Keynote Speaker: Amanda Lindhout
Kidnap Survivor, Bestselling Author & Journalist
Amanda is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker and journalist. Her multiple award winning memoir, A House in the Sky, has been on the bestseller top ten list for over three years and her work as a journalist has included writing feature stories in Maclean’s, National Post and Flare, with photography for Flare.
As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, she began to travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road. Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured. Vivid and suspenseful, hers is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity. A captivating, unforgettable speaker, Lindhout alights on the positive and leaves the audience with a fuller understanding of the freedom we can all experience when we choose to embrace compassion. What emerges is a celebration of resilience — a powerful portrait of the strength of the human spirit.
Keynote Speaker: Sheldon Kennedy
Sheldon Kennedy won a Memorial Cup, World Junior Gold Medal and skated for three teams in his eight-year National Hockey League career. He is best known for his courageous decision to charge his hockey coach with sexual assault for the abuse he suffered over a five year period while a teenager under his care. Through this disclosure, and the important work that Sheldon continues to do, he has become an inspiration to millions of sexual abuse survivors around the world.
Sheldon is the embodiment of “Leading Change”. As Lead Director at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, he helped to create a first-of-its-kind in Canada, centre that offers full wrap-around services for victims of child abuse. Sheldon has been instrumental in changing the way police, child and family services, health and the justice system work together to better help the victims of this crime. Sheldon has also brought together government and public and private sector partners to work collaboratively to influence policy change and improve the way child abuse is handled. He has influenced changes in Canadian law and has taken his message to the International Olympic Committee and the United States Senate.
He is also the Co-Founder of Respect Group Inc., which provides empowering online abuse, bullying and harassment prevention education to sport organizations, schools and the workplace. In 2015, Sheldon received the Order of Canada for his endless work.
Keynote Speaker: Chief Jennifer Evans
Police Chief Jennifer Evans joined Peel Regional Police in 1983 as a cadet and has worked in various areas throughout her career. In 1996 she was assigned to work with Justice Archie Campbell in the review of the police investigation into Serial Rapist and Murderer, Paul Bernardo. Following that review she was assigned as a violent crime analyst identifying linkages of serial crimes and murders. She later worked at the office of the Chief Coroner where she learned more about death investigations which assisted her in her future role as a Detective and later as the Officer in Charge of the Homicide & Missing Persons Bureau. In 2010 as a Deputy Chief she assisted Commissioner Oppal in British Columbia with the review of the police investigation involving serial murderer Robert Pickton. Robert Pickton was able to avoid identification and apprehension by police for several years before he was arrested for multiple murders. Chief Evans is the only police officer in Canada to review the police investigations of two serial murderers. She is in her 5th year as Chief of the Peel Regional Police which is the 3rd largest municipal police service in Canada.
Keynote Speaker: Caroline Ouellette
Caroline Ouellette’s record speaks for itself.
A pillar of Canada’s national hockey team since 1999, she has also been a source of inspiration through the years as a player for the Montreal Les Canadiennes, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the University Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The Montreal-born athlete has enjoyed an impeccable Olympic career.
In 2014, Caroline started the Caroline Ouellette Girls Hockey Tournament, an annual girl’s hockey tournament for 6 to 12 year olds. This event was the first of its kind. Not only were teams able to register, but individual players that play in boy’s hockey could sign up and be placed on a team created for the tournament, allowing many girls their first experience in female hockey. Through a partnership with RBC and Hockey Québec, the event also offered a Try Hockey program where girls that have never tried hockey could sign up and try hockey with several Olympians and members of the Montreal Les Canadiennes of the CWHL. Caroline has also worked to create the First Shift Female Hockey Program, giving young girls the opportunity to learn the basics of hockey from Olympians. Through all of these programs, hundreds of girls experience hockey for the first time.
Caroline won the 2014 YMCA Women of Distinction Award, in the Sports and Wellness Category, for her determination. She also won the 2013 Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award, awarded annually during the Esso Cup, to an active female player who has made a significant contribution to female hockey both on and off the ice and who demonstrates strong community involvement and dedication to all aspects of the game. Caroline’s involvement in the community earned her a nomination for 2013 CWHL Humanitarian Award. As an ambassador with Right to Play since 2004, she visited a Right to Play program in Bénin, Africa in 2011.
Ouellette was a guest speaker for the 60 Million Girls foundation and the Québec Breast Cancer Foundation. She was a spokesperson for “Carrément Rose,” a fundraising campaign that raised over $15,000.00 for the Breast Cancer Research. Caroline has taken part several times in the Run for the Cure. She is an active advocate in the annual CWHL Montreal Stars fundraising game to fight Breast Cancer. Caroline has been inspired by the courage and determination of her aunt Claire, a breast cancer survivor.
Caroline participates annually in the Montreal Media Hockey Marathon to benefit the Otis Grant Foundation and she has been chair of the Hockey Canada Women’s High Performance Advisory Committee since 2009. She co-founded athletichub.com, a website designed to help young student-athletes get recruited at the collegiate level.