Forward Thinking Speaker Series

The Forward Thinking Speaker Series reflects EPL’s rich history of taking risks, trying new things and redefining the modern library. EPL invites thought-leaders from a variety of industries to share their insights, ideas, experiences and viewpoints. Its purpose is to help build better organizations, neighborhoods and communities.

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A nominal admission price to Forward Thinking Speaker Series presentations supports EPL fundraising activities and helps ensure attendance to our events. We also want to ensure EPL’s Forward Thinking Speaker Series events are inclusive. If the ticket price is a barrier, please contact

Featured Speaker

From Polarization to Collaboration: An Evening with Irshad Manji presented by Edmonton Community Foundation
June 8 at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets available through the Citadel Theatre

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Today, inclusion is too often practiced as a win-lose game. Canada’s own Irshad Manji is changing the game, and — she invites Edmontonians to join her.

As the founder of Moral Courage College, Professor Manji teaches people worldwide how to discuss polarizing issues productively. Her unique message: a culture of belonging is defined less by what any of us believes than by how we communicate our divergent beliefs.

Put simply, are we able to engage about sensitive subjects without intimidating, censoring, or outright cancelling each other? Ask your own questions, push back with your dissent, and find out how to reconcile free speech with social justice. Because diversity — of people and perspectives — does not have to mean division.

This event will be moderated by reporter Tara McCarthy from Edmonton AM on CBC Radio One. “From Polarization to Collaboration: An Evening with Irshad Manji” is presented in partnership with Edmonton Community Foundation. 

About Irshad Manji

Irshad Manji is the founder of Moral Courage College, which teaches people worldwide to turn contentious issues into constructive conversations — and shared action. Its signature program, Diversity Without Division, equips businesses, schools, and community organizations to practice a uniquely unifying method of inclusion.

The recipient of Oprah's "Chutzpah Award" for boldness, Prof. Manji is also a New York Times bestselling author. Her latest book is Don't Label Me: How to Do Diversity WIthout Inflaming the Culture Wars. (Fun fact: Chris Rock calls the book “genius.”)

A prize-winning leadership scholar at New York University for many years, Prof. Manji now teaches with Oxford University’s Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights. African by birth, Canadian by citizenship, American by address and international by reach, she says that the only label she can embrace for herself is “plural.”

About Tara McCarthy

Tara McCarthy is the traffic, weather and community reporter for Edmonton AM on CBC Radio One. Born and raised in Ontario, she moved to the Yukon in 2007 to start her radio career as a morning show co-host on CHON FM and eventually started working at CBC Yukon as a fill-in host. She then relocated to Alberta in 2019 to join the CBC Edmonton team. Aside from radio, Tara was the editor of Yukon, North of Ordinary, the official inflight magazine for Air North, from 2012-2019. During that time she won Gold at the 2018 International Regional Magazine Association Awards for her profile feature “Northern Haute Couture.”


Event Partners

Upcoming Speakers

Jann Arden: My Story presented by Edmonton Community Foundation
Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets on sale Wednesday, May 10 at 10:00 a.m. on

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During this speaking event, Jann Arden shares her personal journey, exploring the importance of adaptability and being built for change, and how to find the good — and the funny — in all situations, even the most challenging.

About Jann Arden

Jann Arden is a multi-platinum, award-winning singer, songwriter, actor, and author. She can bring a hall full of people to tears through song, only to have them rolling in the aisles moments later from her off-the-cuff comedy. Whether she’s performing her music, hosting an event, or telling her deeply personal and affecting stories, Arden’s wisdom and wit shine in everything she does.

Arden catapulted onto the Canadian music scene in 1993, with the release of her debut album, Time for Mercy. Since then, she has released 15 albums with 19 top-10 singles, and has received eight Juno Awards, including “Female Artist of the Year” and “Songwriter of the Year.” She has also been recognized with 10 SOCAN Awards and four Western Canadian Music Awards, among many other accolades. In 2020, Arden was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. She has also been honoured with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame and been named to the Order of Canada.

