keynote speakers

Bruce Kirkby

Acclaimed Explorer | Writer | Photographer

Bruce Kirkby lives life on the edge. An acclaimed explorer, travel writer and television host (with a degree in engineering physics), Bruce’s travels have taken him from the world’s highest mountains to the wildest rivers and driest deserts. He draws on these experiences to provide real-world, practical lessons on resilience, risk management and change leadership, helping individuals and organizations confront fears, embrace change and find lasting success.

With journeys spanning more than 80 countries and 2000 days, Bruce’s accomplishments include the first modern crossing of Arabia’s Empty Quarter by camel, a raft descent of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile Gorge by raft, sea kayak traverse of Borneo’s northern coast, and a coast-to-coast Icelandic trek. The former host of CBC’s No Opportunity Wasted, Bruce recently spent six months traveling to and living in a Himalayan Buddhist monastery with his young family — an experience chronicled on Travel Channel’s Big Crazy Family Adventure.

Bruce is the author of three bestselling books. A columnist for The Globe and Mail, and a National Magazine Award winner, Bruce’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, EnRoute, and Canadian Geographic. His photography was selected by National Geographic as among “the most compelling adventure images of the decade.”

Bruce makes his home in Kimberley, British Columbia.

Simon Jackson

Movement Builder | Founder of the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition

Simon Jackson is a storyteller and movement builder who has dedicated his life to
finding a better balance between the needs of people and nature. At just 13 years
old, Jackson founded the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, leading a network of six million people in over 85 countries to save Canada’s endangered white Kermode, or spirit bear. Through sharing his personal story, Simon inspires audiences to realize the “power of one” to bring real change, and challenges people to re-think how we tackle complex environmental challenges.

For two decades, Simon led the campaign to save the spirit bear through his youth coalition, building the organization into the world’s largest youth-led environmental movement. It resulted in the creation of one of the largest land protection measures in North American history, with the last intact habitat of the spirit bear being set aside from development.

In recognition of his work, Simon was awarded Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, named as one of the “100 Angels of the Earth by UNESCO”, and, most notably, honoured as one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Planet” — one of only six young people selected from around the world. His life’s work was the focus of an internationally televised movie, Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story.

Today, Simon is focused on advancing environmental literacy as the co-founder of Nature Labs — a virtual, storytelling-driven high school textbook. Nature Labs aims to build the critical thinking skills necessary to create a more thoughtful citizenry and a more creative workforce — one that strives to find a better balance between the needs of people and nature.

Simon has contributed to the success of numerous non-profit organizations, having served as a board member of the Jane Goodall Institute, DreamNow, the International Institute for Child Rights and Development, and The WILD Foundation, amongst others. He is also an award-winning photographer and a widely published writer, who has contributed images and chapters to eight books, including A Geography of Hope: Saving Primary Forests, and has served as a columnist for CBC and The Huffington Post.