RCGS Speaker

Mike Shoreman

First Athlete with Disabilities to Cross all 5 Great Lakes ~ Athlete ~ Speaker ~ Author ~ Mental Wellness/Disability Advocate

Educational, entertaining, and inspiring, Mike’s presentations engage and motivate audiences, empowering them to achieve their own excellence.

Called ‘The Man on a Mission’ by the Chicago Tribune, Mike Shoreman knows what it means to fall off the horse or paddleboard and climb back up again. Diagnosed with a neurological disorder in 2018, this professional athlete and adventurer lost his mobility, parts of his hearing and vision, resulting in a mental health breakdown.

After turning his pain into purpose and undergoing strenuous rehab, Mike made history in 2022 by becoming the first person to paddleboard across each of the 5 Great Lakes, raising critical awareness and funding for mental health.

Deeply dedicated to advancing the conversation in mental wellness and disability education, Mike’s Great Lakes campaign has inspired thousands, being recognized by the Ontario Legislative Assembly, the House of Commons and the Prime Minister.

A leader in the field of mental health promotion, Mike is the recipient of the Mental Health Leadership Award by the Mood Disorder Society of Canada.

The 2023 documentary ‘When Hope Breaks Through,’ directed by Matthew Wagner has been honoured with the Best Documentary award at the Montreal International Film Festival. The film delves into the Canadian Mental Health Crisis, spotlighting Mike’s expedition across the Great Lakes as a central narrative. Wagner’s feature-length production in partnership with Canamedia Partners, offers a compelling and insightful perspective on the critical issues surrounding the mental health crisis.

Keynote Presentations

A paddleboarder’s pivot: From mental health breakdown to advocacy and leadership

Mike Shoreman is a mental health leader, advocate and survivor who specializes in mental health awareness and promotion. While 1 in 5 people experience mental health challenges, this keynote illustrates the importance of the roles and responsibility of the other 4 people in that equation and why inclusive allyship is the game changer.

Mike has been at the forefront of the mental health movement since sharing his personal battle in an editorial in a national newspaper in 2019. Shortly after, international media outlets followed Mike on a mission to paddleboard across all five Great Lakes. Not only did he accomplish this physical feat, he also raised critical funding and awareness for national mental health programming and services.

In this humourous and uplifting talk Mike shares his experience with his advocacy work and his own personal mental health journey and the impact it has had on others.

Mike discusses ways in which we can normalize mental health conversations and demonstrate allyship while combating shame and stigma.

Empowering your workforce: Turn every employee into an effective leader

Improving employee retention and team engagement is top of mind for leaders in all industries. In this keynote, Mike Shoreman flips the script from leadership as part of the problem to leadership as the core solution.

Mike was a well-known business leader in Toronto and operated the number one paddle boarding business in the city before losing his mobility when he was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disorder. But his leadership instincts never left him. After regaining some mobility, Mike set a goal to paddleboard across all five Great Lakes to raise critical funding and awareness for national mental health programming.

Mike needed a strong team around him to make this daunting goal a reality and he needed to lead them effectively. His team attributes their success to Mike fostering an environment where each person was empowered to take ownership and lead in their area of expertise.

This keynote will leave every audience member inspired to take on a leadership role no matter what their job title.

Learning Outcomes:
>Create work environments where leadership is encouraged and rewarded

>Lead with empathy and inclusion to create strong, motivated teams

>Improve employee retention rates by empowering workers with leadership tools

>Mike’s signature steps for effective leadership in uncertain times

Crossing the Great Lakes: Advocacy through action & art

The world is facing a mental health crisis.
‘When Hope Breaks Through’ is the award-winning feature length documentary on the mental health crisis following Mike’s historic crossings of the Great Lakes on a paddleboard.
This grueling but successful mission went on to become one of the largest independently led mental health awareness campaigns in Canadian history.

The feature film immerses the audience in Mike’s epic five crossings, encompassing more than 300 kilometers of open water paddling with his dedicated crossings team. Together these strangers come together and form an inseparable bond as they face and conquer obstacles from boats breaking down, medical emergencies to hallucinations and everything in between.

Mike talks candidly about the experience, the roles and responsibilities of the media, government and corporate entities while discussing Canadian attitudes and behaviour towards the mental health crisis.

Learning Outcomes:
>Learn Mike’s adaptive resilience framework and how to use it when facing any adversity
Effective communication for building resilient teams

>Using your voice and experience to create meaningful change

>Implementing allyship to create inclusive culture

Cultivating inclusive company culture through allyship 

The definition of inclusion is evolving and so too is the measure of success for inclusive workplaces where everyone truly feels like they belong.

In this keynote, Mike shares his personal experience living with neurological challenges in a world that is not customized for neurodiversity. Thriving day to day requires careful planning and strategy for people from underrepresented groups and Mike shares his own successful strategies for managing day to day. He also educates allies about the challenges their peers are facing and how they can create a supportive company culture.

Learning Outcomes:
>Understand how neurodiversity and disabilities impact daily life

>Foster conversations around accommodations and support for neurodivergent employees

>Create an empathetic and compassionate workplace where everyone belongs

>Implement a leadership strategy that supports the evolving expectations for inclusion

Fostering resilience and flexibility during uncertain times

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that adaptability is the key to success in an ever-changing world. Teams that embrace challenges and turn adversities into opportunities thrive during the toughest times.

These are learned behaviours and in this keynote, Mike shares his recipe for resilience.

Learning Outcomes
>Face obstacles proactively and strategically
Increase productivity for both leaders and individual contributors

>Understand the importance of resources that support resilience

>Create supportive communities in the workplace to promote resilience

Documentary Screening of ‘When Hope Breaks Through’ and Q&A

A 90 minute documentary screening followed by a 15-20-minute Q&A/Interview “In Conversation With Mike Shoreman” by an interviewer-host of the client’s choice, plus a 10-20 minute moderated Q&A with the audience.

‘When Hope Breaks Through’ by Director Matthew Wagner is the inspiring story of Mike Shoreman, who was diagnosed with a neurological condition that left him paralyzed, with vertigo, hearing loss and vision challenges, ultimately leading to depression and a mental health breakdown. The film explores the mental health crisis and our relationships with our own mental health as it immerses the audience in Mike’s epic five crossings of the Great Lakes, encompassing over 300 kilometers of open water paddling with his dedicated crossings team. Together these strangers come together and form an inseparable bond as they face and conquer obstacles from boats breaking down, medical emergencies to hallucinations and everything in between.


“We thoroughly enjoyed working with Mike, who was a keynote speaker at one of our events with the Inclusive Workplace Supply Council of Canada. I have highly recommended Mike to many of our partners and will continue to do so. His message is important and needs to be heard by all.” – Diedre Guy, Founder and CEO IWSCC

“Mike is an engaging and passionate speaker and storyteller whose ‘voice’ is authentic and crystal-clear about the struggles that people living with mental health live with daily. If you are looking for inspiration, motivation and insight into mental illness, wellness, overcoming and hope, Mike’s story is one that you need to hear.” – Shauna Moore, DEI Lead, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences

“It was truly a privilege having Mike to speak to our teams. His documentary on disability awareness and the mental health crisis was eye-opening and inspiring to say the least. I believe everyone took something of value away from his screenings and Q and A as they or someone they know are dealing with injury or illness, physical or mental. Truly inspiring.” – Commander Keith Fugger, Ministry of National Defence

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By booking through RCGS Speakers, you have chosen to be inspired by an incredible storyteller with brilliant visuals and with a portion of revenue being reinvested back into Society programs, you're also supporting the next generation of Canadian and Indigenous geographers, scientists and storytellers.

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