Having spent my entire career within investment banking, attending the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference exposed me to viewpoints and backgrounds that I had never encountered before. Some of my deeply entrenched beliefs were challenged and in certain cases, changed. To truly succeed, both personally and as a country, we need to better understand our diversity and grow from each other. The GGCLC helps provide this opportunity. Not only did I make lifelong friends through my participation in the conference, I gained a network of connections who will listen to my questions, challenge my thinking and make my ideas better. This network includes not only my study group members, but also all of the conference delegates and the high profile speakers at the plenaries. I think I am a better, more connected employee and a stronger Canadian because of my participation in the GGCLC.
Adam Janikowski (2017)
Asian Investment Banking
CIBC Capital Markets
When asked about my experience on the GGCLC, I find it difficult to convey just how transformational the conference truly is. The opportunity to connect with other leaders and learn from their vast range of experiences, expertise, and backgrounds in such a unique and challenging setting is so profound. It forces us to connect as humans first and creates the space to evaluate and challenge one’s beliefs and values. It pushed me to reflect on my own leadership style and consider the strength of alternative approaches. Perhaps most importantly, I walked away with lifelong friends, the most incredible alumni network, and a renewed passion to actively contribute to building a better Canada.
Sarah Midanik (2017)
President and CEO
The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund
“Leaders change the story.” Throughout my GGCLC experience and in the time since this small and powerful truth has caught the light again and again. The GGCLC distills the story of leadership to its essence – empathy, humility, integrity, curiosity, the will to make yourself uncomfortable, to stretch and hold space for many views, tensions, and intensions, inside yourself, in community and in the real world. I left Ottawa – not the Conference… you never really leave the GGCLC, and it never really leaves you – ready and resolved to write a better story every day, all the way to the horizon. And without exception, every person who found their way into my GGCLC experience was, in a way true to themselves, writing a better story for Canada. There is magic in the Conference, and it’s the privilege of a lifetime to be a part of it.
Anthony Pesklevits (2017)
Director, Natural Resource Ministry Policy Secretariat
Government of British Columbia
I believe this is one of the best platforms for leadership development this country has to offer. The experience of participating in the GGCLC has forever impacted me both personally and professionally. I returned home a changed person with new and lasting relationships, and most importantly with a deeper understanding of myself and our beautiful country that will forever impact my development as a leader. I was one of the lucky ones to have been chosen for the North West Territories group and observed firsthand the resilience of the Indigenous cultures of the True North and now realize how important the Truth and Reconciliation movement is. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done before we can truly stand together as a Nation.
Chris Wasilenchuk (2017)
Construction Maintenance & Allied Workers Canada Local 1995
When I signed up for the Governor General’s Leadership Conference, I could scarcely have imagined that this experience would change every aspect of my life. I savoured two intensive weeks meeting people and organizations, each changing the world and writing history in their own way. These gatherings upended my life, continuously calling my grasp of the world into question. They caused me to grow every minute of the way. I met people who affected and inspired me, people to whom I would otherwise never have had access. Above all, I met extraordinary participants with whom we forged strong links throughout this special journey. The maxim “alone I go faster, together we go further” takes on its full meaning at the Conference! I think back every day to my time there, using it to analyze situations more clearly and to enhance my professional and personal decision-making. I would have liked the experience never to end!
Eric Labelle (2017)
Director, Operational Intelligence and Innovation
City of Brossard
The GGCLC provides an abundance of learning opportunities through speakers, site visits and
discussions with peers, but it is the atmosphere of adventure, open-mindedness, curiosity, and genuine candidness that sets this conference apart. After the opening plenary, my study group toured Nova Scotia whose bold beauty and complexities provided a perfect launch point for contemplating social, environmental, and economic issues from new and refined perspectives. I am certain that every delegate–and quite possibly the presenters and hosts too–found the experience deeply engaging at a professional and personal level. It is a valuable opportunity to step back from your daily heavy lifting and understand the meaningfulness and relevance of your work to a broader community. Simply, the lessons from the conference have made my work more impactful.
Sybil Wa (2017)
Diamond Schmitt Architects, New York and Toronto
At various times in my career, I’ve had the occasion to attend training programs or events with a focus on dialogue or leadership, but none that had such an effect on me or on the group. Plenty of thought went into it, in matters ranging from the choice of participants and creation of the groups to the pace of the tour, the selection of speakers and the highlights of major gatherings. Becoming fully immersed in this experience leads to a sense of commitment and a willingness to take risks. It also provides a route to learning and self-discovery. This has given me greater strength and broadened my scope. It leaves me confident that getting the right people around a table can make anything possible. I feel positively charged, something that will follow me for a very long time, for the rest of my career. I have a sense of certainty about this!
