In the fall of 2016, the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation – in partnership with Professor Kim Samuel and McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development – presented eleven insightful public talks as part of the Jeanne Sauvé Forum Series on Social Connectedness and International Development.

Throughout this series, McGill Professor of Practice Kim Samuel welcomed an enthusiastic group of public leaders from around the world as well as local Sauvé Fellows to Sauvé House, where they shared inspiring stories about overcoming social isolation and explored the power of social connectedness in today’s world. The series’ guest speakers also participated in Professor Samuel’s new seminar course at McGill this fall on overcoming social isolation and building social connectedness through policy and program development.

Our September guest speakers delved into complex topics such as resilience, survival migration, human rights and social change. Throughout that time, the Foundation welcomed Kevin Sullivan (Senior Correspondent, The Washington Post), Linda Davidson (Photojournalist, The Washington Post), Emina Ćerimović (Researcher, Human Rights Watch), Jennifer Corriero (Co-Founder and Executive Director, TakingITGlobal) and Lindsay DuPré (Indigenous Youth Engagement Coordinator, TakingITGlobal).

Teaching Kim’s class and speaking at the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation were incredibly rewarding experiences, especially my interactions with the impressive and thoughtful students I met. Kim is giving the next generation of leaders in international development a critical grounding in the important and too often overlooked area of social isolation. – Kevin Sullivan, The Washington Post

In October, our guests and moderators explored the links between global goals and grassroots change, the potential for change through breaking barriers through sports as well as the role of language, art and culture in achieving reconciliation. Several guest speakers lent their voices to these contemporary social issues, such as Kathy Calvin (President and CEO, UN Foundation), Sabrina Sassi (Jeanne Sauvé Fellow and Member of the UN Young People and Preventing Violent Extremism Taskforce), Dr. Shivaun Quinlivan (Fellow, McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism), Dr. Timothy Shriver (Chairman, Special Olympics), Loretta Claiborne (Special Olympics Athlete), Gabrielle Hughes (DPhil candidate, University of Oxford) and Kluane Adamek (Co-founder, Our Voices – Yukon First Nations Emerging Leaders). 

It was an honor to be asked by my friend Kim Samuel, who has been a steadfast and tireless supporter of the Special Olympics movement for many years, to join such a provocative, thought-provoking discussion on the critical importance of inclusion for the youth of our world.

We believe that great movements of social and cultural and political change are rooted in the invitation of those who serve.  In this way, we invite people from different walks of life to learn from, care for, communicate with and understand each other—to repair the divisions, fears and misunderstandings that separate us from one another and indeed, from ourselves. Organizations like the Jeanne Sauve Foundation are creating a path towards inclusion and erasing the lines that divide us. Together, we must work together to create lasting change and it’s refreshing to see organizations like this one who are already helping pioneer our youth to choose inclusion. – Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics

Our November guest speakers explored how increasing connectedness can reduce poverty in South Africa, how to address isolation amongst the elderly, how to measure and monitor progress in responding to complex social challenges and how community-building projects in under-resourced parts of urban Kenya are building solidarity and advancing social equality. To shed light on these issues, we welcomed Marlene Ogawa (Program Manager, Synergos Institute in South Africa), Bethany Brown, (Researcher, Human Rights Watch), Melissa Dalva, (Outreach Services Coordinator, The Yellow Door), Matthew Bishop (Senior Editor, The Economist; Co-Founder of Social Progress Index), Dr. Angel Hsu (Assistant Professor, Yale-NUS College and Yale School of Forestry; Principal Investigator, Environmental Performance Index), Kennedy Odede, Founder/CEO, and Jessica Posner, Co-Founder/COO, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) as well as Michael Lipset (PhD Candidate, McGill University; Co-Producer, The Palette) at Sauvé House.

The Sauvé Lecture on Social Connectedness is a space for students to come together and engage in practical ways of enhancing their theoretical understanding of social Connectedness by linking theory to practice and building on their understanding of international development studies and broader development knowledge. Marlene Ogawa, Synergos Institute South Africa

This [series] is providing young people with multiple, diverse perspectives on these issues, first-hand from practitioners and academics who are working on the frontlines of [social] issues. – Angel Hsu, Yale University

It has been such an honour to be a part of the long history of collaboration between the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation and McGill University. I could not think of a more supportive place to advance the movement for overcoming social isolation and building social connectedness. This Forum Series — the first of its kind in the wider McGill community — has steadily brought together an ever-expanding, diverse group of students and knowledge seekers interested in building social connectedness around the world, and with each other. – Professor Kim Samuel, McGill University 

Finally, during the first week of December, a panel of speakers addressed local issues in Montreal, exploring the role of imagination and people-centered design in building connected communities. The panel included Patrick Brennan (Executive Director of McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development and Jeanne Sauvé Senior Fellow), Kenneth Deer (Indigenous Rights Advocate and Leader of the Mohawk Community of Kahnawake), Sabrina Sassi (Jeanne Sauvé Fellow and Member of the UN Young People and Preventing Violent Extremism Taskforce), and Chris Webster (Youth Empowerment Professional).

Given the tremendous success of the fall series, we are delighted that ProfessorKim Samuel will continue to host lectures at Sauvé House throughout the winter 2017 semester (more details to follow). Videos documenting the fall series will also be available for viewing in the new year.

The Jeanne Sauvé Foundation would like to thank its partners – Professor Kim Samuel and McGill Universitys Institute for the Study of International Development – for working together on an insightful and impactful public speaker series. We look forward to cultivating future collaborations in 2017 and beyond.

Photo by Ryan MacDowell

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