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The inaugural cohort of the President's Student Leadership Program.

Members of the inaugural cohort of the President's Student Leadership Program.

Inaugural President’s Student Leadership Program cohort wraps up core week

July 22, 2019 — 

The new President’s Student Leadership Program begins with a unique, week-long learning opportunity that brings students together from across Manitoba post-secondary institutions and disciplines to build their leadership potential. The program aims to develop future leaders, fostering students’ ability, commitment and drive to lead in their communities and eventual careers in their chosen field. Developed in 2019 as the flagship initiative of the James W. Burns Leadership Institute at the University of Manitoba, the program launched this past June with a diverse group of 27 students in all levels of post-secondary study coming from the University of Manitoba, Red River College, the University of Winnipeg and University College of the North. 

The program’s design focuses on recognizing and building capacity in applying different backgrounds, voices, disciplines and perspectives to solve complex leadership problems. Using innovative ideas and pedagogy of leadership, students participated in hands-on workshops and engaged with top leaders in business, healthcare and community development sectors. The group also visited a variety of private, public and community organizations, including the United Way, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Price Industries and Treaty One Corporation, developers of Kapyong Barracks urban reserve.

“Throughout the week, our cohort transformed from a group of individuals into an interdisciplinary student collective, despite a wide range of educational, cultural and geographic backgrounds,” said Jessica Piper, 2019 President’s Student Leadership program participant and U of M masters of architecture student. “The diversity of voices allowed us to understand and appreciate the stories, lessons and skills learned during the week from many perspectives, creating a rich, impactful and sometimes challenging experience. Moving forward professionally, I am confident that the demonstrated value of diversity, empathy and interdisciplinary in collaborative leadership will substantially inform my approach to architecture and design.”

“The students’ interest in leadership and dedication to the program was evident to everyone we met over the week,” said Suzanne Gagnon, Canada Life Chair in Leadership Education, Associate Professor, Leadership and Organization, and Director of the James W. Burns Leadership Institute. “I am deeply impressed with how they fostered a sense of community and learned from one another across the different disciplines and institutions represented, as well as how they learned from senior leaders and asked insightful questions informed by their unique perspectives.”

The initial week of the program is just the beginning of the participants’ leadership learning. Students continue to develop their skills throughout the academic year with bi-monthly events and seminars. Before the week of immersive learning was over, participants started their own leadership and social change project, working in interdisciplinary, cross-institutional teams, that they will complete during the 2019-20 academic year. 

The James W. Burns Leadership Institute was established at the I.H. Asper School of Business through a visionary investment from Canada Life, IG Wealth Management and the Power Corporation of Canada to shape the future leaders of Manitoba. The Institute provides students with opportunities to develop the leadership knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in any field, from technology and trades to healthcare and fine arts. 

For more information about this program, please visit

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