Contact 2023 Conference Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Author | Speaker| Corporate Trainer

Author | Speaker | Culture Enricher 

Entrepreneur | Speaker | Change Maker 

Conference Emcees

Saskatchewan Intercultural Association

Global Gathering Place

Session Speakers

The R lifestyle co.

University of British Columbia

Takota HR Solutions

Prairie Flooring LTD

Drake Meats

Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Road Coffee Inc.

Doubleknot Works

Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF)

Mount Royal University

Ministry of Immigration & Career Training

SaskAbilities – Partners in Employment

SaskAbilities – Partners in Employment

The Culture Group

SaskAbilities – Partners in Employment

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies

Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF)

Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan

Life Role Development Group

Enough Already SK

Job Title

Job Title

Ahmad Majid

HR & Employee Engagement Manager, SIA

Ahmad Majid is of Iraqi descent, and his family came to Canada from Kuwait to escape the unrest during the First Gulf War in 1990. Ahmad has worked and volunteered at various settlement organizations throughout Saskatoon such as the Saskatoon Open Door Society, SAISIA, and currently at Saskatchewan Intercultural Association. He has held many positions within the settlement sector including Youth Employment Counsellor, Team Lead, Executive Director, and currently the HR and Employee Engagement Manager at SIA. He is extremely passionate about supporting newcomers to Canada and has dedicated his personal purpose and professional career to contributing to successful newcomer settlement and integration. 

Sol Barrones

Client Care Team Lead, The Global Gathering Place

Sol Barrones is currently the Client Care Team Lead at The Global Gathering Place supporting high needs refugees and other newcomers in their settlement process. Helping vulnerable people and protecting Human Rights has always been a passion for Sol. As a criminal lawyer back in Mexico, she worked for 12 years as a Public Prosecutor for the Attorney General Office of Chihuahua state, before moving to Canada with her husband, and her son, who is now a 21-year old young man. Saskatoon has been home for her and her family for 13 years, and she feels like her experience as a newcomer herself and her background in Law has offered her the knowledge and skills that she needs to successfully perform her job with confidence, reliance, and determination.

Meet Ryssa Alarcon, a young entrepreneur and philanthropist who is making waves in the world of marketing. With her exceptional business acumen, Ryssa has garnered an impressive array of clients, ranging from businesses to non-profits across Canada and the US. She also owns the R lifestyle co, a beauty and wellness brand that has transformed into the philanthropic wing of her consulting business. Its mission is to support women-centred charities in Saskatchewan while sharing inspiring stories of women and their career or entrepreneurial journey.

A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Marketing, Ryssa is now on track to completing her Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southwestern State University. In addition to studying and running her business & philanthropic venture, Ryssa is a Marketing Manager on the Senior Management Team at Saskatoon Co-op. In this role, she leads the marketing efforts for major divisions, such as Fuel, Food, Home Centre, and Pharmacy, spanning nine cities.

In recognition of her remarkable contributions to the community and her outstanding professional achievements, Ryssa was honoured with the prestigious “29 & Under” YWCA Saskatoon Women of Distinction Award in 2022. This accolade celebrated Ryssa’s inspirational leadership and marked her as a true trailblazer.

Dr. Norm Amundson

Professor Emeritus from the University of British Columbia

Norm Amundson is a professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia, with a PhD from the University of Alberta and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Umea, Sweden. He has worked in the career development field for over 40 years. During this time, he has been involved in a number of national and international career development projects and published many books and articles, including Guiding Circles, Physics of Living, Hope-Filled Engagement (co-author) and more. Most recently (2018), an Anniversary Edition of his nationally award-winning book “Active Engagement” was released. Norm is a co-founder of the Hope-Action Theory and a lead instructor for the Career Coaching Masterclass at the University of British Columbia.

In his work, he emphasizes the importance of creativity, imagination, storytelling, dynamic action, metaphors and hope. Dr. Amundson has presented his work at many national and international conferences (in more than 30 countries). He has also been recognized by many national and international professional associations for his leadership and contributions in the career development field. His workshops and presentations are practical, engaging and interactive.

