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

A Conversation with Art Spiegelman

A Conversation with Art Spiegelman
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
Online Event
Free tickets are available on Eventbrite.

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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.” 

Hear from the Pulitzer Prize-winning artist on February 21, during the first Forward Thinking Speaker Series event of 2023, “A Conversation with Art Spiegelman”. During this moderated event, Spiegelman will discuss his career, the recent banning of Maus by some schools and his art.  

This virtual talk is presented during Freedom to Read Week which encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom. “A Conversation with Art Spiegelman” is presented in partnership with Calgary Public Library. 

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 Packages, Garbage 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.

This event will be moderated by author, Sandra SG Wong.

About Sandra SG Wong

Sandra SG Wong (she/her) writes fiction across genres, including the cross-genre Lola Starke novels, Crescent City short stories, and the bestselling standalone thriller, In The Dark We Forget. A Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence finalist & Whistler Independent Book Awards nominee, as well as a speaker, mentor, and hybrid author, Sandra currently chairs the DEIJB Advisory Committee for Sisters in Crime, and is an active member of Crime Writers of Color. You can join her Reader Group via

Event Partners

Past Speakers

In a talk about his new novel Beatrice and Croc Harry, Lawrence Hill discussed writing for both children and adults, the formation of racial identity, the artistic challenges he faced in using humour to explore sensitive subjects, and the joys of playing with language and inventing words for readers of all ages.
You can also watch this interview that EPL did with Lawrence Hill for Freedom to Read Week:

About Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction. In 2005, he won his first literary honour: a National Magazine Award for the article “Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden?” published in The Walrus. His first two novels were Some Great Thing and Any Known Blood, and his first non-fiction work to attract national attention was the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. But it was his third novel, The Book of Negroes (HarperCollins Canada, 2007) that attracted widespread attention in Canada and other countries.

Hill is a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. He helped create the annual common reading program "Gryphons Read" featuring BIPOC and queer writers at the the University of Guelph, and recently, in concert with Walls to Bridges, taught a third-year undergraduate memoir writing course in the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a federal penitentiary in Kitchener, Ontario.

The spread of conspiracy theories and harmful misinformation is a defining characteristic of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has led to deaths, decreased vaccine acceptance, financial loss, increased stigma, health policy challenges, and added to the chaotic information environment. We must counter this “infodemic” – especially on social media – with evidence-based communication strategies. Debunking works!

About Timothy Caulfield

Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. His interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and health policy issues has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles. He has won numerous academic and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Trudeau Foundation, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He contributes frequently for the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, and Happiness (Penguin 2012) and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015). Caulfield also has a strong social media presence and is the host and co-producer of the documentary TV series, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.

You can watch the replay of this event HERE.

The mayors' of Alberta’s largest cities, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, of Edmonton, and Mayor Jyoti Gondek, of Calgary, discussed their strategies for climate action. The talk was moderated by Laura Lynch, journalist and host of What on Earth.

Thank you to our event partners, the City of EdmontonCalgary Climate HubEdmonton Climate Hub and our media partner Edify Magazine.

One of our deepest emotional needs is to feel loved by the significant people in our lives. If you are married, the person you would most like to love you is your spouse. However, what makes one person feel loved may not make another person feel loved. In this session you will learn: the five love languages, how to discover your own primary love language and that of the other person. Choosing to express love in the primary love language of another person will enrich all of your relationships. A free online profile quiz can be found at

About Dr. Gary Chapman

Dr. Gary Chapman has been directly involved in real-life family counseling for more than 35 years. Dr. Chapman also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Chapman is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively. He has received M.R.E. and Ph.D. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and taken postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. Chapman and his wife, Karolyn, have been married for more than 45 years and reside in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Chapmans have two grown children, Shelley and Derek. Chapman is a well-known marriage counselor and director of marriage seminars. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, A Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 400 stations. The 5 Love Languages, one of Chapman’s most popular titles, topped various bestseller charts for years. It has been published in 50 languages, sold more than ten million copies and is currently on the New York Times best-seller list. 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of The 5 Love Languages book.

Activist Monica Lewinsky will be shared her battle against online harassment and how she is advocating for a safer social media environment during, An Evening with Monica Lewinsky presented by Edmonton Community Foundation. In her compelling talk, Monica addressed topics of survival, resilience, digital reputation and equality.

About Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky is a social activist in the battle against online harassment, advocating for a safer social media environment. As a public speaker, writer, and contributor to Vanity Fair she addresses such topics as survival, resilience, digital reputation and equality. Monica’s lens for these societal issues is focused by her myriad unique and profound experiences: working in government, both in the White House and the Pentagon; the investigation that resulted from her time in Washington, D.C.; involvement in media projects as both producer and subject; as an entrepreneur and designer; and lastly, education. She graduated with a degree in Psychology from Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon) and, living abroad for graduate school, earned a Master’s degree in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Lewinsky became known to the public in 1998, when it was revealed as part of a federal investigation that she had had an intimate relationship with then President Bill Clinton. Overnight, at just 24 years old, she went unwillingly, from being an entirely private individual to a public figure on the global stage. Being at the center of a legal, political and media maelstrom nearly destroyed her; her survival despite the odds is a compelling and inspiring story.

The investigation unfolded against a backdrop of a changing media landscape with the advent of both competing 24-hour News Networks and the Internet. With the birth of social media in recent years, Lewinsky saw the increasing proliferation of the perpetuation of shame and humiliation online. As someone who had experienced both, on the widest scale and at a young age, she saw that she could participate in the public discourse about online harassment and work to effect change.

Lewinsky is an Anti-Bullying Ambassador to both Bystander Revolution in the US and The Diana Award in the UK. Lewinsky is on the advisory board of Project Rockit and a founding member of the Childhood Resilience Foundation.



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