2021 Higher Education Summit and Premier’s Awards

Colleges Ontario is pleased to announce the return in 2021 of the Higher Education Summit and the Premier’s Awards gala for outstanding college graduates.

The Premier’s Awards celebration will be an online event on Thursday, November 18.

The Higher Education Summit will be an in-person event at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel on Sunday, November 28 and Monday, November 29.

Please visit this page again soon for additional details and to reserve your place at these two exciting events.

November 28, 2021 - November 29, 2021 | Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

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Featured speakers

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Masai Ujiri [More Info]
President and Vice-Chairman, Toronto Raptors | Founder, Giants of Africa

Masai Ujiri is in his seventh season as President of the Toronto Raptors, leading the team to the most successful period in franchise history, including an NBA Championship. In June 2019, the Raptors won the first NBA title in the franchise's 24-year history with a six-game victory over Golden State. In his six years leading the team, the club has won five Atlantic Division titles, made its first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, set a team record for victories in a season with 59, and complied a 321-171 (.652) regular season mark.

Ujiri returned to Toronto as President and General Manager from Denver, where he spent three years as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Denver Nuggets, and became the first African-born general manager of an NBA team and was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2013.

Ujiri was named 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year after he led the Nuggets to a team-record 57 wins and a league-best 38-3 home court mark. Ujiri helped construct a young, athletic roster that captured the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference despite being the third-youngest team at the start of the season. In Denver, Ujiri is best known for a 12-player deal Feb. 22, 2011 that sent All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. That trade is heralded as a textbook example on how to receive high value in exchange for a pending free agent.

A native of Nigeria, Ujiri brings tremendous knowledge and extensive global connections to the Raptors front office. He played professionally in Europe for six years, with stops in Belgium, Germany, England, Greece, and Finland. He has scouted all over the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. Ujiri has also managed and coached the Nigerian junior and senior national teams.

On a personal level, Ujiri has been tireless in his efforts to promote and develop the game of basketball throughout Africa. He is the founder of the Giants of Africa Foundation, which urges young people to “Dream Big,” and uses basketball to educate and enrich the lives of youth, and create opportunities for them on and off the court. Since 2002, Ujiri has also served as the director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program.

Edward Burtynsky [More Info]
World's most accomplished contemporary photographer

Edward Burtynsky is regarded as one of the world's most accomplished contemporary photographer. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes represent over 40 years of his dedication to bearing witness to the impact of humans on the planet.

Burtynsky's photographs are included in the collections of over 60 major museums around the world. Major exhibitions include: Anthropocene (2018), Water (2013), organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art & Contemporary Art Center, Oil (2009) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, China (2005, five-year tour) and Manufactured Landscapes (2003) at the National Gallery of Canada.

Burtynsky’s distinctions include the inaugural TED Prize in 2005, which he shared with Bono and Robert Fischell, the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts and the 2018 Photo London Master of Photography Award.

In 2019, he was the recipient of the Arts & Letters Award at the Canadian Association of New York’s annual Maple Leaf Ball and the 2019 Lucie Award for Achievement in Documentary Photography. Most recently, he was awarded a Royal Photographic Society Honorary Fellowship (2020).

Burtynsky was also a key production figure in the award-winning film documentary trilogy, Manufactured Landscapes (2006), Watermark (2013) and Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018). He co-directed the latter two with Jennifer Baichwal. All three films continue to play in festivals around the world.

He currently holds eight honorary doctorate degrees.

Tyrone Edwards [More Info]
Anchor, etalk

With his extensive pop culture knowledge and an innate ability to ease his guests into intimate and candid conversation, Tyrone Edwards brings his expertise to Canada’s most-watched entertainment program as the anchor of etalk. A versatile presenter and interviewer, he brings a passion for connecting with people and helping them to share their stories with the world.

Edwards began his television career as the host of RapCity. He went on to become a host on MuchMusic and E!, where he also hosted the Much ICONS social media series and co-hosted the Golden Globes for E!.

Among his various roles since then, Edwards was an etalk reporter, co-hosted the TSN original social media series, 6IX Degrees, and hosted CTV Life Channel’s original cooking series, DNA Dinners.

