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What do the Pope, Starling Murmurations, and Frontline Healthcare Worker Barbie All Have in Common?



Botree was lucky enough to receive an invitation to attend the 25th Speaker’s Spotlight showcase and what we learned, well, it surprised us. The fast-paced event felt like an Instagram Stories feed, jumping from one brilliant, hilarious or uncanny thought to the next. With no shortage of charisma and humour, the audience landed somewhere between inspired and joyful, with a lot to digest. But what do the Pope, starling murmurations, and a particularly intelligent Barbie doll have in common? The answer, it turns out, is a fascinating foray into some of Canada’s top minds.


To understand how the Pope figures in, we have to highlight Amber Mac. Amber is a  force in the tech community and co-host of The Feed on SiriusXM. Amber shared a shocking photographic timeline through two decades of Pope sightings. Yes, you read that correctly. Each photo, punctuated by the growing presence of smartphones, illustrated not just the ubiquity of technology but its ability to rise to the forefront of our consciousness, even the Pope’s holiest of consciousnesses. From awe to enlightenment, Amber’s presentation was an eye-opening look at how intertwined our lives and technology have become, making the divine comically relatable through the lens of a camera phone.


Next up on our connect-the-dots journey we have Dan Riskin, biologist and TV personality. Dan took us on a journey from bat tents to the sandy shores of British Columbia. His energetic, genuinely curious and unabashedly nerdy delivery and masterful storytelling captivated us all, proving that the natural world is as full of surprises and connections as any tech innovation. Riskin’s ability to relate the intricate dance of starling murmurations to the potential of human connection and coordination was nothing short of a stand-up routine disguised as a science seminar. When the audience collectively gasps, you know you have them hooked!


But how does frontline healthcare worker Barbie factor in? Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa shared her story that resonated deeply with the audience hanging on every word of her inspiring journey From confronting stereotypes to championing diversity in healthcare, Dr. Oriuwa's tale was powerful and poignant. And yes, she’s been immortalized as a Barbie doll—a frontline healthcare worker Barbie, which in the grand tapestry of the morning, seemed just about right.


The roster was rounded out by personalities such as the ever-hilarious James Cunningham, whose anecdotes left us chuckling in our seats; Dr. Ivan Joseph, who infused the room with motivation; Riaz Meghji, who reminded us of the power of genuine inquiry; and Clara Hughes, whose vulnerability about her Olympic journey was as heart wrenching as it was inspiring.


Speaker’s Spotlight managed not just to host an event, but to cultivate a microcosm of learning and laughter. They reminded us that growth often happens in the most unexpected of dialogues and that stepping into the sandbox with new ideas isn’t just about building castles; it’s about finding the connections in the sand.


So, what do they have in common? They each hold a unique piece of the puzzle that is our ever-evolving understanding of the world, and thanks to Speaker’s Spotlight, we all left a little wiser, a tad more curious, and definitely eager to see what connections tomorrow might bring.

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