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Plenaries & panels

Andrea Nemtin, Luke Anderson, Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Mathura “Temwa” Mahendren, Rye Karonhiowanen Barberstock

Centring equity and diversity in social innovation and systemic design achieves better-fit solutions that lead to lasting change. This panel of seasoned social innovators share insights and experience, shifting mindsets and applying approaches that incorporate diverse knowledge and lived experience. Through their diverse narratives, the session delves deep into the core of these essential topics and provides practical takeaways to foster sustainable and meaningful change.

This session is tailored to individuals who are interested in learning about the intersection of equity, diversity, systems thinking and design. It would be most relevant to academics, non-profits, charities, policymakers, and social innovators and changemakers.

Thanks to the Social Innovation Canada team for organising this session, hosted at OCADU as part of RSD12-TORONTO. It highlights the organisers’ shared interests in weaving equity, diversity, systems thinking, and design and the belief that centring equity and diversity in social innovation and systemic design achieves lasting change.



Andrea Nemtin, CEO Social Innovation Canada

For 25 years, Andrea Nemtin has led complex organizations and initiatives focused on creating positive social and environmental progress through strategic philanthropy, media and arts, social innovation and impact investing. In addition to roles as CEO of the Inspirit Foundation, Executive Director at Rally Assets, and President of PTV Productions, she has served in governance and advisory roles for numerous organizations. Currently, Andrea is serving as a board member for the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority, The Social Innovation Institute, Story Money Impact and Challenge for Change.

Andrea is committed to finding innovative ways to support cohesive and prosperous communities and was recognized in 2017 with a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Award for her contribution to inclusion in Canada.


Luke Anderson, Executive Director, Stop Gap

Luke is an engineer and the co-founder of StopGap, a non-profit that builds brightly coloured ramps for businesses that have barriers to entry. In 2011, Luke founded the StopGap Foundation, which has launched Community Ramp Projects across Canada. The volunteer-run campaigns not only open up previously inaccessible spaces but also build awareness about the prevalence of barriers to access.

Maryam Mohiuddin Ahmed, Senior Fellow, SI Canada; Founding Director, Social Innovation Lab; and Doctoral Researcher, University of Waterloo

Maryam’s work and research centre “dialogues of wisdoms” and explorations around alternate ways of knowing, doing and being to decolonize social innovation and entrepreneurship. At her core, Maryam believes in empowering innovators to trigger transformative change in themselves and their communities and, through that process, co-create more just, equitable and regenerative systems. She is currently a Senior Fellow at SI Canada, the JEDI+A advocate at the Waterloo Institute of Social Innovation and Resilience, and a Senior Consultant at the Center for Social Innovation. Maryam is a PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo and a runaway lawyer with degrees in International and Human Rights law from UC Berkeley and LUMS. 

Mathura “Temwa” Mahendren, Author, Dismantling the Master’s Tools (she/her) 

Mathura is a storyteller by nature and a design researcher by nurture. As the daughter of asylum-seeking refugees fleeing state-sanctioned genocide in Sri Lanka, now residing on stolen land on Turtle Island, the desire to reconcile the dissonances within her lineage often manifests in her work. Her practice is rooted in a commitment to designing and sharing tools, frameworks, and brave spaces that can hold individuals, groups, and relationships through difference, discomfort, grief, change, and, ultimately, growth. Mathura has a Bachelor of Health Sciences from McMaster University and a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation from OCAD University.

Rye Karonhiowanen Barberstock, Okwaho Network

As a Kanien’kehá:ka scholar and Dish with One Spoon geographies researcher, I spend much of my time in the field researching Indigenous law and lore of the Dish With One Spoon wampum treaty territory. When I am not in the field, I provide Indigenous relations consulting and project management services at Okwaho Equal Source, an Indigenous design-thinking firm and social enterprise. Prior to entering academia in 2016, I worked alongside Chief and Council’s in senior management providing administrative and communications services to Six Nations of the Grand River, Munsee-Delaware Nation and Oneida Nation of the Thames. I have worked in the Friendship Centre Movement, both on the ground working with urban Indigenous youth and as a national communications officer for the National Association of Friendship Centres. I also have senior level Indigenous policy experience working with the Canadian Armed Forces and Indigenous strategic planning leadership and curriculum development with the Royal Military College of Canada.

Session host

The session host, SI Canada, is a national charitable organisation working to address complex challenges and create transformational change. SI Canada supports a collaborative infrastructure to connect and enable social innovators to maximise the potential for change. Their goal is to shift social, environmental, and economic structures and systems to enable our society and Earth to thrive.

Further reading: Strategic roadmap: Introducing Social Innovation Canada / Présentation d’innovation sociale Canada | Findings From The Field.

RSD12-Toronto and RSD12-ONLINE




Citation Data

Author(s): Social Innovation Canada
Year: 2023
Title: Equity & Diversity Key to Social Innovation and Systemic Design
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Toronto, CAN | ONLINE
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 13 July 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404