Marie-Lyne Brunet (2017)
Je Passe Partout
The GGCLC was a transformative experience that forever changed me. It created an opportunity for fruitful conversation by bringing leaders together from various sectors and diverse backgrounds. Our theme was, “The Canada We Will Build,” and I realised that the Canada I want to build is inclusive, brave, and kind. I learned that we could all contribute to that Canada by being active listeners, being open to various perspectives and receptive to the voice that may differ to our own. If you are courageous enough to enter into professional development that will challenge you to your core, provide long-lasting relationships with people you just met, and ultimately make you a better leader, then the GGCLC is something you must experience. Strap yourself in and prepare for a ride you will never forget.
Gail Bannister-Clarke (2017)
Executive Member, The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario
Vice-President, Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local
The experiences from the GGCLC conference have remained in my heart since it ended. I have been a police officer in Toronto for more than 20 years, and I have done volunteer work in many places of extreme poverty around the globe; however, my experience in Nunavut changed my perspective of Canada. In addition, the leaders on the conference challenged my personal views. The experience allowed me to reflect on my own life and my contribution to the future of Canada. It was an intensely emotional experience. It was in the middle of this whirlwind that I decided to apply to be a Deputy Chief for the Toronto Police Service. Personally, this was a monumental decision and one that many around me questioned. But the desire to play a larger role in the reconciliation process, and to leave a legacy of healing for future generations – this was all in my heart and mind as I went home. Ultimately, this changed the course of my career. More importantly, hearing the lived experiences of the Inuit people has changed who I am for the better. I remain grateful for this incredible opportunity and experience.
Shawna Coxon (2017)
Deputy Chief of Police
Toronto Police Service
It’s a paradoxical reality that advancing in leadership positions and responsibilities often leads to increased feelings of isolation. I found myself entering into this state a few years ago. It was increasingly difficult to find colleagues I could turn to for honest advice and feedback on my local, regional and national initiatives. As a result, I became more and more disconnected with myself and those around me. The GGCLC addressed this issue in a very novel way: travelling alongside other successful, mid-career leaders over two weeks while deconstructing a province’s economic and cultural state. The group then designed a shared vision of how to build a better Canada. In the course of this deconstruction/reconstruction I also redesigned my own vision for myself. As leaders, what brought us to where we are is not what will take us to where we need to go. The GGCLC has been the most effective and meaningful opportunity to build my future self, the leader I’m hoping to be. The GGCLC renewed and broadened my vision of what Canada is, and left a lasting impact that will ensure I play a part in making the country into what we all hope it can be.
Dr Alika Lafontaine (2017)
Founder, Alignment by Design Labs and the Indigenous Health Alliance
The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference is so much more than a conference. It is an opportunity to learn about our great country, and to be inspired by endless examples of outstanding leadership, from conference speakers, to community leaders and fellow attendees. This journey, through exciting and sometimes unexpected experiences, creates opportunities to delve more deeply into ourselves, but most importantly, to learn from one another. I consider each member of our Saskatchewan team a mentor, who will guide me as I strive to be a better leader, inspire others and have a greater impact on my community. The GGCLC is an experience that will last a lifetime. I am a proud alumni.
Tina Montgomery, P.Eng., M.Eng. (2017)
Dean, School of Trades and Applied Technology
After almost a year since my 2017 GGCLC experience, it’s still hard to express how the conference changed me as a leader, both professionally and personally, but without a doubt it has! I have learned the power of my voice and how to use it effectively in the workplace. My confidence has grown so much after I realized that my group saw me as a leader, valued my perspectives, and sought out my opinions. The conference generated so many new ideas and goals that I have now brought back to my community of Kahnawake. The intense schedule associated with the GGCLC has taught me how to multi-task efficiently and push through those 12-hour workdays. Self-reflection has also become a personal, daily ritual – something I took from our nightly group debriefings. As a First Nation’s Mohawk, it was so refreshing and encouraging that the conference included a huge component on Indigenous Peoples and the truths associated with us. My experience around this topic was profound, and I know that it was even greater for those in my group who aren’t Indigenous. I can say with confidence that their realities of Canada have changed dramatically and only brought us closer together.
