61st Annual Conference & Showcase

February 5-7, 2018 | Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel


Dawn Desjardins

Vice President & Deputy Chief Economist

Dawn Desjardins joined the RBC Economics team in January 2006. She is a key contributor to the macroeconomic forecasts for Canada and the U.S. and is part of a team that is responsible for the interest rate forecasts for both countries. Dawn delivers economic analysis to RBC’s clients through a variety of publications and presentations. She is often interviewed by media from across North America to discuss developments in the economy and financial markets.

Prior to joining RBC, Dawn worked as a reporter for Bloomberg Financial News in Toronto covering the Canadian bond and currency markets and was the Canadian bond market strategist for a major U.S. bank for ten years. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto.


Vicki Saunders

Vicki Saunders is an entrepreneur, award-winning mentor, advisor to the next generation of change makers and leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world.

Vicki is Founder of SheEO and #radical generosity a global initiative to radically transform how we support finance and celebrate female entrepreneurs.

Vicki has co-founded and run ventures in Europe, Toronto and Silicon Valley and taken a company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Vicki was recently named one of the 100 most influential leaders of 2015 from “EBW – Empowering A Billion Women”, In 2001, Vicki was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.


Michele-Elise Burnett

Michele-Elise Burnett, a proud Métis with Algonquin roots from Kitigan Zibi Bear Clan, is Presi-dent of Kakekalanicks, an Indigenous arts and consultancy company which helps promote and ed-ucate Indigenous art and artists to a broad audience. Ms. Burnett also serves as Vice President of Ignite the Spirit of Education Foundation, Inc. This initiative helps support the awareness, appre-ciation, and presence of First Nations, Inuit and Métis books by raising their profile in public li-braries/Learning Centres, both on and off Reserve, and, through a variety of interactive programs, works to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners.

This past year, Ms. Burnett collaborated with the City of St. Catharines and the First Ontario Per-forming Arts Centre to launch Celebration of Nations, a three day Indigenous performing and vis-ual arts gathering. Due to it’s overwhelming success, the City and the performing Arts Centre have included Celebration of Nations Indigenous content in their yearly program, becoming the first PAC in Canada to give Indigenous performing and visual arts an on-going platform.

Ms. Burnett recently served as Co-director of Advancement for Landscape of Nations: The Six Nations and Native Allies Commemorative Memorial unveiled at Queenston Heights Park on Oc-tober 2, 2016 to acknowledge the crucial role Native peoples played in the defense of Canada and it’s borders during the War of 1812. In addition to her contributions towards the design and con-struction of this living memorial, Ms. Burnett also served on the Landscape of Nations Inaugural Committee where she designed and orchestrated a meaningful, educational, and entertaining open-ing ceremony.

After graduating from Ryerson University’s esteemed School of Radio and Television Arts, Ms. Burnett became a third generation Radio business owner in an industry pioneered by her father and grandfather. Later, partnering with her mother, she owned and operated the most powerful signal in the Niagara Region, Spirit 91.7 FM Radio. The accomplished mother/daughter team were the first Aboriginal women to be granted a private broadcasting license in Canada.

In addition to her work in broadcasting, fundraising and indigenous education, Ms. Burnett also sits on the Board of Directors at Brock University, where she is the Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Educational Council. She is on the Board of Directors for Weengusk Film Institute and is a Board member of the Ridley College Fund USA.

Fiercely proud of her heritage, Ms. Burnett has shown that an individual who is inspired can wake up every day and follow and achieve their dreams. A strong proponent of Indigenous aspirations, she fosters a dream to unite, share, and respect each other’s Nations and to build a stronger Indige-nous future filled with pride, dignity, and honour that will carry on for seven generations.

Event starts in

  • Dawn Desjardins

    Vicki Saunders

    Michele-Elise Burnett