By Sauvé Fellow Costin Ciobanu

With less than two months before the end of the residential phase of the 2015-17 Public Leadership Program, the Sauvé Fellows have focused on implementing their team project, presenting their values and skills through the power of storytelling, and expanding their understanding of public leadership for culturally diverse societies.

The month of April saw consensus and consolidation evolve in relation to the team project deliverables. Starting mid-May and ending in the first week of June, the Fellows are organizing four public events in the context of the Building Inclusive Communities for Refugees: A Public Leadership Challenge series, which aims to showcase the connection between building inclusive communities for refugees and public leadership. Through the lenses of education, mental health, culinary culture, community engagement and public policy, we will seek to bring together refugees, NGO representatives, activists, academics, decision-makers and concerned citizens to foster a meaningful dialogue.

Currently, the Fellows are working in subgroups on the last details of their events. The fieldtrip to Ottawa, filled with meetings with decision-makers and other key stakeholders, represents a great opportunity to consolidate our understanding and to share knowledge about what is to be done to address the issue of refugee integration in Canada.

Nothing brings a message home better than a good story. Benefiting from intensive coaching in public speaking this year, the Fellows have honed their speechwriting and delivery skills and showcased them at our Diversity & Leadership through Storytelling event. As has happened many times during this year, we realized how important it is for public leaders to be able to put together a compelling story of self, of us, and of now. Too often, leaders forget about their potential to mobilize communities by allowing the vulnerabilities of their own stories to become central in the ongoing effort to match power with positive social change.

Leaders need to inspire, but, in the same time, be open to being transformed by others’ experiences. It was thus a great opportunity for some of the Sauvé Fellows to attend the Ottawa Peace Talks 2016: Let’s build peace through diversity. Organized by the Global Centre for Pluralism, and Interpeace, the event brought together remarkable leaders and inspiring narratives, highlighting how diversity and tolerance are the sine qua non of global peace and mutual understanding. Initiated in Geneva in 2013, the Peace Talks are an international platform that brings together speakers from diverse backgrounds to share their personal stories and ideas to resolve conflict.

Back at Sauvé House, peace is what directed another larger-than-life leader whom the Fellows met: Jean Béliveau travelled around the world for 11 years, in a journey believed to be longest uninterrupted circumnavigation on foot. Dedicating the walk to peace and children, Beliveau invited us to reflect on balancing one’s drive for the greater good with family and personal commitments. It was another great occasion to understand the multidimensional character of leadership, the beauty of humanity in action, and the power to inspire and bring about change.

In many of the Fellows’ public narratives there are references to roots and identity as an essential part of one’s becoming. During our Sauvé year, we have discovered the fascinating roots of Canada and, through various Leadership Encounters, the history of many First Nations groups. But nothing compares to a field experience. This is why the visit to the Kahnawa:ke Survival School was such a rich, multicultural experience. We learned about the traditions of the Mohawk people, about their history, belief system, political organizations, faith-keepers, and Longhouses. Their songs and dances were a reminder of how intercultural communications can foster reconciliation and understanding.

Stay tuned for future posts on our public leadership initiatives and the evolution of our team project!

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