Program and Speakers

The Unconference of Hope and Bold School Climate Action

The Unconference Schedule is HERE. There are more workshops to come – check back regularly for the latest updates!


How to be hopeful in an era of climate doomism: An evidence-based practice for all

Elin Kelsey

Thursday, April 4th @ 8:45am

Dr. Elin Kelsey is an esteemed author, educator, and environmentalist who is leading a global movement of evidence-based hope to amplify climate solutions and effective engagement with the climate justice crisis. She seamlessly bridges the gap between academia and the general public. With a Ph.D. in Communications and International Environmental Policy, she holds academic positions at the University of Victoria, Canada, and Western Washington University, Bellingham, USA. She is a renowned expert in Climate Emotions and translating complex scientific concepts into accessible narratives. Her acclaimed books, including “Hope Matters” and “You Are Stardust,” inspire a deep connection with nature and foster environmental stewardship. Elin’s captivating speaking engagements, global recognition, and profound insights make her a powerful advocate for positive change in our relationship with the environment.

The Transformative Power of Schools: Schools at the Heart of the Climate Movement

Jason McLennan

Friday, April 5th @ 8:45am

Considered one of the world’s most influential individuals in the field of architecture and green building movement today, Jason is a highly sought out designer, consultant and thought leader around the planet. He is the recipient of the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Prize (the planet’s top prize for socially responsible design). He has been called the ‘Steve Jobs’ of the green building industry, a “World Changer” by GreenBiz magazine and has been selected as the Award of Excellence winner for Engineering News Record – one of the only individuals in the architecture profession to have won the award in its 52-year history.


Participants will choose from more than 25 interactive and practical workshops facilitated by leaders in schools, not-for-profits, and organizations, and leave with new ideas, strategies, tools and networks to drive ambitious climate action in their school communities. Join our mailing list to keep up to date as new workshops are added to the schedule!

Connecting Communities: The Break The Divide Approach to Climate Emotions  

Aruzhan Kani (Aria), Program Manager at Break The Divide

Our immersive “Connecting Communities: The Break The Divide Approach to Climate Emotions” workshop is designed to deepen your understanding of climate emotions, foster community resilience, and inspire you to take meaningful steps toward climate action. Led by Program Manager at Break The Divide, participants will embark on a journey to understand the concept of environmental identity, drawing from personal experience with the environment and climate change worldwide and within Canada. Participants will also learn about BTD and its mission to support young people in navigating their climate emotions and taking community-based climate action. Through various discussions and fun activities, participants will gain insight into the Break The Divide model of “apathy to empathy to action,” understanding its significance in fostering connection and confidence in discussing climate-related concerns. By the end of the session, participants will feel more connected with one another, equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage in meaningful conversations about climate emotions and drive positive change in their communities.  

How Schools Can Make an Impact with Solar 

Zac Joliffe, Business Development at VCT Group

We will share the story of how our solar installation came to be – from classroom to rooftop at Hillfield Strathallan College. We will take participants through a 101 on solar, and how it works in Ontario as compared with other jurisdictions. There will be a live demo, using schools represented in the workshop, of how we start with a school address and conduct a site assessment, build a model, and how that translates into carbon impacts, how to calculate the return on investment. We will also introduce the idea of power purchase agreements as another option for schools. There will be lots of time for Q&A. Participants will be invited to consider how solar could have an impact in their school community.


Starting Ecosystem Restoration Projects at Schools: Partnerships, Education and Action

Tamara Smith, Director of Service, Stewardship and Sustainability & Eric Davies, Forest Ecologist

In this workshop, our climate action team will describe how they are developing educational programs for integrating students into the process of ecosystem inventory, restoration and management. We will share our experience and advice for establishing collaborative partnerships with local neighbours, stakeholders, NGO’s and municipalities to improve the ecological health and functionality of neighbourhood ecosystems. Under the guidance of our forest ecologist, Eric Davies, this workshop will show participants how to start/grow ecosystem restoration projects at their schools. Our team will provide a brief overview of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources manual called ‘A Guide to Stewardship Planning for Natural Areas’. Eric Davies will describe his role as a Managed Forest Plan Approver with the OMNR, sketch the basic of writing and approving forest inventory, restoration, and management plans. The workshop will allow time to discuss successes or roadblocks experienced by the participants in their contexts.


The SUS Hub

AC Sustainability Council

The Sustainability Hub (affectionately referred to as the SUS Hub) is a BAG, GREEN NEXUS for all things sus-related at Appleby College. The hub originated as a student-led initiative and includes a recycling centre, water bottle refull station, notice board, a couple of areas for interactive activities like our SUS POLLS, and of course … lots of plants! It extends to the exterior and will soon include brand-new artwork made of non-recyclable plastic and an Indigenous friendship garden. We are bringing our Sus Hub to the Unconference – come by and check out some of the green initiatives that have helped bring our community together! 

Unlocking the transformative power of food literacy / orality towards embodying ecological ways of knowing

Michael Sacco,  Founder & CEO of ChocoSol Traders

Inquiry based approach to tasting and savouring the Indigenous knowledge and food wisdom embedded in hominy maize, and cacao. Touch, taste, smell, reflection, kinetic action, and story are used to reflect upon maize and cacao in an intercultural framework that looks at the opportunities for connecting “saveur” and “savoir”, or “sabor” and “sabiduria”. Food is a powerful symbolic and meaningful vehicle for regenerative actions both in the body, at the family table, and on campus. The key is to move from passive consuming, to mindful food customs. In this sense food is not just good to taste, good for you, and good for the soil, but also good to think. 