Karlie Marquis (2017)
Mohawk Council of Kahnawake
The GGCLC experience was personally and professionally life changing. Those intense weeks with my Team BC folks have made me a better human because of the opportunity to understand life in Canada through so many different sets of eyes. I learned that the value of breaking down my own perceptions and beliefs, to allow in the diverse views of others, is essential to becoming a more effective leader (whether that be in the role of coach, dad or chief negotiator). I learned that accepting the status quo is unacceptable. There is always an opportunity to make Canada a better place to live; however, to seize that opportunity, leaders must be willing to trust others, strive to innovate, all while embracing a strong sense of community. While the time in BC came to an end, my GGCLC experience lives on through the team bond we forged and the conversations we continue to have.
Matt Hiltz (2017)
New Brunswick Nurses Union
In trying to answer complex questions, our team realized that our role as leaders was to ultimately challenge the status quo. It was apparent that to positively influence the future of our nation, leaders need to work together to think outside of the box and develop trust. This life-changing experience gave me a chance to encounter different views and opinions, to open my mind on different aspect of our beautiful Canada that without the GGCLC would not be possible. I definitely will apply and use tools from what I learned during those two intensive weeks n my personal and professional life.
Olivier Joyal (2017)
Vice President, Environment
WSP Canada Inc.
How can you possibly describe an experience–and it is truly an experience–as magical and as profoundly life-changing as the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference? I learned very quickly that this was not simply a “leadership conference,” it was an opportunity. An opportunity to better understand this extraordinary country and the extraordinary people that make it so. An opportunity to meet and travel with exceptional leaders. An opportunity to challenge your perspectives and learn things about yourself that you did not think possible. An opportunity to start the conversations that will build a better Canada. Over the two weeks of the conference, you will experience the magnificence of this country, but above all the conference is about two things: the people you will meet and your collective visions of hope for the future. Not a day goes by in the year since the conference that I have not considered myself privileged to have been a part of such an incredible group of Canadians, and not a day goes by where I am not inspired to do what I can to build a better Canada.
Jacob Abella (2017)
Executive Director, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Government of Canada
This experience with the GGCLC has altered my life, decisively boosting my willingness and ability to nurture positive change in the communities I belong to.
Louis-Samuel Jacques (2017)
This vast country of ours can feel too vast, that we are too far apart from each other to share very much of anything. As a leader in the Arts & Culture sector, that isolation can feel even more pronounced because making art is so very local. It took about 10 minutes at the GGCLC for this country and my own sense of isolation to shrink. What an honour and an inspiration to see Canada’s future leadership gather and imagine what a better Canada could be. What a pleasure to find new colleagues, friends and future allies and share this intense journey together. This was an experience that I will not soon forget.
Gideon Arthurs (2017)
Chief Executive Officer
National Theatre School of Canada
Having a career with a company that invests heavily in leadership development and strives to be a responsible corporate citizen, I went into the GGCLC with an open mind but a tinge of skepticism about what I would learn in two weeks with a group of strangers. I come out of the GGCLC with wonderful new friends, deeper insight into what makes our country great, a wider lens through which to look at the world and a broader perspective with which to make personal and professional decisions. Where once was a single bottom-line, now there are three: financial, environmental and social. A prosperous Canada requires that they be balanced…I get that now, and I have a role to play in ensuring that balance. I’ve attending a lot of training and personal development sessions over my career, but nothing compares to the GGCLC experience.
Andrew K. Mackay (2015)
National Retail Fuels Manager, Imperial Oil
It is extremely difficult to put into words what this conference has done for me not only as a leader, but as a Canadian and a human being. This conference takes a group of extremely successful, talented leaders and challenges their way of thinking and looking at different issues in Canada. This conference is designed to have each participant examine their own perspective and at the same time learn from and understand the perspective of other leaders from various sectors. It forces you out of your comfort zone, but by doing so, your growth and self-reflection is at a completely different level. The impact of this conference goes far beyond the last day of your tour, if you open yourself up to this amazing, wonderful, once in a lifetime experience, you will have no choice but to become a more successful leader, a stronger Canadian and a kinder, more compassionate human being.
Marie Buchan (2015)
Executive Assistant to the President and Union Negotiator, UFCW Local 832
This experience truly changed the way I approach people, challenges and life in general. It had a tangible impact on both my personal and professional life. It has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a step back and reflect on my life as a Canadian, a leader in my environment and in most aspects of life in general. I have been exposed to a reality that gets you to re-evaluate the way things should be for all Canadians in terms of equal opportunities, business practices and government actions. The Conference gave me the opportunity to interact with leaders coming from all walks of life and currently making an impact in their own sector and province of residence. The quality of the insights and all those in depth-discussions that I have been fortunate to have with them made this whole experience a success for me. I see this experience as a catalyst for making better decisions in all aspects of my life moving forward, as the challenge and the responsibility as an alumnus is to contribute better to society while making an impact as leader for the greater good.