In addition to his years of hosting experience, Edwards has also interviewed some of the world’s most talked-about celebrities, including Spike Lee, Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more.

Off screen, Edwards is heavily involved in mental health advocacy and his community. Besides acting as a mentor and coach for underserved youth, he is also an ambassador for the walk-in mental health clinic at Yorktown Family Services. Having grown up in the same Toronto neighbourhood that the organization serves, he recognizes its important role in the community.

Most recently, in collaboration with Lifetime Developments’ Brian Brown and graphic artist Ben Johnston, Edwards kickstarted See You Soon Toronto— a charitable organization offering limited edition apparel and art, with all of the proceeds going back to COVID-19 relief efforts. Prior to that, Edwards founded Concrete Hoops, a not-for-profit basketball camp that aims to incorporate life skills with the love of the game.

In honour of his work as a television host and with numerous charities and foundations supporting underserved youth, Edwards received the 2016 Mandela Legacy Hope, Success and Empowerment Award, alongside Naomi Campbell and Rev. Al Sharpton.

Martin Ford [More Info]
Author | Futurist

Martin Ford is the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm and the author of four books: “Rule of the Robots,” newly released book, “Architects of Intelligence,” the New York Times bestseller, “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” and “The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future.”

He is the consulting expert for Societe Generale’s new Rise of the Robots equity index, which is focused specifically on investing in companies that will be significant participants in the artificial intelligence and robotics revolution.

Ford has over 25 years of experience in computer design and software development and holds a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a graduate business degree from UCLA.

He has written for publications that include Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Project Syndicate, The Huffington Post and The Fiscal Times. Ford has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including programs on National Public Radio and CNBC.

Chantal Hébert [More Info]
National Affairs Columnist
Toronto Star

Chantal Hébert is a political columnist whose work appears in the Toronto Star and the magazine, L’Actualité. She is a weekly participant on the political panel, At Issue, on CBC-TV’s The National, as well as Radio-Canada’s Les Coulisses du pouvoir on television and Tout un matin on Montreal radio.

Hébert began her career in Toronto as a reporter for the regional newsroom of Radio-Canada in 1975 before moving on to Parliament Hill for Radio-Canada radio. She has served as parliamentary bureau chief for Le Devoir and La Presse.

Hébert is a graduate of Glendon College, York University. She is a senior fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto and holds honorary degrees from a dozen Canadian universities.

She is a recipient of two Asia-Pacific media fellowships (Malaysia and Japan). She is also the 2005 recipient of the APEX Public Service Award. In 2006, she received the Hy Solomon Award for excellence in journalism and public policy as well as York University’s pinnacle achievement Bryden Alumni Award.

In 2012, she was appointed to the Order of Canada. Her second book, “The Morning After,” dealing with the 1995 Quebec referendum, was published simultaneously in both official languages in 2015.

In 2019, her peers in the parliamentary press gallery awarded her the Charles Lynch Award for her longstanding coverage of national issues.

Lyn McDonell [More Info]
Certified Management Consultant and a Fellow of CMC-Ontario

Lyn McDonell is a governance, strategy and organizational effectiveness consultant.

She is a chartered director and a certified management consultant and a fellow of CMC-Ontario. She is president of The Accountability Group, Inc., based in Toronto – a firm that provides consulting services and training in governance and strategy and customized group facilitation.

McDonell is a provider of governance education and a facilitator. She is the author of “The Art of Asking Questions as a Director” in the 2nd edition of The Handbook of Board Governance, published by Wiley in 2020.

Eric O’Neill [More Info]
National Security Strategist
VMWare Carbon Black

In 2001, O’Neill helped capture the most notorious spy in United States history: Robert Hanssen, a 25-year veteran of the FBI. The remarkable true events are the inspiration behind the critically acclaimed dramatic thriller, “Breach,” starring Ryan Philippe as O'Neill. The film is the story of the greatest security breach in U.S. history.

O’Neill began his career in the FBI as a “ghost” – an undercover field operative tasked to surveil and monitor foreign, national and domestic terrorists and spies. During the Hanssen investigation, he worked directly undercover with the spy within the FBI’s information assurance division, which was created to protect all classified FBI intelligence.

