Jeffrey Straker - Music.
Singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker attended school in Punnichy, Saskatchewan from Grades 1 to 12. During that time, he took piano lessons from local music teachers. Following high school graduation, he earned his Licentiate Performer’s Diploma from Trinity College London, and his Bachelor of Science (honors) from the University of Saskatchewan. Part of this degree was completed at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Jeffery has gone on to become an award-winning singer-songwriter-pianist and performs over 100 shows per year across Canada. He has recorded for CBC radio’s ‘Canada Live’, had a music video chart in the top 10 on Much More Music TV and has toured internationally as far as Peru, Mexico and Ghana. His tour stops range from intimate house concerts to club and theatre shows, including sold-out concerts with symphony orchestras in Regina, Saskatoon and Sudbury. A significant career boost came from winning the prestigious Vina del Mar (Chile) International Song Competition in 2014, representing Canada. Performing live to a festival crowd of 20,000 people and to a TV audience of 100,000,000 viewers across the Spanish speaking world, he gained a fan following putting him in demand for performances in Latin America.
Jeffery’s 2012 album, “Vagabond”, was recorded on Glenn Gould’s grand piano at the CBC studios in Toronto and met with critical acclaim. The Toronto Star gave it 4 stars out of 4 and called it “one of the most faultlessly conceived and meticulously executed albums in any genre to come out of Canada in a long time”. Follow-up albums have included his 2014 “Live with CBC Radio” release, and a new collection of songs launched in March, 2015, that climbed to the top 10 on the iTunes Canada singer-songwriter charts. The album “North Star Falling” has been a top 10 seller in Saskatchewan and has seen Jeffery tour over 50 shows, from coast to coast, in support of it.
Ryley Thiessen - Architecture.
Ryley Thiessen grew up on a dairy farm near Watrous, Saskatchewan, where he was very active in sports and community programs. Surrounded by wide-open prairies and endless opportunities, Ryley learned early in life to dream big. Ryley graduated from Winston High School in 1996 and was subsequently accepted into the Landscape Architectural Technology program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, AB. It is here, where Ryley was introduced to the design world and where he met his future wife, Shelagh. Upon graduating with Honors in 2000, Ryley continued his studies at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, and completed his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Degree (with distinction). In 2002, Ryley and Shelagh were drawn west to Whistler, BC where Ryley joined Ecosign as a junior designer. After 11 years, he was named Vice President of Resort Design for Ecosign.
During his career with Ecosign, Ryley has been involved in four Olympic Winter Games and was lead designer for the Snow Cluster Athletes Village, in the recently awarded 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He has designed over 100 resorts, in 22 countries worldwide. Ryley was lead designer of two of the most successful four-season resorts in the world. Bukovel Resort in the Ukraine, which experienced growth from 50,000 to over 1 million annual visitors and Changbaishan Resort in Northern China, which was constructed by China’s largest commercial developer, with an estimated investment of over $2.5 billion (USD). In 2011, Ryley diversified and expanded his international experience by relocating to Austria to manage Ecosign’s European office; overseeing the transition of a new CEO and design team.
Ryley’s career highlights and achievements include: the Alberta Association of Landscape Architects Award (2000), the American Society of Landscape Architecture design award (2002), the Spirit of NAIT Alumni Award (2008), and induction into the NAIT Alumni Wall of Fame (2008). He was honoured with the cover article “The Real Life of Ryley” for Techlife Magazine (Fall 2009). In 2013, Ryley was featured in the Salomon Freeski TV Series episode “The Architect” and in 2015, a CCTV documentary video highlighting Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Ryley Thiessen is currently the Vice President of Resort Design at Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd.; a world leading design firm specializing in Ski and Mountain Resort design. Ryley continues to enjoy his active mountain lifestyle in Whistler, where he resides with his lovely wife, Shelagh.
Cori Morris - Athletics.
Cori Morris (nee Bartel) represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as lead for the Canadian women’s curling team. Stepping onto the podium to receive a silver medal was the culmination of her childhood dream.
