Indigenous women leaders start classes at Coady International Institute

May 13, 2011

ANTIGONISH, Nova Scotia – Twelve Aboriginal women leaders from across Canada have arrived at the Coady Institute campus at St. Francis Xavier (StFX) University to begin their four-month studies in the inaugural Indigenous Women in Community Leadership (IWCL) program.
One Inuk and 11 First Nations women represent the first cohort in a five-year, $4 million initiative supported by the Imperial Oil Foundation and ExxonMobil Foundation.  The goal is to engage emerging women leaders and provide them with practical skills and experience so they can have an active role in advancing community development
“What really stands out is their passion for other people,” said Gord Cunningham, interim director of Coady International Institute. “It was very clear in the application process that they recognize the power of citizen-led development, and they’re eager to learn the leadership skills required to initiate positive community-based change.  I’m very proud to welcome our First Nation and Inuit participants to the Coady Institute campus here at StFX University.”
Coady Institute staff developed the curriculum and case studies with input from Aboriginal community leaders.  From May 2 to May 20, participants are attending a campus-based leadership preparation program followed by three-month community placements across Canada, with support and encouragement from mentors. They will return to Antigonish during the last week of August for a final week on campus, where they will meet 50 international participants in the flagship Diploma in Development Leadership program.
"Imperial is excited to be involved with this program that supports education and builds strong Aboriginal communities,” says Susan Swan, president of the Imperial Oil Foundation. “The pairing of students and mentors from different regions across Canada will inspire life-long networks of women supporting Aboriginal community development.”
"We are proud to be a part of a program that develops local Indigenous women’s capabilities to contribute to broader economic growth", says Suzanne McCarron, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. "Equipping and empowering women to be effective leaders has a multiplier effect because they return to their communities and invest in the development of others."
The IWCL program’s first cohort includes: Elena Abel, Ottawa, ON; Kristen Auger, Fort St. John, BC; Shawna Boyer, Mississauga First Nation, ON; Tiffany Burns, James Smith Cree Nation, SK; Samantha Elijah, Walpole Island First Nation, ON; Rose Julian, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, NS; Helen Knott, Fort St. John, BC; Lauren McComber, Kahnawake, QC; Amanda Meawasige, Eagle Lake First Nation, ON; Karri-Lynn Paul, Woodstock First Nation, NB; Leslie Qammaniq, Pond Inlet, NU; and Vanessa Tait, O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation, MB.
Mentors include: Leena Evic, Iqualuit, NU; Angela James, Yellowknife, NT; Chief Deborah Chief, Brokenhead, MB; Patricia Flett, Fort McMurray, AB; Cecilia Fitzpatrick, Fort MacKay, AB; Marie Delorme, Calgary, AB; and Chief Candice Paul, St. Mary’s First Nation, NB.
About Coady International Institute
The Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University specializes in community-based, citizen-driven development education. Since 1959, the Coady Institute has ignited leadership in people who are making a genuine and sustainable difference in the world. Today, more than 5,000 Coady graduates and partners are working in 130 countries helping millions of people in the world’s poorest neighborhoods to build better lives for themselves. For more information, visit
About Imperial Oil
Imperial Oil and the Imperial Oil Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Imperial Oil in Canada, have been contributing to Canadian communities for 130 years.  Our goal is to be an active member of the community and to build a life-long learning system in Canada that ranks among the best in the world.  In 2010, Imperial Oil contributed almost $15 million to various programs across Canada. The company emphasizes investment in education of math and sciences, environment, and civic and community programs where we have employees or business operations. Additional information on Imperial's corporate citizenship initiatives is available at

About ExxonMobil Foundation
ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States.  Globally, the Foundation and ExxonMobil provides funding to improve basic education, promote women as catalysts for development, and combat malaria in developing countries.  In 2010, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $237 million in contributions worldwide, of which $110 million was dedicated to education.  Additional information on ExxonMobil’s community partnerships and contributions programs is available at


Media contacts:  

Richard Perry
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Coady International Institute
Tel: (902) 867-4933     

Hart Searle
Public and Government Affairs
Imperial Oil Limited
Tel: (403) 237-2710
Karen Matusic
Media Adviser

Te: (972) 444-1108 

Media contact:

Richard Perry

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Mobile: +1 902 870-9662



Twitter: @CoadyStFX