FEAT Canada 2015: Speakers

It’s that time of year again, when the FEAT team hit our doorstep for another amazing night of stories. For those of you that may not have had Mountain Life on their radar last year, FEAT – Fascinating Expedition and Adventure Talks – is one of the most interesting nights of the year; it’s a TED talk series for people like us that like to get outside.

So who’s on the cards for the event on March 4th? Climbers, filmmakers, paddleboarders and more. Pet’s say this: when Mountain Life sent out our “Nice to meet you, we’ll be in contact soon” email, we received an auto-reply from one of the guests, saying (direct quote):

“I am away in the Patagonian Desert attempting to run from the Atlantic to the Pacific!”

That’s the kind of calibre we’re dealing with.

article continues below

Here are a couple of guests we could contact.

Steph Jagger: Skier, Record Breaker


Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Steph has long been defined by the term ”getting’ ‘er done”. In her early career she climbed her way up the corporate ladder like a well-trained fire marshal working in sales, marketing, and public relations for national and international brands, like Nike, Loblaws and Gap Inc.

While her career achievements are impressive, she’ll be onstage for her sporting performances! In 2010 Steph departed on a trip called The Vertical Feat where she managed to ski 4,161,823 vertical feet. That is almost the equivalent to going down Everest from tip to base 142 times, setting a new world record for “Most Vertical Feet Skied in One Year”! In the next few weeks, she’ll be launching Stephjagger.com, so watch this space, as well as her book chronicling her story, entitled The Vertical Feat, which will be available next year.

ML: Describe the subject of your FEAT presentation in 25 words or less.

Steph: I’m going to focus on getting to the starting line – how we hear, interpret and take action on a Call to Adventure. Boo ya!

ML: What was the standout best moment of your quest (besides completing it of course?)

The standout moment of my quest was meeting my now husband…and the skiing, there was lots of killer skiing.

ML: Was there any challenge you encountered that you couldn’t have foreseen?

Of course! There were a gazillion. I’ve written a lot about this in my upcoming book. If we know everything in advance, everything that could go wrong, challenges that are going to pop up – if we know all of that, I’m not sure very many of us would actually say “yes” to these types of quests. Most of the challenges come in the form of exit ramps, opportunities to say, “I’m gonna pack it in. I’m done. No more. That was far enough, thanks.” In my experience, those challenges came in many forms: lost skis, illness, just plain sh***y days, other people and their beliefs about what you should do. And I could go on.

ML: How exactly does one “change change”?

A lot of people frame change like this:”Let’s change! It’s going to be great over there! That new job, life, boyfriend, etc. looks f*****g stellar from here. Let’s change. Things will be so much better when I lose weight, get rich, have those new pair of Black Diamond Carbon Megawatts. Yeah! I’m totally up for change.” And then they get stuck because going after all of those things isn’t what actually needs to change.

Our whole society is based around the following framework for change:

If I DO something, I will then HAVE something, and then finally I will BE something.

If I train really hard in the offseason, I will then have glutes of steel, and then once I have the steely glutes all of the dudes will finally take me seriously and I’ll fit in and they’ll want me to go shred with them.

We wait until we have something before we give ourselves permission to change the way we feel or who we are. I’m calling bullshit on that. Take yourself seriously first. Reframe that shit. It should be BE, DO, HAVE (not DO, HAVE, BE):

If you take yourself seriously, you’ll be in the gym all the time, and when you’re in the gym all the time you’ll be making friends with  the other people who are taking themselves seriously. Then you’ll all shred together.

I could go on about this one for a long time cause I’m super passionate about it. Be something for crying out loud. Don’t wait until you have a house or a car or a job or a hot boyfriend before you let yourself be kick-ass. Be kick-ass from the get-go. Change changes when you frame it that way.

Gavin Kennedy: Ultracyclist


Before graduating from documentary film school, Gavin Kennedy spent the previous year traveling by bicycle from Vancouver to South America, documenting his trip through photography and imagery. With a diverse background that includes being a trained mechanic in the Canadian Forces and a political science graduate schooled in Slovenia, Spain and Vancouver, Gavin has all the necessary tools and passion to captivate an audience.

ML: Describe the subject of your FEAT talk in 25 words or less.

I’ll be sharing some stories that are sure to trigger emotion, pique curiosity and inspire change.

ML: It’s truly an incredible journey – where did the idea come from? Don’t tell me one of you looked at the other and said “You know what we should do tomorrow?”

In the Fall of 2012, my high school good friend Guillaume and I embarked on our lifelong dream to cycle the Pan American highway from Vancouver to Argentina. After both returning from separate South American backpacking trips, we planted the seed to travel the Pan American highway after a drunken high five at a Vancouver bar. So yeah, pretty much!

ML: How long have you and Guillaume been friends? How did you meet?

Guillaume and I have been friends since we were 13 (about 14 years). We had met in the Kitsilano high school ski club. He had recently moved to Canada from France, and I had recently moved to Vancouver from Whistler. 

ML: What’s next for the Two Dudes on Bikes?

We aim to cycle across Iran with skis attached to our bicycles… Personally, I’m tentatively planning to kayak from Vancouver to Alaska this summer.

Bob Purdy: Paddle Surfer, Environmentalist


A man that has no passion has no purpose, and it’s clear Bob Purdy has passion for our home, this big blue marble hurtling through the vast nothingness of space. Founder of “Paddle for the Planet” he uses this platform to get people thinking about their longterm actions.

ML: Describe the subject of your FEAT talk in 25 words or less.

Day 10, the stuff of tough, and other unlearning learned along the path to “Changing the Way we live on the Planet”.

ML: What is Paddle for the Planet all about?

A daily paddle to “Change the Way we live on the Planet” in order to send a healthy and vibrant Planet into the future!

ML: Was there a moment when paddle surfing transitioned from a pastime to a vehicle for change?

I paddled for the first time in 2007, in the surf in Florida, and broke my nose first time out. From the second I first paddled I made the decision to share the sport with as many people as possible. The potential was immediately apparent to me, it was never just a pastime. I made a commitment to send a healthy and vibrant Planet into the future many years ago, and the idea to combine the two came in mid-2010 after I sold my Standup PaddleSurf store. I was exploring ways I could stay involved in the SUP industry and combine it with my desire to send a healthy and vibrant Planet into the future, that’s how I hit on the idea for “Paddle for the Planet”.

ML: With all the recent environmental policy changes in Canada in recent months, have you considered reeling in efforts to concentrate on national change?

From the beginning my intention has been to “Change the Way we live on the Planet”. We have significant environmental, social and economic challenges in the World today, and they are global in scope. They will also require the participation of the vast majority of the Planet to make a correction. “Changing the Way we live on the Planet” is a pretty broad statement, the idea to use it was intentional. What resonates with me may not resonate with another person, resulting in more non action. Leaving the statement open allows the listener the opportunity to discover what resonates with them, where their own passion lies, and presents a better chance of planting a seed of action. If a person is not passionate about something, action does not happen, and it is global action that the World needs us to take asap. As long as I stay healthy, I will continue to paddle every day, and work to create action on a global level.

Tickets for FEAT are still available.