Sebastien Beauchamp (2015)
Vice-President, Government Affairs, Public Policy & Market Access, Baxter Corporation
Having worked in the public, not-for-profit, academic and private sectors across verticals from law to technology and healthcare to education, I have attended a few conferences but the GGCLC was the single most rewarding I have ever attended. I learned more about, and saw more of our country than I imagined I could in 2 weeks. I met amazing people from walks of life I would never have encountered otherwise. The GGCLC was intense with hard travel and many long and thought-provoking conversations. Combined with some of the best networking I’ve ever experienced, this made for a conference I would highly recommend.
Jake Hirsch-Allen (2015)
Enterprise Relationship Manager, LinkedIn
I cannot say enough about what a profound effect the Conference had on me. There is no other opportunity in Canada where emerging leaders get to test their skills, build their awareness, broaden their perspectives and meet other engaged individuals from across the country. Although the Conference itself is short in the grand scheme of a career, I know I will continue to reference it as a pivotal time for me. The network of extraordinary individuals that I now know, I could not have assembled myself if I spent the next 50 years trying! The Conference taught me I will need these perspectives, both mine and others, as I continue on my own leadership journey. Regardless of how full your life is—take the time to apply—it is absolutely worth it.
Alissa Barton (2015)
Director, Employee Programs
The biggest thing that I have learned from GGCLC is that leaders require a healthy natural curiosity and an ever-evolving cultivation of self-awareness to be of value to Canada. The GGCLC offered us an unforgettable opportunity to see/think/feel from a broad range of perspectives as we tackled complex problem-focused initiatives over 15 deeply lived days. As we experienced the lives of Canadians up close in urban, rural, reserve and fly-in communities, it ignited a sense of urgency in me, transformed my ideas, and impacted the evolution of my professional life. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and how it has expanded my vision.
Sandra Laronde (2004)
Founder and Artistic Director of Red Sky Performance, and Director of Indigenous Arts at The Banff Centre
The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference was an amazing experience! I loved the format of opening up with thought-provoking speakers which provided me with a lens to look at the organizations that we visited during the tour. Learning theory and then going out and seeing it in practice really hammered home the points. Now that I’m home, I’m working hard to put the theories into practice because I saw how successful organizations were when they were applied. And of course, it was absolutely incredible to tour around Newfoundland and Labrador for two weeks – we saw beautiful scenery (can you see too many icebergs?), met outstanding people, ate delicious food (I miss cod!), and I truly had the best bunch of people to travel with! Thank you!
Rebecca Alty (2015)
City Councillor, Yellowknife, and
Director of Communications and Community Development
AVENS – A Community for Seniors
The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference gave me a unique opportunity to become more fully aware of social, economic, political and environmental issues in another part of the country, an opportunity that is rarely available. The two weeks I invested in this program turned me into a better-informed and more relevant leader. Above all, the people we met formally, as well as those with whom I had the pleasure of sharing this experience on a day-to-day basis, brought me something special as an individual and as a citizen. There can be little doubt that this was the greatest personal and professional development experience in my career.
Stéphane Vaillancourt (2012)
Chief Executive Officer, The YMCAs of Quebec
Wow. What an amazing experience and privilege to be part of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference. I learned so much about leadership and sustainable communities exploring British Columbia by plane, boat, bus and train with such a talented and diverse group of Canadians. The commitment of the people we met with to make their communities stronger was awe inspiring. One year on, my British Columbia study group has already had a reunion and we’re planning more. If you’re up for the opportunity, apply – it will change your life.
Will Paterson (2012)
Senior Economist, Financial Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch
Department of Finance, Canada
The 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference marked a turning point in my personal and professional life. I had the privilege of co-chairing the Nunavut Study Group with the most dynamic and engaged leaders from across Canada. We all came from different backgrounds, but whether we represented the labour, business, Government, or the non-profit sector, we all shared a common thirst for knowledge, and a firm desire to make a positive difference. The Conference exceeded all of my expectations, and it offered me one of the most unique experiences of my life. I returned from the Conference with a much greater appreciation for the richness, diversity, and complexity of our country. The Conference is visionary, innovative, and it challenges its delegates to think outside of the box and push their leadership skills to the limit. It’s not a conference you attend; it’s a conference you experience!
