Awarding-winning author presents in Famous 5 series

By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Weekly

Charmaine Hammond addressed a full house at Shell Place for the Famous Five speaker series event on November 12. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Charmaine Hammond addressed a full house at Shell Place for the Famous Five speaker series event on November 12. PHOTO: Kiran Malik-Khan, Connect Weekly

Vancouver-based author, Charmaine Hammond headlined the third event in the Famous 5 speaker series on November 12, 2015 at the Shell Place Ballroom.

Speaking to a packed room, Hammond, who has also lived in Fort McMurray for a few years, is a conflict management specialist, and expert in leadership and resilience. She spoke about overcoming challenges for personal growth.

A near-death experience, which saw her almost drown in Lake Plamondon in Lac La Biche, when her then boyfriend, now husband’s catamaran turned over.

“All I could do was hang on, which really got to the perfectionist in me. I had no control. That was the first time I remember feeling small and insignificant,” recalled Hammond.

She likened the situation’s lessons to leadership, and letting go of things that hold you down. Eventually, with no help in sight, the couple decided to swim to shore, which was miles away.

“In leadership, we have to make critical decisions sometimes. We decided to go for it, but three hours later, Chris got tired, and asked me to leave him when he started turning hypothermic, and in and out of consciousness.”

Following many refusals, and a final motivation of “planning a wedding upon return,” Hammond started swimming for the shore when they were rescued by a family on a fishing trip. The couple was married a year later, and has been married for over 20 years.

“I learned several things about myself that day. I learned about the power of thought. When I (succumbed to) negative thoughts like ‘if I died, what will the neighbours think? Did I do the dishes,’ my speed slowed down, positive thoughts increased my speed.”

“Resiliency is defined as bouncing back, but I think it’s bouncing forward. I learned Chris is a fabulous leader, I used to think I was the leader in our relationship. Leadership is about taking people where they need to go, even if they don’t want to. He forced me to get help even when I said no,” continued Hammond, who is the author of On Toby’s Terms, among other books.

Angela Scoble, Chair Enbridge Famous 5 Speaker Series appreciated Hammond’s candid talk.

“She shared insightful stories of how events when she was a painfully shy young child to a near-death boating accident shaped her career path, changed her mind-set and ultimately influenced her to become the powerful woman she is today. Her Million Acts of Kindness tour demonstrates the courageous, genuine and caring woman she is, and her heart of gold shone through in her presentation.”

“I loved listening to her speak – she is incredible. The Enbridge Famous 5 Speaker Series committee invites influential Canadian women to speak in hopes they will uplift and motivate local women in leadership roles within our community,” said Scoble.

“Our goal is to have speakers discuss their careers, their passion, their vision and their determination to inspire the women of Fort McMurray to do the same. We want our speakers to share insights and lessons learned from their careers, walk us through their challenges, and triumphs, make us laugh and make us cry, and remind us to be true to ourselves, follow our hearts and to always be authentic. We want to build a strong network of local women leaders who can truly make a difference in Fort McMurray.”

The next event will feature Marianne Ryan, Alberta’s RCMP Deputy Commissioner, who will speak on January 21, 2016 at the same venue. For tickets and more information on all of the upcoming speakers, go online to:

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