Ginette Gautreau

Assistant Director, New Brunswick Multicultural Council

What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?

I am most proud of being part of an ever-growing community of change-makers in New Brunswick who are working hard to make the province more diverse and creative, and shedding light on the wealth of opportunities (including blank slates!) that are available among us. I have the privilege to be working at the junction between immigration and women’s rights, to work alongside energetic and inspiring colleagues, and play a role in empowering immigrant women across this province – women who have now taken the reigns at the New Brunswick Immigrant Women’s Association, once an idea I scribbled in my notebook.

I’m proud of the journey that led me back to New Brunswick. Previously, in Ottawa, I worked in international humanitarian assistance and led a fulfilling budding career there as well. In a matter of a couple years I left my mark there by initiating and leading the first ever Canadian Humanitarian Conference and successfully coordinating an innovative fund to support victims of smaller humanitarian crises (Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund), initiatives that continue to shine bright today. Ultimately, the sector wasn’t my true calling, which led me to look for new opportunities and brought me to Fredericton. Interestingly, I went from supporting Syrian refugees through humanitarian projects one day, to supporting Syrian newcomers in Canada the next.

Finally, I’m proud of the respect and recognition I’ve received from colleagues. Not being one for the limelight, I enjoy being a reliable teammate and work with others to bring positive change to my community. Most recently, I received a promotion at work while on maternity leave, due to the recognition of my employer for my commitment to my work. Pretty sure Sheryl Sandberg would be proud of me too.

What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?

There were a few reasons why I wanted to move back to Atlantic Canada from Ottawa, some personal (closer to family, affordability, quality of life) and some professional (a killer job opportunity), but one of the greatest motivators was seeing a group of rad young professionals getting involved in rebuilding a sense of pride and community for youth in the region. I too was one of those young New Brunswickers who once wanted to run away, travel, and live in the big city (and I did, for most of my 20s), but I wanted to come back and be part of this change and revival. I see this growing in scale, in diversity and in strength over the next decade. I see more youth and immigrants wanting to call Atlantic Canada home and reinvest in the smaller. Atlantic Canada offers a world of possibilities to have immediate impact with a much more direct reach within our communities, to our politicians, and among our neighbours, colleagues and friends. I see an ever more vibrant, diverse and connected Atlantic Canada.

What was your greatest stage of growth?  What made it a shift for you?  What's your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?

Moving back to New Brunswick. The move was fairly spontaneous – I had talked about it a lot, but had made no serious plans for it. I had a growing career and a great life in Ottawa, but the opportunity arose and I had to make a decision, along with my husband, to start anew in Fredericton, a town in which I had never spent more than a few hours and where I barely knew a soul. I had to evaluate my definition of success and career path, I had to build a new social circle (which luckily, came along effortlessly due to a group of amazing young women who welcomed me with open arms! #bookclub), and I had to reassess what I valued in life. I’m fortunate to have been able to reconnect with family and old friends, rediscover my province by traveling across its many bumpy roads, connect with new-to-me colleagues, partners and stakeholders, buy a house, and reclaim this province as my home. And, as if a new town, new job, new friends and new home weren’t enough growth for a year, I also became a mother.

What's your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?

The old adage “slow and steady wins the race” rings pretty true for me these days. As a type-A personality with an eager-to-please attitude, I have a hard time passing up opportunities, saying no, and thus slowing down and being mindful of the moment. I’m seriously the person who’s had her whole maternity leave scheduled on the daily to make sure I checked off my extensive to-dos. But I’m learning. Through motherhood, through pottery lessons, through conversations with friends, through yoga, through home ownership, that it’s okay if I don’t get it all done. And not getting it all done is not the same as not getting anything done; that sometimes, getting something done is simply good enough. Undoubtedly, having a baby has jolted my sense of time and how quickly it passes. I am committed to working hard, to doing good, and to being a reliable colleague and friend. However, I’m learning to reconfigure my to-do list and my expectations as much for myself and as for those around me, and to rebalance my time to align with my values.

What were your priorities and how did they help you overcome some of the struggles you've faced? What motivated you to make the choices you've made? What are the principles you live by?

Principles I live by:

Always make time, and make an effort, for those you love. My family and friends come first and bring me the most happiness in life. I make an effort to keep in touch, reach out and always carve time for those who matter most to me.

Celebrate, enjoy and respect differences and the diversity around you. I’m lucky to have lived abroad and now work in the immigration sector to appreciate the wealth knowledge and experiences being open to the world around you can provide. Compassion, patience, kindness and openness goes a long way to enrich our communities.

Buy local – local food, local flowers, local gifts, local services. We have many talented, creative and innovative producers, farmers and thinkers right here in Atlantic Canada. Investing in the local is investing directly in a family, it’s more environmentally friendly, and it’s contributing to a more dynamic and connected community.


Instigator - New Brunswick Immigrant Women’s Association, Task master, Advocate : immigration - feminism - buy local, Humanitarian (initiator, Canadian Humanitarian Conference), Project Manager, Community Builder, Amateur Foodie, Mother

Ginette Gautreau