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The broad strokes of 2014 Women of Distinction winner Michele Braniff range from art to politic, and have one unified theme: she is always looking to the next opportunity to make impact where she lives. Find out more about this colorful catalyst of innovation!

Michele Braniff1. What was your reaction/thoughts when you were approached for a Women of Distinction nomination?
I was quite surprised (perhaps shocked) to have been nominated and felt very honoured.

2. What have you been up to since your big win?
I have had a very eclectic career and have continued to evolve and also embrace dramatic changes. I was Artist-in-Residence for the Cambridge Centre for the Arts in 2014, and for the City of Waterloo during the summer of 2016. I was also involved in a storytelling, dramatic music event called She Haunts This Place at Button Factory Arts in 2014 and 2015, and have been active locally as Co-Producer of Fresh Stories at Monigram Coffee on the third Friday of each month. I continue to sketch urban scenes and musicians and have begun to draw with both hands! I have been teaching social justice courses at Sheridan College for social service workers starting in January 2016. I continue to be active with my graphic recording business and have enjoyed drawing records of brainstorming events for a range of clients and on diverse themes, such as: wellness, diversity, flood-resilient architecture and a vision for Cambridge as a community. I ran as a Green Party candidate in the last federal election and plan to actively support doing politics differently with the Green Party of Ontario during the upcoming provincial election. I have also been enjoying time with friends and family and enjoyed many days during the summer of 2017 canoeing on the Grand River.

3. Name the biggest overall lesson you've learned about leadership
Leadership is mostly about listening and responding with a vision to capture the imagination in order to inspire change on a positive and mutually beneficial path. Leadership is about honesty, integrity and vulnerability. People are resilient and need leaders who nurture community and see potential in order to support folks to overcome fear and barriers.  

4. What's your personal or professional motto?
My motto as an artist, storyteller and catalyst for innovation is: Happiness is not the end of a story; it is a way of life.

5. What's an issue happening right now in your community that your passionate about?
Recent developments after the Truth and Reconciliation Report give me hope to imagine dramatically different relationships in Canada for us as Treaty People. I am heartened to hear land acknowledgements at gatherings and events and am optimistic about recent initiatives to reform the justice system and recognize sovereignty of First Nations people. As a white woman and a Settler, I have become newly aware of my privilege in Canada and am very curious about the possibilities and potential as I witness First Nations, Inuit and Metis people take on leadership roles  in music, the arts, as authors, catalysts for change and proponents of ecological protection. There is a long way to go and many setbacks but I am beginning to imagine a future seven generations from now where the wisdom of Canada’s first peoples is much more widely understood and applied and becomes a foundation for new ways of looking after the world. I hope to be an Ally to support this re-negotiation of relations.

Just one week away! Make sure to get your tickets for the 2018 Women of Distinction awards here.

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