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Celebrity-Backed Initiative Amplifying Indigenous Women Leaders Reaches $1M Goal

Press Release

Nov 19, 2020

Media Release
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada —

St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute is announcing a significant milestone for the Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership initiative that launched earlier this year with an opening gift from Hollywood’s Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

The initiative aims to build on the Institute’s 60-year history of accompanying social change leaders, and ten 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.

Karri-Lynn Paul, Indigenous Program Teaching Staff, announced in an online event November 19 that the Institute has reached its one-million-dollar fundraising goal.

“These funds are significant to the work we plan to do in the next few years,” Paul says.

The first step is to develop, design, and deliver an online leadership course for Indigenous women in the coming spring, Paul explains. Then, to expand the Indigenous Asset-Based Community 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.”

In addition to a $200,000 gift from Reynolds and Lively, the initiative received a significant boost from the Jeannine Deveau Education Equity Endowment Fund who matched the duo’s gift plus another $300,000 in raised funds. The initiative received support from the Donner Canadian Foundation, Edwards Family Foundation, StFX Chancellor John Peacock and wife Adrienne, and many individual supporters.

“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.”

Ryan Reynolds

Eileen Alma, Director of the Institute’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership, says that partnership with Coady 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,” Alma says.

“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.”

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