A brilliant multi-dimensional talent, Arden is currently starring in the wildly popular CTV show, Jann, where she plays a fictionalized, self-deprecating version of herself. Now in its third season, the first season was the most-watched new Canadian comedy series of the 2018-19 broadcast season. Other screen credits include guest appearances on Wynonna Earp, Private Eyes, and Workin’ Moms.

Arden is the author of five books, with the most recent being her memoir If I Knew Then: Finding Wisdom in Failure and Power in Aging. This followed the Canadian bestseller Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss, which spent a combined 44 weeks on the Globe and Mail’s bestseller lists.

This event will be moderated by award-winning journalist and co-host of This Morning on 630 CHED, J’lyn Nye.

About J'lyn Nye

J'lyn Nye is an award winning journalist who worked for more than 2 decades in television stations across Western Canada. Her television career began in Thunder Bay, before working for Global Television in both Regina and Edmonton.

In 2008, she left television for radio – and is currently co-hosting This Morning on 630 CHED in Edmonton. In 2004 J’lyn won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award from the American Radio and Television News Directors Association for her documentary “Return to Normandy” which she wrote and produced.

She writes and emcee’s the annual Provincial Remembrance Day Service in Edmonton, was a writer for Project Heroes and is the Patron of the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre at Edmonton. In 2015 J’lyn was named Honorary Colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based in Edmonton. She has been nominated for and won many industry awards, for breaking news reports and series on a variety of topics including crystal methamphetamine and prostitution. She has been named one of Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 and twice nominated as a Woman of Distinction in the city.

She is a strong supporter of the Canadian military, volunteers many hours to groups working to end domestic violence in Edmonton as well as the Angels Anonymous Connection which grants wishes to terminally ill adults.


Past Speakers

Art Spiegelman has almost single-handedly brought comic books out of the toy closet and onto the literature shelves. In 1992, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his masterful Holocaust narrative Maus— which portrayed Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus II continued the remarkable story of his parents’ survival of the Nazi regime and their lives later in America. Spiegelman believes that in our post-literate culture the importance of the comic is on the rise, for “comics echo the way the brain works. People think in iconographic images, not in holograms, and people think in bursts of language, not in paragraphs.” 

The Pulitzer Prize-winning artist spoke on February 21, 2023 during the first Forward Thinking Speaker Series event of 2023, “A Conversation with Art Spiegelman”. During this event, Spiegelman was in conversation with best-selling author Sandra S.G. Wong where they discussed his career, the recent banning of Maus and his art.

About Art Spiegelman

Having rejected his parents’ aspirations for him to become a dentist, Art Spiegelman studied cartooning in high school and began drawing professionally at age 16. He studied art and philosophy at Harpur College before becoming part of the underground comix subculture of the 60s and 70s. As creative consultant for Topps Bubble Gum Co. Spiegelman created Wacky PackagesGarbage Pail Kids, and other novelty items, and taught history and aesthetics of comics at the School for Visual Arts in New York. In 2007 he was a Heyman Fellow of the Humanities at Columbia University where he taught a Masters of the Comics seminar.

Spiegelman co-founded RAW, the acclaimed avant-garde comics magazine, with his wife, Françoise Mouly—Maus was originally serialized in the pages of RAW. He and Mouly also co-edited Little Lit, a series of three comics anthologies for children published by HarperCollins (“Comics-They’re not just for Grown-ups Anymore”). He and Mouly started Toon Books publishing easy to read comics for children. They co-edited the anthology A Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics published by Abrams.

Maus was called “the first masterpiece in comic book history” by The New Yorker. It has received several awards including the Pulitzer Prize, the Angoulême International Comics Festival Best Foreign Album Award, the Eisner Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. In 2009 it was chosen by the Young Adult Library Association as one of its recom-mended titles for all students. In 2020 the New York Public Library voted Maus: A Survivor’s Tale one of the 125 most important books of the last 125 years. He wrote Meta Maus, a companion to The Complete Maus – about why he wrote Maus. MetaMaus was awarded the 2011 National Jewish Book Award, and a 2012 Eisner Award.





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