ANTIGONISH: An important milestone has been reached on the Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership initiative through the Coady International Institute at StFX University.
The initiative, which was launched earlier this year, received an initial donation of $200,000 from Hollywood power couple Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, and recently surpassed their $1 million fundraising goal.
“The Circle of Abundance is something I support because I believe that there’s no stronger advocate for a community than those living within that community,” Reynolds says. “I believe in women. I believe in their power to build local economies. I believe in their power to build resilient communities. It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Indigenous leaders at Coady, learning from their lived experiences, and of course their collective wisdom.”
Karri-Lynn Paul, an Indigenous program teaching staff, made the announcement during an on-line event on November 19.
Aiming to build on the Coady’s 60-year history of accompanying social change leaders – and 10-years of hosting the institute’s award-winning Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program for self-identified First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women in Canada – Paul said reaching their fundraising goal is significant to the work they plan on carrying out in the next few years.
The first step will be to develop, design, and deliver an on-line leadership course for Indigenous women in the coming spring, before expanding the Indigenous Asset-Based and Citizen-Led Development workshops that launched in September with support from the initiative.
“Longer-term, we want to revitalize and further decolonize the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership flagship program and partner with graduates to offer regional programs,” Paul said.
In addition to the gift from Lively and Reynolds, the initiative also received a significant donation from the Jeannine Deveau Education Equity Endowment Fund which matched the actors’ gift, plus another $300,000 in raised funds.
Along with many individual supporters, the initiative received support from the Donner Canadian Foundation, Edwards Family Foundation, and StFX Chancellor John Peacock and his wife Adrienne.
The director of the Coady’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership noted the partnership with the institute’s graduates and advisors is key to the initiative’s success.
“We’re so appreciative of the level of support and encouragement we’ve received from so many individuals and organizations. We’re especially thankful for the amazing relationships we have with Indigenous women graduates and advisors who are the backbone of this initiative,” Eileen Alma said. “This is an exciting period for Coady Institute as we further build opportunities for sharing, learning, and co-creation of community initiatives with Indigenous participants across the country and globally.”