TedxToronto is returning to the city this month with a lineup of talks curated around the theme “RENEW.”

Happening over three nights at the ROM, this will be the first in-person TEDxToronto event in two years! Speakers will explore what it means to renew how we care, see, and build in this inspirational series of thoughtful conversations.

Toronto-based writer and award-winning journalist Kelly Boutsalis will be speaking on May 17, the opening night of the series. A member of the Six Nations of the Grand River community, Kelly’s work centres Indigenous voices and artists. We caught up with Kelly ahead of her TedxToronto talk to hear her thoughts on this year’s event.  

What does speaking at Tedx mean to you? How are you feeling about this opportunity?

I’m so honoured to be given the platform of a TedxToronto Talk. Would you believe there are TWO speakers from Six Nations at this event? I’m really floored that a major event in Toronto is giving space to both myself and Chandra Maracle, and that our voices are going to be heard. I’d also be more scared of the whole opportunity if I didn’t have the guidance of my coach and the whole TedxToronto team for months in advance of May 17.

The theme of these TEDxToronto talks is RENEW — what speaks to you about this theme? What does RENEW mean for you?

Living through a pandemic, and seeing the Black Lives Matter and Landback movements grow, I’m with a lot of people who are looking at things like health, education, capitalism, colonialism, community, and media, with a heightened awareness and questioning it all. 

I know that I’m doubling down with a renewed sense of purpose in my work and to my family, friends and community.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your talk? How would you describe it in 1-2 sentences?

I’m a journalist, and my identity as an Indigenous woman is part and parcel in a lot of my work, so I’ll be touching on some of my experiences and my purpose in this field. 

A common theme in your storytelling is amplifying Indigenous voices. What is something you hope people take away from your work?

That we’re everywhere. We’re in every workplace, in your community, in your school, and that we’re still here. There are so many misconceptions and stereotypes linked to Indigenous people and I want to correct the record, with each story I write.

What’s a discovery you’ve made during the pandemic that has inspired positive change in your life?

That I can speak to more than three people at a time without spiraling into a panic attack! I’ve shied away from public speaking my entire adult life, but I’ve said yes to a lot of moderating and speaking via Zoom during the pandemic. I’ve gotten more comfortable with speaking to audiences through my computer. And now I’m saying yes to a lot more opportunities that require me to stand on a stage and speak. I think that’s a good thing.

What philosophy is currently guiding your work or life?

Being curious. One of my favourite writers is Caity Weaver. Her work is so entertaining, refreshing, and impressive, and she’s said her approach to everything from writing about glitter to interviewing Justin Bieber is rooted in her curiosity.

TEDxToronto is happening from May 17 to 19 at the ROM. View the full lineup of speakers and purchase tickets here