Although Janet Westbury’s stay in Canada’s North lasted for years, she still felt amazed at the magnitude of her long-awaited trip.

The Experiential Education Coordinator at Brock’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences recently participated in the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, which had been postponed from 2020 and aimed to broaden attendees’ perspectives on work, leadership, their communities and their country.

To do this, Westbury and 230 emerging Canadian leaders from business, labor, government, non-governmental organizations, education and culture attended an opening plenary session in Huntsville, Ontario, before to divide into teams of 14 and travel to various territories. and provinces.

Westbury and his teammates traveled to the Northwest Territories, where they spent nine days visiting various communities and hearing from local officials on topics such as reconciliation, climate change, innovation, retention of population and self-government.

At the National Arts Center in Ottawa, Janet Westbury (top left) and her group shared lessons they learned from communities in the Northwest Territories at the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, hosted by the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honorable Mary Simon (front row, second from right).

While regularly working and learning together for nearly 20 hours a day and taking 10 plane trips to the territory, the group learned the importance of listening carefully to the range of people they encountered, Westbury said.

“It’s so important to not just show up and have a quick chat and photo op,” she said. “The common thread of trauma was everywhere, but the resilience and leadership of the people we met were incredible, and we had to listen to their stories and make their unheard voices heard.”

During the trip, the group’s initial perception of the area evolved, Westbury said.

“We learned to listen to the community, to hear their challenges, their traumas and their triumphs,” she said. “From various nations to a plethora of industries and sectors, we can certainly look to the North for leadership. For example, I had no idea that the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories has no parties and that elected officials come to a consensus on every decision.

After visiting places such as the territory’s only youth shelter, Home Base, in Yellowknife, the Diavik Diamond Mine in the tundra and a remote double waterfall outside Whati, Westbury said each experience has forged a part of the presentation they gave to the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honorable Mary Simon, upon their return to Ottawa.

But to do that, Westbury said the team intentionally avoided making specific recommendations.

“It was about providing a lens on what was going on and making sure she understood the scope of the programs and the character of the people we met,” Westbury said.

After sharing his experiences with the Governor General, Westbury, who received funding to attend the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences program, is also keen to connect with units at the University.

“I’ve already started connecting people here and here,” she said. “Sharing networks and nurturing connections between our northern friends and Brock staff, researchers, students and community members will open up a world of opportunity for everyone involved.

To inquire about potential partnerships or the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, contact Westbury at [email protected]