Sheila O'Brien


Calgarian Sheila OBrien a Champion for Women

Sometimes, all it takes is a boost.

Sheila O'Brien, lead benefactor with her late husband Kevin Peterson, to the 1000 Women Rising campaign, believes there are women ready to overcome any obstacle in life, provided they have opportunity and the support when needed.

"Even after all their suffering, the woman's dignity remains intact. Given the opportunity, they stand tall, reclaim their voice, and walk together in solidarity and love."

Those were O'Brien's words to the Canadian Women's Foundation in 2014, after co-chairing that organization's groundbreaking Task Force on Human Trafficking, with a focus on the sex trade involving women and girls.
"We are validating their sacrifices,"
- Sheila O'Brien
O'Brien, who has spent much of her career helping women whenever possible, called it one of the biggest shocks of her life - and she admits she was staggered by the magnitude of human trafficking that traps women around the world, including Canada.

But like those she aims to help, O'Brien didn't give up, and the Calgary philanthropist and corporate leader's work with the task force spurred funding and support that helps women in Canada who are fighting to escape.

Today, O'Brien is a leading voice in continuing to expose the horrifying and secretive epidemic, speaking to students at places like Bow Valley College, where she recently spoke about the taskforce's findings and solutions. And it's always about the women who overcame: O'Brien brings the issue to life with stories of the survivors, whose harrowing experiences paint a clear picture of challenge and rebirth - and thanks in part to O'Brien's work, they are no longer invisible.

Of course, that isn't the only place this Member of the Order of Canada offers her support and leadership.
O'Brien was instrumental in the launch of 1000 Women Rising, a movement designed to help female students at Bow Valley College get a boost in their post-secondary educational dreams.

With an ambitious goal of raising $1 million, O'Brien helped kickstart the movement last year with a $100,000 pledge on behalf of herself and her husband, former Herald publisher Kevin Peterson, who passed away last spring.

"We are validating their sacrifices," O'Brien told a Bow Valley College audience in June 2015, after explaining the many times she'd seen young women rushing to class at the college, "with a baby on one hip and a bag of books on the other."

And thanks to people like O'Brien, they're getting the boost and compassion they need.

To learn more, visit The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking.

Your cart is currently empty.

Browse Available Courses


  • If you are currently studying in a post-secondary program at BVC, please register for your courses via mybvc to ensure your enrolments and fees are processed appropriately.
  • Cart total based on domestic tuition rates. For information about International Tuition rates please see Additional Fees Apply
  • If you anticipate applying for a student loan, your payment will be refunded to you based on your loan award once your funding has been received by BVC.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Learn more in our privacy policy