The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference



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)
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Province of British Columbia
MLA Surrey-Panorama

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

Absolutely the best personal and professional development experience I have ever had. Travelling to a different area of Canada and meeting with business, labour, NGO's, social activists and indigenous peoples gave me a new perspective on Canada and myself. Each study group, by design, included people with a wide variety of backgrounds. All were leaders in their own right and were committed to growing as leaders and individuals. We learned a great deal from each other, whether we realized it at the time or subsequently. This is truly a unique forum for providing such an excellent opportunity for growth.
Bruce Parker (2008)
Senior Director, Treasury and Corporate Development
Potash Corp

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

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)
Première directrice, initiatives stratégiques et intégration

The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference is a once in a lifetime leadership opportunity that simply cannot be duplicated in any other setting. Working with a group of people that came from vastly different backgrounds from me, not only in terms of their professions but also culturally, was a tremendous learning experience. We discovered that while we did not necessarily share even the most basic values, we still became close friends and learned a tremendous amount from each other and from the amazing community leaders that we met everyday. I was forced to get out of my comfort zone and was pushed to do things I would never have done both physically and emotionally. For anyone searching to move their leadership to a level that goes far beyond the traditional, this is the conference for you!
Mauricette Howlett, M.Sc (2008)
Regional Director / Directrice régionale Public Health Agency of Canada / Agence de la santé
publique du Canada Ontario and Nunavut Region - Région de l'Ontario et du Nunavut

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)
Director-Strategic Planning,
GM of Canada Ltd.

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)
Executive Director
Design Centre for Sustainability at UBC

"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)
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)
Regional Director General,
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Saskatchewan

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 Leard (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)
Canadian Office and Professional and Professional Employees Union

At the 2004 conference, Adrienne Clarkson said “There are wonderful leaders who watch where people are going and gently, insistently herd them from all sides – even behind – rather like a good sheep dog”. This confirmed for me that I don’t have to be a “saviour, dynamo, [or] hero” to be an effective leader. We met leaders in communities across the Yukon, national and international leaders as conference speakers, and leaders who were conference participants. We saw how the main goal of effective leaders is to encourage leadership in others, and how they ask questions, challenge assumptions, and have their own assumptions challenged. Exactly how the conference was modeled. This is an experience like no other, and I know it has made me a better Canadian and a better public servant.
Johanna N. Read (2004)
Director, Planning & Integration, The Leadership Network
Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada

What an experience. Not only do you learn much about our country, its people and diversity, you also learn a great deal about yourself. The Conference creates an environment of learning about different perspectives, challenging long held assumptions and exposing you to an array of new and sometimes provocative opinions. Best of all, you travel and meet amazing people whose stories reach you in ways you never before imagined. Participating is a must and one you'll always remember.
Michael Jolliffe (2004)
Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Communications, AMEC

The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference provides a phenomenal opportunity to grow as a leader. It's about learning to engage other leaders from diverse backgrounds. It's about developing a long term network of leaders who are partners in making Canada a better country. It's about understanding yourself as a leader, and coming to appreciate how working together generates better solutions that can really make a difference. This conference was simply the best "real world" leadership development experience I've had.
Doreen Cole (2004)
General Manager Business Strategy & Growth
Shell Canada Ltd.

Having attended many "high impact" learning events during the course of my career, I wondered before applying whether this one would add anything I hadn't already seen. Am I ever glad I attended. I'm not sure I have ever seen such a broad collection of national and world-class talent all brought together for a learning event of this magnitude. The speakers alone were more impressive than any conference I've ever attended. Learning from current and future leaders from private sector, NGO, labour and other governments is something that I will never forget. The proof that this is truly different: I'm still in regular contact with many Conference participants -- which just isn't the case with the vast majority of events that I had participated in the past. The conference is an opportunity to meet, learn from and share with people who will continue to shape many aspects of Canada's future. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to participate.
Daniel Watson (2004)
Assistant Deputy Minister
Western Economic Diversification, Saskatchewan Region

In 1995, I spent a couple of weeks bouncing around western Quebec in a school bus full of 40-year-olds. My boss told me to go and I wasn't exactly happy about it at first. I thought it would be a waste of time. I was dead wrong. I had spent my entire career in the oil business - working with people who pretty much saw the world as I did. The conference tour was a wake-up call. The other people on the bus were definitely not business people. They had completely different perspectives on life than I did. I have never forgotten the lessons I learned from them - and I'm sure they haven't forgotten me!
Neil Camarta (1995)
Senior Vice-President, Oil Sands

Those who benefit most from the experience are those who can free themselves from positional debate for a couple of weeks, in order to explore and hopefully understand the interests of others. While my core principles did not change, my approach to people on the ‘other side of the table’ certainly has. I think I work far more efficiently as a result.
George Heyman,
BC Government and Service Employees’ Union

This leadership conference will change you. Firstly, it really is a "once in a lifetime experience". You will meet incredibly diverse and interesting people from all walks of life, each with something valuable to contribute to your personal growth. Your preconceived ideas about others will forever be changed and you will be inspired to make a difference. Second, there is an immeasurable "take home value". You will learn what it means to be a real leader, to listen before talking, to learn from those you previously thought don’t have anything to teach you, to understand instead of trying to convince, to respectfully agree to disagree.
In short, you will be proud to be Canadian.
Jean Fahmy (2004)
CEO , brainPen inc.

