Development & Alumni Relations Office 


27 May 2019

Twenty-five Global Leadership Programme students enjoyed a ‘trip of a lifetime’ to Canada earlier this month when they met with the University’s alumni and visited leading international companies with local links.

The students also attended the launch of Northern Irish Connections in Canada – the latest branch of the global community of the Northern Irish diaspora and friends of Northern Ireland – held in the offices of Ernst & Young on Tuesday 21 May.

Part of Invest Northern Ireland, the region’s economic development agency, NI Connections is a growing world-wide community who share a pride in Northern Ireland as a great place to live, work, study, invest and who have an interest in its economic prosperity. It collaborates with an extensive network of partners at home and overseas from the public and private sectors.

The launch evening was a great opportunity for the visiting students to meet Queen's alumni based in and around Toronto and for graduates based in Canada to network with fellow alumni and with those who have professionals with links to Northern Ireland.

Among those present on the night was the Acting Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Helen Surgenor (pictured 2nd from right above), who said: "The launch of NI Connections Canada in Toronto last week truly was an excellent event!

“Over 100 people, including a large number of Queen's alumni and a great mix of Northern Ireland diaspora, joined our visiting Global Leadership Programme students, on the 40th floor of the EY building overlooking the city on a spectacular, sunny evening. There was a real buzz in the room!

“It’s always a great pleasure to catch up with our graduates in Canada and to share with them all the latest news from Belfast.”

During the week-long visit, the Global Leadership Programme delegates were also hosted by leading global investment bank BFIN and enjoyed a visit to BMO (Bank of Montreal) in Toronto.

Through the Queen’s Global Leadership Programme students from across the University come together to work on projects and develop skills that enable them to become change makers both at Queen’s and in the wider community.

Through the Programme participants:

  • Gain a greater understanding of leadership and develop leadership skills including problem solving, communication, networking and interpersonal skills
  • Develop team working and project management skills through undertaking projects with other students
  • Acquire cultural awareness in an international environment
  • Visit a number of international organisations and gain an insight into international work cultures and environments
  • Network with other students from Queen's, alumni and other professionals in both Northern Ireland and Canada
  • Complete a Certificate in Workplace Learning which is accredited by Degree Plus
  • Serve as ambassadors for Queen's

Queen’s has a number of academic connections with Canadian universities. The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) announced a Clinical Doctoral Training Programme in Precision Cancer Medicine with the world renowned Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in the University of Toronto in 2016.

The annual Eaton Lecture brings eminent Canadians to Queen’s each year. Supported by an endowment from the Eaton Foundation in Toronto, past speakers have included the former Canadian politician Bill Blaikie, and Dr Fred Eaton, an honorary graduate of Queen’s, whose great-grandfather Timothy, who was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, founded Eaton's department store in Toronto 1869.

And the prestigious Canada Room in the main Queen’s Lanyon Building with its maple-panelled walls, decorated with the coat of arms of Canada and the Canadian provinces and distinctive maple leaf cut lampshades, was funded in the early 1980s by donations from Queen’s graduates in Canada and by the country’s provincial governments.   

Queen’s has around 800 alumni in Canada – primarily in engineering, medicine and finance – most of whom are Northern Ireland ex-pats. Half are located in Ontario in Toronto and Ottawa, while there is also a significant number in the Vancouver and Calgary areas. 

The University has an alumni association in Toronto which organises occasional events for graduates.

For further information about joining a Queen’s graduate association contact Stephen O’Reilly (Alumni Officer, Engagement), on telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 1945.

To submit graduate news items, or for general enquiries about this story, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast or telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

Caption: Students meet with hosts Ernst & Young during the Global Leadership Programme visit to Toronto; photo courtesy of Ruairi McGrillen, Global Opportunities Development Officer within Careers, Employability & Skills at Queen's

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