Michelle Brooks

Tokata HR Solutions – A Division of FHQ Developments

Michelle Brooks is a proud member of the Cowessess First Nation and joined FHQ Developments in 2021. She is our Indigenous HR Strategy Manager at Tokata HR Solutions, the Indigenous Recruitment Division of FHQ Developments. Michelle and her team are dedicated to working with Indigenous career seekers and strategy investor organizations to recruit, train and coach Indigenous Talent for in-demand careers.

Michelle has worked in the HR industry for over 23 years and brings many years of experience in building strategies and partnerships. She dedicates her personal and professional life to career coaching, policing initiatives and advancing Indigenous employment and Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.

Michelle pivoted from a lengthy HR career in the ICT industry and spends her time as an Indigenous HR Strategy Manager, Business Owner and Board Member of the Regina Crime Stoppers and Ignite Adult Learning Corporation. In addition to that, she keeps her father’s policing legacy alive by dedicating time to policing initiatives, Reconciliation initiatives and by offering bursaries to Indigenous students pursuing careers in policing. Michelle’s work is aimed at ensuring there is a strong talent strategy in place to recruit, build and train our Indigenous workforce.

Tarrant Cross Child

Prairie Flooring LTD & Prairie Run Crew

Tarrant Cross Child is Niitsitapi from Kainai in southern Alberta — a member tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy — and now lives in Saskatoon, SK.

In 2002, Tarrant began his own tile installation company. He successfully ran this company until 2014 while battling an alcohol and gambling addiction. After completing a year-long in-residence rehabilitation program, he restarted his tile installation company.

In 2018, Tarrant partnered with Christian Braid to form Prairie Flooring Ltd., a First Nations majority owned business geared towards excellence in the trade of flooring installation.

Tarrant has always had a passion for running, and in 2016 he founded what is now Prairie Run Crew to share his passion with inner city youth and remote communities.

In addition to running two companies, Tarrant is an Ambassador for New Balance Canada (Athletic Footwear & Apparel brand) as well as Brainsport (Running Specialty Store in Saskatoon, SK).

With 20 years at Drake Meats, Lindsay is the Quality Assurance and HR Manager. She is also the Mom of four teenagers, a Grain & Cattle farm wife, and passionate about helping people.

Michele Ellingsen Ailsby

Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Michele Ellingsen Ailsby is the Manager of Innovative Training Solutions at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Michele has a background in educational psychology and has worked for over 15 years supporting under-represented/underemployed individuals, connecting them to the Saskatchewan labour market.

Coffee has never been far from founder Alisha Esmail’s mind; it’s an integral part of her daily ritual and one she has savoured for many years at home and throughout her worldly travels. Her past work executing development projects in Haiti, Nepal, Jordan, South Africa, and other places set fire to a deep desire to make a positive impact and spark change in an industry fraught with turmoil and unethical practice. Driven by her experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Alisha set out to create that change. Her passion for people and coffee culminated in the form of Road Coffee.

In the years that followed, Alisha spent time involved in development projects around the world, bettering access to food and water in Nepal, and participated in various projects from Haiti to South Africa, bringing impact and long-term change. It was during these experiences that she decided to change her career path to focus on using business as a platform to bring change and development.

She often spent time on coffee and tea farms, learning about their process and meeting the farmers and their families. Alisha quickly learned firsthand about the systemic injustices and inefficiencies keeping them in poverty and stunting their growth. Visiting these farms, and seeing just how hard farmers are working, made it clear that they’re being taken advantage of by those in power – and that things really need to change.

Blending her passion for ethical business and international development, she saw an opportunity to make a greater impact and founded Road Coffee on the same values she lives every day. Since starting Road Coffee, she’s led the team to develop a unique sourcing model called their BeyondFair program as well as their own micro-loan program that unshackles coffee farmers from reaching their full potential.

Alisha’s overarching mission is to inspire and equip individuals to pursue their passions.