Xavier M. Milton (2012)
Porte-parole à la négociation du secteur public
Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux – CSN
Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
Participating in the 2012 GGCLC was one of the most impactful leadership experiences of my career. Spending close to two weeks in Nunavut, in some of the most remote communities we have in Canada, with an incredibly diverse group of people rich in intellect and experiences, was a once in a lifetime opportunity. My participation in the GGCLC has permanently changed not only how I see Canada but how I see my own role, both in business and society in general. I was proud to be a Canadian before this experience and that pride in my country and faith in its citizens and future leaders is orders of magnitude higher now.
Michele Harradence (2012)
Vice-President, Gas Transmission and Midstream Operations
Attending the Conference offered me the rare chance to examine, learn from and understand the decision-making processes’ of leaders from across the country. Being part of the conference has given me a better understanding of how everyone looks at a problem or opportunity with their own perspective, and that in order to make progress we need to respect and embrace this diversity. Aboriginal people have very important perspectives and experiences to share and the opportunity to listen, learn, contribute and grow is essential in doing our part to create positive change in our communities across the country. I believe conferences of this calibre are the gateway to profound awareness and growth on both a personal and professional level.
Vice President, Aboriginal Services
The Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference was an opportunity to experience and develop compassion and a deeper understanding for study group colleagues and conference participants from various sectors and industries, and for other Canadians as they struggle to better their lives and their communities. It would be virtually impossible to walk away from such an exhilarating experience untouched, and without having opened the door to personal growth. The Labour Movement prides itself in it’s conviction that “an injury to one, is an injury to all.” I am proud to say that after attending the GGCLC I believe that Canadians feel that way about their country and their fellow Canadians.
Angela Talic (2012)
Vice President at Large
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
The GGCLC conference experience was the single most transformative event in my life to date. It did two things for me that have changed my perspective permanently. First it offered me a chance to explore other parts of Canada and meet the people who have shaped their pocket of our country, and my respect for our nation’s people grew. The second was the chance it gave me to be challenged in extreme environments with leaders who have very diverse opinions. A mind expanding effort that I am happy to have faced. Having had the opportunity to compete and manage at one of the greatest experiences in the world – the Olympic Games – might have set a bar that was too high to surpass. The Governor Generals Canadian Leadership Conference set a new bar.
Julia Rivard (2012)
Code and Mortar
The 2012 GGCLC was an experience that I am still learning from. I find myself remembering something that was said, done or observed on our study tour…and I smile at the memory, while I adapt it within my work. The Conference will show you how much you don’t know and how much you have to share. This is a rare gem that simultaneously teaches you about your country, yourself and about a group of people that bring a new value to your life. It’s not about meetings, agendas, deadlines – it’s about listening, learning, disagreeing, understanding. You don’t need to be reminded to ‘be in the moment’ because the moment overtakes you. Thank you for the opportunity and for seeing the leader in me that I didn’t even know was there – but I am that leader and I will continue to evolve.
Barbara Cape (2012)
Service Employees International Union – West
Attending the GGCLC was the best thing I could do as a potential leader. It focused my resolve and allowed me to see myself from a different perspective. It was an eye-opening experience that connected me with my own potential. Most positive professional experience I have had the opportunity and pleasure to be involved in bar none.
B.G. (Brad) Brake (2012)
Mayor Town of Fort Smith, NT
The Conference is a valued experience for emerging leaders from the labour movement. The networking opportunity is exceptional. The Conference broadens each member’s horizon and creates unique situations where people from totally different backgrounds can put their preconceptions away and exchange ideas in an atmosphere of open debate and discovery.
If you are lucky enough to be selected, the GGCLC is a not-to-be-missed, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and discover a lot about yourself, about leadership and about Canada. Despite my own very busy schedule, I am very glad that I took out the two weeks to attend this conference. I learned so much about the world that exists outside my own narrow, daily domain. I learned so much about this great country of ours, which, as an immigrant, I appreciate even more now than I did before. I learned that there is no one ‘best way to lead’. I learned that every day, there are dedicated, hardworking and intelligent men and women in all walks of life that are striving to make Canada a better place, one small bit at a time. Most importantly, I learned that as Canadians, there is far more that unites us than that which divides us.
Ali Salahuddin (2012)
Senior Managing Director
Manulife Asset Management
I had the once in a life time opportunity to tour the Northwest Territories for eight days with fourteen incredible leaders, and I quickly learned that the journey was the outcome. The one on one and group conversations as we sat in buses, boats, planes (many planes), living rooms and boardrooms were fantastic; I was able to learn a great deal about nation-building and what it truly takes. The GGCLC solidified my understanding of collective action and the process we should take in building our country. It was an experience that has fundamentally changed the way I look and engage with Canada.
