Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa

  Victoria, British Columbia

Opening Keynote: Mark Brand

A celebrated restaurateur and retailer, Mark Brand is best known for resurrecting the Save on Meats enterprise in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

After opening his first restaurant, Boneta, in 2007, Brand went on to open an independent clothing label and storefront called “Sharks + Hammers,” followed by the Diamond tapas restaurant and lounge, Seamonstr Sushi, his Catalog Art Gallery and lastly, his largest undertaking to date – Save on Meats.

Save on Meats had been a Vancouver landmark from the time it was originally founded in 1957, serving the local community with a butcher shop and lunch counter. Brand resurrected it, restoring the building back to its prime while becoming a leader in the charge to make his vision of a social business model independently sustainable, and at the same time support the local community.

Money generated from Save on Meats’ operations go directly towards supporting people in need. The store employs over 65 workers, many of whom live in the community and struggle with employment barriers, and boasts a meal program that serves 450 people per day, seven days a week.

Closing Keynote: Ryan Knighton

Ryan Knighton is most recently the author of C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark. When you strap a baby to her blind father and send them strolling into traffic, the only good to come of it is a funny and moving book about family, fatherhood and survival.

Knighton is also the author of Cockeyed, his internationally acclaimed memoir about going blind, growing up, and getting both wrong. A tragic tale? Enough to have been short listed for the Stephen Leacock medal for Humour, and to have been called one of the year’s hottest reads by People magazine. A movie is in the works. Knighton was awarded a fellowship to the highly competitive Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. There he developed the screenplay of his memoir. Yes, a blind man writing movies. The medium’s end is near. His adaptation of Cockeyed is currently in development as a motion picture with Jodie Foster directing. A feature documentary about Knighton was released in 2008 called As Slow As Possible. The film chronicles his participation in the longest, slowest song ever performed. It even features a talking bear. Check out Knighton has also written numerous comic essays for Esquire, The New York Times,, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, Saturday Night, Canadian Living, The Believer, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Utne Reader, among many others. His journalism has earned him a National Magazine Award nomination, and often brings him to the CBC microphones as a commentator on many subjects. He continues to write stories and screenplays in Vancouver, where he lives with his wife, daughter and pug. His next book, Nothing To See Here: Around the World in Four Senses, will collect his travel misadventures, and will educate his remaining sensorium. Every year he adds another tattoo to his collection and hopes it comes close to what he imagines. He teaches stuff at Capilano University and is a popular speaker on the university and corporate circuits. Or so they tell him.