By Sauvé Fellow Edison Huynh

Having spent a lot of March ‘on the move’ across Canada, the Fellows returned to Montreal rejuvenated and ready to put into action our plans for the collective project.

One of our deliverables includes writing op-eds over the coming months on a variety of topics linked to our team project on refugee rights and integration. To aid us in this task, we were lucky enough to receive training from journalist Andrew Potter, best-selling author, former editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen, and new Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. This encounter gave us fascinating insight into the world of journalism. Mr. Potter also gave us some great tips from everyone to catching the editor’s eye to dealing with rejection.

Be sure to explore the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation website for op-eds covering a range of topics, including a comparison of refugee integration in Canada vs. Europe, an article about irregular migration from Pakistan, and an op-ed linking the Jewish festival of Passover with refugee integration policy.

Our op-ed training was followed by the more festive (but equally important) activity of surprising Nancy Wright for her 70th Birthday! After a more formal event in her honour upstairs, it was a pleasure for the Fellows to cook a special dinner for her and guests. Her tireless contributions to the Sauvé community have had a strong impact on all Sauvé Fellows, who still remember trips to her lakeside home in the Laurentians as a highlight of their time in residence.

The next day, the Foundation co-hosted with Trafalgar School for Girls a dialogue space in which Dr. Tererai Trent shared a powerful personal narrative about her upbringing in Zimbabwe. As a child growing up in poverty, Dr. Trent recalled how she was not allowed to go to school, even though her brother Tinashe was given the opportunity to attend. This did not stop her from pursuing all of her dreams, which led her to obtain a PhD in the United States and to champion women’s education by creating a series of public schools in Zimbabwe. What we took away from her inspirational stories was a strong sense of tenacity and drive: to follow your dreams and then pay it forward (I could tell why Oprah Winfrey revealed that Dr. Trend was her all-time favourite guest!). The other beautiful thing about the evening was also the fact that it was the start of a reinvigorated partnership with Trafalgar School. We’ve been neighbours on Docteur-Penfield Avenue for many years and are excited about the friendly collaborations to come.

The following week saw us host another event in the Jeanne Sauvé Forum series exploring Public Leadership for Culturally Diverse Societies from multiple angles. The perspectives which were given on April 5 centred around the Pursuit of Peace – a documentary highlighting the extraordinary lives of those on the front line striving for peace in places such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Iraq. The feature documentary makes a powerful case for unarmed civilian peacemaking and mediation within conflicts. What struck me about the documentary was the fact that peace isn’t something we ever ‘achieve’ but rather, it’s an ongoing effort; an aim for which countless individuals need to keep striving. Following the public screening of the film, we had a Q&A with Director Garry Beitel and Producer Barry Lazar. We thank them both for creating a documentary which is so very topical to current events and has stimulated much discussion about our ongoing team project, as outlined by Brijlal in the previous post in this series of Fellows’ Team Project updates.

The week finished with another VOX Method workshop, which is part of a series of innovative public speaking training we have been participating in throughout our residential year. These sessions are designed to improve our public speaking skills. Each workshop focuses on a different speaking format, and this particular one involved pitching a 30 second TV advertisement on a passion of ours. Issues covered included female representation in the media, mental health issues, and even the Jeanne Sauvé Program itself!! We all look forward to putting these skills into practice at our next public Forum event on April 27, which will see the Fellows deliver our public narratives concerning issues of equality, inclusion, exclusion, identity and peace. See you there!

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