Lekan Olawoye (2012)
Executive Director at For Youth Initiative (FYI) and Chair, Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities
What an extraordinary way to get to know Canada though its diverse physical geography and through the eyes of our fellow citizens. The experience provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of Canadians. It reaffirms Canadian values and introduces and explains perspectives and opinions that were previously unknown or discounted. Sleep deprivation meets sensory overload is a good summary of the magnificence of the program. I feel ‘more Canadian’ for having participated.
Noble C. Chummar (2012)
Partner, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
As high as my expectations were entering the Conference, they were completely blown away before the opening plenary was even over. To explore the underbelly of Canada’s wealthiest province for 10 days with a collection of new acquaintances and come away with a completely different view of life in Alberta was absolutely unforgettable. Things that we thought we knew about how our tour would unfold turned out completely the opposite, and that was perfect. And to be part of a group of 17 strangers from coast to coast (to coast!) with expertise in everything from maple syrup to law that morphed into one unit that will have an unbreakable lifelong bond is simply an experience you cannot get anywhere else. To say that this Conference is second to none is an understatement like no other.
Daniel Campbell (2012)
Sector Lead, ICT
I always thought I viewed the world with an open mind but my experience participating in the GGCLC widened that view even further…. The GGCLC experience challenged us to think and act beyond our comfort levels – to take the best of each of us and let one another walk in those shoes or mindset for two weeks. The people we met in the communities we visited provided a slice of life that was real, energizing and at times, heartbreaking. This level of learning and exposure to Canada cannot be obtained through a work site or classroom. We grew by connecting with fellow Canadians – in penitentiaries, corporate boardrooms, community dinner tables, youth group homes and underground mines. I now feel an even greater need to create positive change for Canadians – and as an Alumni of the GGCLC it’s quite simply, my responsibility.
Brooke Yeates (2012)
Manager, Change Management and Organizational Impacts
Vale Canada Limited
The Conference provided me with a real boost in social and professional terms. My involvement took shape in particular through increased commitment in my community. I now sit on the executive board of Education International, the biggest international organization in the field of education, representing 32 million members in 171 countries and territories. I have become involved with groups of unemployment women and men in Quebec, with poor people, and I was even able to pay tribute at the World Congress of Education International, held last July in Ottawa, to Chief Wilton Littlechild, a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Our encounter during a study group tour with victims of residential schools for indigenous children stirred deep inside me a desire to work in defending the rights of indigenous people and, in particular, of disappeared or murdered women. The Conference will remain a pivotal event in my life.
Daniel B. Lafrenière (2008)
Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ)
Tooling around New Brunswick in a disco-era bus with civil servants and union guys and corporate leaders and even a Parti Quebecois politician may not have been exactly how I thought I would spend my summer, but am I ever glad I did! I learned so much about a region I didn’t know very well, about community action and engagement, and about what binds us together as a nation. I learned so much from my fellow travelers, as well as all the wonderful community people we met. I can’t recommend the experience highly enough.
Naheed Nenshi (2008)
Mayor of Calgary
Participating in the 2008 GGCLC has to have been one of the most outstanding opportunities for personal growth that I’ve experienced. It was an opportunity to learn about what makes Canada such a wonderful country, to reflect upon the things which we often take for granted, and to develop intellectually as a Canadian, as a leader, and as a person. We don’t all have to agree on issues, but we do need to listen, to learn and to grow as the world changes around us. This is an outstanding opportunity to experience the best of Canada.
Hon. Stephanie Cadieux (2008)
Former Minister of Children and Family Development, Province of British Columbia
Educational, exhilarating, exhausting! Definitely one of the best professional and personal experiences of my life! Trust me, it is not what you expect and 100 times better. When my boss asked me to apply, all I could think about was the mountain of emails that would be waiting for me when I got back and was neither enthusiastic nor optimistic about getting anything out of it. I thought I already had an open and accepting mind and heart. I thought that I already understood diversity and the value of it in the world and in business. I thought that I knew our great country. I found out that I knew very little. This opportunity will change how you think, how you work and most importantly how you live.
Elizabeth Fretheim (2008)
Director, Business Strategy & Sustainability – Logistics
The Conference has brought me 15 days of discomfort, stress, queries, discussion, long hours, consensus and re-energizing. I have been confronted with troubling realities in all the places that our group visited. This is an unforgettable and rewarding experience that makes you think differently now for later.
