Sheldon Kennedy a speaker at third annual leadership conference

  • Sep. 16, 2015 3:38 p.m.

Gearing up for a fall conference Sept. 21st-22nd, Red Deer-based The Leadership Centre is marking 15 years.

“We are very excited,” said Linda Wilson, the organization’s executive director. “Our theme of the conference is Courageous Leaders Inspiring Action.”

The third annual Leadership conference, to take place at Westerner Park, features speakers Dr. Henry Cloud, clinical psychologist and business consultant; Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player and recipient of the Order of Canada and Eva Olsson, author, speaker and Holocaust survivor.

“We’re having an alumni reception on the Sunday night. It gives them a chance to meet our speakers and a time to reconnect. It’s a bit of a celebration on our 15 years as a non-profit here in Central Alberta,” said Wilson, adding that the conference features a blend of speakers in attendance as well as others via video.

Kennedy’s talk, set for Sept. 21st at 7 p.m. in the Parkland Pavilion, is open to the public. Those not attending the conference must pay $40, and non-conference youth attendees can hear Kennedy for free.

“He’s offering an evening session which is open to the community,” she said. “Anybody can purchase a ticket to come join us for that evening event. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and Sheldon starts speaking at 7 p.m. We feel so passionate about Sheldon’s story that we are opening it up to 14- to 18-year-olds to come for free. We want the youth to hear this story.

“We still want people to register for it online – so if a parent is coming with three or four youth with them, we need them to go to the ‘evening event’ tab. The adult would register for their $40 they need to pay for the evening, but they still need to list the names of the children and sign them in under youth. They don’t get charged anything. It’s just for us to track numbers, so we know how to prep for that evening.”

Those interested in attending Kennedy’s talk, but who are unable to attend the conference, can register for the evening event at

As the Leadership Centre’s web site points out, Kennedy has become an unofficial champion for millions of child abuse survivors around the world.

“He talks about when anybody experiences any kind of trauma and knowing the importance of seeking help,” said Wilson. “The next day, he will continue on speaking more from a business perspective of once he was ready to move forward, of how he went about setting up the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary.”

After playing for Canada’s gold-medal team in the 1988 World Junior Hockey Championship, captaining the Memorial Cup-winning Swift Current Broncos in 1989 and an eight-year NHL career, he made the courageous decision to charge his Major Junior Hockey League coach with sexual assault for abuse suffered over a five year period.

To close out the conference, Olsson will be sharing as well. “She’ll be sharing her story, and some of what she shares will really be tying into what the other speakers are talking about. So it will be a great way to summarize the conference. She talks also about what kind of legacy are we leaving, and how do we move forward in leaving a legacy of character.”

The Leadership Centre’s history stretches back to June of 1999, when 50 community leaders from the business, community services, education and sport sectors met to explore the idea of leadership development for the region.

In December of 2000 The Leadership Centre was established as a Society with three priority areas – community leadership, sport leadership and youth leadership.

Meanwhile, Wilson said people can still register for the conference as a whole.

“We are taking registrations right on up until the morning it starts.”