Ashli Akins Email:


Ashli Akins is a human rights advocate, artist, and social entrepreneur. When she was 21, she founded Mosqoy, an international charitable organization that works with highland indigenous communities of the Andean mountains in Peru, to mitigate the adverse effects of unsustainable tourism and development by providing economic opportunities that nurture their threatened indigenous culture. Mosqoy is now 10 years old and is a strong force for marginalized youth and weavers in the Cusco region. For the past decade, Ashli acted as Mosqoy’s Executive Director, and now advises the charity’s operations as President of its Board of Directors.

Ashli is one of Canada’s top doctoral candidates, ranked in the top five as a recipient of the competitive Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. She is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program with the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, co-supervised by former National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Wade Davis (Dept. of Anthropology) and Dr. Kai Chan (Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability; Public Policy & Global Affairs), with committee members Dr. Mark Turin (First Nations & Endangered Languages Program; Dept. of Anthropology) and Dr. Nancy Turner (School of Environmental Studies, UVic). She is also a 2016 Public Scholar Award Winner, as part of UBC’s innovative Public Scholar Initiative.

In 2014, she graduated from the University of Oxford with a master’s in International Human Rights Law; her thesis explored why the loss of culturally significant art is a human rights violation. She previously attended the University of Victoria, where she received a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, Latin American studies, and professional writing. She was recently honoured as one of UVic’s top 50 alumni in history who have made a difference in the world.

Ashli uses photography, creative writing, and multi-media arts to educate about international human rights and environmental injustices. In 2008, she completed a photography internship with National Geographic Adventure Magazine, and has published and exhibited around the world. Ashli has been honoured with dozens of awards, and has given hundreds of lectures and presentations globally, including two TedX talks.

She has been labeled an adventure junkie at times. One of her latest adventures took her over the last Andean mountain into the cloud forest of the Amazon jungle, with nothing but a machete, a compass, and a map.