Much has changed since Maureen Sabia graduated from law school in the late 1960s. And yet, much has stayed the same.
“In some ways I feel sorry for these graduates today,” the Chairman of the Board for Canadian Tire Corporation said Thursday afternoon before receiving an honorary degree from Brock University. “They’re just starting out, and all of the challenges and pitfalls ahead of them — I remember those vividly.”
But graduates today also have the benefit of a world of opportunity, Sabia said.
“At the same time I’m excited for them, because the opportunities that are available today are opportunities we only dreamed of when I graduated.”
Sabia grew up in St. Catharines and is the daughter of high-profile social activist Laura Sabia, who received her own honorary degree from Brock in 1979. By that point, Maureen Sabia was working in Toronto, but returned to the campus to watch her mother’s Convocation ceremony.
It was Sabia’s mother who taught her daughter that women could do anything men could do.
A Canadian business leader, Sabia has served on committees and boards of directors for numerous corporations across multiple sectors. She has also served on the boards or advisory councils at Brock University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University and other post-secondary institutions.
For more than 30 years, Sabia has been on Canadian Tire’s board, and she’s established herself as someone whose life is focused entirely on her business career.
In her Convocation address, she encouraged the graduates to believe in the mantra “yes, I can.”
“It is up to all of you to use your talents and your learning to the very best of your abilities,” Sabia said. “Don’t waste them.”
She told the students about the difficult journey through sometimes unchartered territory and said she believes political correctness has been taken too far.
“We need to celebrate our unity as Canadians and not focus so much on the differences that silo us,” she said.
Sabia said she wants Canada to go from being known as the “kindest, gentlest country in the world,” to being one where “great leadership, ambition, hard work, innovation, growth and individual responsibility” make Canada prosperous.
“That is good for all who make Canada home,” she said.
Goodman School of Business Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching
Earlier in the day, Goodman School of Business Accounting Professor Samir Trabelsi gave the morning Convocation address after being awarded the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Trabelsi, an international expert in corporate governance, said for graduates to succeed in a world increasingly filled with pressure, they need to “be a leader rather than a pathfinder, cultivate agility and celebrate cultural diversity.”
“I’m sure each of you have different dreams, but none of you should give up your dreams and aspirations that will drive you to a higher level of achievement,” he said. “You should hold onto your goals, even if you stumble here or there.”
Convocation wraps up Friday with the final ceremony at 10 a.m. Graduands from both the faculties of Math and Science and Humanities will be conferred, while indigenous language pioneer David Kanatawakhon-Maracle will receive an honorary doctorate and give the Convocation address.