Dear friends, colleagues and members of the CICan community,
Today, I stand on the threshold of a new chapter in my life, and I am filled with gratitude and reflection.
Over the past 10.5 years, I have had the incredible privilege of leading this remarkable association that plays a pivotal role in advancing the work of our members across the country.
As many of you know, saying goodbye is not something that comes easily to me. It was an incredibly challenging decision for me to decline a third term as President and CEO of CICan. Prior to my time here, I had a diverse career spanning three provinces, and I had the privilege of serving in various capacities, from the territorial government in Yellowknife to federal government positions in numerous fields, from teacher to senior public servant.
Throughout my career, I’ve been profoundly moved by the transformative impact of colleges and institutes on people and communities.
Even as a child, my parents were relentless in emphasizing the importance of higher education. Despite not having attended college or even high school themselves, I witnessed their commitment to life-long learning as they took advantage of courses later in life to advance their careers. Whether it was watching my mother diligently study in the evenings for a program in gerontology she needed to be considered for a new job or seeing my dad leverage PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition) to advance his career as a blue collar in the printing business, they exemplified the importance of hard work and the indispensable value of education. Their dedication to work and guidance inspired me to be the first in my extended family on both sides to pursue postsecondary education.
As I look back, all these experiences, personal and professional, and my volunteer work prepared me for my time at CICan.
During my 10.5 years at CICan, we have not only grown as an association but have also contributed to the growth of our members. Thanks to our advocacy, capacity building, knowledge initiatives, and the delivery of numerous programs, both nationally and internationally, we have achieved remarkable milestones.
When I assumed this role, I aspired to see CICan flourish, recognizing its incredible potential. I wanted to make it appealing to both our employees and members and be recognized as an important stakeholder with the federal government. I am delighted that my aspirations materialized, and we have experienced exceptional growth. To name just a few:
- Our team has tripled in size as our project portfolio quintupled and has grown to almost half a billion dollars, all for the benefit of our members.
- We began with 125 members; today, we proudly stand at 141 members, even considering that four colleges merged into two.
- International student numbers have risen phenomenally, with hundreds of thousands studying in the college system. We represent the largest sector for international students.
- We achieved recognition as a National Capital Region’s Top Employers for 2023 and have embarked on our fourth year with a pension plan.
- We proudly signed the Government of Canada’s 50/30 Challenge in the fall of 2020 and became one of the five ecosystem partners chosen by the Government of Canada to champion the challenge.
- Our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) earned us the top prize from the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics, so too did our suite of leadership institutes.
- We developed the Indigenous Education Protocol, which 70 members have now signed, to underscore the importance of structures and approaches required to advance Indigenous education.
There are countless achievements and moments of joy that I hold close to my heart. Witnessing the growth of my staff and the growth of the association and their recognition in government circles has been particularly fulfilling. Seeing the transformation and increased confidence in the participants of our leadership institutes has been immensely gratifying. Our domestic and international accomplishments have been a source of pride. Furthermore, our advocacy efforts have yielded numerous results, particularly during the challenging years of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which we worked with 22 different federal departments.
I am truly delighted that we have succeeded in creating an association that is more sustainable, more inclusive, and more connected than ever before. I could continue talking about our accomplishments, but I must acknowledge that none of this would have been possible without the unwavering dedication and engagement of the team at CICan, the Board, and our valued members.
This is a moment to recognize the contributions of all those who have made these achievements possible. Expressing gratitude is a challenge, given the multitude of deserving individuals, but I must extend a special thank you to my exceptional team, the dedicated staff of CICan. Your passion, tireless efforts, and steadfast support have been pivotal to our collective success. Your unwavering commitment to our shared mission and your relentless pursuit of excellence, regardless of the challenges faced, have been truly remarkable.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to all the board members over the last 10.5 years. Your trust, confidence in me, your support, and your insightful guidance have been invaluable. I commend your willingness to look beyond the status quo and your commitment to our collective goals.
To our members, the heart and soul of CICan, I extend my deepest gratitude. Without you, CICan would not exist. Thank you for being with us over the last 52 years, enabling us to advocate on your behalf, and positively impacting the lives of so many within your institutions. Your efforts have not only driven your communities forward but have contributed to making the world a better place.
Looking ahead, I am optimistic about the continued growth and strength of the sector. The momentum we’ve built together over the past decade positions us for even greater achievements in the future. The college and institute system, with its unwavering focus on excellence, diversity, and social responsibility, is well-positioned to assume a pivotal role in shaping the future of postsecondary education in Canada. Beyond this, I am confident that our sector will continue to be a driving force in contributing to Canada’s economic prosperity, fostering innovation, and preparing the next generation of leaders and contributors to our society.
As for me, I will continue to remain active and give back. I will serve on boards at both the national and international levels. I will continue my love for learning languages and pursue my love for leadership and coaching, for which I just launched my own consulting services. And, of course, I look forward to travelling and discovering new places with my husband, and I hope to see my family, grandchildren and friends way more often.
It has been an honour and privilege to work with all of you. Thank you for making me realize my fullest potential and making my time here at CICan so rewarding.
Long life to CICan and to the college and institute system!
- Podcast: A Farewell Conversation with Denise Amyot, Reflecting on the Past and Embracing the Future
- Colleges and Institutes Canada Announces the Departure of Long-Time President and CEO, Denise Amyot
Denise expresses her deep gratitude for recently being honoured with the following awards and accolades: