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A day to remember

Portraits of Resilience conference inspires attendees, raises $6,000 to support students

Campus and Community

Memorial University brought together a community that is committed to advancing women’s leadership on June 16.

The inaugural Reimagining Leadership conference saw more than 300 people from all across the province, including students, community members and industry partners, gather for a day of listening and learning.

The day featured internationally recognized speakers who shared their stories of resiliency.

Samra Zafar, who escaped a decade of abuse living as a child bride in Canada, spoke about the power of having faith in yourself.

“My story is not just my story — it’s the story of millions of us trying to be accepted for who we are,” she told the audience, encouraging listeners to pursue their dreams and independence with courage. “There is a lot of life after adversity and trauma.”

Siila Watt-Cloutier, a Canadian Inuit activist and political representative, is a leader in showing the human face of the impacts of global climate change, including persistent organic pollutants.

She said that to address climate change, we need imagination and we need to realign our economic values to those of the Indigenous world: fairness and respect for our lands, water and people.

Business leader Cathy Bennett guided a panel on the theme of resiliency in Newfoundland and Labrador that featured anti-racism advocate Laurabel Mba and Mi’kmaw grandmother and lawyer Judy A. White.

The trio discussed finding your passion, finding your voice and finding yourself.

Closing speaker, Liz Murray, was born into poverty in the Bronx, NY, and was determined to take control of her life.

In her inspiring keynote, she asked the audience to consider what it takes to change a life while she told her story: living in poverty with parents struggling with addiction, completing high school in just two years while homeless and earning a full scholarship to Harvard University.

“We belong to each other,” she said, while emphasizing the importance of community, hard work and kindness.

The day was filled with music, with featured performances by Kellie Loder, Jenny Mallard, Eastern Owl and Black Heritage NL.

Rosemary Lawton, Jing Xia, Maria Cherwick and Ana Luísa Ramos performed, as well.

More than $6,000 was raised during the conference.

Attendees could show their support for women students by purchasing a custom commemorative pendant or making a donation in exchange for a professional social media portrait by photographer Jane Brokenshire.

The conference was made possible through generous sponsorship by our partners.

Logos from sponsors on a white background. Sponsors include Johnson Insurance, Cahill, Fortis, PAL Airlines, Beaufort, Newfoundland Labrador Hydro, Harvey Oil, Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Council, Manulife, Steward McKelvey, Rogers, Delta Hotels, Atlantic Lottery Corporation and MusicNL

President Vianne Timmons, said the purpose of the event was to inspire attendees to reimagine leadership: for themselves and for others.

“Leadership is about giving back and this event reminds us of the importance of learning from, and leaning on, one another,” she said. “I look forward to making this conference an annual event so that we can continue the important conversations about changing the face of leadership.”

The next Reimagining Leadership conference will take place on March 2, 2023. More information about sponsorship opportunities, tickets and speakers will be available soon.

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