Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote Address: Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Pierre Harrison, M.Sc., OCT/EAO


Pierre grew up in the vast forest wonderland of Northern Ontario where he enjoyed a playful childhood filled with wonder and adventure. He is an Ontario certified teacher, a learning through play and inquiry specialist and a children’s right to play advocate.

Since 1985, Pierre has been involved in non-formal learning and has worked at various education centres in North America and in Europe. In 2003, Pierre launched PlayLearnThink, a social enterprise focused on promoting child-directed play as a fundamental necessity for a healthy and fulfilling life.

As a recognized play advocate, Pierre speaks on the topic of learning through play and inquiry-based learning for various audiences in North America and Europe. He organizes and facilitates Adventure PlayDays for children and families in schools and in community spaces across Canada. He travels the country to train teachers, educators, recreation leaders, health care service providers, parents/caregivers and the general public on the importance of self-directed play in the healthy development of children.

Pierre consults on play space design projects for daycares and schools and he works with municipalities who are interested in play provision. Pierre has worked with the ministries of education of Ontario and Nova Scotia to develop and facilitate play training for their teachers and ECE’s.

Pierre is the current president of the Canadian branch of the International Play Association. He lives with his partner Susanne and their 9 year old son Tom (from whom he learns much) in an off-grid, straw bale house nestled within 10 hectares of the most beautiful natural playground: the Boreal Forest and Canadian Shield of Northern Ontario, where adventures abound and imagination soars.


Annual General Meeting Address: Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Brock McGillis, former OHL and professional hockey player  

Brock McGillis is a former OHL and professional hockey player, having played professionally in both the United States and Europe. 

Brock is the first professional hockey player to openly come out as gay. He has become an influential advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He speaks at schools, corporations, conferences and events and provides inclusivity training for companies.

Brock wrote an article for, and participated in, Facebook Live for Yahoo. His story has been highlighted in newspapers and blogs across North America. He has been featured in the book “Everyday Hockey Heroes” and has appeared on CBC The National, CTV’s Your Morning and on the cover of IN Magazine.

Brock’s mission is to create equality regardless of sexuality, gender or race. He focuses on the language we use and how we can become more inclusive. He educates LGBTQ+ youth on loving themselves and developing strategies to accept themselves. He speaks to youth across North America to help them shift their language, treat others with respect and become a support system for LGBTQ+ youth. 

Brock’s message relates to the acute challenges youth experience today in sport, how to instill resilience through sport and play, and to believe in yourself in spite of others.


Awards Evening Address: Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Adam Kreek, two-time Olympian and Olympic Gold Medalist  

Adam has reached hundreds of thousands of people through major corporations which include Microsoft, General Electric, Mercedes-Benz, L’Oreal, Shell, Million Dollar Round Table, YPO, TEDx, General Mills and scores of others. 

Adam’s infectious energy, authenticity and breadth of life experience allow him to connect effectively with audiences across multiple sectors. He receives rave reviews from event organizers, executive teams and conference attendees at every event he attends.

Most importantly, Adam walks the talk. A two-time Olympian, Adam holds 60 international medals, including Olympic Gold, and multiple hall of fame inductions. While at Stanford University completing his degree in Geotechnical Engineering and Hydrology, Adam helped to coach the Stanford Men’s Crew from their seventeenth place to Silver Medalists at the IRA National Championships. In 2013, Adam made the first ever attempt to row unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to America, the subject of “Capsized” a NBC Dateline Documentary.

In addition to his training and speaking engagements, Adam writes on topics of health for peak performance with CBC Sports and is a champion of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation where he shares insights to better personal, family and community health. Adam chairs the board of Cowichan Energy Alternatives, a low carbon start-up on Vancouver Island that specializes in biodiesel made from recycled vegetable oils.

Adam is a spokesperson for Whitehall Spirit Rowing Boats and Clubs and is an active volunteer with Power To Be, bettering the lives of disadvantaged and disabled youth through cutting-edge outdoor adventure programming. He is a Big Brother, with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, and has visited hundreds of schools across North America, instilling the idea that “the secret to happy living is giving.”

Adam holds a degree in Geotechnical Engineering and Hydrology from Stanford University. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and three children.

NeORA and the City of Greater Sudbury are thrilled to host Adam Kreek to bring his message of how to overcome life’s obstacles through lifelong play.