Q&A With Joan MacCallum, AOII’s First Canadian International President

in General News

In July’s Archives Corner, AOII is highlighting Past International President Joan Deathe MacCallum, Kappa Phi (McGill U), International President 1979-1981. In honor of Joan serving as our first, and only, Canadian International President, we asked Joan a few questions to share with our members on Canada Day.

Joan MacCallum, Past International President
What is your favorite memory from your time as International President (IP)?

My favourite memory from my time as IP is the opportunity I had to conduct the Ritual at Convention with hundreds of sisters before me. I have always loved our Ritual, but this was almost overwhelming. To feel the connectivity and the shared love with all these sisters was very special for me.

What does it mean to be the first Canadian AOII International President?

To be elected International President is an honour reserved for only some members. I was almost wordless upon my election.  And that does not happen too often to me! At the time of election, I just felt the cohesion amongst all those who had been elected to the new XB. I did not feel different in any way. I think it took until some Canadian sisters came to give me a hug that I realized I WAS different. During my term in office, being Canadian was not high in my thoughts. It was not until I left the office that I began to say to Canadians, “You can do it too. Anyone can, if you give your time and energy to AOII.” I always told them, “I may have been the first Canadian, but I am most certainly not the last.”

How has AOII impacted your life since you joined?

AOII has been an important part of my life since the day I was initiated. It was then that I realized the AOII precepts and mine were one and the same. This organization was worth my time and energy. Thus, I have said YES when asked to serve in any capacity; I have told countless young women the benefits of our sisterhood – indeed, of all NPC sisterhood; I have not had the opportunity to move from place to place, thus I have been an active member of the Montreal Alum Chapter since I graduated. I was even responsible for the initiation of the chapter’s first Alumnae Initiate, and that makes me very proud! It is a wonderful warm feeling to feel close to so many outstanding sisters all over North America. I have many many sisters upon whom I have no fear to call.

The newly elected 1979 Executive Board featured in the Fall 1979 To Dragma and the dress Joan’s installed as IP in (pictured right) on display at AOII International Headquarters.
What are you most proud of from your term as IP?

I think the thing that pleases me most about my term in office was our decision to stop renting office space and to buy our first building for our growing headquarters. This space was small in comparison to what HQ occupies now, but it put AOII on the path to be able to build our present large and attractive building. I have to mention a second thing of which I was proud. That was the empowering of the office that was then called Regional Vice President. Before this the XB was really hands-on with daily activities of the collegiate chapters. As a Board we emphasized that each RVP was really in charge of her Region, that she should work with and depend upon her Regional officers before turning to the XB. Perhaps this was the beginning of Governance!

What are you most looking forward to in the future of AOII?

I am looking forward to seeing AOII continue to grow in numbers and strength and to doing so much more online. This past Virtual LI has shown us that we can do it and do it WELL.

Thank you, Joan, for your time and dedication to our Fraternity. You are an inspiration to AOII members everywhere. Happy Canada Day, sisters!

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