Session 1 – Tuesday May 9 2023

Know Your Story: Exploring your why, building
your backstory, and defining your persona.


  • Judy White KC

    Judy is a Mi’kmaq grandmother and member of the Flat Bay Band. She completed a Bachelor of Laws degree from Dalhousie with particular emphasis upon Aboriginal Law.

    As a lawyer, Judy has also completed the Intensive Program of Lands, Resources and First Nations Government at Osgoode Hall Law School, the Leading Peoples and Investing in Sustaining Communities Indigenous certificate program at Harvard Business School, as well as the Chartered Directors Program at McMaster University.

    Judy has vast board and governance experience and has served many agencies in various capacities. She has been the Assistant Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and through an interchange arrangement served as Director of Engagement for Distinctions based legislation with the Government of Canada. Judy is currently the Director General of Education for Indigenous Services Canada.

    Judy is not only Co-Chair Indigenous of Equal Voice NL, but also  the Chairperson of the NL Human Rights Commission. In 2022, Judy received the Governor General award in commemoration of the Persons Case for advancing gender equity.

Guest Speakers:

  • MHA Pamela Parsons

    Minister Parsons, she completed her degree in Political Science at Mount Saint Vincent University in 2003, then completed a Program in Radio Television Arts at the NSCC, Majoring in Broadcast Journalism. Upon completion of her studies, Pam started working at CBC’s Here and Now in St. John’s, as well as CBC Radio. She was also employed as an on-air Journalist and Producer at Rogers TV, Out of the Fog, then a Reporter and the Producer for First Local News, Rogers TV in Ontario.

    It was not long before she then accepted a position at NTV News, where she worked as a Video Journalist before making the transition to political life. In 2013 Pam was hired to work on the Liberal Leadership and multiple by-elections. She was elected to the House of Assembly in 2015 to represent the district of Harbour Grace – Port de Grave.

    Pam has served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Department of Transportation and Works. She was the Deputy Chair of Committees. She served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, as well as elected by other women MHA’s to serve as the Provincial Representative for the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians Canada. Minister Parsons has been Minister Responsible for Women and Gender Equality since April 2021.
  • Shannie Duff

    Shannie has over thirty experience as an elected official, serving as Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillor at Large for the City of St. John’s, and a member of the House of Assembly for St. John’s East. She3 has served on the Board of Directors of Municipalities NL and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. She was a founding member of Equal Voice NL. In retirement, she has often served as a mentor for young women  interested in running for public office . 

    Her many awards for a lifetime of volunteer community service with non-profit organizations and committees at the national, Provincial and local level include the Order of Canada, the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, and an Honorary degree from Memorial University. Shannie continues her commitment to the voluntary sector as immediate past chair of the O’Brien Farm Foundation and a Board Member of the Basilica Heritage Foundation, The Memorial University Harris Centre Advisory Board and the Rotary Club of St. John’s East.
  • Patricia Johnson-Castle

    Patricia Johnson-Castle is a second generation urban Inuk who is also of British and German descent. Growing up in St John’s, Newfoundland, Patricia was lucky to have been surrounded by big thinkers and community change makers which made politics seem like a very normal part of day to day life. 

    She studied African studies and philosophy at McGill University, and did a master’s in social anthropology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. 

    Coming of age under peak neoliberalism meant frequently hearing from politicians that they were doing “the best they could under the circumstances” as an excuse to hedge their bets, with a lot of rhetoric that “compromise” was something to be valorized. She got awakened from her neoliberal hangover by the Current Affairs podcast which reminded her that compromising on core values is bad, not something to be valorized, and that a better world will not be handed to us, we need to fight for it. Patricia is currently a co-chair for the Social Justice Co-op of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the chair of the Indigenous Caucus for the NL NDP. 

    She lives on Dakhóta homelands in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she is pursuing a PhD in History, examining the impact of Confederation on cultural continuity between Inuit in Quebec and Labrador.