ANTIGONISH: St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute kicked off Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership to support Coady Institute’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership and the Centre’s Indigenous programming.
Ryan Reynolds’ and Blake Lively’s $200,000 gift launched the campaign and the donation has already opened other avenues for Coady.
Inspired by the initial donation and all those since, the Jeannine Deveau Education Equity Endowment Fund is willing to commit $500,000 to Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership by matching dollar-to-dollar Blake and Ryan’s donation and up to another $300,000 to match any new donations.
Reaching that target will help Coady achieve the $1 million goal for Circle of Abundance.
Jeannine Deveau graduated from StFX in 1944 and had a successful career as a professor of nutrition in Montreal. Encouraged by her father to invest she did well.
In 2015, saddened but inspired by the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Jeannine Deveau began investing in improving educational opportunities for Indigenous Canadians, explaining simply “It’s the right thing to do.”
“The Jeannine Deveau Education Equity Endowment Fund was established to further that objective, looking particularly to augment Indigenous-led and supported initiatives,” Bill Gunn, Jeannine’s nephew, said. “When Jeannine was briefed on Coady and the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership (IWCL) program in 2015 she was suitably impressed with the approach and results being achieved. We are thus very pleased to be given this opportunity to support the next phase and would encourage anyone having the means and inclination to join us in this investment in the future of Canada.”
Coady mentor Victoria LaBillois, a Mi’kmaw entrepreneur from Listuguj, Quebec in the traditional territory of Gespe’gewa’gi, is a mentor and advisor to Indigenous women as part of the IWCL program. Having served in many roles for her First Nation at band, regional, and national levels as well as in federal public service, she brings her experience and wisdom to the program.
“As we shift to a mentality of abundance, Coady Institute programs such as the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership provide a platform for Indigenous women to reclaim their space, their voices, and their power,” LaBillois said.
“Through engagement and collaboration, we strengthen our leadership by sharing our stories, by creating a community of practice amongst the alumni, while respecting the diverse cultures and languages of the Metis, Inuit, and First Nations across Canada. Generous donations to Coady programming ensure these voices are amplified and community-led solutions continue to be driven for and by Indigenous women.”
Former StFX and Pathy Foundation Fellowship graduate Salome Barker is thrilled to learn about the Jeannine Deveau Education Equity Endowment Fund donation to Circle of Abundance.
“I’ve had the privilege of working at the Coady as an intern in 2018 and most recently completing my fellowship where I was working with Mi’kmaq youth in central Newfoundland,” Barker said. “I hope that people in the StFX community and beyond will really take the time to educate themselves on Indigenous history, current events in Turtle Island, step up for Indigenous rights, and speak out even when you’re uncomfortable. Change doesn’t happen if you stay in your comfort zone. I encourage anyone from the StFX community who has the privilege to donate funds, to donate to the Indigenous Women’s leadership program at Coady. Your money allows for Indigenous women to flourish within their communities and continue the work that the Creator has set them out to do.”
Coady Executive Director Gord Cunningham is amazed by the response and the buzz Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership has created, noting that individual donors have already committed $10,000 to the effort.
“Thanks to the incredible matching gift of the Jeannine Deveau Education Equity Endowment Fund every dollar adds up,” Gord says. “I encourage all to consider making a donation which will automatically double and I want to thank Ryan, Blake, Bill, and all those individuals who have stepped up to make donations that will support Victoria, Salome, and their colleagues on this journey.” Those wishing to contribution can go to, Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership