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NMUN Canada – from the perspective of Secretary General (and CUE Alum), Kelsea Gillespie

Posted on: Dec 12, 2017

Concordia University of Edmonton has consistently been a place where I have been allowed to dream. There are many reasons Concordia’s an amazing place to get an education, but I would have to say that the opportunities for student involvement, mentorship from faculty, and support from the administration may just be the best concoction for student achievement.

I’ve been a part of Model United Nations since I started at Concordia in 2012, and have travelled to Korea, Japan, Italy, and New York to attend National Model United Nations (NMUN) conferences. I was inspired by my professors as a first-year student to get involved and join a club on campus. The best thing about being a member of Concordia’s Model UN Club is the people you get to meet, partnered with conferences that demand intense growth and self-development. It’s worth it for any student at Concordia to join Model United Nations.

This past November, Concordia hosted NMUN•Canada in beautiful Banff, Alberta. It was an experience that I am not likely to forget anytime soon. More than anything else, I was so excited to share one my favourite parts of Canada with students from around the world. Each time I have participated in an NMUN conference, I learn so much about the country that I visit.

When the conference planning team began putting all of the pieces of the conference together, we were excited to be a part of the Canada 150 celebrations. As we got deeper into planning, we realized that the conference provided an opportunity to explore the tension in Canada’s sesquicentennial with our international guests. There’s a tendency at large organized events to be overly nationalistic or proud, and we felt that it was more important to try, as accurately as we could in a short amount of time, to review the past and current relationship with our Indigenous peoples, and look ahead to our hopes for the future.

From my perspective as Secretary General, NMUN•Canada was particularly successful because of the dedication and love that Concordia (and MacEwan) faculty, staff, and administration put into the conference. I think NMUN•Canada was different from other NMUN conferences because we really wanted to share stories and dialogue with our delegates about some of the biggest issues facing Canadians. We wanted to engage them in a conversation about the effects of colonialism in Canada, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and what Truth and Reconciliation means going forward. Our biggest challenge throughout the conference was trying to generate empathy and understanding amongst a group of bright, young students who were unfamiliar with the narrative of Canada that we were trying to engage them in. I think the week itself overall was extremely successful, with not one moment, speech, or activity being more important than any other. On the very last night of the conference one of our Closing Ceremony keynote speakers addressed the delegates and asked them to really look each other in eye and recognize the preciousness in each other. At that moment, I think everyone in the room felt suspended in a moment of harmony, understanding, and empathy together.

This conference has meant so much to me, but it would not have been possible without the help and guidance of so many people, including Lewis Cardinal, Concordia’s Indigenous Strategist, the National Model United Nations, and Ian Lee (Concordia) and Carley Casebeer (MacEwan) – two incredible students that were essential in making the conference come together. Concordia also established a dedicated team of advisors: Dr Manfred Zeuch, Dr. Elizabeth Smythe, Dr. Tolly Bradford, Dr. Chaldeans Mensah (MacEwan), Dr. Sandra Song, and Dr. Alison Yacyshyn, who were integral to the planning and execution of the conference. Conference planning, especially a conference on this scale, is a team effort. Thank you to all faculty, including Dr. Tim Loreman, Concordia’s President, for spending the week in Banff with NMUN•Canada.

Concordia University of Edmonton rallied behind this project, making it an incredible experience for everyone involved. Thank you again, Concordia, for trusting our team with this project!

For more photographs from NMUN•Canada, visit their Facebook album:

Posted by National Model United Nations on Tuesday, November 21, 2017