The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference gave me an opportunity to see other parts of the country which I knew little about and in doing so I was able to identify with those people and places on both aspects of the conference theme – leadership and diversity. It was a program for me to was one of character building which led to an increased respect of others and a better understanding of the many cultures which make up Canada. Diversity in life and in work stems from our own communities and it is through this diversity that leaders are willing and able rise up to stem the social challenges facing us all – and that is what I saw most during the tour of Southwestern Ontario and which has made an impact on both my personal and professional life.
Richard Paton (2004)
Director, Inuit Employment Planning, Government of Nunavut

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)
President, Nova Scotia Government Employees Union

This was undoubtedly the most challenging two weeks of my life. I’m not sure any seminar, leadership course, book or employment situation would have given rise to the kinds of insights and revelations inspired by the Conference. Because the Conference requires perpetual action on the part of its chosen participants and tests your every limit, your effectiveness as a leader bubbles to the surface and you are soon forced to face what works and what doesn’t about your personal style. I can pull those two weeks out of a lifetime of experience as a lesson on who I am, how I co-exist with others, how I affect others and how others affect me. It was powerful enough to drive me to make effective changes to my leadership style. There is a beauty in the ties that bind us as Canadians regardless of region and connecting with the humanity and with the common struggle through this Conference only increased my patriotism and love for this country. This experience will be well worth it for anyone fortunate enough to attend.
Marni Schecter-Taylor (2004)
President, Giving Matters Inc.

My most striking insight, arose out of the deliberate structuring of the tour groups to include leaders from all groups represented at the conference, e.g.: business, labour, government and NGO's. It seemed to me, that our initial assumptions about each other, primarily derived from our group affiliations, spoke so powerfully that we weren't able to communicate with each other, even though, we all spoke the same language, and practiced all the same rules for effective communication and social interaction. It took time together and shared experiences, to develop the requisite level of relatedness and trust, that allowed us to really hear and understand each other, from which collaboration sprang. Having discovered it in our personal interactions within the group, it became obvious everywhere, and is something I remind myself of, and tend to, to this day.

Finally, to quote a passage from T.E. Lawrence: "Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind wake in the day to find it all was vanity, but the dreamers of the day, are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes and make it possible". We were truly fortunate in our tour. We got a chance to experience first hand, leaders in a variety of contexts: business, industry, arts, social services, education, technology, government, etc., who were acting on their dreams; bold dreams, that had clearly taken hold in their hearts and their very being, and from which, sprung the commitment, energy and the action their pursuit required. It was a common attribute, strikingly evident in all, that is best experienced, not read about. I came away both impressed and inspired, and still find it so today. I also came away feeling very good about our future as Canadians, for it was clearly evident from the people we met in the tours and indeed the 225 people who participated in the conference, that we have no shortage of such people who are acting on their dreams. In other words, our leaders are many, and everywhere!
Jerry Handford (2004)
General Manager, Human Resources, Syncrude Canada Ltd.

Every once in a while lightning strikes and we are able to shed our armor of pre-conceived ideas, values and perceptions and hang it out to blow in different winds. Usually we find the clothes don’t fit quite the same way anymore afterwards. Witnessing and confronting other styles of leadership created greater understanding and depth of my own. I learned that the higher we aim and the firmer the commitment, the greater the outcome. The Governor-General’s Leadership Conference was unforgettable and broadened the way I see myself, Canada and the world.
David MacKenzie (2004)
CEO, Confederation Centre of the Arts

The Study Conference is a unique opportunity to enhance knowledge and understanding of Canada and Canadians. For me, the increased appreciation of Canada gained through the study tour and Conference was merely the first (but profound) benefit. I have made lasting friendships and contacts across all regions and sectors that continue to enrich me personally and professionally.
Ric Cameron (1983)
Senior Vice-President


The 2000 Governor General's Canadian Study Conference was an exhausting but positive life changing experience that provided me with a finer appreciation of the issues facing this country, a better understanding of the social, economic and political concerns of the region that my group toured (NB and PEI) and an increased knowledge of how a bilingual and multicultural federation like Canada can live peacefully.
Thomas Ullyett (2000)
Assistant Deputy Minister, Legal Services Branch
Yukon Department of Justice

It was absolutely fascinating to share views with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives on the important issue of communities and the role of leadership. We enjoyed many vigorous debates, often until very late, and although I'm quite sure nobody turned 180 degrees, there was an encouraging willingness to find common ground. I was impressed with the passion that people brought to the conference. The Conference has had a significant positive impact on both my personal and professional life.
Gordon Mooney (2000)
Sr. Vice President, Personal & Business Banking
Alberta Treasury Branches Financial

It was a life-changing experience. The knowledge that I have gained from the Conference has impacted the way I perceive things and the way I work. It is an experience that you can't find in other conferences or development opportunities.
Paul LeBlanc (2000)
Senior Communications Officer,
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

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)
Bridging Circles

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,
Saputo Inc.

Participating in the Governor General's Canadian Study Conference was a unique experience. Being a member of a study group with such diverse interests while exploring a broad range of culture, social and economic issues has played a significant role in my business career as one takes on challenges to enhance value for our owners, the industry in which we participate and the community at large and hopefully in a small way for this great country of ours.
Fraser Walsh (1991)
Heritage Salmon Ltd.

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
Transcontinental Media

I had heard (from an alumnus) that the Conference was nothing less than a life-changing experience. And I must say it changed my vision of the world. The shock was intense. In the months following the Conference I could see that my perception of society had undergone real change for the better. It helped me view the world we live in more reflectively and more fully.

In concrete terms, the Conference gave me the idea for an ambitious project, along with the energy and confidence I needed to carry it out. After two years of work, I recently announced the launch of Business Volunteers, a body providing for business people to mesh with non-profit organizations in Quebec. The main partners of Business Volunteers are Centraide of Greater Montreal and the Montreal Board of Trade.
Ugo Dionne (2004)
Synesis Informatique Inc.

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.
Leo Gerard
International President
United Steelworkers

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