Andrea Fruhling is a Certified Organizational Coach and an accredited coach (PCC) through the International Coaching Federation. She is the Founding Director of Doubleknot Works, and a Mentor Coach & Instructor for the University of British Columbia’s Organizational Coaching certification program. Andrea is the developer and lead instructor for the Career Coaching Masterclass at the University of British Columbia, and co-leads the International Coaching Federation’s Global Career Coaching Community of Practice. She is also a trained Facilitator in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method and Materials.

Andrea develops and delivers training and group coaching programs for coaches, industry leaders, and organizations, helping them find engaging ways to support growth, and increase individual and collective hopefulness through career development. She has delivered numerous keynote presentations and workshops for national and international conferences, career development associations, organizations, and a broad range of client groups. Her work is practical and engaging with a focus on creativity, strengths-based learning, team engagement, and hope.

Sareena Hopkins

Executive Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF)

As Executive Director of the Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF), Sareena works in Canada and internationally to strengthen the reach and impact of the career development sector by moving from ideas to action in areas of public policy, research and development, capacity building, and advocacy. Sareena is on the Board of the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy and, in 2014, was awarded the International Gold Medal for Leadership in Career Development.

Michael has been involved in the career development field as a counsellor, practitioner, trainer, and counsellor educator since the early 1990s. He is a Registered Psychologist, counsellor, and associate professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada where he provides counselling addressing personal, educational, and career-related concerns. Michael continues to teach graduate courses and facilitate practitioner workshops focused on counselling skills and intervention strategies. His areas of interest and exploration include counsellor training, career intervention, stress and coping, and counselling outcomes and evaluation. He is particularly interested in the various connections between career development, mental health, mental illness, and well-being.

Jolene Kindiak

Ministry of Immigration & Career Training

Jolene Kindiak works with the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training (ICT) Career Services Branch, as the Manager of Planning and Procurement and the Ukrainian Response Team out of the office in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. She holds a Bachelor of Human Justice degree and a Certificate in Human Resource Management. Jolene worked for nine years in a provincial youth custody facility until she found her true passion for helping people along their career path and supporting those that provide services to clients through agreement management. Today she leads a team that works incredibly hard to ensure that the programs that Career Services supports and funds align with the Saskatchewan labour market and the people it serves. As the Manager of the Ukrainian Response Team, Jolene has had the opportunity to work closely with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency’s Provincial Emergency Operations Centre and our ICT team in the organization of the One Stop Shop events supporting displaced Ukrainians and other Newcomers to settle more quickly and comfortably into our Saskatchewan communities.

Deirdre Lavallee

Saskatchewan Indian Instritue of Technologies

Deidre Lavallee grew up in northern Saskatchewan in a small community – Beauval, SK – before moving to Saskatoon in her teen years.  After university, she started out working in Restorative Justice for 10 years and then shifted to employment counselling.  She worked with the SIIT Career Centre in a Job Coach role since 2019 and has recently accepted the Operations Manager position.  Deidre enjoys helping people in their journey.  Seeing people achieve their goals is the best reward.  

Elaine McGill

SaskAbilities – Partners in Employment

Elaine McGill is currently a Workplace Mentor with the Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Partners in Employment – SaskAbilities office, within the Youth Job Connection program. Elaine provides ongoing support to participants throughout the duration of the program and is instrumental in assisting participants particularly at the workplace to provide on-going mentorship and follow-up services to help participants achieve success; supporting both the employee and employer through this process.

Olivia is the best-selling author of three books: The Business of Kindness, Four Generations-One Workplace and I See You and the Spring 2023 trade book, Disruptive Kindness: A Bold Approach to Doing Things Differently. As a subject matter expert on five generations gracing our workplaces, she believes that it is not our differences that divide us, rather, it’s our judgments. She ascertains if we can begin to release these divergent views and see the gifts each cohort brings to the workplace that building collaborative relationships and personal engagement will be the natural outcome achieved.

Her work has been embraced by industries including Healthcare, Technology, Government, Law, Education, Retail, Wholesale, Tourism, Hospitality, Financial, Utilities, Oil & Gas, Telecommunication and Manufacturing.

She is a post-secondary educator and teaches in the School of Business at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Her Philanthropic work has her serving as the Global Director for The Charter for Compassion Education Institute and as an Advisor for the Kindness Foundation of Canada.

