Women of action

There are so many incredible stories to inspire us to believe in gender equality, to take action and inspire change. During the Canada’s G7 Presidency, discover how women and girls can achieve great things when they are given equal voice, equal rights and equal access.

MS LEGAULT: Since I was very little, I’ve lived in my father’s crockery, in his vases, pots, and bowls. So of course, unconsciously, it became a part of me.

My name is Esther Legault and I am a potter. It’s hard to say, right? Well, yes, because I’m really all kinds of things. Charlevoix was a choice for me, a lifestyle choice. I wanted to work with my father and I wanted to live in Charlevoix.

My father was a potter. He was the one who taught me the potter’s craft. A long time ago, my mother took my father to Port-au-Persil and when he saw the place, he said, “Oh my, one day I’d like to come live here.” And sadly, he died too soon.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do pottery but my mother needed me. My father was the very soul, so to speak, of pottery in Port-au-Persil, but my mother was also its soul, in the sense that she was the real businesswoman in this story.

I was the owner of the pottery workshop in Port-au-Persil, so I must have been in my blood, an integral part of me. I make traditional and functional pottery: cups, plates, bowls, and – anything that you can use, anything serviceable.

For clay, I use porcelain and stoneware, but I have no idea how many pieces of pottery I’ve made during my lifetime (laughs). I have no idea.

When I had my children, I was working full time. I never stopped making pottery. Throughout all 25 years when I was a remedial teacher, I always had my studio. I so loved having children. If I can say one thing for sure, it’s that one of my life’s greatest accomplishments was having children; this much is true.

But remedial teaching was also a passion. That was the place where I – where I used all my potential as a human being.
If I could offer one bit of advice to the young women of today, it would be that they should love themselves, just as they are. They are beautiful. They are marvelous, with all their flaws and all their qualities. That’s it! (laughs)

Esther Legault - The art of living

Patricia Deslauriers - Setting the tone

Audrée Bélanger: The impression I got when I met Geneviève for the first time was of a strong women with a lot of character. And passion, especially.

Geneviève Jodoin: For as long as I can remember, music has always been a part of my life. My name is Geneviève Jodoin and I am an entrepreneur.

Geneviève Jodoin: We left Montréal at one point, my boyfriend, my entire family, the three kids. We decided to move to Charlevoix. We changed our lives completely. The Auberge, the fact that we have this place, it becomes a kind of turning point for every other project. It creates a space where all kinds of other projects can come together. What fuels me is actually the fact that I share everything with my boyfriend. Each of us is capable of doing things on our own, beautiful things, but together, we perform miracles. My mission was in fact help people to discover new artists; and I think, I think I have succeeded. I have never questioned myself when it comes to music.

Audrée Bélanger: She has a beautiful voice, she’s a great singer. She has a lot of talent and a lot of emotions.

Geneviève Jodoin: I was so young, I was six years old, and I was singing in the choir. And that that time, I was so shy, I never thought I would make a career of it. But I pushed forward anyway. I really faced my fears. I knocked down doors I never thought I could open. What I would tell little girls who are shy and who think they can’t do something is that anything is possible, if you really believe in it. You just need to push forward, to not question yourself.

Geneviève Jodoin - Follow your voice

Geneviève Jodoin, musician and owner of the Auberge La Fascine, explains that you have to move forward and not question yourself in order to achieve your goals.

Aniska Picard-Perron: Being Indigenous has, in fact, changed a lot of things in terms of my overall culture.

My name is Aniska Picard-Perron and I’m an entrepreneur.

I own the O’Terra clinic in Wendake, Quebec.

When I was little, I always knew I would become an entrepreneur. In fact, you could even say that when I was little, I was already an entrepreneur.

Pierre Picard: She started working when she was pretty young.

She used to make little face cloths.

She would spend her days off, Saturdays and Sundays, in front of the house with a little table.

Aniska Picard-Perron: As a Huron-Wendat woman, an Indigenous woman, I grew up in an environment in which natural products were really promoted.

Contact with nature is very important to me, and has been from a young age.

Later on, I decided to really get into natural products to share my passion with as many people as possible.

Making the people around me happy, sharing and helping people to feel better about themselves: those are really some of the best parts of my job.

When I was young, my parents were my role models. My parents are entrepreneurs, they own a business. They were very hard-working people.

They were a real inspiration to me in terms of creating my adult life.

The best advice I could give people, women, who want to start a business is to just do it. Trust yourself and surround yourself with good people.

We are all full-fledged human beings. Regardless of whether you’re a woman or a man, I believe that everyone has the right to be treated equally, to get the same services.

