It was interesting to see how different teams approached their presentations. Some did amazing videos, showed many interesting pictures, or got really creative using campfire scenes or simulating a broadcast. Although we didn’t get a chance to see all of the presentations, we believe that we gave a different perspective.
No, we didn’t do “New Brunswick: The Musical” – we provided a little bit of “misinformation” so that people wouldn’t know what to expect. Our creative team did an amazing job. They set up the scene so that it would look as close as possible to our talking circle while working around stage constraints. We had a chance to paint our “talking stick” in the four traditional colours – Matt (our MLO) did an amazing job. For costumes, we wore just the regular clothes that we would have worn on the bus. The sole addition was that of our unifying symbol, the fiddlehead pins that had been created by Margaret Hache, the spouse of one of our members.
The setup was sparse by design. We had a 1.5 minute powerpoint slide show, but did not have any accompanying music. It appeared that there was some confused murmuring from the crowd – what’s going on? It’s interesting to see how long 90 seconds can be – even some members of our team just wanted to get up to the stage!
Matt set the scene for the talking circle, stating that we only had 20 minutes to debrief before our next commitment, then launching immediately into the “Rolls’ call” that we have come to know so well. All members answered, then proceeded to their pre-assigned seat in the circle. By previous arrangement, we also invited the Governor General into the circle using the roll call – there were some surprised comments by audience members that we would even think to bring him in.
The main points of our presentation have been captured in another post; it should be remembered that these were not the exact words since folks continued to tweak to make it more personal. We made it through the Mental and Physical sections well, but there were more than a few people close to tears when we talked about the Emotional side – so many memories. The emotions made it that much harder for the final speakers in the Spiritual section, especially when we presented him with our talking stick at the end. This piece of driftwood, obtained in Bathurst, is a powerful symbol of our journey together. The Governor General indicated that he would be taking the stick back to Rideau Hall, where it would serve as another precious artifact in a special First Peoples room.
The only slides used during the presentation were just simple slides indicating where we were in the circle – just the colour and the word – and then cutting back to the live feed. By creating such a simple presentation, our intent was that the message would be the prime focus. There have been very few other occasions that we can recall a crowd being this silent – we believe that we achieved our aim. We presented the good and the bad, the highs and the lows – we wanted our report to do justice to New Brunswick, a province that we have come to love over the past nine days. What made us most nervous was that Robert Moreau, our Provincial Chair, was in the audience. We really wanted to make him proud by showing how much we have learned on the trip that he and his colleagues had spent much time preparing. Thank you.
We were the last presentation, so after a touching slideshow summarizing the entire Conference, it was time to head back to the hotel to change for the closing gala. Gathering in the main lobby, there were many stunning ladies and handsome gentlemen. After a short bus ride, we found ourselves back at Rideau Hall for the official conference photograph. It was rather hot and we were looking into the sun, so the photograph may look rather interesting.
Another short bus ride (our last one!) and we found ourselves at the National Arts Centre. We had a few cocktails, and then it was time for supper. We had the opportunity to listen, for the last time of the conference, to the Governor General and Annette Verschuren. They provided an excellent summation of the conference, including much sage advice. We were called to take this “drop” of knowledge, and spread it throughout our country. We were informed that leaders are risk-takers, and that we must gather and act upon our “20 seconds of courage” if we wish to make a difference.
Many folks were surprised when the band came out for the dance – it was Clam Chowder! The opportunity to have the same amazing band that performed at John Risley’s (it seems so long ago now) was perfect – it felt as if we had come full circle. There was much merriment, and few wanted the night to end. There were few dry eyes as we said farewell to people that had been strangers two weeks ago, but whom we now consider close friends. It was truly an experience that will last with us for a long, long time.
So – how do we conclude this experience? It has been a powerful and intense 15 days, but we would not have liked it any other way. For those following the blog, we hope that we have, in some small way, taken you along with us on our voyage of discovery. We are so thankful to everyone concerned for arranging this trip, giving us access to amazing people, giving us their precious time, and for taking us into their workplaces and homes. We believe that the time you have spent on or with us has made us better leaders, and we anticipate “paying it forward” in the future. Our Leadership Conference may have ended, but our journey of promulgating leadership in sustainable communities has just begun…