On October 29, 2016, I had the great fortune to be invited to the 2016 TEDx Montreal Women’s conference.  TED stands for Technology, Education, Design.  TED talks are short, powerful talks on all topics, meant to ‘spread ideas’. Independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world in over 100 languages.

The theme of the 2016 TEDx Montreal Women conference was “It’s About Time”.  From their website:

“We all have 24 hours a day and yet most of us feel we never have enough.  How do we spend our time?  What are we doing with our time?

When decisions we make over time result in irreversible consequences, then time is no longer on our side.  Is it about time!”  Promo video

The room was packed solid with 800 people, and the day was packed from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm with speaker after speaker – one incredible woman after the other (click here for the full roster), all sharing their personal journeys and expert advice on how to make every minute count; how to be mindful; how to live our best lives; how to turn lemons into lemonade.

La salle était pleine, 800 personnes y étaient présentes, et la journée était remplie de conférencier un après l’autre, une merveilleuse femme après l’autre, de 9h à 17h (cliquez ici pour la programmation complète). Toutes partageaient leurs expériences personnelles et donnait des conseils experts sur comment faire compter chaque seconde, comment être conscient, comment vivre notre meilleure vie possible, comment faire de la limonade avec nos citrons!

The room was packed solid with 800 people, and the day was packed from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm with speaker after speaker – one incredible woman after the other (click here for the full roster), all sharing their personal journeys and expert advice on how to make every minute count; how to be mindful; how to live our best lives; how to turn lemons into lemonade.

Speakers varied from renowned experts such as Milla Craig (sustainability and responsible investing), Dr. Divi Chandra (physician and mind-body practitioner) and Laurie Betito (specialist in sexual health) to 16 year old Emma Hason who earned a standing ovation with her powerful spoken word piece “The Rush (We Are Sixteen)”

I was astounded to learn that the entire TEDx Montreal Women’s team is volunteer-driven.  What is it about this event that has over 20 dedicated individuals and even more speakers give so much of their time, resources and energy to TEDx Montreal Women?

I spoke with Grace Yang, the Producer and Curator (and Chief Troublemaker, according to the website!) of TEDx Montreal Women.  Grace was busy pursuing a career in the financial sector until 2003 when she had a family – and wanted more balance in her life.  She stopped working – but soon felt lost and realized that “…all my education, values etc were external. I was just another mother in the park.  I lost my identity and felt I needed to rebuild myself, from within”.

After completing a half-marathon and a half-Ironman, she was asked to help organize a TEDx Youth event.  It was then that she was inspired by a Steve Jobs’ book which discussed the importance of helping people see not only what they are capable of, but recognizing and realizing their potential.  Grace understood that while she loved inspiring youth, she knew that she needed to inspire women.

And just like that – she started TEDx Montreal Women.

“This is where my place is,” she explained.  “It brings me a tremendous amount of fulfillment; it brings together so many people who have an important message to share….to help spark something in the women who attend.”

Who attends these conferences?  “Students of life,” Grace explains.  Attendees are mostly women, and come from all walks of life: students, professionals, mothers, retired people.  They come to learn, to be inspired, to network and to make connections with people they may otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet.

The TEDx Montreal Women team is truly phenomenal.  I wanted to get a sense of what drives this team and spoke with a few amazing young women.

Charlotte Cailliarec is a student at McGill University.  She has been involved with TEDx Montreal Women since December 2014. “It has allowed me to understand what is possible if you are willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone… My eyes have been opened to what we can each accomplish to make the world a better place.…Powerful ideas may have humble beginnings but they can have grand and lasting effects that ripple outwards to make a positive change”.

Tessa Battistin in her final year at McGill University. She has been involved with TEDx Montreal Women for two years. She explained to me how Grace Yang has created a team of inspiring women who are interested in genuine community involvement, and has demonstrated by example that shared passions are stronger than any other type of business-oriented connections. “I believe that, through Grace’s excellent leadership, the TEDx Montreal Women event is slowly changing the ecosystem of Montreal by offering a space for meaningful connection and inspiration to enter into the lives of the speakers, attendees, and volunteers. In the isolation of the digital age, TEDx Montreal Women is a beacon of social connectivity for our community”.

Emily Rose Hamilton-Leavitt is a “registered dietitian, self-proclaimed foodie, running enthusiast and TED talk addict”.  After seeing how a single event could turn an auditorium of strangers into a community, she knew she wanted to be part of it so that she could help give people the opportunity to learn from TED talks in the same way that she learned and grew by watching them. Emily Rose was the Director of Food Logistics for the 2016 event. “Working on this year’s organizing team has allowed me to meet a group of volunteers who are so incredibly dedicated and committed; it makes me want to strive to do better and be better”.

The TEDx Montreal Women’s events continue in the form of smaller Salons.  On February 23, I attended a Salon style TEDx Montreal Women’s evening with the theme of “Path to Well-Being”.  About 50 lucky people gathered to hear two speakers from the October event, Dr. Divi Chandra and Lynn Rheault, this time delving deeper into their topics of self-awareness, mindfulness, healing, positive thinking,

“We are all mirrors to each other,” Grace says.  When you recognize kindness in another, you reciprocate.  That is when wonderful things can be created!”

This is a philosophy that we at Mountain Lake PBS whole-heartedly support.  We are committed to working together towards building a better world and safer communities and inspiring each and every one of our viewers and supporters to be the best they can be.  Your support of Mountain Lake PBS helps ensure that everyone around us has access to free educational, life-changing programs and activities.  Let’s mirror Grace’s call to recognize kindness in others, reciprocate, and create a better world!


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