Keynote speakers for the Finding the Best Ways Forward symposium were Mr. Sheldon Kennedy, of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, and Dr. Nicole Sherren, of the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative.
Mr. Kennedy won a Memorial Cup, a World Junior Gold Medal and skated for three teams in his eight-year NHL career. He is best known for his courageous decision to charge his Major Junior Hockey league coach with sexual assault for the abuse he suffered over a five year period while a teenager under his care. Through this disclosure, and the important work that Mr. Kennedy continues to do, he has become an inspiration to millions of abuse survivors around the world.
Mr. Kennedy has been instrumental in bringing governments, public and private sector partners together to work collaboratively to influence policy change and improve the way child abuse is handled. He has influenced changes in Canadian law and has taken his message to the International Olympic Committee and the US Senate.
Mr. Kennedy is the Lead Director at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, the first-of-its-kind in Canada, offering full wrap-around services for victims of child abuse. He is also the Co-Founder of Respect Group Inc., which provides empowering online abuse, bullying and harassment prevention education to sport organizations, schools and the workplace.
Dr. Sherren is the Scientific Director and Senior Program Officer of the Palix Foundation. She has a PhD in neuroscience from Carleton University and moved to Alberta in 2003 to take an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research/Neuroscience Canada research fellowship at the University of Lethbridge.
Dr. Sherren's research focus includes experience-based brain development, neurodevelopmental disorders, and brain plasticity. She joined the Palix Foundation in 2007 to focus on mobilizing scientific knowledge into policy and clinical practice. She both designs and delivers professional development opportunities across the health, education, human services and justice sectors, providing numerous in-person workshops and presentations each year, and lends her expertise to a number of committees, community-based projects, research studies, and nonprofits across Alberta. In her spare time she volunteers on the Board of Directors for Calgary Alpha House Society.
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