On November 4, St. Margaret’s School partnered with the Fairmont Empress Hotel to host the shared 110th anniversary of two historic institutions with a tea in the iconic Crystal Ballroom. Aside from the stunning venue, what stood out most was a feeling that the next generation of empowered female change-makers was among us. A feeling that St. Margaret’s tries to instill in its students from the moment they step onto campus with the vision: Confident girls. Inspiring women.

Keynote speaker Sally Armstrong, award winning journalist, author and human rights activist, addressed the current political climate around the women’s movement, and delivered a speech so inspirational that it garnered a standing ovation.

“There has never been a time in history where girls were this powerful or this influential, we are at a turning point,” she said.

Armstrong, who is known as the war correspondent for the world’s women, spoke to a room full of SMS alumnae, students, emerging leaders and community members about the importance of personal will, and what that looks like.

“Today’s change-makers are exercising personal will—a new type of leadership, speaking truth to power and standing up to inequality and injustice,” said Armstrong.

“It’s been said that moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or even great intelligence. But I can tell you that it is the one essential quality for those who seek to change the world. Change doesn’t happen because we want it to happen, or because it’s fair for a just society; change happens because people get involved in the process, and I think those people are the girls of St. Margaret’s School. You’ve got this, and those of us that went before, we’ve have got your back, so you go get it.”

Following Armstrong’s presentation, SMS introduced its inaugural Emerging Leaders Award presented to four alumnae who are the epitome of change-makers: actress Katherine Evans; scientist and engineer Jean Hsu, mechanical engineer Kate Strachan and government relations worker Karina Sihota.

“As I was listening to Sally speak I was reflecting on that ‘will’ she was talking about, and where that ‘will’ comes from. A part of that does come from within, but a part of it is shaped by where you come from, and to me, St. Margaret’s was a really important part of that,” said Karina Sahota.

“What I really valued from my time at St. Margaret’s was that the teachers always went beyond teaching what was just in the book. It’s the conversations that you get on the side—it’s all of those actions and lessons, and I’m sure extra hours and efforts that teachers put in that later creates that ‘will’,” she continued.

The event was a fundraiser to support SMS Scholarships and Bursaries raising a total of $13, 525.

“The value of this event goes beyond the amount of money we raised, it’s about the positive relationships forged, and the message we are spreading. We are on the right track, positioning SMS where it needs to be after 110 years of nurturing confident girls,” said Barbara Sutton, Director of External Relations.