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

PLEASE NOTE: Tickets for this event are now sold out. Thank you to everyone to for your continued support of the Forward Thinking Speaker Series. You can join the waitlist for any tickets that may get released closer to the event date by visiting the link below.

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In this moderated Q&A event, Christine Sinclair will recount her incredible story of humble beginnings in Burnaby, BC, developing a love and passion for the game of soccer. Learn how her commitment to excellence, hard work, dedication and ability to not let adversity get to her led to unbelievable successes as both a member of the Portland Thorns and Captain of the Canadian National Women’s Soccer Team.

This talk is being moderated by broadcast journalist, Caroline Salame.

Thank you to our presenting sponsor Edmonton Community Foundation.

About Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair scored her first international goal competing in the 2000 Algarve Cup. Going on to score more than 185 since then, Sinclair became the all-time leading scorer in the history of international soccer in January 2020. She was her team’s leading scorer at the 2012 London Olympics, a feat that earned her the honor of Canada’s closing ceremony flag bearer.

Christine’s been named Canadian Female Soccer Player of the Year 14 times, nominated seven times for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, and won a Gold Medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, adding to a pair of Olympic Bronze Medals captured in 2012 and 2016.

Christine has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and a full list of her honors, including those earned during her collegiate career with the University of Portland Pilots, would fill pages. Sinclair, “Sinc” or “Sincy” to her teammates, is known for her grit and humble character as much as her exceptional talent. In 2011 she broke her nose in Canada’s opening match of the Women’s World Cup, refused treatment, and played the rest of the tournament wearing a face mask.

Off the soccer pitch, Christine is an ambassador for the MS Society of Canada and a vocal advocate for gender equality.

About Caroline Salame

Caroline Salame is a former national TV Host for Canada’s No. 1 Sports Media Brand, Rogers Sportsnet. In addition to representing two of the most visible segments on the network, Caroline was responsible for producing her own content and scripts for on-air segments, interviews, features and commercials. She also worked with the Sportsnet sales team on building partnerships, brand recognition and monetizing social media platforms.

Prior to her career in TV Broadcast, Caroline worked as a Digital Host for Major League Soccer team, Toronto FC and as an Associate Producer for CBC Sports / Olympics.

At the age of 16, Caroline represented the Canadian Women’s Soccer team at the U17 World Cup in New Zealand. She then received a scholarship to play NCAA D1 soccer at West Virginia University. After suffering a career ending injury, she decided to pursue a Masters in Journalism. She would not change a single obstacle that she faced, as she believes they were detours in the right direction.

Caroline now lives in Edmonton with her husband Mike and their toothless dog, Cash. One of her biggest passions is advocating for animals in need of a home. Since adopting Cash, she has dedicated a lot of her time volunteering and working with shelters to raise awareness for those animals in need of a second chance. She constantly refers to herself as a, "crazy dog lady" and she wouldn't have it any other way!

Presenting Sponsor

Media Partner

Upcoming Speakers



Presenting Sponsor

Media Partner

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.

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.”

During this speaking event, Jann Arden shared 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.

Thank you to our presenting sponsor Edmonton Community Foundation and our event sponsor Friends of Edmonton Public Library.

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

Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative which has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing in the US. During this latest Forward Thinking Speaker Series presentation, the lawyer and Just Mercy author will share what people can do to get close to and improve social justice issues in their own communities.

About Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.

Mr. Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the United States Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-imprisonment-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.

Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America. He led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites which opened in 2018: the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. These new national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias.

Mr. Stevenson has received over 40 honorary doctoral degrees, including degrees from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Oxford University. He is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, which was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 Best Books of Nonfiction for 2014 and has been awarded several honors, including the American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal for best nonfiction book of 2015 and a 2015 NAACP Image Award. Just Mercy was recently adapted as a major motion picture. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government.



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