Shachi Kurl

Working in the public’s interest means exploring the cultural and political issues that pull us together.

Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute

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Shachi Kurl | Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Where are we heading—culturally, politically, economically? As the Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl asks important questions and reveals what we really think about them. She takes what she calls a “kitchen-table approach” when talking about today’s most vital issues. In clear language, she gets to the heart of major shifts, offers practical takeaways, and shows us why it all matters.

As Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl can be found offering analysis on CBC’s “At Issue,” Canada’s most-watched political panel, as well as in The Globe and Mail, the National Post, and other influential forums. At the Institute—one of North America’s premier nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and public opinion polling organizations—she works to further public knowledge, debunk myths, and contribute to debate and discussion in meaningful ways, enhancing the understanding of issues that matter to Canada and the world. She brings nearly two decades of public policy expertise to her role, spending the first part of her career as political reporter.

 

Kurl is a recipient of the prestigious Jack Webster Award for Best TV Reporting. Along with former Australian and UK Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Margaret Thatcher, she is an Alumnus of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Her expertise has been sought by policymakers who have invited her to testify before parliamentary committees at the House of Commons. She holds a degree in Journalism and Political Science from Carleton University. 

Speech Topics

Social Change
Where Are We Headed? And Where Are We Now? An Informed Look at Today’s Most Important Issues

As a keynote speaker, Shachi Kurl takes a “kitchen table” approach to discussions of economic, cultural, and political exigency. That means she’s an expert at breaking big, complicated ideas down into everyday language, and showing groups and individuals why they matter. Jobs, health care, immigration, education, US/Canadian trade and political relations, all the way to the state of social media, entertainment, and access to technology—no topic is too large, or too broad. And she does this with humor, disarming charisma, and the timeless appeal of informed, insightful commentary. 

 

As the Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Kurl looks at the ripples, waves, and major tides of public opinion. And as a leading nonpartisan research organization, Angus Reid isn’t beholden to private or government interests; in fact, it isn’t beholden to profits, period. Which means Kurl can guide and frame the narrative around issues that pull us together, free of obligation to some third-party guiding her hand. It also means she can debunk harmful myths that could otherwise have serious consequences. Why? Because these issues matter; because they matter to ordinary people who are concerned about their future; and, sometimes, simply, because it’s good to know! So pull up a chair to Shachi Kurl’s frank kitchen table talk, and come away knowing so much more. 

Gender & Sexuality
Women in Leadership Taking Professional Risks—and Getting Exactly What You Want

Today, women still encounter numerous obstacles at work. Old-boy networks, job segregation, a pernicious, stubborn pay gap, sexual discrimination, and other hurdles are still very much a part of daily life. But there’s another impediment to equity and success, argues Shachi Kurl, and often unique to women: and that’s a “risk-averse” mentality, instilled from an early age and usually difficult, but not impossible, to erase.

 

In this talk, perfect for professional women—or anyone looking to gain insight, improve gender inequalities, and get inspired—Kurl outlines her own unconventional career path in the worlds of media and policy. Moving from bullied kid to television journalist to lobbyist to pollster with Angus Reid, Kurl has learned that attaining professional success as a woman has meant gaining an appetite for risk—and that means learning how to negotiate with confidence and to ask for what you really want. With humor and charm, she encourages people of all genders to know their worth, know when to say ‘no,’ and never, ever be afraid to say ‘yes’ to amazing opportunities.

Canadian Politics
What Makes Us ‘Canadian’? Multiculturalism, Accommodation, & Integration in Today’s Canada

As Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute, Shachi Kurl was instrumental in conducting a wide-ranging study of the “values, beliefs, priorities, and identity” of Canadians in 2016. The results offered a surprising portrait of the way we think about cultural integration. Despite 40 years of official multicultural policy, Canadian beliefs have indeed changed: the majority now favours domestic prosperity over responding to the needs of people in crisis around the world. Fewer Canadians support multiculturalism as a concept. And more would prefer to see immigrants do more to fit in with mainstream culture, even at the expense of keeping their own customs, languages, and beliefs.

 

However, these results don’t mean Canada is no longer an accepting place. In this keynote, Shachi Kurl offers a fascinating, data-informed reflection on belonging and diversity in Canada. Drawing upon her own background as a first generation Canadian, Kurl speaks on what our social contract really means (and how it's evolved). Ultimately, Kurl argues, Canada is still a place that embraces newcomers and celebrates cultural differences. But this recognition doesn’t mean we aren’t striving for some measure of cultural connectivity. We are, as Kurl reveals, a deeply practical people; and everyone has a role to play in building a thriving and cohesive nation.