Yosef Wosk

Yosef wosk

Yosef Wosk is an Adjunct Professor and Shadbolt Fellow in the Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University where—as former Director of Interdisciplinary Programs in Continuing Studies—he developed seminal programs such as The Philosophers’ Café and The Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars. In addition to being an ordained rabbi and receiving two honorary doctorates (SFU and Emily Carr University of Art + Design which described him as one “whose leadership, vision and commitment to Canada’s cultural heritage are exemplary”), he holds Ph.D.s in Religion & Literature (Boston University) as well as in Psychology, and Masters degrees in Education (Yeshiva University) and Theology (Harvard).

A dedicated explorer and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Yosef has travelled to the ends of the Earth including both the North and South Poles. He founded and continues to support hundreds of libraries and numerous schools worldwide, was Honorary Chairman of the Vancouver Public Library’s campaign to create a rooftop garden, endowed Vancouver’s Poet Laureate, and has served on numerous boards.

Vancouver Magazine identified Yosef as one of Vancouver’s twenty-six “Rebel Brains and Public Intellectuals”, as someone who “cultivates Vancouver’s intellectual discourse like a diligent gardener”; B.C. Business Magazine chose him as one of the province’s twenty-five “most thoughtful citizens and top thinkers”; while The Vancouver Sun named him as one of the province’s Top Ten Thinkers, one who “has strived brilliantly to make public intellectuals out of all British Columbians”.

In the arts, Yosef was vice-president of the Museum of Vancouver, an inaugural appointee to the Museum of Anthropology’s External Advisory Board, a member of the British Columbia Arts Council and the Museums Foundation of Canada. He is one of the province’s pre-eminent book, photography and fine arts collectors whose collections have been featured in numerous exhibits, many that he personally curated. In recognition of his wide-ranging involvement, the Canadian Museums Association presented him with its President’s Medal, UNESCO awarded him a Culture Beyond Borders Medal, and he was a recipient of The Mayor’s Arts Award (Philanthropy), Vancouver’s highest recognition for artists and those who support the arts. In 2022, the City of Vancouver conferred upon him The Freedom of the City, awarded only in exceptional cases to individuals of the highest merit.

Included in Canadian Who’s Who, he is an Officer of The Order of Canada, a member of The Order of British Columbia and recipient of both The Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals for which he was cited as a visionary philanthropist and for his exceptional contributions to Canadian culture and heritage. He is also a recipient of the British Columbia Community Achievement Award whose laureates are described as “cultural heroes; spirited, undaunted, fearless, bold. Raising our awareness to a higher understanding.”

Appreciated as a distinguished scholar and creative educator, inspiring orator and imaginative author who has also assisted hundreds of others with research and publication grants, he continues to be active in communal affairs especially in the areas of education, libraries, museums, the arts, social services, religion and race relations, philanthropy, business, gardens and heritage conservation.

Max Wyman

Max Wyman

Max Wyman. Photo courtesy Barry Peterson.

Max Wyman was born and educated in England and emigrated to Canada in 1967. He was an arts columnist, dance and theatre critic and books editor for many years with the Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers, and has written for numerous national and international publications including Maclean’s and The New York Times.

He is the author of the first full-length history of Canadian dance, Dance Canada: An Illustrated History (cited as one of the “165 great Canadian books of the twentieth century” in 2000). Other publications include the biography Evelyn Hart: An Intimate Portrait; Revealing Dance: Selected Writings 1970s-2001; and The Defiant Imagination: Why Culture Matters (2004), a passionate manifesto asserting the importance of the arts and culture to modern society. A sequel to that book, The Compassionate Imagination: How the arts are central to a functioning democracy, will be published by Cormorant Books in July, 2023.

He has played an important role in the area of public arts policy development in Canada. He served as governor of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (1972-1974), was for six years a member of the board of the Canada Council for the Arts, the country’s principal arts funding agency, was a member of the board of the successful Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic Bid committee, speaking to the cultural aspect of the Games, and in 2006 completed four years as President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

He has been invited to prepare consultation documents and position papers on arts policy and strategy for the federal government and for the governments of Alberta and British Columbia, and lectures and consults on public arts policy across North America. He has also taught critical writing and dance history extensively in Canada and Europe.

He is deeply involved in issues around the integration of the arts, culture and creative activity into education. He was a founding member of the multi-agency Canadian arts and learning action coalition, chaired the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s cross-Canada consultations on the topic, led the Canadian delegation to UNESCO’s first world summit on arts and education in Portugal in the spring of 2006, spoke at the second world summit in Seoul in 2010, and was a keynote speaker at the World Creativity Summits in Hong Kong in 2007, Taipei in 2008 and Newcastle in 2009. He co-edited the inaugural yearbook of the International Network for Research in Arts and Learning in 2013.

He has served as a juror for numerous competitions including the Ontario Arts Council, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards and the Royal Society of Canada. He was the Mayor of Lions Bay (2005-2008), served as president of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (2010-2012) and was a member of the board of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, where he chaired the most prestigious non-fiction literary award in the country.

For his services to the arts he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001 and received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Simon Fraser University in 2003. Other honours include the Queen’s 25th, 50th and 60th Jubilee Medals, the Canada 125 Medal and the Cecilia Zhang Memorial Music Award from the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2004. His star on the B.C. Entertainment Walk of Fame is just outside the Orpheum.