About This: Mental Health
The Big Question: “What’s missing from the conversation around mental health that we need to talk more about?”

Meet the speakers:

Sonia Côté has extensive experience in the health and social services network, more specifically in mental health and in the housing and social housing sectors. From 2009 to 2013, she coordinated the Montreal site of the world’s largest study on homelessness and mental health, Project Chez soi /At Home, a research and demonstration project that took place in five Canadian cities, and later became one of the founding members of the Movement to End Homelessness in Montreal. Currently, Sonia is leading a community organization whose mission is to improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations.

Erica Ruth Kelly is a Montreal writer and mental health advocate now working in the non-profit sector in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in This, BuzzFeed, the Globe and Mail, Maisonneuve, and the Montreal Gazette, among others. She lives with, and educates others on, borderline personality disorder.

Tristan Ouimet-Savard is a community organizer with Quebec’s Regroupement des Auberges du coeur. His work focuses on  policy and human rights issues that affect the youth. He has been involved in the creation of the Mouvement jeunes et santé mentale, a coalition supported by 300 organizations and 1,300 individuals who wish to prevent the medicalization of social issues, to make voices of people living with mental health problems heard and to develop alternative practices in these areas.

Made possible with the support of Ontario Creates