2017 Speakers

This is the updated list of exciting speakers for The 7th annual Toronto Disability Pride March coming up on September 23, 2017.


Diem Lafortune 

Photo of Diem Lafortune

Diem does not take life lying down. She’s a fighter, a champion, an activist & a believer in guardian angels. She’s also a singer/songwriter whose varied life experience – from cab driver, to actor, photographer, college professor, constitutional appellate lawyer and near politician & provides a rich source for her powerful music. Currently, she works with KAIROS CANADA in various roles as a member of the KAIROS BLANKET EXERCISE TEAM. She has been an advocate for dignity and respect for people with disabilities for many decades – advocating wherever there are barriers.

D!ONNE Renée

Picture of D!ONNE Renée


Working with Community to ensure that we feel like we have the ability to live & thrive!

Together we succeed!

White banner with Together we Succeed! written in green

Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Dorothy Ellen Palmer is a disabled senior writer, Mom, retired teacher and union activist. She volunteers as an accessibility consultant in the literary community and her memoir, This Redhead and her Walker Walk into a Bar will be published by Wolsak and Wynn.

Kaarina Wilson

Picture of Kaarina Wilson

At the age of twenty-five, Kaarina Wilson was diagnosed with systemic scleroderma, primary biliary cholangitis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and fibromyalgia. It changed her life dramatically and she became passionate about speaking out about chronic illness. She has participated in panels at the Sherbourne Health Centre and at a conference for the Association of Ontario Health Centres. She has also spoken six times at South Riverdale Community Health Centre events. She has worked with the South Riverdale Community Health Centre’s Choose Health program for the past three years as a Chronic Pain Self-Management Peer Facilitator. She also enjoys blogging, poetry, and playing with every cat she comes across!!

Kevin Jackson

Photo of Kevin Jackson
Kevin is one of the key organizers of the Toronto Disability Pride March (TDPM). Formerly, Kevin has been the Vice-chair of the Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO), board member of the Canadian Disability Studies Association (CDSA-ACEI), Chair of the Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto (PSAT), member of the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project (LACP), and a Mad Pride 2011 organizer. Kevin’s primary focus is on researching Mad people’s histories concealed within Ontario psychiatric institutions. He is a graduate of the Master’s degree program in Critical Disability Studies at York University (2016).

Mala Kashyap

Mala identifies as a person with a mental health disability. She returned to post-secondary education to finish her undergraduate degree later in life. As a student at the University of Toronto, Mala currently serves as the President of the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students (APUS). She has formerly served as the Vice President-Equity of APUS, and as a board member for Students for Barrier-Free Access (SBA). In all of these roles, Mala advocates for a strong mental health framework within the post-secondary student movement and for the inclusion of people with mental health disabilities at all levels of our institutions.

Martin Levine

Martin Levine is a survivor who endured over 20 years incarcerated in an institution for what was referred to as the “feeble-minded”. In 1952, at the tender age of 9 he was placed in the “Ontario Asylum for Idiots”, which was later to be called the Huronia Regional Centre. He was also part of the recent class-action law suit between institution survivors of Huronia and the provincial government. He has been a self-advocate and a leader in People First for over 35 years. People First is the only autonomous self-advocacy group for people labelled with an intellectual disability. Martin is currently the president of the People First Toronto chapter. He is also co-author of a academic paper that has just been published called “Self-Advocacy from the Ashes of the Institution” published in the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

Melissa Graham

Photo of Melissa Graham

Melissa is the founder and one of the key organizers for the Toronto Disability Pride March. Graham is an activist involved in disability issues throughout Ontario and other social justice concerns. She has written about disability issues in various publications as well as on her blog, “Sit Down, Fight Back”. Melissa served on the Disability, Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee for the City of Toronto from May 2012 to December 2015, and she was recently elected as Vice President of Citizens with Disabilities Ontario in June 2017. She’s also been known to enjoy the occasional wheelchair bungee jump.

Young Fairy

I’m a proud differently abled, mentally ill, low income Two Spirited Girl Youth Pagan and Buddhist of Ojibway, Irish and Scottish heritage. It’s important to me to rebel against ableism, mentalism, transphobia, homophobia, classism, colonialism and oppression against people who practice a tradition that’s different from society’s Christian British supremacist norms.


Please check in for updates as we get closer to march day, September 23rd.