Registration for the 2024 Building Community: Advancing Anti-Ableism in Education Symposium is now open!

Morning Keynotes


Yasmine Simone Gray (she/her)

Yasmine is an artist, writer, researcher, educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In her workshops, Yasmine Simone uses disability theory, original art, and storytelling as tools to explore the intersectionality of the disability community and to facilitate discussions about disability and race. Her educational journey was marked by escalating instances of anti-Black racism and ableism, with lasting impacts on her health. These experiences led Yasmine Simone to develop a deepened understanding of educational policy and practice, racial battle fatigue, and decolonial approaches to mental health. Yasmine Simone is a former member of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario Youth Action Council. She was recently onboarded as a member of Scholastic Canada’s Equity and Inclusion Advisory Panel where she will offer insights into current equity challenges spanning school, district, and classroom levels. Currently, she is crafting a collection of short stories inspired by her reflections and observations navigating the education system in Canada. Her writing has been published in Briarpatch, the Toronto Star, and the Grind. Yasmine has a Master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University.


Gillian Parekh

Dr. Gillian Parekh is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Disability Studies in Education within the Faculty of Education at York. Gillian is cross-appointed with York’s graduate program in Critical Disability studies.

As a previous teacher in special education and research coordinator with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Gillian has conducted extensive system and school-based research across Ontario in the areas of structural equity, special education, and academic streaming. In particular, her work explores how schools construct and respond to disability as well as how students are organized across programs and systems.

Afternoon Keynote


Chantal Huinink

Chantal holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Guelph and her Masters of Divinity and Masters of Social Work from Martin Luther University College at Wilfrid Laurier. She is a Registered Social Worker of Ontario, the founder of Faith and Wheelpower Ministries, a motivational speaker, author, and social justice advocate. She worked with Karis Disability Services (formerly Christian Horizons) and KidsAbility for many years, providing counselling, mentorship, and spiritual care. She was elected to Waterloo Regional Council in 2022.

Her education and experience as a woman with a physical disability has made her keenly aware of the need for holistic supports and services including consideration of physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs. In her spare time, Chantal walks her dog Mocha, swims, studies Spanish, travels, and enjoys concerts and movies.