Youth at the Heart of the Climate Movement

Moderator: Sidney Howlett, M.Ed Candidate & Researcher

Panelists: Shirley Barnea Intern at The Climate Reality Project, Aria Khan, Program Manager at Break the Divide, and 2 High School Interns in Hamilton’s Green Venture Program

Discover the diverse and dynamic stories of young leaders making waves in the climate space during this thought-provoking panel discussion. Get inspired by their work and gain a deeper understanding of the pivotal role the next generation plays in shaping the future of our planet.

Dive into the compelling narrative of young climate leaders in this engaging panel discussion! Discover the diverse and dynamic stories of these inspiring individuals who are actively shaping the climate space. Gain fresh perspectives and insights into the innovative approaches they employ to address pressing environmental challenges. Prepare to be inspired by the impactful work of the next generation and develop a deeper understanding of their crucial role youth play in shaping the future of our planet. 

Flower to Hive to Bottle

Dave Stotesbury, Environmental Activist

Join Dave – The Beekeeper for an enlightening “Flower to Hive to Bottle” demonstration. Watch as he carefully extracts frames of honey, guiding you through the fascinating journey of honey production. Discover the incredible process of how honey bees collect nectar from flowers and transform it into the delicious honey we enjoy. Dave’s straightforward talk highlights the remarkable teamwork and intricate efforts of these industrious bees. From the hive to the bottle, this demonstration is a simple yet captivating exploration of nature’s sweet alchemy, offering a glimpse into the essential role honey bees play in pollination and honey production

Learning Landscape Walking Tour

John Hannah, Teacher

Join us for a walk around HSC’s Learning Landscape. We’ll explore opportunities for school ground infrastructure that mitigates impacts of climate change, supports local biodiversity and provides opportunities for every student to get outside and learn every day. 

Navigating the Climate Crisis: A Practical Guide for Building Emotional Resilience

Sidney Howlett, Masters of Education Student & Research Analyst, Lakehead University

In this interactive workshop, participants will delve into the emotional responses that students may experience when confronted with the realities of the climate crisis, whether through personal experience, observation, or education. Through discussions and collaborative activities, participants will explore practical, empirically-supported strategies to cultivate emotional resilience for the climate crisis.  

A Heads, Hands & Heart approach to Climate Change Education 

Stephanie Leite, PhD Candidate and Curriculum Designer 

Climate Change education is about more than learning information – it’s about equipping students to take action and grapple with climate-related emotions. Integrating information, action and emotion in lessons requires a”head, hands and heart” approach. In this session, participants will learn about this approach to climate change education by: (1) interrogating the layers of course outlines and lesson plans, (2) analyzing specific curricular artifacts, and (3) learning how to write or revise learning outcomes and assessments that balance knowledge, action and emotions. Specific examples such as rubrics and student work will be shared, and participants are invited to bring their own course materials to workshop during the session. 

Biomimicry & Regenerative Climate Action 

Danielle Delhaes, Experienced Educator & Certified Biomimicry Faciliatator 

Imagine tapping into the wisdom of 3.8 billion years of research and innovation to design a thriving world where humans are (re)connected with Nature! Biomimicry is the conscious emulation of Nature’s genius to create designs that serve human needs while also creating regenerative conditions that allow all life to thrive.

Join this workshop to explore what Biomimicry Design Thinking is and how it can lead to regenerative solutions for climate action. 

Activism for All

Shirley Barnea, Environmental Activist

Does the urgency of the climate crisis warrant hanging off of a bridge and blocking traffic during rush hour? What about throwing a can of soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers? Or signing a petition, writing a letter to your MP, talking to your friends and family, going to a protest or attending a city council meeting?

This workshop will explore the complex and fascinating topic of activism, and the diverse forms it can take. Through discussions and interactive exercises, participants will discover what it means to be an activist, and what kind of activism is right for each of them. We will also discuss the importance of keeping activism peaceful, and what this means. Participants will come out of this workshop equipped with the can-do activist mindset and a newfound awareness of their own agency, ready to take on the issues they care about!

Crash Course in Engaging Students in Climate Change Education (P/J/I/S)

Pam Miller, Instructional Leader in the TDSB Sustainability Office

Teaching climate change can be complicated, challenging and depressing! How can we deepen student engagement and at the same time inspire hope for taking action against the climate crises. Join us for a “crash course” that includes brushing up on background knowledge in climate science, exploring a curated collection of educational resources, trying out instructional strategies that center justice and inclusion, and facilitating student-directed projects. The workshop will bolster educators’ confidence in their ability to teach climate change in ways that allow students to understand local impacts and contribute to the solution of bite-sized, and relevant climate-related problems.



Biomimicry for Climate Action

Danielle Delhaes, Experienced Educator and Certified Biomimicry Facilitiator

Additional pre-unconference event on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 from 10 am to 4 pm at Hillfield Strathallan College. A bus to and from the Hamilton Convention Center and lunch are included. Applying the principles of Biomimicry Design Thinking through their participation and collaboration in a design jam, participants will generate innovative ideas for regenerative climate action.