Cori was born in Humboldt in 1971, and was raised on the family farm 7 miles northwest of Lanigan SK. She completed her K-12 schooling at Lanigan Elementary School and Lanigan Central High School, graduating in 1989. Cori participated in many activities during these years, including figure skating, indoor and outdoor soccer, volleyball, track & field, piano, choir, drama, yearbook and was a member of the SRC. She was also the recipient of many academic awards, including the Governor General’s medal for highest academic standing in Grade 12.
Cori began curling as a family activity with her parents, Herb & Dianne Bartel, and her grandparents. While still in Grade 8 she was asked to skip the high school girls curling team. In Grade 12, while playing on the mixed curling team in the Quill Plains Regional Winter Games, her team scored a 7-ender in the 1st end, but went on to lose the game – this was a significant learning opportunity!
After graduation, Cori moved to Ottawa to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences. She continued to curl on a social level, and in 1998 was asked to be fifth player for a team at the Ontario women’s provincial championships. It was there her competitive juices were stirred, and upon moving to Calgary later that year, she quickly sought out new curling opportunities.
In 2002 Cori was selected to a National Training Centre team that travelled to Karuizawa, Japan, site of the 1998 Olympics where Sandra Schmirler’s team won gold. In 2005 she joined the Cheryl Bernard rink, with teammates Carolyn McRorie and Susan O’Connor. The team represented Alberta at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2007 and 2009. They won their first national title at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials in Edmonton, in December 2009, and two months later they represented Canada at the 2010 Olympics.
Cori currently resides in Calgary, AB with her husband, Sean, and son, Cooper. She is employed with ATB Financials’ Human Resources department. Cori continues to curl, and delights in sharing her Olympic medal at various events and coaching opportunities.
Dan Halyk - Business.
Dan was born and raised in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. After graduating from Foam Lake Composite High School in 1986, he attended the University of Saskatchewan from 1986 to 1992. During this time, he received his Bachelor of Commerce (with Great Distinction) and Bachelor of Laws (with Distinction) degrees. After completing law school, Dan clerked with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal before moving to Calgary to practice corporate and securities law with Bennett Jones LLP. In December, 1997, he left Bennett Jones to pursue his business interests on a full time basis.
In 1996, Dan founded Total Energy Services Inc., a public energy service company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. He currently serves as their President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director. He is also a principal of Trident Capital Partners LP, a private limited partnership that he co-founded in 1997, which invests primarily in the North American energy, transportation and real estate industries.
Dan serves on the Board of Directors of Innovation Saskatchewan, the Advisory Board at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and the Dean’s Advisory Council at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business. He also serves as a director of several private for-profit energy, energy service, real estate and hospitality companies operating throughout North America, and is a member of the Law Society of Alberta.
Dan is a Past President of the Calgary Winter Club (2012-13) and served on the five-person Financial Investment Planning and Advisory Commission (2007-08) that reviewed and made recommendations to the Minister of Finance on the Province of Alberta’s savings strategy. Dan was twice recognized as one of Calgary’s Top 40 under 40 citizens and together with his wife, Nicole, has and continues to support several not for profit organizations with a special focus on organizations that provide resources for under privileged families and public policy development.
Dan is the son of Alexander and Cecile Halyk of Foam Lake. He is married to Nicole Plandowski and they currently reside in Calgary with their four children.
Al Duerr - Politics.
Al Duerr is a founder, CEO and Director of General Magnetic International Inc., a company that produces energy efficient permanent magnet motors products for the energy industry. Prior to General Magnetic, Mr. Duerr served as the CEO of a Swiss based international finance company from 2001 to 2005.
In the public sector, Mr. Duerr was Mayor of Calgary from 1989 to 2001, obtaining the highest public support in successive elections of any Mayor in Calgary’s history. His accomplishments include reducing Calgary’s debt by more than half, economic diversification and securing new long-term revenue sharing. He championed a Mayor’s Task Force on Community and Family Violence which began a community process that continued for decades. He positioned Calgary as a dynamic and important center for innovation, trade and commerce.
