Women’s History Month: October 2020

October is Women’s History Month in Canada, a time to celebrate the inspiring and courageous women and girls of the past and of today who are helping to shape a more inclusive and equitable Canada.


Among them, we must recognize the commitment of the women who are part of our Advisory Committee on Diversity, which has set itself the task of guiding the actions emanating from our 2019–2024 strategic plan in terms of diversity. The voices coming from this committee are all the more important as societies around the world work to find lasting solutions to the problems of systemic racism and the inequities that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.


Aware of the urgency to act, the Foundation has set itself the objective to reflect diversity in its selection processes and programs, which includes considerations such as “gender, race, disability, language, socioeconomic background, Indigenous knowledge and region of origin, as well as diverse perspectives.” These members are a faithful reflection of that. Women are often on the front lines of major societal changes. By demanding equality, they inspire entire communities and minorities to do the same.


The Foundation is very proud to have eight engaged female leaders among the fourteen members of its Advisory Committee on Diversity:




Bold, inspiring women whose backgrounds will guide and shed light on possible solutions leading to greater inclusion of diversity. Women who, like all the Canadian women and girls we celebrate this month, continue to have a lasting influence on Canadian history.


We asked five of them why it is important for leaders to engage with people whose perspectives are different from their own. Here is what they had to say!


2019 Scholar Caroline Leblanc is engaged in the defense of the rights of homeless people and people who are denied available resources. Having experiences homelessness herself, she cares deeply about human dignity and social justice. “Engaged leaders have the humility and self-awareness to know that they too have blind spots and biases, which can be overcome by questioning their views and engaging in an informed, respectful and constructive dialogue with people whose point of views are opposite to their own.”


2009 Scholar Magaly Brodeur specializes in Public Policy Analysis and Management. Her goal is to improve the patient experience by creating innovative care and services for primary care patients. “Openness and collaboration are essential ingredients in any innovation or original solution. A diversity of perspectives has immeasurable value. The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation brings together people with varying points of view, expertise, and backgrounds. This is the Foundation’s comparative advantage, unmatched in Canada and even internationally.”


2020 Scholar Charlie Wall-Andrews is dedicated to advancing critical theory in policy and management studies to enable equity creation in highly inequitable settings. “How will we achieve innovation if we do not respectfully challenge each other, or have a willingness to understand the perspectives and ideas of others, even when they may not align with our core ideologies or values? Engaged leaders can foster an inclusive space where constructive and collaborative engagement(s) can be facilitated to achieve the unimaginable.”


2004 Scholar Margarida Garcia is a professor in the Faculty of Law and in the Department of Criminology with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. She is interested in the themes of leadership innovation, and institutional change. “Why deprive yourself of the richness of the world and the point of view of the Other? Effective leaders know that they cannot take their own viewpoint as gospel, that they necessarily have blind spots, and that the best way to illuminate those unseen regions is by listening sincerely and attentively to the Other. Difference and even disagreement are celebrated by leaders who’ve been able to step out of the restrictive confines of the ego, which often stands in the way of successful and inspiring leadership.”


2016 Fellow Poonam Puri is an expert in corporate law, securities law, and corporate governance. Her work is academically rigorous as well as firmly grounded in the real time of policy-making and practice. “Leadership is about finding solutions and communicating those solutions. Leaders cannot find the solution to a problem if they cannot speak to others who hold different views. Ideas need to be challenged; they need to be workshopped. Quite apart from collaboratively generating an entirely new idea from a person opposed to your [initial] viewpoint, you must be confident in your [initial] viewpoint’s ability to withstand critique and challenge. Once a solution to a problem is crafted, a leader needs to be able to communicate that solution, including and especially to those whose viewpoints are opposed.”