When we come together with open hearts and open minds, anything is possible. It was in this spirit that TED partnered with Destination Canada for a day of talks and performances featuring new ideas on living, seeing the world and reimagining our shared future.
The event: TED@DestinationCanada: Open is the first event TED and Destination Canada have co-hosted to spotlight leading minds who embody the incredible breadth and depth of Canadian culture. The event was hosted by TED senior curator Cyndi Stivers.
When and where: Thursday, February 23, 2023, at the TED Theater in New York City
Opening and closing remarks: From the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance for Canada, and Gloria Loree, chief marketing officer of Destination Canada
Speakers: Alysa McCall, Azim Shariff, Normand Voyer, Matricia Bauer, Lori McCarthy, Paul Bloom, Cohen Bradley, Alona Fyshe, Rebecca Darwent, Michael Green, Cameron Davis, Jiaying Zhao, Kevin Smith and Kris Alexander
Music: In the verbal version of a dance-off, the Inuit duo Silla (made up of Charlotte Qamaniq and Cynthia Pitsiulak) perform the ancient art form of katajjaq, a type of Inuit throat singing found only in the Canadian Arctic. Later in the show, singer-songwriter Mélissa Laveaux delivers a musical treat, performing two mesmerizing songs alongside bassist Sébastien Richelieu.
The talks in brief:
As Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears are being forced on land – and they’re hungry. Biologist and conservationist Alysa McCall shares what to do when you find a polar bear digging through your trash and offers inspiring solutions for protecting both the bear’s shrinking habitat and their human neighbors.
Why do we think people who work hard are “good” — even if they produce little to no results? Social psychologist Azim Shariff calls this “effort moralization”: the intuitive connection we make between hard work and moral worth, regardless of what the work produces. He explores how this mindset plays out in our work environments — leading to things like workaholism — and encourages a shift towards effort that produces something meaningful, rather than just work for work’s sake.
Take a trip to Canada’s Arctic as natural product chemist Normand Voyer explores the mysterious molecular treasures hidden in plants thriving in frigid environments. These scarcely investigated organisms could hold the key to the world’s next wonder drug, he says — so long as we work quickly enough to discover them before their ecosystems are altered by climate change.
Adopted by a white family as a child, Indigenous artist and entrepreneur Matricia Bauer, or Isko-achitaw waciy / ᐃᐢᑯ ᐃᐦᒋᑕ ᐘᒋᕀ (she who moves mountains), lost touch with her Cree heritage. Beat by beat and bead by bead, Bauer reconciled lost parts of herself by exploring the songs, stories and crafts of her culture. On a decades-long journey of re-Indigenizing herself, Bauer recites a moving poem on the ways of eagles and hawks — and illustrates the power of embracing one’s true self.
In a love letter to her native Newfoundland and Labrador, cultural storyteller Lori McCarthy shares the secret magic of this Canadian province: the rich connection between the people, the land and the food. Sharing a glimpse of the tastes, sights and generations-old stories that thrive there, McCarthy invites you to become a part of wherever you go — which could start with something as simple as sitting with a local for a cup of tea.
Have you ever done something just because you knew it was wrong? In an invitation to examine your contrarian streak, psychologist Paul Bloom shares findings from “The Perversity Project”: stories he gathered from the public of harmless (but intentional) everyday misdeeds. From sticking a finger in your friend’s ice cream to a urinal that sparked the birth of conceptual art, Bloom makes the case that, sometimes, freeing yourself from the constraints of rationality and morality can be clever, creative and even beautiful.
Haida storyteller Cohen Bradley, who holds the names of Taaydal (“coming in big”) and Gidin Kuns (“powerful eagle”) in his clan and nation, shares his culture’s perspective on legacy, weaving together stories passed on by his ancestors with his own recent story of raising a memorial pole in his ancestral village. He demonstrates the resilience of his people’s legacy despite the devastating impact of colonialism.
Is AI really as smart as people give it credit for? Researcher Alona Fyshe delves into the inner workings of AI and the human brain, breaking down how talkative tech (like ChatGPT) learns to communicate so convincingly — or not.
Boxhand. Susu. Tontine. Potlatch. These are just some of the names from around the world for philanthropy centered on formal and informal ways of giving back. Philanthropic adviser Rebecca Darwent shares how community-led practices can revolutionize and overcome the systemic racism of the philanthropic sector — and offers lessons from collective giving that could change the ways good is done.
Architect Michael Green — a mass timber pioneer who helped spark a renaissance in constructing tall buildings out of wood — introduces a new material called “FIVE,” which is derived from natural materials and based on the structure of trees and vascular plants. FIVE could revolutionize the way we build buildings, providing a strong and organic alternative to the traditional materials of concrete, steel, masonry and wood.
In a quick, inspiring talk, youth activist Cameron Davis explains why his generation — Gen Z, with its exposure to differing viewpoints online from an early age — is uniquely positioned to create meaningful change in the world by using their voices to challenge systemic biases, advocate for inclusivity and promote justice.
Is it possible for climate action to make you feel happy? Behavioral scientist Jiaying Zhao believes that’s the only way we’ll create lasting, sustainable change. From treat meals to feng shui fridges, she offers eight tricks to lower your carbon emissions while increasing your happiness.
Coastal explorer Kevin Smith tells the story of how a group of eco-tourism businesses in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia collaborated to create one of the biggest marine debris cleanups in history. The initiative was born during the COVID-19 pandemic, when tours were temporarily shut down, resulting in these once-competitive businesses coming together to propose a solution to clean up the coast and protect their livelihoods.
Where academia fails, video games often succeed, says professor of game design Kris Alexander. With high-quality audio, text and video focused with clear objectives, video games swiftly captivate minds and drive motivation — unlike a lecture hall. In an engaging display of the merits of digital play, Alexander calls for us to rethink the foundations of education and embrace the qualities of video games that can level up our learning.