[Wikimedia Announcements] [PRESS RELEASE] Wikimedians and free knowledge leaders convene in Montreal for 13th annual Wikimania
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Samantha Lien
2017-08-11 17:11:29 UTC
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A version of this press release is also available on the Wikimedia blog

*Wikimedians and free knowledge leaders convene in Montreal for 13th annual

*Hundreds of volunteer Wikimedians and free knowledge leaders gather in the
heart of Quebec to celebrate Wikipedia, the Wikimedia projects, and the
people who make them possible*

*Representatives from the Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, and
Mozilla announced the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship to honor
Bassel Khartabil, Syrian Wikimedian and global open culture advocate*

*(Montreal, Canada) 11 August 2017*— Roughly 1,000 volunteers and free
knowledge leaders from nearly 70 countries gathered today for the
start of Wikimania
2017 <https://wikimania2017.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:MyLanguage/Wikimania>—the
annual conference celebrating Wikipedia and its sister projects,
the Wikimedia movement, and the community of volunteers who make them
possible. This marks the 13th annual Wikimania, which takes place on 11–13
August at the Centre Sheraton Hotel in Montreal, coinciding with Montreal’s
375th anniversary.

The event kicked off with an opening ceremony featuring Jimmy Wales,
founder of Wikipedia, Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia
Foundation, Benoit Rochon of Wikimedia Canada, and Harout Chitilian,
Vice-chairman of the Executive Committee for the City of Montreal.

During the ceremony, Maher joined Creative Commons CEO Ryan
Merkley, Mozilla Executive Director Mark Surman, and representatives from
the #NEWPALMRYA Project <http://www.newpalmyra.org/> to announce the
inauguration of the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship. The
fellowship commemorates Bassel Khartabil
<https://blog.wikimedia.org/2017/08/03/bassel-khartabil/>, Syrian
Wikimedian and global open culture advocate, who was recently confirmed to
have been executed in 2015 after being detained by the Syrian government in
2012. To honor Bassel’s contributions, the fellowship will support the work
of outstanding individuals developing culture under adverse circumstances.

Throughout this year’s Wikimania, attendees will explore sessions related
to the advancement of free knowledge, the role of academia and cultural
institutions, technology in free knowledge, privacy and digital rights, and
Wikimedia’s future as part of Wikimedia 2030
<https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategy/Wikimedia_movement/2017>, a
global discussion to define the future direction of the Wikimedia movement.
Wikimania 2017, being held for the first time ever in Canada, is
co-organized by the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Canada
<https://ca.wikimedia.org/wiki/Home>, the local Wikimedia affiliate
organization in Canada.

Wikimania 2017 will also bring together a diverse mix of attendees,
including seasoned volunteer editors; researchers and data scientists;
members from the medical community; librarians; and other free knowledge
leaders, including featured speakers Susan Herman
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_N._Herman>, President of the American
Civil Liberties Union, and Esra'a Al-Shafei
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esra%27a_Al-Shafei>, Bahraini human rights
activist and defender of free speech.

“There’s something incredibly unique about Wikipedia’s model,” said
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. “At its heart, Wikipedia is about people
coming together to connect across countries, languages and cultures to
build a shared understanding of our world. Wikimania is a time when this
global community can meet, share experiences and participate in
conversations about subjects that matter most to us as Wikimedians.”

Attendees of the conference can also experience #NEWPALMYRA's 3D-printed
Tetrapylon <http://www.newpalmyra.org/>, a freely-licensed recreation of
one of the most famous structures in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra,
which was destroyed by ISIS forces in 2016. The exhibit honors the founder
of the #NEWPALMYRA project, Bassel Khartabil. A passionate advocate for the
free exchange of knowledge, culture, and heritage, Bassel’s contributions
have been credited with “opening up the Internet in Syria and vastly
extending online access and knowledge to the Syrian people” by the European

"Bassel was known in the free knowledge movement for his boundless
enthusiasm and passion, always encouraging others to share, create, and
connect with the world around them,” said Katherine Maher, Executive
Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Like Bassel, we believe that a
commitment to expression, openness, and creativity is a reminder of our
shared humanity, and the foundation for a better world. Through the Bassel
Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship, we hope to carry on Bassel’s work to
protect and preserve the values to which he dedicated his life.”

Wikimania also offers conference-goers time to experience the unique
culture of Montreal. As the city honors its birth and growth over almost
four centuries, there will be opportunities
<https://wikimania2017.wikimedia.org/wiki/Montr%C3%A9al> for attendees to
explore the city’s rich history through cultural tours, music, and cuisine.

"Wikimedia Canada members will present inspiring projects at Wikimania
2017, the result of successful collaborations with several Canadian public
and private institutions,” explained Wikimedia Canada President Benoit
Rochon. “The archives of BAnQ (BibliothÚque et archives nationales du
Québec) on Wikimedia Commons which have been viewed more than 30 million
times, the first Aboriginal encyclopedia in Canada
one of the largest and still active First Nations language) on Wikipedia
and the WikiMed conference are all unique accomplishments we will proudly
share with the international Wikimania participants.”

Other featured speakers include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in
conversation with anthropologist, academic and author Gabriella (Biella)
Coleman and moderated by internet entrepreneur Evan Prodromou; BibliothÚque
et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) Archivist-Coordinator Frédéric
Giuliano and HélÚne Laverdure, Curator and Director General of the National
Archives at BAnQ; and Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Katherine
Maher, who will take the stage with Christophe Henner, the Chair of the
Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, to discuss the future of the
Wikimedia movement as part of Wikimedia 2030. You can learn more about the
conference at: wikimania2017.wikimedia.org/.
About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports and
operates Wikipedia and its sister free knowledge projects. Wikipedia is the
world’s free knowledge resource, spanning more than 40 million articles
across nearly 300 languages. Every month, more than 200,000 people edit
Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, collectively creating and improving
knowledge that is accessed by more than 1 billion unique devices every
month. This all makes Wikipedia one of the most popular web properties in
the world. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is
a 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants.
About Wikimedia Canada

Wikimedia Canada <https://ca.wikimedia.org/wiki/Home> is an independent
nonprofit organization committed to the growth, development and
distribution of free knowledge in Canada, mainly by supporting the
development of content on the Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia. The
organization's work focuses on supporting and engaging Canadian individuals
and institutions to collect, develop and disseminate knowledge and other
educational, cultural and historical content in all languages of Canada,
including Aboriginal languages, under a free license or in the public
About Wikimania

Wikimania is the annual conference centered on the Wikimedia projects
(Wikipedia and its sister projects) and the Wikimedia community of
volunteers. It features presentations on Wikimedia projects, other wikis,
free and open source software, free knowledge, and and more. Wikimania 2017
marks the 13th year of the conference.
About the Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship

The Bassel Khartabil Free Culture Fellowship—organized by Creative Commons,
Mozilla, the #NEWPALMYRA Project, the Wikimedia Foundation and others—will
support the work of outstanding individuals developing the culture of their
communities under adverse circumstances. Special consideration will be
given to applicants operating within closed societies and in developing
economies where other forms of support are scarce. Applications from the
Levant and wider MENA region are greatly encouraged. The one-year
fellowship, totaling $50,000 USD, is supported by funding from Wikimedia
Foundation, Mozilla, and the Jimmy Wales Foundation, and facilitated by
Creative Commons.

Wikimedia Foundation press contact

Juliet Barbara
*Samantha Lien*
Communications Manager
Wikimedia Foundation
149 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94105