Bernice McKen

SaskAbilities – Partners in Employment

Bernice McKen is currently a Youth Employment Specialist with the Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Partners in Employment office, which is a division of SaskAbilities, that works directly with employers and individuals with barriers or disabilities to create successful job opportunities. Bernice facilitates the Youth Job Connection program, which is a 10 week program that assists young adults ages 15 to 30 to overcome their barriers to employment, structured by 5 weeks of small group class sessions and an individualized 5 week work experience. The program assists youth in making a positive contribution to their community through successful preparation, entrance and participation in the labour market. Bernice was a teacher with the Good Spirit School Division for 30 years, specializing in literacy and student support prior to her employment with SaskAbilities (Partners in Employment).

Marc Okihcihtaw

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies

Marc Okihcihtaw (long John) is Cree from Sturgeon Lake First Nation and resides in Saskatoon Sk. Marc has been drumming traditional drum music and has his bachelor’s degree majoring in Native studies and minor in Fine Arts. Marc is with the S.I.I.T Career Centre as an operations manager. Marc provides support to the career centre team and fosters community development relationships with First Nations and employer partners in our province.

Dr. Deirdre Pickerell

Program Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation

Dr. Deirdre Pickerell, Program Director with the Canadian Career Development Foundation, brings over 30 years’ experience as a career development specialist, human resource professional, and adult educator. She has a strong history of strategic and collaborative leadership throughout the career development sector, focusing on ways to strengthen practice, advance research, influence policy, and increase the professionalization of the field. Deirdre has been honoured with the Stu Conger Award for Leadership in Career Development and Career Counselling.

Danylo Puderak

Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan

Danylo Puderak is the son and grandson of post-World War II displaced person- immigrants who arrived in Canada in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.

Danylo was born and grew up in the beautiful prairie city of Saskatoon. He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Degree in History and Ukrainian Studies. He later completed his CERTESL enabling him to teach English as a Second Language overseas, at the University of Saskatchewan Language Centre and with the Saskatoon Open Door Society.

While growing up, Danylo’s parents felt the need to protect him and his siblings from the intolerance that they had experienced as immigrant children in Canada. For example, they did not teach their kids to speak Ukrainian so that they would talk and act “like Canadians”. The pressure to assimilate had a lasting impact.

So it is somewhat ironic that Danylo would complete a university degree with a Ukrainian Studies major; spend time studying and working in Ukraine; and become the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan, a role he has held for the past 20 years.

In closing, Danylo never expected that we would see the need to again support and assist displaced people from Ukraine fleeing war in Europe. However, he is proud that through his work he is able to help those arriving to find refuge here like his parents did but this time in a generally welcoming and inclusive community.

Dave E Redekopp

Dr. Dave Redekopp

Life Role Development Group

Dave Redekopp is president of the Life-Role Development Group Ltd. and has been an avid champion of career development since 1988. He has been awarded provincial and national awards in career development and is widely recognized in Canada as a thought leader in the field. His career development expertise afforded him the privilege of teaching thousands of practitioners, developing dozens of courses, delivering hundreds of talks, conducting a number of research studies, and developing a host of career development resources for practitioners and the public. Dave holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Alberta.

Nicole White

Project Lead for Enough Already SK

Nicole White is the Project Lead for Enough Already. Launched in 2020, Enough Already is a multi-stakeholder coalition determined to address and prevent workplace sexual harassment in Saskatchewan. We are committed to working with government, business, industry associations, unions and community organizations to make workplaces throughout Saskatchewan safe for everyone. Nicole is a registered social worker and in her spare time, founded Moon Time Connections getting menstrual products up to northern and remote communities across Turtle Island.

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James Ouellette

Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies

James is a member of the Flying Dust First Nation. He has been working in the human services field since 1988. He has worked in the areas of addictions, child welfare, youth justice and labour force development. As the former Director of the Saskatoon Tribal Council Employment & Training Services and his current role as Director for the SIIT-Career Centers, JobConnections and Job Series programs he is a passionate advocate of the Indigenous workforce.