Aniska Picard-Perron - Getting back to your roots

Aniska Picard-Perron, owner of Clinique O’Terra, located in Wendake, talks about the importance of surrounding ourselves with the right people.

Geneviève Jodoin: When I met Catherine, people would point, saying, “She’s the athlete, she’s the one who kitesurfs, she’s the world champion.”

Catherine Dufour: I’m for sure someone who likes to tackle projects; I like taking an idea and making it happen.
My name is Catherine Dufour and I’m an entrepreneur.
I am the co-founder and owner of Suroît Aventures. It’s a kitesurfing school and shop located on Isle-aux-Coudres in Charlevoix.
When I was little, my friends played with Barbies, but I preferred the pool, playing in the water. The very first time I saw someone kitesurfing, I became obsessed with it; I absolutely wanted to do it.
The feeling you get when you’re out there. You can’t think about anything else. You’re just connected to what you’re doing.
The entrepreneur side, well I think that’s a recent development. We love what we’re doing every day. We have ideas on how to get better, ideas for doing things better.
I have several role models; first, there’s my mother, someone who innovated a lot, someone who is very, very positive. I have a circle of women friends who are pretty incredible.

Geneviève Jodoin: Catherine is a radiant, joyful girl; someone who is, rightly, very driven.

Catherine Dufour: The river is important to me, personally. And also in everything we do with our business, Suroît Aventures. Our mission is to give the river back to people. And of course its preservation is super important.
Kitesurfing is green, it doesn’t make any noise, it’s beautiful to watch. If I had a message to share with young girls, it would be that anything is possible. Don’t be afraid; be confident. There are things we can’t even imagine that are attainable. Everything you want to do is possible.

Catherine Dufour - Having the wind in your sails

Catherine Dufour, professional kitesurfer and co-founder and owner of Suroît Aventures, a kitesurfing school located on Isle-aux-Coudres, tells us about confidence and ambition.

Danielle Ricard - Pursuing your passion

Occupation

Co-owner of Champignons Charlevoix in La Malbaie Indoor cultivation of oyster mushrooms, manufacture of processed mushroom products and agri-tourism.

Relationship to Charlevoix

I was born here! I spent my childhood and teenage years here. As there was no Cegep here at the time, I left the region to continue my studies. I studied in Jonquière, Chicoutimi, Ottawa, Québec and Montréal. I loved Montréal so much that I stayed there for a number of years. But, when I was 40 years old, I wanted to return to my home town, La Malbaie, where my parents still lived.

I left the Plateau-Mont-Royal area to find myself in a totally different world overnight… in this new life, there was enough space to “make some noise” undisturbed and to make a dream come true: to become an entrepreneur in an incredible tourist region.

Danielle Ricard - Pursuing your passion

I dreamed of becoming…

An artist living in New York. I studied art right up until my master’s degree. I did exhibits, I created a lot of pieces and then, one day, I went to Africa. That’s when I underwent a profound change that resulted in my abandoning my art “career,” for a thousand reasons…

An entrepreneur? Me?

No, I would never have imagined that I would become an entrepreneur! Coming back to Charlevoix is what encouraged me to make this decision. I was 40 years old and I found myself with time, space and a ton of energy, so my spouse and I took on a huge challenge: to make the cultivation of oyster mushrooms profitable in Quebec.

Role models?

My father has been quite inspiring. But personally, I never really had any “idols” in any field. Even when I was young, unlike my friends, I never collected pictures of artists or actors or anyone. But I especially admired people who “made” things, who “took things on,” who dared to change things, who did things “differently.” I admired the pride of people who were able to break down barriers, to shake themselves up, to pick themselves up… I liked—and I still like—to read and hear their stories.

Overcoming obstacles

Like all entrepreneurs, I have faced my share of obstacles. When you’re driven by a dream—luckily—you don’t see the enormity of the effort required to reach it. You become aware of it later, once everything is in place and working. Then, when you look back at everything it took to get there—all the doors that had to be opened, the small setbacks, the disappointments, the great joys—you have reason to be proud.

I am a woman

I therefore do things differently. I think women are more attentive to others, that they have a different way of learning, that they go slower and, if they have to cause a little damage to make their dreams come true, that they do so while picking up the pieces around them as they go. But I’m talking about my generation. I grew up in a world in which all positions of power and proposed role models were almost exclusively male. I don’t think my journey took any longer, but it was harder to get started.

And there is always that subconscious but strong desire to find a balance between “appearance” and “being” to make my voice heard.

And advice?

Go for it. Believe in possibilities, be daring and above all be proud of your accomplishments. I believe that women will do great things in their societies once they play an equal role in them. Because they do things differently.

Manon Lavoie - Stay the course

What is your occupation?

