“I have always believed that the young people of the world were entitled to a tribune from which they could be heard. I have always been deeply convinced that all would gain if youth had a voice amidst all the voices – too often dissonant – of the world. (…) Therefore, the conferences of the Foundation give [youth] the opportunity to defend [their] opinions, to draw closer together, to seek out points of contact, and to denounce confrontation as being the rule in international relations.” – Jeanne Sauvé, 1991

The Jeanne Sauvé Foundation was established in 1988 by the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, Canada’s first female Governor General, as her legacy to the youth of the world. She was convinced that the international relationships and exposure to ideas that resulted from youth participation in international assemblies were invaluable assets to them as leaders in their later lives. She hoped to offer this opportunity to generations to come by creating a youth forum.

Madame Sauvé was already preoccupied with the issue of global leadership, which arose in part from her observation that leaders in all spheres of activity had lost a great deal of credibility. She was concerned that, in particular, political leadership around the world is often discredited because of an almost universal scepticism and disdain for those in positions of authority. Her intention was to create a permanent forum that would offer exceptional young people the opportunity to come together, meet and discuss the major global issues of the day, foster the development of their leadership, encourage a renaissance of the nobility of this vocation, and expose them to the Canadian model.

Since its inception, the Foundation has engaged more than 800 leaders from across Canada and over 70 countries around the world, through international conferences based in Montreal, and subsequently through two successive international residential programs – the Sauvé Scholars Program (2003-2013) and the Public Leadership Program (2015-2019). These residential programs brought up to 14 remarkable young leaders from around the world in Montreal for a year. They lived together at Sauve House and benefited from our program’s home academic partner, McGill University, and Concordia University. The Foundation provided them with activities and resources, including individualized mentoring, lectures, conferences and events, suited to the advancement of their individual, professional and intellectual goals. They enjoyed multi-faceted intercultural exchanges with their fellow leaders and a vibrant communal life. The absence of pressure from academic or professional deadlines allowed these young leaders to research, question, enlarge and act on their understanding of the world. It was an opportunity to assess what they had accomplished to date, reflect on their future activities, and explore their innate leadership qualities that would help them to effect change in the world.

Contemporaneous to the Foundation’s evolving work over the past 30 years, new approaches to tackling global issues and schools of thought about leadership have emerged. The number of organizations supporting young public leaders has grown exponentially. 30 years ago, the Sauvé Foundation was one of a handful of actors in a new field. Today, we are one organization out of hundreds globally. The scale of the problems we face are too vast for any one person or organization to tackle alone. We need to collaborate, not just across NPOs and NGOs, but across sectors, cultures and countries. We need to pool our resources, expertise, and knowledge. We need to work together. The skills and expertise required of tomorrow’s successful leaders are changing, and the way the Foundation works is changing to meet these needs.

We are thrilled to announce that we will be moving forward with a new approach to better meet the changing needs of young public leaders. We will continue supporting young change makers, both in Canada and abroad, by working in collaboration and partnership with peer organizations which share Jeanne Sauvé’s values, vision and goals. We aim to achieve greater impact by joining our resources and expertise. The Foundation looks forward to staying in touch about our continued evolution.

The Foundation is so grateful for all that has been achieved and thankful for every individual and organization that has contributed to its success over the years. Thank you to all our partners, volunteers, mentors, speakers, coaches, host families, friends, alumni and the Sauvé community at large for your invaluable support and continued collaboration!