I was lucky enough to represent Talk Boutique in Fredericton for the 2018 COCA National Conference. COCA is the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities and this conference is where student leaders come to get inspired and start to plan activities and events that will enhance the campus experience.
While I was at COCA, I not only had the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics from different speakers, but I also got a chance to speak with the amazing student leaders who attend this conference every year.
Here are just a few things I learned from my first experience at COCA.
1. Art can bring together a nation
I’m lucky enough to work with David Bastedo (Photographer, Documentarian and Webmaster to the late Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip) through Talk Boutique, but this was the first time I actually had a chance to hear his full talk and witness the impact it had on a crowd. Listening to David speak on his experience photographing The Tragically Hip and the lessons he learned from Gord on how an inclusive Canada is the only way to heal our nation was truly inspiring. But it was the reaction of the crowd that I found the most moving. Not only did he receive a standing ovation but after his talk, he was greeted by individuals ready to share their own stories about the impact the Tragically Hip had on them and how hearing about Bastedo’s passion helped confirm their own journey.
Ian Campeau (also known as DJ NDN), is the co-founder and former member of the music group A Tribe Called Red and is another perfect example of how art can be used as a powerful resource and form of activism. Campeau uses his music to raise awareness on issues ranging from racism to the stigmas of mental health, as well as other forms of oppression that plague society.
2. Public speaking provokes change
As human beings storytelling is one of our most important tools. Sharing personal stories not only educates and raises awareness but it also motivates others to share their own stories in order to provoke change. This is something I have learned from working with incredible speakers at Talk Boutique every day, but it felt great to have this belief reinforced at COCA by seeing amazing individuals like Farrah Khan and Harrison Browne share their stories.
Khan is a consent culture educator and activist and drives home her points on gender-based violence through the stories of different victims. Browne takes a similar approach by sharing his journey as the first transgender athlete in North America. It is stories like these that give other individuals the courage to use their voice and join a movement.
3. Our future is in good hands
If students are our future, then I have no doubt that it is in good hands. While at COCA, I was able to talk to different student leaders about what conversations they thought were missing from their campus. What I learned is that there is a need for us to keep talking, sharing stories, new ideas and perspectives, and what better audience than a group of young adults ready to learn and start making changes!
Let’s keep talking! Check out Talk Boutique’s roster to learn more about booking one of our speaker’s for your next event.