I am the General Manager of Ocean’s ship construction and naval repair activities. CRN is group of four companies and an engineering team. The four companies are:

  • Ocean Industries, a maritime shipyard on Isle‑aux‑Coudres, in the Charlevoix region
  • Fabrication Navale Océan, a shipbuilding shop located in the Port of Québec
  • Ocean Ship and Industrial Repair is located in Québec and in includes a production shop and a multidisciplinary team that carries out topside ship repair contracts
  • Ocean New Brunswick is a shipyard located in Bas‑Caraquet, New Brunswick

The engineering team includes naval architects, engineers and technicians based mainly in Québec. Our group has about 300 employees.

Manon Lavoie - Stay the course

Describe your relationship with the Charlevoix region

I am originally from the Charlevoix region. More specifically, from Petite-Rivière‑Saint‑François. I left only when I went to study in Rimouski. I had the opportunity to start my career in the shipyard on Isle‑aux-Coudres, in my field of study. I am lucky that I get to do a job that I love with a remarkable company right here in Charlevoix. I am a lucky woman indeed!

When you were young, as far back as you can remember, what did you dream of becoming?

I come from a family of sailors. When I was a child, I was able to spend my summers with my dad on his ship, of which he was the captain. And my dad always loves to tell people that from the age of three, I would tell everyone that when I was older, I was going to build ships.

Did you dream of becoming an entrepreneur or could you have imagined doing what you do now?

No, I would never have imagined one day becoming a general manager. It was never what I wanted, either. I did not dream of one day becoming the general manager of a company. My bosses trusted me and I moved up the ladder.

I only thing I knew for certain was that I was going to build ships.

Can you please describe your career path or how you came to occupy the professional role you have today?

I joined the shipyard team on Isle‑aux‑Coudres in the summer of 1990 as a naval architecture intern. And 28 years later, I’m still here. I was the first woman to ever work in the shipyard. I have held just about every position! Draftsperson, team leader, estimator, project lead, manager of the drafting department, manager of operations, right up to general manager. I have subsequently been asked to manage other business units within the Ocean Group.

Did you have or do you have any role models, or people who inspire or have inspired you? Could you tell us about them?

I never had any specific role model who inspired me to become what I am. Rather, I was inspired by my family, my spouse and the people close to me, the people I trust, who have always encouraged me and supported me in my career. My bosses, Jacques Tanguay and Gordon Bain, have also been great inspirations and coaches. I trust and admire them greatly, and I appreciate their trust in me.

Have you had to overcome any barriers or obstacles to become who you are today? If so, please describe them for us.

On several occasions, I had to work with men who did not like working with or for a woman. I therefore had to be more strategic, more effective, more skilled. This did not slow me down, but thankfully it did not happen often! It could have been women, too, but they are rather rare in my field.

Do you think that, because you’re a woman, your career path has been longer or more difficult than it would have been for a man?

I am often asked variations of this question and it always makes me smile a little.

In my case, I don’t think my path has been longer because I’m a woman, but my path has not been easier because I’m a woman.

I would say that I perhaps had to prove myself more, but I am not worried about that. This was not really an obstacle to me.

I would add that it was me who sometimes chose to slow down my career. It was not a question of being a man or a woman; it was a choice.

If you could advise young people, young women, reading this, what would you tell them?

Trust yourself and believe in yourself.

Invest fully in what you love and are passionate about. You need to work hard and put a lot of effort in, because nothing will just fall into your lap.

Don’t create barriers for yourself just because you’re a woman; on the contrary—never forget that you’re a woman and go for it!

Florane: Maryline in fact is the most dynamic person I know. She never sits down. She talks to everyone. She’s always smiling, regardless of the day.

Maryline: The way I see it, when there’s a will there’s a way, one step at a time.

My name is Maryline Tremblay. I’m an entrepreneur.

I’m the president and founding member of Mousse Café, a co-op of people helping people, in BaieSaintPaul.

The five founding members, we were all recently on parental leave, and we realized that there were few places in Charlevoix that were open seven days a week, where we felt at ease and where we could go to unwind.

Our mission is to be a place for interaction, creativity and fun.

Mother of two young boys: I have come to the café since it opened with my two boys.
Because Mousse Café is a place where we feel at home.

Maryline: What is nice about Mousse Café is that we all started and learned at the same time.
When I was little, I never would have thought that I’d end up an entrepreneur. I never would have imagined that I’d end up in Charlevoix.

Well, we fell in love with the area.

Right now, one of my role models is Johanne Côté, the executive director of the Charlevoix Chamber of Commerce.

She gives me tricks and I learn so much at her side.

To young girls, I’d like to tell them: Why not you?

Well, it really involves having confidence, never losing sight of the goal and saying to yourself, why not. You can do it.

Marilyne Tremblay - Show some creativity

Marilyne Tremblay, president and founding member of the Mousse Café, a solidarity cooperative located in Baie-Saint-Paul, invites us to never lose sight of the goal.

Raymonde Tremblay - Pique their curiosity

What is your occupation?

I am the owner and founder of the Centre de l’émeu de Charlevoix, in Saint‑Urbain. I also initiated the La Huilière workshop museum, which will be completed in 2019 here in Saint‑Urbain.

Describe your relationship with the Charlevoix region

I was born and grew up in Saint‑Urbain, on my family’s land. My parents were farmers. I left the region for school and I got a bachelor’s degree in health sciences, nutrition option, and began my career. I worked for several years before getting back to my roots and settling in on my family’s land to start my agricultural production business, specializing in emus, which are exotic animals in the region.

Raymonde Tremblay - Pique their curiosity

Did you dream of becoming an entrepreneur?

Not at all. During and after my studies, I worked in the health industry. I also had my own management company. I have always been very active and I wanted to continue learning, so I started an MBA. I wanted to be a senior manager in the health network. A series of circumstances guided me toward entrepreneurship. I have always loved the land and animals, but they were not part of my initial career plan.

You now manage one of the largest emu farms in Canada. How did your business come to be?

Emus entered my life accidentally in 1997. I knew nothing about them. I was passionate about business development and I wanted to start a fulfilling project that was in line with my values. My management company at the time had a contract to conduct market research for a new food product. This led to my first contact with this great Australian animal.

As a dietician, the emu’s red meat, which is low in fat and high in iron, caught my attention. I discovered its nutritional value and great taste.

My first business plan focused mainly on meat and the sale of animals. I thought that meat would be our salvation and that we would develop the market.

My three associates at the time and I first bought 40 birds. We now have between 300 and 400, depending on the season.

And it’s thanks to emu oil-based skin care products that the business has grown.

People are talking more and more about innovation. Twenty years ago when you chose the Australian emu, would you say you innovated?

I think so! I saw the emu’s potential right away. Everything about emus is good for you and it was in line with my values. And I am continuing to take care of people, like I was doing as a dietician.

I innovated by valuing emus completely for their meat and for their fat, which has beneficial properties for the skin. After years of research and development, we have been able to make the oil odourless while keeping the good fats, which allowed us to develop an excellent range of beneficial body products that are completely natural.

What makes your business different?

I believe my team and I have taken our products to the next level. They are unique and 100% Québécois. The production is totally integrated and natural, without any growth hormones or antibiotics. Our meat is of exceptional quality. In December 2017, we brought a new range of body products to the market; I am particularly proud of them in terms of both the containers and the contents, which are completely natural, with ingredients and preservatives that are beneficial to the body and skin.

And your business is continuing to evolve with the creation of an emu workshop museum?

Since 2010, I have dreamed of consolidating our operations at the farm in Saint-Urbain. Creating the La Huilière workshop museum allows us to integrate a new boutique with a processing, interpretation and tasting centre. Construction on the new building will start in the summer of 2018 and will be completed in the spring of 2019.

I am very happy that the project is coming together to promote all facets of the emu, from a nutritional point of view and in terms of their beneficial properties. It is important to me to be able to inform the public and to help them discover this amazing, too-little-known animal.

Has there been a role model leading the way for you?

My mother is a role model! Unfortunately, my father left us too soon; he was 53 years old. After he died, my mother had to get rid of some animals, while keeping the farm. Despite my interest, at that time in my personal and professional lives, the timing was not right for me to take up the torch. My mother had many talents and she opened a bed and breakfast. She is an entrepreneurial role model. I always saw her working very hard. She was the one who started the gift aspect, by decorating soaps with emu feathers.

Why is it important to you to contribute to the region’s development?

I am proud to be an active partner in the region, and that my business helps people to discover Saint-Urbain and to ensure the continuity of my family’s heritage, working where six generations of Tremblays have worked before me.

The workshop museum will further position the business in the agro-tourism industry and attract new clients. I plan on working with local people, to develop a niche and to promote the Charlevoix region nationally and internationally.

If you could advise young people, young women, reading this, what would you tell them?

You have to believe in your dreams, be passionate and determined. If you don’t believe in your project, you won’t get anywhere. You should also surround yourself with people who share your values.

You can’t build a business like mine on your own. It’s truly a team effort!

You have already accomplished several projects; are there any more on your list?

In the medium term, I want to ensure its durability and… if possible, to go to Australia to learn more about where emus are originally from and to meet local stakeholders.