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Resilience, respect, strength: RRC board member recognized for leadership impact

October 22, 2019

Ashley RichardFuture of Good has named Ashley Richard one of 21 Canadian youth reshaping governance in 2019.

Richard, who was appointed to Red River College’s Board of Governors in 2018, says she is “honoured and humbled by the recognition.”

The annual list celebrates young directors making significant contributions to the non-profit boards on which they serve. The Future of Good blog tells the stories of people making a positive impact on the world around them. This year’s list was drawn from more than 125 nominees across Canada, including entrepreneurs, public servants, academics, activists, and more.

Richard, a woman of Ojibwe, Métis and Filipino heritage, says serving on RRC’s board allows her to play a vital role in shaping the future of Manitoba’s economy by supporting the achievements and successes of the College’s Indigenous students.

“My goal is to ensure that RRC offers the best we have to our students,” she says. “They are our present and our future.”

At 29, Richard may be one of the board’s youngest members, but she’s no stranger to achievement herself.

The story of how she survived homelessness, poverty, abuse and assault made the pages of Maclean’s magazine in 2015. After completing a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the Asper School of Business, where her final project on Indigenous economic development was published in the Journal on Aboriginal Economic Development, she worked at Leaders International and the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. Today she is a youth engagement activator for TakingITGlobal, a worldwide network dedicated to empowering young people to do good in their communities.

A strong sense of leadership — as both a wellspring of inspiration and a goal for achieving positive change — has energized Richard’s own journey almost from the very start. Serving on the RRC board has allowed her to follow in the footsteps of her role model and grandmother, Mary Richard, former CEO of the Thunderbird House spiritual centre in downtown Winnipeg.

“My grandmother taught me the most important lessons that drive me every day: resilience, respect and strength. When my grandmother founded the Circle of Life Thunderbird House, she taught me about how the thunderbird represents resilience, something that she wanted to bring to the corner of Higgins and Main — and something she taught me that I would always find within myself.”

Resilience, respect and strength have served her well in her work on the RRC board, she adds.

“Oftentimes in positions of leadership, you are put in situations or positions where you need to make tough decisions on behalf of many. A wise Indigenous leader once told me, ‘Never accept a position in leadership if you don’t love the people. Because if you love the people, you will always come to the right decision.’”