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Oprah comes to Montreal for inspirational conversation about finding one's path

Oprah Winfrey believes she is meant to be an inspiration to others: That’s what she has to offer to the world, she told reporters on Sunday before the first stop on her Canadian tour, Your Path Made Clear, at the Bell Centre. It’s her purpose. Her path.

The tour is a companion to her new book, The Path Made Clear (Flatiron Books), which she said she wrote for those “feeling stuck or at a crossroads,” wondering whether there’s more to life.

“I believe every one of us is born with a purpose. No matter who you are, what you do, how how far you think you have to go, you have been tapped by a force greater than yourself to step into your God-given calling,” she writes. “All you have to do is follow your path to answer the call.”

Winfrey, 65, is probably best known for The Oprah Winfrey Show, which entertained, informed and inspired millions during its 25-year run as the highest-rated television program of its kind in history. But she has worn many hats during her long and storied career, including television and film producer, actor, author, media executive and philanthropist.

In 2018, she won the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement and gave a rousing acceptance speech that had some calling for her to run for president of the United States.

It was a mainly female crowd at the Bell Centre waiting to hear Winfrey talk about the moments in her life that helped her to find her purpose. One of them was Ann Courchesne, a longtime fan who said she admires Winfrey for “her sincerity, her frankness, her spirituality.”

Winfrey’s path has not been without moments of self-doubt, she said. When she gave up the daily talk show in 2011, “there were people who said I should not have quit my day job.” There were difficulties when the Oprah Winfrey Network, a pay-for-television channel, launched in 2011. But rather than “belabour the doubt, I refined it,” Winfrey said.

Montreal was the first stop on a Canadian tour that was to begin June 14 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, but on June 11, the promoters announced the show had been cancelled because of the schedule of the NBA finals. When the Toronto Raptors lost Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors in Toronto on Monday, that meant a sixth game on Thursday in Oakland. Had a seventh game been necessary — it was not because the Raptors won the championship on Thursday — it would have been in Toronto on Sunday. Winfrey clearly held nothing against the NBA: To meet with reporters on Sunday, she had on a red Raptors top.

If Winfrey has lived a life of purpose, doing what she believes she was put on this Earth to do, it’s because she started listening to her own instincts, paying attention to the decisions she made each day and believing in herself — not trying to be somebody else’s version of who she should be, she writes.

For The Path Made Clear, she turned to dozens of people she describes as “visionaries, artists, teachers and trailblazers who have walked this road before you” to share with her the wisdom of their experience in learning to live a life of purpose — including Ellen DeGeneres, author Elizabeth Gilbert, who is best known for her 2006 memoir Eat Pray Love, author Cheryl Strayed and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle.

She wrote the book in part for the students at the Oprah Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, a boarding school for students in Grades 8 to 12.

“They all think that the path is supposed to be clear from when you graduate. Most young people don’t realize that their 20s are about exploring different avenues, making mistakes and then picking yourself up,” Winfrey said on Sunday. “‘I hate that’ is as important as ‘I love that,’ ” she said.

Winfrey was to be accompanied for a time on stage in Montreal by Iyanla Vanzant, a bestselling author and spiritual life coach. Other contributors to the book will appear with her on the rest of the tour, which is to continue this month as planned: June 19 in Calgary with author Strayed, June 20 in Edmonton with spiritual teacher Gary Zukav, and June 24 in Vancouver with Tolle.

Proceeds of the book will go to the Oprah Winfrey Boys & Girls Club of Kosciusko/Attala County. Winfrey was born in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi.

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