The world needs more female leaders and the University of Regina is helping prepare them

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: November 5, 2019 3:45 p.m.

Kelly Fraser kicks off her set with a traditional Inuk drum song.
Kelly Fraser kicks off her set with a traditional Inuk drum song. Photo: University Advancement and Communications

When young women in high school feel inspired, they let it show. So when the University of Regina hosted the first-ever INSPIRE. Emerging Leaders Forum today, 1,600 local students in grades 11 and 12 brought down the house!

The high schoolers, along with a contingent of U of R students, were given the morning off to attend the high-energy INSPIRE. event, presented by SaskMilk. The morning was kicked off by the Minister of Advanced Education, the Honourable Tina Beaudry-Mellor.

Beaudry-Mellor spoke from the heart about her own challenge and education, determination, and hard work have been the keys to success.

Looking out at the packed house at the Conexus Art Centre, the Minister shared, "We want you. We want you to be CEOs, the Nobel Prize winners, the chairs of boards, the premiers and prime ministers, and the community workers. You can do it and we'll be right here to support you."

The event was the brainchild of Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Regina. When friend-of-the-University Michelle Al-Katib shared her daughter's enthusiasm about the Hopeful. Equipped. Resilient. (H.E.R.) workshop she attended led by local school teacher Kam Bahia, Timmons knew she needed to find a way to provide supports for young women and encourage them to seek out and take up leadership opportunities.

Timmons, along with: five-time Olympian Charmaine Crooks; 2018  Juno nominated and 2019 Indspire award winner Kelly Fraser; and, Parkland shooting survivor Jaclyn Corin, brought home the notion that leadership is about being prepared, seizing leadership opportunities when they present themselves, surrounding yourself with support, and never giving up.

Courage is something that united all four speakers. While none started off as leaders, one became a university president, one an Olympic champion and change maker, one a social justice advocate standing up to politicians and powerful lobbyists until more sane and safe gun laws are enacted, and one is shining the light on the beauty of her culture and language and the challenges her people face along the Reconciliation journey.

Timmons wrapped up the half-day event, saying, "Today was for you and about you. We hope it put a fire in your belly. You are the future. We're so proud of you and we'll be here to support you as you take on leadership roles in your schools, on the sports field, in your communities, and around the world as you go on to whatever life has in store for you."

Event sponsors included SaskMilk, Proven Foods (Starbucks, Subway), AGT Foods, Conexus Art Centre, Hillberg and Berk, and the U of R faculties of Kinesiology and Health studies and Media, Art, and Performance.

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Charmaine Crooks talks with students about resilience and the importance of never giving up. Jaclyn Corin talks about getting up the day after the Parkland shooting and getting on the phone to organize what became March of Our Lives. Kelly Fraser sings the title track from "Sedna."