Benoît Celestino (2008) Président national, Syndicat des technicien(ne)s et artisan(e)s
du réseau français de Radio-Canada (STARF)
Taking part in the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference had a great impact on me. Two weeks of fascinating encounters, engaging discussions, challenging dominant views and seeing that we are all leaders in our own right. Visiting Newfoundland and Labrador with leaders from all walks of life allowed me to analyze in a different light some of the challenges facing our country and has deeply changed the way I work. A fascinating human experience not to be missed!
Sophie-Emmanuelle Chebin (2008)
As a new Canadian, I found the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference to be a perfect opportunity to better understand and connect with my adopted homeland. During the course of two weeks, our group toured Nova Scotia, and we met with key leaders and stakeholders; remarkable people who make a difference in their communities everyday. Along the way, we debated key issues, and forged solid, lifelong friendships with a diverse group of individuals we would have never met during our normal daily lives. Having attended several leadership courses during my career, I can attest to the fact that very few come close to the real-life experience that the Conference provides. Without doubt, this is a once in a lifetime experience!
Amrit Mehta (2008)
Executive Director, GM North America and Global Chevrolet/GMC Portfolio Planning
General Motors Company
The 2008 GGCLC was a remarkable journey of discovery: discovery of the interplay between different sectors, discovery of a variety of divergent leadership approaches, discovery of the many facets of this incredible country, discovery of new friends and networks, discovery of self. That this journey took place over such a short timeframe (and although 2.5 weeks seemed like a big commitment at the outset, it was tiny in the greater scheme of things) made it all the more amazing. The Governor General herself was very present, and had a big impact on participants as did the many other speakers and participants. It was an honour to be selected as part of the 2008 cohort; I highly recommend this opportunity to those considering the 2012 session.
Elisa Campbell (2008)
Director, Housing Policy and Planning
“Attending the 2008 GGCLC was an incredible opportunity to learn from renowned Canadian and international leaders. The chance to listen, learn and interact with the leaders, presenters and fellow delegates in both formal and informal environments allowed for truthful, respectful and diverse dialogue on the recipe for the various successful communities across Canada and other countries. Together, our group worked on how we can each develop a strong understanding of the ingredients for a thriving community. We learned that experience, collaboration and dedication can be solutions to our leadership challenges at the corporate, government, political and community levels. I learned as much about myself as I did about the fellow delegates I spent two weeks touring Saskatchewan with. It was a time to see how other leaders have stretched from within their comfort zones at work and the places they live to provide other members of their communities with safer and better places to live. It took six months to really digest everything I experienced and apply it to my personal career and community goals”.
Scott Tod (2008)
Former Deputy Commissioner, Ontario Provincial Police
No other leadership course offers our great nation and its vast and diverse communities and geography as a classroom. A leadership course where participants, leaders in their own right, from all walks of professional life in Canada are your teachers, mentors and you theirs. Your two week journey will thrust you into issues, environments, socio-economic settings and circumstances possibly for the very first time. You will witness first hand the success, struggles and innovations of our fellow Canadian citizens and those they represent. The opportunity to share, challenge and debate the many public policy issues you and your group encounter will teach you more about your Country and yourself than any lecture ever will. The friends and colleagues I met have left a positive and lasting imprint on my professional development and I continue to draw on this experience on my personal and professional life.
Riel Bellegarde (2008)
President and CEO
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology
It was an honour to have participated in the 2008 GGCLC where my study group went to Newfoundland and Labrador. The east coast is beautiful and the people were welcoming everywhere we went. My study group was from all background of careers which made it interesting and I am proud to have been in the group. The daily travel where we met in the evenings and woke up early for our next travel was exhausting but definitely worth it. I will also remember and treasure my involvement in the conference and I highly recommend those to take part.
Regilee Adla (2008)
Acting Manager, Finance and Administration,
Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, Government of Nunavut
To say that the opportunity to participate in the 2008 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference was ‘life-changing’ would, to some degree, minimize its impact. The chance to participate in such a ‘big picture’ experience with a diverse group of colleagues from all walks of Canadian life and experiences was a true gift. Despite being born and raised in Canada, I discovered my true national pride as part of this Conference. The experience stretched me in ways I could never have imagined and challenged my thinking on my role in my own community. I was exposed to ideas, history, and points of view that I could never have experienced in any other venue…. I had the chance to participate in engaging dialogue around the qualities of leadership needed to move our communities, and our country, forward. If such a unique experience isn’t completely life-altering, I don’t know what is!
Michelle M. Campbell (2008)
President & CEO
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation, London, ON
What an honour it was to be one of the lucky Canadians chosen to experience the personal journey one embarks on by attending the GGCLC. It still makes me misty-eyed, years later, when I think back to all the extraordinary people I met and the wonderful communities I visited. The pride I felt in the achievements of these communities reaffirmed my pride in being Canadian. My participation in this challenging conference led to a personal transformation which I believe has made me a more effective leader. The chance to embrace the diversity in which I was immersed was particularly rewarding – one must be prepared to live outside of their comfort zone in order to gain the full benefit of this exceptional conference. I believe that participating in the conference has made me a better person. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience.
Darla Deguire (2008)
Regional Representative, Prairies,
Canadian Labour Congress
Through this wonderful opportunity my Canada got bigger and smaller at the same time. We were able to experience a part of the country so diverse and with an amazing group of individuals as diverse as the province. I realized while we all look though different lenses of our past experiences our very diverse group found common themes. So rather than divide us, this experience brought us as a group together. This was a fabulously enriching experience that I would encourage anyone to take advantage of given the opportunity. This experience helped make me a better Canadian and a better leader and in some small way I hope I can give some of this back.
Byron Goerz (2008)
Chairperson, Environment Technical & Operational Component
British Columbia Government and Service Employees Union
I had been pushed to attend the 2008 Leadership Conference by an alumni of the 2004 Conference, so I had a better idea than most of the other participants of the experience that was coming. Even so, the Conference exceeded my expectations. The chance to meet people from very diverse backgrounds, experiencing this group of total strangers come together as a tight group, and in fact become friends in a little over two weeks was an experience I will always treasure. We learned a great deal from our tour, but we also learned from each other, and I certainly came away from the Conference with a clearer idea of what I wanted to achieve in my life.
David Black, (2008)
The 2004 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference was a truly vision-altering experience. The exposure to the various opinions, ideals and visions at all levels of business, government and communities was worth every moment. It was really wonderful to see our country, both the good and the bad, through the eyes of participants who were there to enhance their leadership skills to help move their organizations and this country forward. My leadership style has been positively affected for life!
Joan Jessome (2004)
Former President, Nova Scotia Government Employees Union
After having three years to reflect on my experiences during the 2000 Governor General Canadian Study Conference, I can say that I truly have a broader appreciation for Canada and the issues we face as Canadians. Although I learned more about Nova Scotia, I also learned more about myself and my capabilities with the help of my fellow colleagues on the tour. They helped me realize my potential and this has given me more confidence to continue working in my chosen field of bridging cultures through community development. In fact, I have since started my own consulting company, and attribute that decision to the experience gained during the conference.
Francis Erasmus (2000)
The Conference allowed me to live an experience unique in this country, in which all of my assumptions were put to the test. It was an unequalled opportunity to explore areas of public interest and to exchange ideas with people from completely different fields of knowledge.
Marc-Philippe Laurin (2000)
Technician/Associate-producer CBC, Chair of the CBC Bargaining Unit
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union
I went to get shaken. You have to be able to be influenced. You have to be a very, very open-minded person. I learned that there are a lot of shades of grey – nothing is black and white.
Claude Pinard (2000)
Vice President Communications,
In our business we believe that behaviors are influenced by people’s mindsets which in turn are influenced by values and experiences. I can tell you unequivocally that my participation in the 2004 GG Leadership conference became an experience which altered my own mindset about important issues in our country. Whether it was experiencing a different meaning of the word community while walking through Vancouver’s eastside or discovering the history, the complexities and real issues facing First Nations which motivate their profound perspective around self-government. As I was “living” these and many other memorable moments with a great group of very diverse and passionate fellow conference attendees, I thought that our country would be a better place if every Canadian did this!! I was one of the lucky ones. It’s up to me now !
François Hudon (2004)
Sr Vice-President, Quebec and Atlantic divisions
BMO Bank of Montreal
The GG Conference was, for me, one of those life changing events. Not only did I gain a greater appreciation of the different segments of our society; i.e.., poor, illiterate, sick, union, business, social services, but I gained a much larger and greater appreciation of myself and the larger country I am a part of, live in and influence. I came to both understand and appreciate that I had the potential to influence, shape and support a greater sphere of this land we call home, Canada. The GG Conference continues to shape my leadership decisions and influence my life and for this I remain indebted to those who provide me with an opportunity to participate.
Alex Reed (2004)
Registrar / Director Customer Services
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
I found my experience on the 2000 Canadian Governor General’s study tour to be an exceptional opportunity. To this day, I still refer to my experience as a unique learning opportunity. It was a privilege to be chosen and exposed to a variety of individuals from varying backgrounds. I learned more about my country, about myself and how I could improve my leadership ability. The Conference allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. It is an experience not to be missed.
Katya Laviolette (2000)
Vice-President, Human Resources