Kelly Lendsay, a social entrepreneur, is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s foremost innovators and organizational development experts in Indigenous engagement and workplace inclusion systems, models, and corporate/Indigenous partnerships. His dynamic communications style and passion for innovation have earned him a reputation as an engaging thought leader and effective bridge-builder fostering trusted partnerships for workforce and economic development across Canada, USA, Australia and abroad. He was honoured by the University of Saskatchewan as one of their “100 Alumni of Influence” in the last century whose accomplishments have been recognized for influencing the growth and development of the university, the province, and the world. A proud Canadian Indigenous leader of Cree and Métis ancestry, he moves seamlessly between both worlds fostering innovation, economic inclusion and wellbeing for all.
In 2020, Lendsay founded “Luminary: Advancing Indigenous Innovation for Economic Transformation, Employment and Well-Being” with more than 160 Luminary partners including 88 universities, colleges and business schools, over 50 Indigenous businesses and NGO communities from Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia. This new Indigenous innovation ecosystem is a ‘global first’ to accelerate research, innovation, and research talent development in Canada and abroad. In 2021 the Luminary Charter Partners co-created a five-year strategy. Luminary’s unique focus on business schools will support research and innovation investments that not only lead to stronger business and industry competitiveness, but will enable new product and market expansions, and create jobs. Luminary has supported a dozen research initiatives and is currently advancing a new innovation initiative to “Build an Indigenous Seaweed Industry for Canada”.
Kelly is recognized for pioneering numerous ‘innovative entrepreneurial firsts’. In the 80’s he advanced lifeguarding and lifesaving in Canada as chair of the National Lifeguard Service of the Lifesaving Society of Canada and his company, Swiftwater Rescue 3. He earned his MBA in 1993 and in 1994-95 launched and led the first Aboriginal Business Education program in Canada at the University of Saskatchewan from 1994-1998. In 1997, he led a team of consultants to produce the fifty-year economic forecast entitled: “Saskatchewan and Aboriginal Peoples in the 21st Century: Social, Economic and Political; Changes and Challenges - The Impact of the Changing Aboriginal Population on the Saskatchewan Economy: 1995-2045; this forecast was a unique first in Canada. And in 1998, Kelly stepped onto the national stage as the inaugural president and CEO of Indigenous Works.
He has been leading the charge designing new workplace inclusion systems and Indigenous engagement strategies, growing the organization into an award winning, ISO-certified enterprise. In 2008, he was invited by the Australian Government (Education, Employment and Workplace Readiness Department) to conduct public and private sector workshops in Canberra, Sydney, and Brisbane sharing models and practices in Indigenous workplace inclusion strategies and systems. In 2009, he developed a partnership with the National Native American Human Resource Association in the United States and more than a dozen sectoral partnerships in Canada. In 2022 he was a semi-finalist for Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year award hosted by the CANIES Innovation and Entrepreneurs Foundation.
He is married to Shiela and has five adult children and two grandchildren; he is an avid competitive pickleball player, kitesurfer, wing foiler, swimmer, jogger, yoga and Tae Kwon Do.