Matthew-Ray Jones also known as “Testament” is a connoisseur of anything and everything involving words. From poetry, spoken word and emceeing to facilitating, hosting and keynoting, Testament has been using his natural speaking abilities to inspire audiences for over 15 years. Testament has performed and taught coast to coast nationally and internationally. He has recorded three albums to date and shared stages with Naughty by Nature, Biz Markie, Kardinal Official and more. He has made numerous radio and television appearances including Much Music and MTV. A father, an artist, entrepreneur and revolutionary, Testament uses his passion for words, art and life to motivate, inspire and lead. He trusts in the values of peace, love and unity as his guiding principles as he continues to spread his message all across the world.
Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Toronto, Tanya Turton is an award-winning entrepreneur, storyteller, wellness educator, and mental health advocate. Using storytelling, safe space, and education, Tanya has created safer spaces for Black women, LGBTQ community members, and youth to feel heard, seen, and witnessed. Over the years she has launched two initiatives: Adornment Stories, a grassroots non-profit for Black women and femmes navigating mental health challenges by using beauty and digital storytelling to transform their experiences; and NiaZamar: Redefining Beauty, an educational platform where Tanya shares a wealth of knowledge in fields of self and collective care and intersectional wellness. Her writing can be found in Shameless magazine, providing safe space and guiding tools for self-love. Her work centres on early engagement mental health initiatives and intersectional frameworks of engagement.
Lorna Goodison is the author of 14 books of poetry, three short-story collections, and an essay collection. Her acclaimed memoir, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People (2009) was a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and the Trillium Award, and won the B.C. Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. Born in Jamaica, Goodison has taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan, and now lives in British Columbia. Goodison was Jamaica’s Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2020 and was the recipient of The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2019.
Anthony Morgan is an entrepreneur, game designer, PhD researcher. He’s the former host of Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet and one of the current hosts of CBC’s The Nature of Things. He’s spent close to 20 years working across multiple disciplines in science communication including live engagements at the Ontario Science Center, web series production for Asap SCIENCE and SciShow. He serves on the steering committee for Science Up First – a national organization for countering misinformation. His PhD research explores strategies and tools to reduce polarization and improve conversations around controversial science. He was recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 millennial change-makers by the CBC.
Kei Miller is a Jamaican poet, essayist and novelist, shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and winner of the prestigious Forward poetry prize for his collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion. In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature and in 2018 he was awarded the Anthony Sabga medal for Arts & Letters. He has taught at the Universities of Glasgow, Royal Holloway and Exeter and, in 2019 he was the Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa.
Award-winning Jamaican author Nalo Hopkinson lived in Jamaica, Guyana, the US, and Trinidad before moving to Canada as a teenager. She has published six novels and numerous short stories. She is currently a professor of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. She was the lead author of The House of Whispers, a serialized comic in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe.
Nicola Yoon is the author of Everything, Everything, an instant New York Times bestseller, making her the first Black woman to hit #1 on the New York Times Young Adult list. She is also the author of The Sun Is Also a Star, which also hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was a National Book Award finalist. Both novels have been made into major motion pictures. She lives in New York with her husband, novelist David Yoon and their daughter. Her latest book is Instructions for Dancing.
Nadia L. Hohn is a writer and educator. Her first picture book, Malaika’s Costume, won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Children’s Literature Award. She is also the author of Malaika’s Winter Carnival and Malaika’s Surprise, both illustrated by Irene Luxbacher; A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes; and Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, illustrated by Gustavo Mazali. Nadia’s writing is inspired by her childhood memories, Jamaican heritage, Black culture, world travels and social issues. She lives in Toronto.
Maisy Card holds an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and is a public librarian. Her writing has appeared in Lenny Letter, School Library Journal, Agni, Sycamore Review, Liars’ League NYC and Ampersand Review. Maisy was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, but was raised in Queens, New York. Maisy earned an MLIS from Rutgers University and a BA in English and American Studies from Wesleyan University. She is the author of These Ghosts Are Family.
Angelyn Francis is an editor at the Toronto Star focused on social and video. Francis is a journalist with a focus on storytelling across a variety of media and amplifying marginalized voices. She previously covered equity issues at the Star and was a video producer at Maclean’s Magazine. She was named one of Canada’s 100 most powerful women in 2021 by WXN and hosted HuffPost Canada‘s award-winning podcast Born and Raised.