I had the opportunity to attend a conference in South Surrey featuring female guest speakers who have “defied expectations” in their personal and professional lives.
Speaking were Mayor Dianne Watts, Olympic medalist Joannie Rochette, Vancouver Sun editor-in-chief Patricia Graham and former governor general Michaelle Jean.
The style of the event was fairly typical, with a huge emphasis on networking and mingling. The speeches were phenominal and anything but ordinary.
Each woman shared with the audience her story, and how she came to achieve her goals. They were all unique, but shared many similar qualities: Each was a leader in her own field whether it was athletics, politics, journalism or volunteerism.
It was inspiring, sitting in the second row, just feet away from people who are excellent role models. The biggest thing I took away from the conference was the realization of how genuine, grounded, relatable and human each woman is. They talked about mistakes and challenges and overcoming adversity. None of them were born with a silver spoon in their mouth: They worked hard and didn’t let their circumstances define them.
I learned a lot, and had a great time with my fellow PAT member.
But the highlight of my day didn’t come until the end of the eight-hour conference, after all of the speeches were over.
Michaelle Jean had been the last guest to go on stage. Right before her speech, the audience had had a quick five-minute dance session to stretch our legs before the final presentation.
Still on stage after speaking, Michaelle Jean joked about dancing, explaining that when she was in Africa, she danced with people to overcome language barriers: Instead of communicating verbally, they expressed themselves with their bodies.
So the sound guys put on a song, and the former governor general proceeded to dance on stage with one of the event coordinators. The entire audience was on their feet, grooving to the music. A couple more organizers went on on stage, as did two attendees.
I saw my opportunity, and I seized it.
I told my friend that I was going on stage to dance with Michaelle Jean. So she stepped aside and I rushed over and started dancing. And I inched closer and closer to her until we were both rocking out, shoulder-to-shoulder, in front of several hundred people.
More women came up on stage, and the energy in the auditorium exploded. After dancing with Michaelle Jean for several minutes, we hugged, and parted ways.
The event wrapped-up shortly afterwards, but I was in a daze for a good hour after the experience ended: This afternoon, I busted a move with the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, former Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.