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Maria Ressa | How to Stand Up to a Dictator
2022 SFU Vancouver Speaker Series

2022, Democracy, Media + Information

Nobel Peace Prize laureate, SFU Honorary Degree recipient and renowned journalist Maria Ressa on how democracy dies by a thousand cuts.

Renowned investigative journalist Maria Ressa received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for her fearless defense of press freedom and democracy in the Philippines as CEO and co-founder of Rappler, an online news site. For her critical reporting of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and policies, she faces multiple lawsuits and potentially over 100 years in prison yet remains resolved in her fight to speak truth to power.

Now, in her forthcoming book How to Stand up to a Dictator, Maria Ressa maps out a global network of disinformation from Duterte’s drug wars, to America’s Capitol Hill, to Britain’s Brexit, to Russian cyberwarfare to Silicon Valley and beyond.

“How to Stand Up to a Dictator is the story of how democracy dies by a thousand cuts, and how an invisible atom bomb has exploded online that is killing our freedoms.”

Join us at this SFU Vancouver Speaker Series event where Maria Ressa will discuss the threat disinformation campaigns pose to our increasingly polarized democracies. Ressa will also be formally presented with her honorary Doctor of Laws from Simon Fraser University by SFU President Joy Johnson.

Peter Klein, Professor with the UBC School of Journalism, Writing, and Media and Executive Director of the Global Reporting Centre will provide opening remarks. Santa Ono, President of the University of British Columbia will give closing remarks. Wade Grant (Musqueam First Nation) will begin this event and offer a welcome.

This SFU Vancouver Speaker Series event is presented in partnership by SFU Vancouver, SFU Public Square, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement, the Digital Democracies Institute, Ouano Foundation, the University of British Columbia and the Global Reporting Centre.

SFU Vancouver Speaker Series

The SFU Vancouver Speaker Series brings global experts to a local audience. Launched in 2012, the series builds on SFU’s rich history of community engagement by exploring critical issues to contribute to better understanding among Vancouver’s citizens through an intellectually enriching experience.

Tue, 13 Sep 2022

7:00 p.m. (PT)

Online and in-person

SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre
149 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, B.C.

Closed captioning in English will be available through the Livestream

Event partners

About Maria Ressa

Maria Ressa 

CEO of Rappler, Journalist, Author, Freedom Advocate and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Maria Ressa is the co-founder and CEO of Rappler.com, an online news organization in the Philippines. Maria’s courage and work on disinformation and 'fake news’ culminated in being awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her "efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace." Her numerous awards include being named Time’s 2018 Person of the Year and listed among its 100 Most Influential People of 2019. She has also been named one of Time's 100 Women of the Year, BBC's 100 Women 2019, and Prospect Magazine's world's top 50 thinkers 2019. 

Energetic and eloquent, Maria advises organizations and corporations on corporate governance, values, and strategy. Her experience as a journalist and an entrepreneur in the digital world makes her a sought-after keynote speaker and panelist.

A journalist for over 35 years, Ressa was CNN’s bureau chief in Manila, before working as CNN’s lead investigative reporter focusing on terrorism in Jakarta. In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, an online news platform with an ethos of a small tech start-up, starting with a team of 12 young reporters and developers. Through the power of social media, Rappler has grown into the fourth-largest news website in the Philippines with over 100 journalists. Maria has been arrested on 10 charges related to exposing the Duterte government’s corrupt practices and was convicted of cyber-libel in June. She is out on bail pending her appeal but true to form, Ressa, vows to keep fighting.

More recently, Maria is part of the founding group of The Real Facebook Oversight Board – composed of 25 academics, journalists, and activists that will rival the social media platform’s board.

Maria authored Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia and From Bin Laden to Facebook and was featured in the 2020 documentary “A Thousand Cuts,” which profiles her fearless reporting on the abuses of Duterte’s presidency, while also illustrating social media’s capacity to deceive and entrench political power.

Ressa has vowed to keep fighting and to continue Rappler’s journalism.

COVID-19 safety protocols: masks required

We require that all in-person attendees wear a mask for this event.

While mask-wearing in public indoor settings is no longer mandated under British Columbia's Public Health Act, individual business and event organizers can choose to require masks on their premises and for their events. We appreciate your continued cooperation!

We ask that you please be respectful and patient with staff, volunteers and fellow attendees and be mindful of others’ comfort levels as we all navigate the return to in-person indoor events.

Accessibility

Closed captioning in English will be available through the livestream of this event. 

A captioned video recording of the event will be emailed to all registrants after the event.

If you have any questions about accessibility for this event, please contact psqevent@sfu.ca.

Community guidelines

Our community guidelines are intended to ensure the safety of all guest speakers and event participants, and to foster honest, socially accountable dialogue at our events. Thank you for respecting our community guidelines!

  • Above all, there will be zero tolerance for those who promote violence or discrimination against others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, or disability. Anyone who incites harm towards other participants (whether through chat, video, audio or otherwise) will be removed at the discretion of our technical team and moderator.
  • Don’t assume pronouns/gender/knowledge based on someone’s name or appearance. Please refer to people using the usernames and/or pronouns they provide.
  • Take space, make space: share your perspective, and make space for other voices to be heard too. Recognize that we are all here to learn.
  • Practice self-care in whatever way you need to. If you need to get up or take a break, please do so.

