City Mosaic - Human Library

A human library is an event that brings together people from diverse backgrounds to share their stories and experiences with others. The concept of a human library is simple: instead of borrowing books, participants “borrow” human beings who serve as living books.

This human library event is part of City Mosaic 2023 and will be held at Milne Dam Conservation Park and features a variety of living books from Markham, each with a unique story to share. Markham is a diverse and multicultural city, with a rich history and vibrant community. The goal of the event is to showcase the diversity of Markham and provide a platform for the books to share their experiences and perspectives with others.


  • Promote understanding, empathy, and respect for diversity.
  • By providing a platform for people to share their stories and experiences, we hope to break down stereotypes, reduce prejudice, and foster a more inclusive and accepting community.


Date: June 3, 2023 (Saturday)
Time: After Opening Ceremony


Milne Dam Conservation Park
(8251 McCowan Rd, Markham, ON L3P 3J3)


City Mosaic 2023 participants

How it works?

6 Living Books
Invite individuals who represent diverse backgrounds, cultures, professions, and experiences, volunteer to be “living books”, and share their stories about Markham with others.

100-120 Readers
Participants who attend the event and “borrow” living books for a limited amount of time to engage in conversation, ask questions, and learn from their experiences.

Please refer to the following section for details of the conversation session time slots and catalog.


  • Each conversation session time slot is 20 minutes and the living books will share in 2 time slots sessions
  • Each group can “borrow” a total of 2 living books
  • Each sessions will have 2-3 groups


A list of living books and their titles, which includes a short description of their story and background. The participants can select the books from the catalog on City Mosaic Information Session and sign up for their time slots.

Guest Bios

Aaron Madar is a community leader, business development specialist and Master of Ceremonies. He was born in Hong Kong with a multiracial background (Chinese, Indian, Persian and Arabic). He is fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

As a community leader, Aaron was a Past President of the Toronto Trillium Lions Club and board member of various nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Aaron was a political candidate in the 2018 municipal election. Aaron continues to give back to the community in his spare time as he believes that together we can make this world a better place for
the next generation.

Aaron has honed his skills in business development and marketing by working in various sectors such as: automotive, food and beverage, signage and nonprofit. His current role is in hospitality as the Wedding and Special Events Manager at Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites Conference Centre & Spa.

He has emceed numerous events including fundraisers, galas, ribbon cutting ceremonies and weddings. You can find some of the events he previously hosted on social media by looking up the hashtag #MCAaronMadar.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Alfred first came to Canada in 1996 as a university student. He is a historian, community engagement specialist, documentary filmmaker and creative content specialist. He has recently founded Cycling Without Age York Region, a movement using specialized electric pedal-assisted trishaws, each bicycle can carry up to two elderly passengers on an adventure previously unimagined.

In 2019, Alfred directed a documentary film “The Last Stitch”, a story of the traditional Chinese tailoring known as Cheongsam, takes us from Shanghai to Hong Kong and Toronto, reflecting the history of the Chinese diaspora and the decline of traditional tailoring. “The Last Stitch” was world premiered at CAAMFest37 in San Francisco on May 14, 2019.

From Her Story to Their Stories – Donna K,

During her time at home bringing up her young children, little did Donna K. imagine that she would end up being bestowed the title of “Official Historian of Peter Street” when she first began to research the history of her own century home for fun. She began the journey by driving to Newmarket to search through the Land Registries public documents to find the date of construction of her home. While there, her research expanded to include other properties in Mount Joy, Markham whose namesake comes Pennsylvania, USA. Markham Village and Mount Joy were initially settled by Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonites, the Ramers and Reesors, who bought the land from British soldiers paid for their service to the Crown. As a member of the Markham Village Conservancy, restorers of the Markham Train Station, Donna wrote a booklet to celebrate the 1994 Bicentennial anniversary of Markham,. With delegates up from Mount Joy, USA in 1994 Deputy Mayor Scarpitti, in honor of the Mennonite community, did a Heritage plaque unveiling at the Ramer homestead on Springdale Ave.

Later on In 2009, Donna and the non-profit MVC commenced a Homeowner Plaque Project with funds obtained from the station rentals as one of their community projects. Historic Peter Street, century homeowners gladly came on board receiving their blue plaque from now Mayor Scarpitti. 2009 marked the Bicentennial of the arrival of the Pennsylvania Ramers to Mount Joy, Markham. The colour blue was chosen to match the colour of their US state while showing the first owner, year built and their profession. Without knowing it until the delivery of the plaques the MVC surprised to find that they were manufactured in Pennsylvania! Since then, the plaque project has successfully expanded into Markham Village with black plaques and into Unionville being maroon. If you want to hear more about the history of this Peter St neighbourhood you’d want to tune into Donna’s story.

Drum Roll Please

Born in Gatineau, QC, Jenny C. went to live in Lebanon for a while before coming back to Canada to live in Toronto. She broke the tradition in her Lebanese-Torontonian community by teaching herself how to play the percussions, something not popular among young women back in Lebanon. She is now well-known in her community as the multilingual drummer where she speaks English, Arabic, and French. As featured on OMNI News, Jenny now plays a variety of drums at many venues whether it’s at weddings, festivals, or big events. Sometimes you may find her in Markham helping her entrepreneurial Dad out at his jewellery store. In Jenny’s heart, there’s always room for everybody in the music scene and once you hear her drum sounds, you will have to get up and start moving.

“I want to make Chinese Medicine more known to the CBCs & ABCs of this [generation] & [the] next generation.”- Jireh Leung, Ontario Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Born in Toronto, Jireh was raised in a family that practiced Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Under the influence of his father, he gained first-hand clinical experience starting from a very young age.

As a young Canadian born TCM practitioner, Jireh’s journey was certainly not easy as there was stigma among the senior population about a young person practicing this business. From not knowing how to read a single Chinese character and speaking very limited Cantonese, Jireh took up the responsibility to carry on his father’s business and learned how to communicate fluently with his patients in Chinese. TCM is not just about carrying on the family business – it’s also about reinterpreting and expanding the acceptance of TCM, integrating his knowledge with western culture, and making it more known and accessible to younger and Canadian-born generations.

Playing on a High Note

High school music teacher. Trumpeter. Retiree. Mr. Samuel Hilland, also known as Sam, has taught music and English at one of the Markham high schools for over 25 years – sharing with many students his learnt life lessons, including how to navigate post-secondary life. Now a retiree living in Port Perry, Sam plunges into a new side hustle that gives him a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day – house renovations for his town. Besides this side hustle, he keeps his cats company and plays Dungeons and Dragons with several of his former students.