Close this search box.
The Victoria Forum 2024
The Victoria Forum 2024 - Bridging Divides: Turf, Trust and Truth

Day 2 - Plenary Session 1

August 29, 2022, 8:15-9:30 PST

Bridging Social Divides: Social Exclusion in the COVID Era: Challenges, Experiences, Pathways To Change (Plenary)

Covid-19 has highlighted the magnitude of inequalities and their spread worldwide. It has also shone a spotlight on the many ways in which these inequalities are interconnected and lead to people the world over becoming marginalised and socially excluded. Any pathways toward our common goals of people, planet, and prosperity will need to place action on social exclusion at their heart. Although an immense crisis, where many aspects of life and livelihoods have been upended, Covid-19 may offer us an opportunity to think outside the box, and to act accordingly. In this plenary panel we aim to address the following questions:

  • What have we learned about Covid-19’s impact on different forms of social exclusion, driven by multiple inequalities?
  • What are priority areas for action to address social exclusion of those who are experiencing the worst impacts of the pandemic?
  • What pathways might we now take to tackle social exclusion in ways that help bridge social divides, leading us to build forward differently?


  • Jill Hanass-Hancock image

    Jill Hanass-Hancock

    South African Medical Research Council
    Jill Hanass-Hancock image

    Jill Hanass-Hancock

    Senior Specialist Scientist South African Medical Research Council

    Prof. Dr. Jill Hanass-Hancock is Senior Specialist Scientist at South African Medical Research Council. She is a scientist focusing on the vulnerabilities and needed adaptations to enhance inclusion of people with disabilities in HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programmes in Southern Africa. She has investigated accessibility of sexuality education, inclusive and integrated HIV and SRHR care and the integration of rehabilitation services into key public health programmes such as HIV.

    She has a strong policy and programme development background and her work does not only contribute to science but also informs local, national government and the work of international agencies such as UNAIDS or UNFPA. She has been ranked in the top 1% of scholars writing about disabled persons over the past 10 years – a level deemed as “Expert.” Quoting Jill: “The current COVID-pandemic has highlighted the inequality between those with and without disabilities again. The pre-pandemic inequalities deepened and the needs of people with disabilities were only an afterthought. Under crisis conditions the SRHR needs of women with disabilities have become a forgotten agenda as we are dealing here with several levels of marginalization: COVID and its inequality in responses, disability and gender”. She will be speaking in the plenary on Mental Health and disability – particularly with perspectives on how those experiencing challenges related to disability and mental health have already faced an enormous impact from the pandemic and are likely to continue doing so as Covid-19 casts its long shadow.

  • Kate Higgins image

    Kate Higgins

    Cooperation Canada
    Kate Higgins image

    Kate Higgins

    Chief Executive Officer Cooperation Canada

    Kate is an accomplished leader and experienced manager, with over fifteen years of experience in international development, civil society, think tanks, and government. She was previously Deputy Executive Director of Oxfam Canada, where she has led the organization’s work on strategy and communications and spearheaded a number of organizational change initiatives. Before joining Oxfam, Kate worked for CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations, where she led strategy development and the organization’s work on data, sustainable development and citizen action.

    She has held senior policy and research roles at the North-South Institute and the Overseas Development Institute, leading work on chronic poverty, protracted conflict, women’s economic justice and international assistance and building several global, multi-stakeholder initiatives. Kate started her career at the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), working on the Indonesia and Papua New Guinea programs. She has lived and worked in Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Thailand and Uganda and has undertaken missions in several other countries. Kate has degrees in economics and development studies from the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney.


  • Ilona Kickbusch image

    Ilona Kickbusch

    Global Health Centre
    Ilona Kickbusch image

    Ilona Kickbusch

    Founder and Chair Global Health Centre

    Professor Ilona Kickbusch is the Founder and Chair of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Professor Kickbusch key interests relate to the political determinants of health, health in all policies and global health. She is the founder of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute, Geneva. She advises countries and organizations on their global health strategies and trains health specialists and diplomats in global health diplomacy. She continues to advise the WHO. She is a member of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. She acts as Council Chair to the World Health Summit in Berlin and is vice-president of the European Health Forum Gastein.

    She has been involved in German G7 and G20 activities relating to global health and the global health initiatives of the German EU presidency in 2020. She chaired the international advisory board for the development of the German global health strategy. She publishes widely and serves on various commissions and boards. She initiated the @wgh300 list of women leaders in global health. She is program chair of the leaders in health network SCIANA. She is co-chair of a Lancet FT Commission on “Governing health futures 2030: growing up in a digital world.” She continues to advise the World Health Organization. Professor Kickbusch has had a distinguished career with the World Health Organization.

    She was key instigator of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion and WHOs Healthy Cities Network and has remained a leader in this field. She was the director of the Global Health Division at Yale University School of Public Health and responsible for the first major Fulbright Programme on global health. She has published widely and received many prizes and recognitions. She has been awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz) in recognition of her “invaluable contributions to innovation in governance for global health and global health diplomacy.

  • Oliver Schmidtke image

    Oliver Schmidtke

    University of Victoria
    Oliver Schmidtke image

    Oliver Schmidtke

    Professor University of Victoria

    Dr. Oliver Schmidtke is a Professor in Political Science and History at the University of Victoria where he has also served as the director of the Centre for Global Studies in Victoria since 2011.

    He received his PhD from the European University Institute in Florence and has been a JF Kennedy Fellow at Harvard University, a visiting scholar at Humboldt University Berlin, a F. Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, a Marie Curie Fellow at Hamburg University, and a research fellow at the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study.

    His research interests are in the fields of the politics and governance of migration, citizenship, nationalism, democracy, and populism. Oliver Schmidtke is a regular contributor to national and international media. He has published 15 authored & edited volumes and over 80 journal articles/ chapters.



  • Paul Genest image

    Paul Genest

    Power Corporation of Canada
    Paul Genest image

    Paul Genest

    Senior Vice President Power Corporation of Canada

    Former Deputy Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, Senior Vice President, Power Corporation of Canada and Power Financial Corporation.

    Mr. Genest was appointed Senior Vice-President of Power Corporation and Power Financial in 2016.His background includes government, academia and business. He served in a number of portfolios as a deputy minister in the Ontario Government, including with Intergovernmental Affairs and Francophone Affairs.

    Mr. Genest was deputy minister responsible for oversight of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games held in Toronto in 2015. He has served in the federal government as Director of Policy and Research in the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. He held executive positions with the Council of Ontario Universities and Bell Canada and has served as adjunct professor at Glendon College, York University. A Fellow at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University, Mr. Genest is an active volunteer with a number of organizations including Pine River Institute, which provides residential rehabilitation for teenagers, the Nature Conservancy of Canada – Ontario Region, Business for the Arts, and the Alliance Française de Toronto. A champion of diversity, he has been honoured for his advocacy for the rights of the LGBTQ community. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

    Mr. Genest holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours (graduating cum laude) in English and Philosophy from the University of Guelph, a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa, and a PhD in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School and has completed the Rotman School of Management, Institute of Corporate Directors – Directors Education Program (ICD.D).

Co-Hosted By

Founding Sponsors

Event Sponsors