Mr. Duerr also served two terms as Alderman for the City of Calgary prior to serving as Mayor, while at the same time founding and leading a Canadian water and wastewater treatment company in Malaysia. After arriving in Alberta as a general manager of a Saskatchewan-based planning consulting company, he was a city planner for the City of Calgary and a district manager of an Alberta-based development company.
Growing up on a farm with seven siblings and a mother who was a teacher, Mr. Duerr attended Burton Lake and Fulda elementary schools and Humboldt Collegiate Institute. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Urban Geography from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters of Business Administration (Beta Gamma Sigma) from the Haskayne Business School at the University of Calgary. He holds an ICD.D, the professional director designation of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Mr. Duerr has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellowship and the Chief David Crowchild Memorial Award for his work in building bridges between aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures. He is married to Kit Chan and they have a son and daughter who are both engineers.
Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann - Academics.
Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, Anishinabe (Saulteaux) originally from Fishing Lake First Nation, is the daughter of Chief Allan and Marjorie Paquachan, wife of Patrick and mother of Cole and Shawkay Ottmann. After graduating in 1983 from Wadena Composite High School, she began her post-secondary experience in pre-journalism, then education.
After years of elementary and secondary teaching in public, separate, and private systems in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and a principalship, Jacqueline entered the University of Saskatchewan, Educational Administration graduate program where she earned a Masters of Education degree (2002) and a Ph.D. (2005) after completing research and dissertations on First Nations spirituality and leadership, and First Nations leadership development.
Ottmann is currently Associate Professor, Director of Indigenous Education, Coordinator of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Program at the Werklund School of Education, and Second Vice-President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Indigenous Education. Jacqueline has been active in research and publications that focus on successes of Indigenous education, supporting Indigenous students, Aboriginal language and literacy, Indigenous leadership and governance, leadership development, organizational culture, change management, diversity and intercultural leadership. Because of her specialization, Ottmann has been invited to sit on numerous boards, advisory committees and expert panels at local, provincial and national contexts (e.g., the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board Expert Advisory member), and has been invited to present at conferences. She has established collegial, collaborative, scholarly, professional and personal relationships in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
In her professional work, Jacqueline strives to be on the ‘cutting edge’ of the educational and leadership landscape. She remains inquisitive and intrigued by learning and life. Her inspiration comes from her faith, family, and a circle of supportive friends. Jacqueline strives to walk with integrity, humility, joy, truth, honesty, gratitude and hope.
Byron Bashforth - Film.
Byron Bashforth spent his childhood on a farm near Okla, SK. His early interests in programming computers and various creative endeavors were influenced by both his father, an electrical engineer, and his mother, an artist and educator. Byron attended Lintlaw-Okla Elementary School and Kelvington High School, graduating in 1992. While studying computer science at the University of Saskatchewan, Pixar Animation Studios released the world’s first computer-animated feature film, Toy Story. Using technology to tell stories and to create compelling images inspired Byron. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science in 1996 and 1998, he moved to California to begin his career at Pixar.
Byron’s first job was on Toy Story 2 as a ‘render wrangler’ which involved generating images with Pixar’s massive computer farm and making sure the final frames in the movie were free of problems. Shortly afterwards, he specialized in ‘shading’ - a department that employs both software construction and digital painting to make virtual surfaces look like the real thing.
To date, his film credits include Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., For the Birds, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, and Lava. Since 2001, he has focused on shading characters and has significantly contributed to the final look of Dory and Gill (Finding Nemo), Helen Parr (The Incredibles), Remy and Linguini (Ratatouille), and Kevin (Up), among others.
Byron has supervised the character shading team on Ratatouille, Monsters University, and Lava. In this role, he translates visual concepts from the film’s production designer and implements them digitally. He provides technical and artistic guidance for the members of the shading team. Additionally, Byron is responsible for the stability and function of the characters for other departments throughout the duration of the production. Currently, Byron is the Character Shading Lead for an upcoming feature to be released in 2017.