Keynote Speaker & Singer-Songwriter
Elsie Morden is a 24 year old singer, songwriter, and motivational speaker. She has performed at Canadian Country Music Week. The Music Nova Scotia "Country Recording of the Year" Award Nominee's full length album was co-produced and written entirely by Elsie. The album reached #28 on the iTunes chart, had a top 100 song on Canadian country radio, and has over 500,000 streams on Spotify. Elsie is a national ambassador for Kids Help Phone and the Founder and CEO of registered Canadian charity No Time for That Anti-Bullying Society. She has visited over 600 schools across Canada free of charge speaking about bullying prevention, mental health awareness, and youth empowerment - directly impacting over 150,000 students. This year, she received the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia's Outstanding Individual Award. Overall, Elsie Morden serves as an ideal role model, and there is no doubt that she will continue to inspire all!
In Elsie’s words:
Standing up and singing on a restaurant table at the age of four was the beginning of my journey as an entertainer. Since then, I've always known deep down that I wanted to be a performer. However, it wasn't until my mid-teens that I discovered my true passion for music and public speaking.
Growing up, severe and relentless school bullying was a daily struggle. Being made fun of for my curly hair and good grades, getting called mean names, and being continuously left out are only a few of the unfortunate things that led to the destruction of my confidence and self-esteem.
I would always ask myself 'why me?' I didn't understand why I wasn't good enough. I dreaded going to school, I was so afraid of what would happen next, and by the end of the day I usually found myself crying. The bullying turned into a vicious cycle that I thought I would never escape.
After I was punched in the face, I realized things needed to change. Despite the overwhelming hard times and an ongoing battle with depression and an anxiety disorder, I refused to accept defeat and eventually gained the strength to pull through; only becoming more driven than ever to rise above it all.
I found myself turning to music. I would pick up the guitar we had at my house, and I'd start strumming while scribbling my feelings and thoughts down in notebooks. I realized that music was my outlet, it is what makes me happy. Writing and performing is what I love to do, and nothing or no one can take that away from me anymore.
I know how alone, misunderstood, and hurt I felt when I was being bullied, and I also know that there are thousands of others feeling the exact same way I did. No one deserves to feel that way.
Six years later, I've been able to directly impact over 150,000 kids across the country through story and song – and I'm just getting started.
You need to, you have to, find that thing or the things in your life that make you happy - the positive, what you love to do, and focus on that. Follow your dreams and surround yourself with people who are going to support your dreams, people who care about you, and accept you for who you are. Don't let people or things bring you down because it is not worth it!
I've learned that it's okay not to be okay. Yes, I have some really bad days, but I also have really good days, and those good days are the days worth fighting for. Positivity is key and so is self-love. I have the strength inside of me to get through absolutely anything, and so do you - never give up!
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
I strive to be the best role model possible. As a leader, my goal is to inspire more leaders and world changers that will represent models of integrity to their peers, community, and the greater world. I know that I have already succeeded in doing this on a small scale, and can’t wait to grow my platform to make even more of an impact.
What’s your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?
My vision is for Atlantic Canadians to have no time for bullying, no time for stigma, and no time for the negative. Also, equality for women and the LGBTQ+ community. Our biggest opportunity now is to take action, educate, and empower.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
My greatest stage of growth so far has been moving to an apartment in downtown Halifax on my own and being completely independent. I have found many successful, strong, like-minded women that I can look up to and learn from; they all inspire me to be a better person and work harder to achieve my goals.
What’s your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
For me, music is what helps me grow the most. It inspires me and motivates me more than anything else. I listen to all genres of music and am always going to as many live shows as possible. This past year my most listened to album was “Golden Hour” by Kacey Musgraves. I have had the album on repeat since it came out and had the incredible opportunity to see her perform the songs live in Toronto. Country music is a genre primarily dominated by men and it’s artists like Kacey that are truly making a difference for women to get equal opportunities, awards, and radio airplay. I am hoping to follow in her footsteps and break down the existing walls and barriers holding women in country music back. Music is so powerful and it has the amazing ability to heal. I think that's definitely why I turned to music and songwriting. I love the way that you can tell a story through songs and express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that it's relatable to the listener.
What’s your deepest learning from this past year?
To be patient and take the time to build strong foundations to grow from.
Who’s inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
I want to be the inspiration to youth that I never had growing up.
"At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently. Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth.”
- Canadian Institutes of Health Research
“On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.”
– Mental Health Commission of Canada
“2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing judgment and rejection.” - Bell Let’s Talk
I was a bullied student with suicidal ideas.
I have missed work due to mental illness.
I suffered in silence for years afraid and ashamed.
I am now sharing my story and songs to make sure that today’s youth don’t do the same.
Music saved my life and I hope that my music can do the same for others. Being able to use my story and songs to help and inspire kids across the country is incredibly rewarding. Knowing that they look up to me and consider me a role model is the best feeling in the world.
Bullying and mental illness affect the lives of so many people, therefore I hear from those who have dealt with both, directly and indirectly – if they didn’t experience it themselves they know someone who has or still is.
I’ll receive a message from a student telling me that I changed their life when I came to their school 3 years ago and that they still listen to my songs all the time because it makes them feel better and inspires them to be themselves, follow their dreams, and never give up. That’s why I do what I do.
What would you have done differently?
I can sometimes be such a perfectionist to the point where I am unproductive. Therefore, I am working on not overanalyzing things too much.
What were your priorities and how did they help you overcome some of the struggles you’ve faced?
Any time that somebody tries to bring me down, tells me that I can't do something, or is rude or mean to me in any way... I don't listen to them, I don't let them bother me - because I have NO TIME FOR THAT!
Ambitious, Empathetic, Passionate, Resilient, Musical, Advocate, Vegan, LGBTQ+