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St.FX University launches fund for Indigenous women’s leadership, gets A-lister donation

A sign marks one of the entrances to the St. Francis Xavier University campus in Antigonish, N.S.
A sign marks one of the entrances to the St. Francis Xavier University campus in Antigonish, N.S. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

The university’s Coady Institute launched the Circle of Abundance – Amplifying Indigenous Women’s Leadership fund, on Monday.

The fund will provide opportunities to prioritize programs created by Indigenous women, for Indigenous women, on a local and national level.

With a goal of $1 million, it will directly support the Coady’s Institute’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership and the Centre’s Indigenous programming.

Hundreds rally for National Indigenous Day
Hundreds rally for National Indigenous Day

Its first donors were actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, with a $200,000 gift to kick off the campaign.

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“We’re so happy to support the incredible work of the Coady Institute’s program with Indigenous Women,” Reynolds and Lively said in the release.

“We’re blown away by the conversations we’ve had and the work they do, and look forward to joining them on this journey.”

According to a St. Francis Xavier University release, the fund will specifically help the Coady Institute expand its offerings of Indigenous women’s leadership programs, for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women leaders.

Read more: StFX to hold most classes in person in upcoming fall semester

It will also support the creation of a new Indigenous-led and Indigenous-run women’s initiative.

“The funding means continued learning opportunities, awareness building, and the chance to share our stories with others and the next generations,” says a joint statement from the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership program, including two Mi’kmaq women, Victoria LaBillois and Salome Barker.

“It is also a recognition of the good work that took place over the last decade with Indigenous women at Coady,” the statement reads.

Coady Institute’s Indigenous programming has been developing for 10 years, according to the release.

The Circle of Abundance fund is launched as Canada’s National Indigenous History Month comes to an end.

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The release says it will move the institute in a “direction that reflects current realities and recent history.”