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Democratic Engagement Exchange Launch

Ryerson University’s Faculty of Arts is pleased to officially launch the Democratic Engagement Exchange on April 24. Please join Zahra Ebrahim, Innovative city builder and co-lead of Doblin’s Canadian practice, George Elliott Clarke, former Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Dr. Danyaal Raza, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Shadiya Aidid, Toronto-based spoken word artist and Hamilton City Councillor Matthew Green, for an evening where we explore ways to build a more inclusive democracy in our communities.

Building on the work begun at Samara Canada, the Exchange drives democratic engagement by building partnerships with academic institutions, community organizations and government agencies to create tools, and champion policies and programs that promote a more inclusive democracy.

We invite you to be with us from the start.

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Zahra Ebrahim


Faculty member at the University of Toronto; Co-director of Doblin Canada; Co-lead on the Community.Design.Initiative.


Zahra Ebrahim is a faculty member at the University of Toronto and Co-director of Doblin Canada. She previously founded and led archiTEXT, a design-based innovation studio, and is currently the co-lead on the Community.Design.Initiative., which engages marginalized youth in architecture and design in Toronto’s priority neighbourhoods.

Ebrahim uses design and design processes to explore community engagement, institutional innovation, and participatory citybuilding. Her work has been featured in Luminato, Nuit Blanche, Toronto Design Offsite, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and CBC.

Dr. Danyaal Raza


Staff physician, Department of Family & Community Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital; Physician-lead, St. Michael’s Sumac Creek Health Centre; Assistant Professor, University of Toronto; Chair of Canadian Doctors, Medicare


Dr. Danyaal Raza is a staff physician with the Department of Family & Community Medicine of St. Michael’s Hospital, physician-lead of St. Michael’s Sumac Creek Health Centre and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. He serves as the Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, an organization dedicated to evidence-based, values-driven healthcare reform,and is an advisor to Upstream, a social determinants of health ‘think-do’ tank.

Dr. Raza is a graduate of Harvard University's Masters of Public Health program, and former Fellow in Global Health at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family & Community Medicine.

Matthew Green


City Councillor, Ward 3 (Hamilton Centre) in Hamilton, Ontario.


Councillor Green is a graduate of Political Science from Acadia University. He has also attended McMaster University and received a certificate of Executive Education and Governance for Non-Profits from Harvard University. He has quickly earned a reputation for his fiery speeches on social justice delivering his keynotes internationally for organizations including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Broadbent Institute, the International AGM of Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Global African Governance Conference hosted at Pan African Parliament in South Africa.

Matthew has been awarded the inaugural Friends of Labour Award from Hamilton District Labour Council, a J.C. Holland Award from Hamilton’s Black History Committee, and a community appreciation award from the Hamilton Native Womens’ Centre.

As a City Councillor, Matthew’s advocacy has made a meaningful difference for residents. Matthew passed the Blue Dot Motion, making Hamilton the first city in Ontario to adopt an environmental bill of rights. Matthew’s advocacy opposing police carding and racial profiling had a direct impact on provincial policy resulting in more stringent regulations on how local police interact with our community. He is a strong advocate for affordable, dignified housing, and serves as Vice Chair and Treasurer for City Housing Hamilton, and firmly believes that Hamilton should be a welcoming and inclusive home for newcomers.

Matthew Green was elected in 2014 to serve Ward 3 (Hamilton Centre) in Hamilton, Ontario.

He currently lives in Ward 3, the community he serves, with his incredible spouse Jayde and the pride of life...his son Langston.”

George Elliott Clarke


4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15); 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17); professor, University of Toronto


The 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and the 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate (2016-17), George Elliott Clarke is a revered artist in song, drama, fiction, screenplay, essays, and poetry. 

Born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1960, Clarke was educated at the University of Waterloo, Dalhousie University, and Queen’s University. 

Clarke is also a pioneering scholar of African-Canadian literature.  A professor of English at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard.  He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada at the rank of Officer. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. 

His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.  Clarke’s work is the subject of Africadian Atlantic: Essays on George Elliott Clarke (2012), edited by Joseph Pivato.

Shadiya Aidid


Toronto-based spoken word artist


Shadiya Aidid is a Toronto-based spoken word artist. Throughout her poetry, she touches on themes of female empowerment, environmental justice, and migration. Growing up in a Somali household, storytelling was a large part of her childhood, and as a result, her heritage is engrained in the art that she creates. Her poetry has been published in anthologies such as Homebound and Up From the Roots and has been showcased on CBC and at the Regent Park Film Festival.

Shadiya holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies Degree from York University, and she currently works for the environmental non-profit, Regenesis.

You can find her work on her fan page: or by following her Twitter and Instagram @shashafunk