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Leadership Sea to Sky cohort to focus on mentorship

Hugh Fisher to speak at opening breakfast Sept. 25




There's no lack of mentors in Sea to Sky and the Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue wants to take advantage of their lessons and experiences.

Leadership Sea to Sky, a program put on by the Whistler Forum, is gearing up to host its sixth cohort, with a focus on leadership and mentorship within the Whistler community and elsewhere.

Leadership Sea to Sky Cohort VI will engage 18 individuals from around the region in a program that will focus on intergenerational leadership and mentorship from Sept. 25 to June 19, 2010.

"It is a group of people that commit to meet together over a period of time to learn about the theory and practice of leadership," Forum President William Roberts said in an interview.

Roberts, a Minister and former NDP MLA in the Alberta legislature, started the Whistler Forum after 20 years leading faith communities, according to his online biography. He spent seven years in the legislature and 10 years managing capital campaigns and special projects for non-profit groups in the arts, health care and environmental communities.

Previous cohorts have focused on forging relationships with First Nations while others have looked at themes such as Women and Community Leadership. This time out the focus is the concept of mentorship, which has figured prominently in discussions arising from other cohorts.

"We feel if you're going to be a leader, it is important to have those you can look up to for wisdom and advice and discernment as you make decisions," Roberts said. "A level of knowledge and wisdom normally comes from a mentor."

The hope is that the 18 participants in this year's cohort will work as a collective on various community projects, as well as manage a mentoring program that will involve youth from Sea to Sky's secondary schools, alumni from past cohorts and "honourary elders" from around the region.

The new cohort also comes as Leadership Sea to Sky adds a fifth pillar to the four it already attempts to foster in its recruits. This year "Articulating Your Vision" is added to the program, in addition to existing pillars that teach members to Know Yourself, Know the Region, Engage with Others and Take Action.

"Everyday learning in the curriculum is geared around the five pillars," Roberts said. "They get to know themselves, so know yourself. The other is activities around knowing the region. It's out of their own small world or silo (and) into the whole region and it's issues and concerns, people, and then to engage with others."

The cohort kicks off at a breakfast event with Dr. Hugh Fisher on Sept. 25. Fisher, a Pemberton resident, is a doctor at the Northlands Medical Clinic in Whistler Village and a gold medallist in canoeing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He's parlayed that experience into a kind of mentorship role for young and old throughout the corridor.

Other events during the cohort will include a discussion with Bob Williams, a cabinet minister in the NDP government from 1972 to 1975 who was responsible for stopping logging on Blackcomb Mountain, thus preserving the area for ski development, and freezing commercial development in the Whistler valley while a comprehensive plan could be put in place.

In a discussion titled "Pioneers, Leaders and Mentors for Whistler's Future," he'll be talking about co-operative economic opportunities, as well as tidbits about Whistler's history.

"I'd certainly like to cover some of the history of the evolution of Whistler," Williams said in an interview. "The early stages when Al Raine phoned me when I was a minister and urged me to stop the logging on Blackcomb, which would have destroyed the potential (for a ski resort).

"I think the region needs to think about the broader opportunities in the region, and you know, I don't' think I have anything tight or specific to offer Whistler at the moment. It's very challenging given land prices and providing housing for employees."