Currently, O’Neill runs The Georgetown Group, a premier investigative and security consultancy out of Washington. O’Neill is also the national security strategist for Carbon Black, the leader in next-generation endpoint protection.

O’Neill is also the author of “Gray Day,” the thrilling story of how he helped take down Hanssen.

A talented motivational speaker who weaves real-life experiences into a presentation that is both entertaining and rewarding, O’Neill provides practical insights into real-work situations relevant to many industries.

Steve Paikin [More Info]
Canadian journalist, author, and documentary producer
Host of TVO’s The Agenda

Steve Paikin is a journalist, author and documentary producer. Paikin has primarily worked for Ontario’s public broadcaster, TVOntario (TVO), and is anchor of TVO's flagship current affairs program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Paikin was previously an anchor and Queen's Park correspondent for CBC-TV's Toronto station CBLT-TV and host of a daily news and current affairs program on CBC Newsworld. He also held reporting jobs in private radio and print media, including the Hamilton Spectator and Toronto radio station CHFI, where he was Toronto City Hall reporter from 1982 to 1985.

In 1992, Paikin began work at TVO, hosting the political series, Between the Lines, until 1994. He also co-created the Queen's Park newsmagazine series, Fourth Reading, which he hosted for 14 years. In 1994, Paikin began co-hosting duties on Studio 2 (with Mary Hynes for two years, followed by Paula Todd). In 1998, he co-created and began hosting Diplomatic Immunity, a weekly foreign affairs commentary show.

In 2006, TVO cancelled Studio 2 and replaced it with a new program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

Paikin is frequently selected to be the moderator of election debates. He acted as a moderator for federal leaders’ debates in 2006, 2008, and 2011 and for Ontario provincial leaders’ debates in 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2018.

Aside from his hosting and journalistic endeavors, Paikin has produced a number of feature-length documentaries: “Return to the Warsaw Ghetto,” “A Main Street Man,” “Balkan Madness,” “Teachers, Tories and Turmoil” and “Chairman of the Board: The Life and Death of John Robarts.”

For 1993's “Return to the Warsaw Ghetto,” Paikin won the Silver Screen Award at the U.S. International Film and Video Festival and received awards at the Yorkton Film Festival in Saskatchewan and at China's Shanghai Film Festival. Paikin is also the author of seven books, the most recent being “Bill Davis: Nation-Builder and Not So Bland After All.”

Paikin graduated from Hillfield Strathallan College and received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toronto. Later, Paikin received his master's degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University.

He holds honorary doctorates from McMaster University, Victoria University, Laurentian University, York University and honorary diplomas from Humber College, Centennial College, Mohawk College and Fanshawe College.

He was appointed chancellor of Laurentian University in Sudbury in October 2013. In December 2013, Paikin was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and invested into the Order of Ontario.

Tanya Talaga [More Info]
Globe and Mail columnist | Author of Seven Fallen Feathers

An award-winning journalist and author and the first Ojibway woman to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures, Tanya Talaga is an acclaimed storyteller.

Her book, “Seven Fallen Feathers,” has been a national bestseller. The book, about seven Indigenous high school students who mysteriously died in Thunder Bay, won the RBC Taylor Prize in 2018.

In her powerful keynotes, Talaga shares Indigenous stories from across Canada and the world, humanizing the legacy of residential schools and colonization and sharing her hope for a more inclusive and equitable future.

Talaga is of Polish and Indigenous descent. Her great-grandmother was a residential school survivor and her great-grandfather was an Ojibwe trapper and labourer.

For the past 20 years, Talaga has worked as a journalist, most recently as a columnist with the Globe and Mail and has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism. From 2017-2018, Talaga was the Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy through The Canadian Journalism Foundation.

In addition to the RBC Taylor Prize, “Seven Fallen Feathers” also won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing and the First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult Award. It was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the B.C. National Award for Nonfiction. It was named CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Year and a Globe and Mail top 100 book.

Talaga is also the author of the bestselling book, “All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward.”

In addition to the CBC Massey Lectures — a renowned lecture series that travels to cities across Canada — Talaga has also spoken to diverse audiences ranging from university students and school children to corporate and non-profit organizations.