Harbourfront Centre and British Council, in association with The Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy proudly present The Borderless Citizen Project, a three-day conference exploring human migration through the lens of culture, leadership and public policy. The Project will bring together artists, creative thinkers and policy makers to seek new solutions to long-standing problems on themes including climate change, identity, inclusion and courage.

Taking place from November 18 – 20, 2019, the conference is co-chaired by Fiona Salzen, Board Trustee of the British Council and by Senator Ratna  Omidvar, an independent Senator for Canada, member of the World Refugee Council and internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. Senator Omidvar came to Canada from Iran in 1981 and her own experiences of displacement, integration and citizen engagement are the foundation of her work.

The Borderless Citizen Project will feature a series of workshops, panel discussions and keynote addresses from influential and international leaders, including Professor Eyal Weizman, founding director and principal investigator of Forensic Architecture and Indigenous author and activist Clayton Thomas-Müller, whose work includes capturing conflict and natural disasters around the world.

Renowned artists across theatre, dance, film, music and comedy will also lead Art + Practice Workshops, a series of participatory sessions for emerging and experienced artists, curious academics, and the public, to review current research and practice through a series of arts-based exercises and explorations.


The conference is free to attend. Advance registration is recommended. For more registration and additional programming please click here

KEYNOTE: Forensic Architecture with Professor Eyal Weizman – Monday, November 18, 7:30pm 

With opening remarks from Senator Ratna Omidvar, an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion and Fiona Salzen, British Council Trustee, the opening keynote will be presented by the extraordinary Professor Eyal Weizman, founding director and principal investigator of Forensic Architecture. This multidisciplinary research group uses architectural techniques and technologies to investigate cases of state violence and violations of human rights around the world.

With a team of investigators including architects, scholars, artists, filmmakers, software developers, investigative journalists, archaeologists, lawyers, and scientists, the agency “develops evidentiary systems in relation to specific cases; in so doing, it acts as an architectural detective agency, working with NGOs and human rights lawyers to uncover facts that confound the stories told by police, military, states and corporations.” (The Guardian).

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KEYNOTE AND PANEL: Bearing Witness at the Borders: A Dangerous and Necessary Practice – Tuesday, November 19, 1pm

This panel will illuminate the work of artists, journalists and policy makers who are compelled to bear witness and, by doing so, affect change.

Adrees Latif, Reuters Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist
Joseph Wong
Adrienne Arsenault
Nam Kiwanuka
Kevin Dyer

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KEYNOTE: Migrant Justice and Indigenous Self Determination, A Good Place to Start When Acting on Climate – Wednesday, November 20, 2:30pm

Our climate is a complex, interconnected web. Pull one strand and the entire web begins to unravel. As human beings wrestle with a radical revisioning of our global economic paradigm, the teachings of the migrant justice and indigenous rights social movements are more important than ever. Representing a massive percentage of Canada's workforce in the near future, Canada's most historically marginalized populations are going to represent a major part of Canada's economic power and this has significant meaning.

As the national conversation on climate change continues, what will be the economy of the future? What are we doing to tear down systems of white supremacy and patriarchy actively criminalizing indigenous and migrants climate justice organizing in Canada? What role does Indigenous knowledge play in fighting the global climate crisis?

Join Indigenous Author, Activist & Film Maker, Clayton Thomas-Müller and friends as they share their perspectives.

Clayton Thomas-Müller
Syed Hussan
Dr. Anna Banerji
Eriel Deranger

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CLOSING KEYNOTE: Solutions for a Global Citizenship – Wednesday, November 20, 5pm

This panel will explore innovative solutions in development for Borderless Citizens with a focus on “out-of-the-box-solutions” that should be tested and applied to the promises and challenges of global migration.

Senator Ratna Omidvar, World Refugee Council
Manjula Luthria, Senior Economist at the Social Protection Labor and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank
Timothy W. Docking, Ph.D., Managing Director, Refugee Investment Network (RIN)

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LITERATURE: Carrianne Leung – Tuesday, November 19, 10am

We have always lived in dangerous times, and writers and artists of conscience have always risen to bear witness and create in their troubled historical moments. In this session, we will explore what humanity means in the contexts of our contemporary perils and reflect on how we carry an ethical responsibility in our own work.

The workshop will begin with a reading from Leung’s essay titled “Writing in a Dangerous Time,” followed by a talk, writing prompts and discussion.

Workshop Leader
Carrianne Leung

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DANCETuesday, November 19, 10am

Lua Shayenne will lead participants into her creative world where her art practice is driven by her desire to be in service of and of benefit to her surrounding community. Lua will take you on a journey through percussive movement, call and response and song. In her community and audience engagement workshops, participants draw on the power of traditional African storytelling and dance to share their own experiences and explore the mind-body-spirit connections.

This workshop will centre on the physical investigation of borderlands as sites of power, gendered space, freedom and more. There will be opportunity to explore difficult questions; such as; how do fences carved along oppressive lines or symbols of hierarchy such as passports affect the emotional and physical body?

“A catalyst for African dance full of creative boundless energy.”— Alex Karolyi, SHADOWPATH THEATRE

Workshop Leader
Lua Shayenne

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Am I Wrong to Love? a workshop on LGBTQI+ refugees– Tuesday, November 19, 10am

Join Gilad Cohen, founder and Executive Director of JAYU, and Artistic Director of AM I WRONG TO LOVE? - a portrait and story series of 20 LGBTQI+ refugees from 10 different countries who’ve been forced to flee as a result of their gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation.

This interactive workshop will explore the important relationship that the arts and photography play in creating spaces for social justice narratives. Participants will have an opportunity to explore the AM I WRONG TO LOVE? exhibition while also engaging in hands-on mobile photography training.

Workshop Leader
Gilad Cohen

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WRITING: with Kevin Dyer Tuesday, November 19, 10am

Kevin Dyer is an experienced, prize-winning playwright from the UK. He listens, he thinks, he writes. This is an opportunity for anyone interested in writing or stories to work in an informal, like-minded group to write and learn. Kevin is working on a play about Syrian refugees, so expect the session to be about leaving, arriving, and what happens to our identity when we go from one place to another.

Workshop Leader
Kevin Dyer

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THEATRE:The First Two Days: Utility, Respect, and the Right Brain, Wednesday, November 20, 10am

In every process, the beginning is vital. This introductory workshop led by award-winning director, actor and Volcano Artistic Director Ross Manson explores how to take the first steps in a creative process focusing on three principles: utility, respect, and the right brain. Manson will look at approaches he developed for both theatre creation from the ground up (dance, opera, multi-disciplinary and intercultural performance), and directing an already existing play. 

MOVEMENT: Stories of Oppression: A discussion of truth, process and objectives, Jaberi Dance Theatre, Wednesday, November 20, 10am

Performative arts, dance and theatre hold great potential for telling unseen stories. Embodied performance can initiate a learning process into reality-based experiences of people who have been subjected to extreme oppressive circumstances.

However, there are many complex issues to examine before embarking on such work that involve awareness of who we are in relationship to experiences that are not our own.

This workshop of movement and text based exercises will explore the use of art in the telling of marginalized peoples’ experiences. It will explore key process and ethical considerations for artists, activists and academics alike as they set out to develop work of this nature.

Workshop Leaders
Roshanak Jaberi, Jaberi Dance
Doris Rajan