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Carole Cadwalladr to speak at True North Festival in Kitchener-Waterloo

Carole Cadwalladr.
Carole Cadwalladr. Everett Collection

Pulitzer-nominated reporter Carole Cadwalladr has been announced as the opening speaker for this year’s True North Festival in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Cadwalladr, who writes for the British-based Observer, was a driving force behind unlocking the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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The True North Festival is now in its third year after being launched in 2018 by Communitech.

The organizations’s vice-president of marketing and events, Saj Jamal, says he tracked her down the new-fashioned way.

He says he spoofed “some email addresses of The Guardian and the Observer and … then having a phone conversation with her and telling her, you know, this is what we do here.”

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Jamal says he spoke with her on the phone about the festival’s mission, which is to find ways for the tech world to “do better,” and she was very excited by the opportunity.

In addition to Cadwalladr, there will be summits on the Centre Stage including one on Tech for Good and another on data innovation.

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But this year, the event will grow by leaps and bounds to include several other major events and spread from a two-day event to a week-long festival.

“In the first couple of years, we kind of had to do it on our own because it was an idea that we were behind,” Jamal said. “Our model is always lead, show what can be done, and then get everybody else bought in.

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“So this year, going more from a conference theme to a festival saying we’re bigger and better together.”

Truth North will now share centre stage over the course of the week with the Open Ears Festival of Sound and Music as well as with Start-Up Open House.

“Start-Up Open House partnered with Doors Open Waterloo, I believe it was two years ago, and really saw a ton of success in terms of attracting and giving more options,” says Candace Beres, manager of public relations for Communitech. “So I think it’ll be similar, similarly successful here for True North.”

There has been no official announcement as to which firms will open their doors but Jamal says to expect between 50 and 80 of the Region’s 1,4000 tech companies to participate.

“There will be the small ones, the big ones, the middle-sized ones,” he explained, while noting that visitors can discover what problems are they tackling.

“It’s good, again for anybody to go find out what is this tech scene.”

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Jamal says having the ION system up and running has really opened up the possibilities

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Having the ION LRT made a big difference because we don’t have one venue you could do all of the things at but we have multiple venues across town,” he explained. “And so now through the route, that’s 15 minutes you can get from any place to any other place.

“So you could be at the Perimeter Institute, going to a seminar there and you could hop on an ION to get back here or see a Centre in the Stage keynote, and once you’ve done that, you can head down to back to Waterloo for the stages where the bands are going to be playing.”

The lineup of bands is expected to be announced in the coming weeks along with many other events, according to Beres.

“We only have … an inkling on the website in terms of everyone who is planning programing,” says Candace Beres, manager of public relations for Communitech.

“There’s a lot more that’s going to be announced in the next couple of weeks.”