Past SFU Vancouver Speaker Series events

  • Inequality, Pandemics and Climate Change featuring Richard Wilkinson

    2021, Equity + Justice, Climate + Environment, Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series

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  • The Great Derangement featuring Amitav Ghosh

    2019, Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, Arts + Culture, Climate + Environment

    Are we deranged? Acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so, given our imaginative failure in the face of global warming.

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  • Gwynne Dyer: The Populist Revolt — Its Causes and Cure

    2019, Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, Democracy

    In this SFU Vancouver Speaker Series event, journalist, author and historian Gwynne Dyer discusses how both the emotional and financial pain of unemployment have been driving populism in the U.S. and beyond, and how universal basic income could be a solution.

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  • The Future of Learning

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, 2017, Future of Work

    The future of learning is upon us. How well are universities responding to the changing world students face? How relevant are today’s educational programs for tomorrow’s challenges? How can we ensure universities serve the needs of students? How must universities evolve to ensure their approach to educating is contemporary, fulfilling, and relevant?

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  • This Changes Everything featuring Naomi Klein

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, 2016, Climate + Environment, Economy

    Join us for this special evening with Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author.

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  • The Rules of Revolt featuring Chris Hedges

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, Climate + Environment, 2015, Democracy

    In Chris Hedges' vision, the forces that drive the current climate crisis, that drive the planet beyond its carrying capacity and fuel the unfolding extinction event, are the same forces that have invaded and ultimately invalidated our so-called democratic processes. This is a largely unchecked corporate power, driven by a logic of growth and profit-making, that arguably leaves the rest of us little option other than mass disobedience and a grass roots reclaiming of the power of the streets.

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  • improv4humans (with The Sunday Service) featuring Matt Besser

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, Arts + Culture, 2014

    Few names are as synonymous with Improv as Matt Besser. A founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) along with Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts, Besser’s credits include appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Spin City, Frasier, Human Giant, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, Reno 911, Key & Peele, Parks & Recreation, & Comedy Bang! Bang!

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  • Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin & Beyond featuring David Andolfatto

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, 2014, Economy

    Professor David Andolfatto will discuss money, payments, and monetary policy in a world with cryptocurrencies. Following the lecture, Andolfatto will be joined by cryptocurrency commentators Stephen Hui and Michael Yeung for a moderated discussion.

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  • Jesse Thorn & His Podcasting Pals (with Graham Clark & Dave Shumka)

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, Arts + Culture, 2014, Media + Information

    Thorn’s talk will cover how he innovatively turned his college radio show into an independent media powerhouse, and how 12 other people, many of them his friends and colleagues, exemplify the qualities you need to make your independent artistic and career aspirations a reality in the internet age.

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  • Gwynne Dyer - Climate Wars

    Series SFU Vancouver Speaker Series, 2013, Climate + Environment

    The lecture “Climate Wars” is based on Dr Dyer's book of the same name. Drawing on interviews with scientists, policy-makers and military strategists in a dozen different countries, it explores the grave geopolitical implications of large-scale (and probably rapid) climate change. Governments are starting to make some calculations that they prefer not to discuss in front of the children.

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  • Shabana Azmi: Sex and Sensibility

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    Shabana Azmi, who is receiving an honorary degree from SFU on June 12, will speak about her life and work in cinema and activism, focusing on the attitudes towards women on screen and in society, a discussion of particular relevance due to the current political climate in India.

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  • The Right to Adequate Housing: A Talk by Miloon Kothari

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    The lecture will trace the evolution of the Right to Adequate Housing since the early 1990's concentrating on the work done by civil society campaigns and movements around the world and their influence on the interpretation of this critical human right at the UN human rights bodies. The lecture will also summarize the many obstacles that impede the implementation of this well articulated human right, including the impact of the current economic crisis in many regions of the world.

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About the event partners

Ouano Foundation

Ouano Foundation is by, for and about women of the Global Majority. We are dedicated to the realization of a Universal Declaration of Digital Human Rights with women of the Global Majority at the forefront. While they are the most disproportionately affected and harmed by digital rights abuses, they are also brave enough to imagine new futures. We are focused on giving in ways that challenge the status quo in philanthropy. We operate on a trust-based model: We share decision-making power with the people we support. They are not merely recipients of our fund, they are peers and knowledge holders. They know best how to address the urgent issues their communities face.

UBC's Global Reporting Center

The Global Reporting Centre is a non-profit organization dedicated to highlighting important neglected stories around the world. By globally collaborating with leading reporters and media organizations, they spearhead innovative ways to produce solutions-oriented journalism. The traditional approach to global journalism is competitive. Ours is collaborative. We partner with media outlets and journalists best suited to tell the story, in whatever medium fits best.

But we don’t stop there. We also work with researchers and universities to broaden our understanding of complex issues, and with local sources to ensure that our stories serve the communities we report in—whether that’s through local publications, events or translations.

We know it’s important to be connected with communities, to understand their complexities and perspectives, and to understand the long-term impact of reporting. Although this approach is more complicated, we believe that a diversity of voices, expertise, creativity and skills makes our stories better.

SFU Public Square

SFU Public Square is situated at 312 Main, a centre for social and economic innovation in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. We work across all of SFU’s campuses, supporting faculty, students, staff, alumni and diverse communities to convene accessible, innovative and inclusive programming that brings people together to find ways to meaningfully contribute to the issues that affect our lives.

Every year, we collaboratively program dozens of workshops, debates, public conversations, discussion panels and other gatherings. These spaces encourage different perspectives and ways of knowing to collide and influence each other. The experience is transformative, inspiring deeper conversations, igniting networks, building capacity and catalyzing curiosity and concern into advocacy and action.