International Women’s Day is when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world.
There are so many businesswomen in New Brunswick doing incredible work every day, yet their stories aren’t told often enough.
We wanted to take a look at just a few of them:
1) Paulette Hicks
Hicks is the General Manager of Delta Hotels by Marriott Saint John, the city’s largest 4 Star Hotel with 250 guest rooms and 18,000 square feet conference space. She also volunteers and supports a number of social and economic organizations that are very close to her heart. Hicks is the president of the Saint John Hotel Association, the co-chair of BCAPI and the co-chair of Living Saint John. She is also on the board of Enterprise Saint John and the Saint John Airport. Hicks also plays an active role in New Brunswick’s tourism industry, sitting on the advisory council of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick and serving as co-chair of Enterprise Saint John’s Smart Tourism Committee.
Hicks says the thing she enjoys most about being in business in New Brunswick is the people she gets to work with.
“I enjoy working in business and have met great leaders that have supported me in my role,” she says. “I enjoy working in a team environment and have been extremely fortunate to have a strong team at Delta Saint John. They are like family.”
Though New Brunswick has some challenges, Hicks says she’s encouraged by the many people who are energized to tackle them.
“I would like to see New Brunswick grow at a faster pace,” she says. “I am encouraged by the ‘can do’ spirit in others that I have had the pleasure to work with. I am equally as encouraged by the up and coming youth leadership.”
2) Barb Martin
Barb Martin is the co-founder and senior partner at Han Martin Associates, a consulting company specializing in building and managing relationships across interests, specifically between Indigenous cultures and other parties. The 23-year-old company is based in Upper Kingsclear, New Brunswick.
A Mi’kmaq woman originally from the Esgenoôpetitj (Burnt Church) First Nation in northeastern New Brunswick, she has been involved in the Indigenous women’s movement since the 1980s. She aided the developmental work that established the Aboriginal women’s provincial body in New Brunswick, and helped to amend the discriminatory sections of the Indian Act through her involvement with the Native Women’s Association of Canada in the 1980s. She was also involved in the establishment of Gignoo Transition House, the only transition house for Indigenous women and children in the province.
It was then that she met activist Reni Han, an immigrant of Indonesian-Chinese descent who grew up in Singapore and ended up settling in New Brunswick after studying in Ontario. Han was active in the immigrant women’s movement. After discussing issues relevant to both their movements and frequently finding themselves being asked for free advice by consultants, they decided to start a business in 1995.
“Two women of colour coming to do consulting work. It isn’t necessarily something that people jump into and provide opportunities. So there were some challenges there in the initial part of our company,” she said.
Martin continued to be active in her community work. In 2012, she won the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs’ Atlantic Honouring Our People Award in the area of mental health for her work with residential school survivors.
Her personal vision is to see a resurgence of Indigenous nations and reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canadians.
Han Martin Associates works with First Nations communities, various government agencies and industry. The business currently has a team of four people, with one part-time staff. It doesn’t have a website and continues to rely on word-of-mouth.
The challenge for the company today is competition from larger consultancies in Toronto and Western Canada. But those consultants may not understand the issues specific to Atlantic Canada, Martin said.
“We have the talent here, whether it’s Indigenous or not,” she said. “We need to build the capacity here and build relationships between groups that don’t tend to talk to one another. And it’s small enough that we can do that and we can be the model for the rest of Canada.”
3) Jennifer Arsenault
Arsenault is the CEO of Origins Natural Learning Childcare Ltd. She opened her first early education centre in 1995 in Saint John with just five employees. Today, Origins has 86 employees and 443 licensed childcare spaces and holds eight Provincial licenses in total. Origins opened its second location in the Town of Quispamsis in 2015.
Arsenault has taken her passion for early childhood education beyond just her own business and is constantly involved in programs that support early childhood educators. She has designed, developed, facilitated and co-facilitated many classes and curricula over the years for UNB, Early Childhood Care & Education NB, NBCC, CCNB, and the National Childcare Conference.
Arsenault says the best part of doing her business in New Brunswick is being able to have an impact on so many lives every day.
“An amazing aspect of this is that although infancy to age five are the most important years in human development, and I get the huge responsibility of offering the most I can to support every aspect of this development, those wonderful little people will not remember who we are,” she says.
“My children, who are now in their 20s, have asked time and again if I have done anything that would change the world and I respond that I do every single day, one child at a time.”
4) Cheyenne Joseph
Joseph is the founder of Sharitude, a library of things in Richibucto where people can borrow tools to use in their homes for a limited amount of time. A Mi’kmaq woman originally from Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia, Joseph identifies as being Indigenous and Canadian. She currently lives in Rexton, New Brunswick, with her husband and two sons, while her daughter is in university.
Joseph has worked as a registered nurse in Indigenous and marginalized communities for 15 years. She now teaches community nursing at UNB’s satellite Faculty of Nursing in Moncton. It was her experience with families at the grassroots level that inspired her to start her social enterprise and a website called Mi’kmaq Mama, where she posts videos and recipes to help families prepare simple meals. She’s now more active on the social media sites of Mi’kmaq Mama.
Sharitude, which opened in December of last year, currently has one employee and around 45 members. The idea of a library of things resonated with Joseph because it made sense economically and socially.
“It just really made sense to me that we would want to create a space in our communities for people to share things that we really don’t all need to own,” she said. “But also because it really aligns with Mi’kmaq tradition and a lot of Indigenous tradition in the sense that you should be sharing the resources, it should be collectively owned by the community.”
Although Joseph is enjoying the decision-making powers that comes with owning her own business, being a woman and a social entrepreneur come with their own challenges.
“I’m finding it really hard to stand out as legitimate and because I’m a social entrepreneur. When it comes to funding, there’s this grey space that nobody really knows what to do with you,” she said, describing her business as functioning like a non-profit but not technically one. “So, it’s hard for any social enterprise to grow with those kinds of challenges.”
In the future, she wants to start workshops through Sharitude and see more communities embrace the sharing economy concept. She also envisions a space where women and social entrepreneurs around the province can support each other.
5) Carole Morey
Morey has been the Regional Director of Operations for New Brunswick at Shannex, a nursing home operator, for two years. She started her career as a registered nurse in a hospital but took on management positions in hospitals before landing at Shannex seven years ago.
“I loved frontline nursing in acute care settings, but over the years other opportunities presented themselves. I was introduced to various management roles within the Hospital setting which prepared me well for the work I am doing today. That’s the cool thing about a nursing career. The paths that your career can take are endless,” she said.
In her current role, she supports five Parkland Retirement Living campuses and teams in New Brunswick. She is also part of the Shannex Senior Leadership team that oversees the company’s direction. This year, she’s focusing on the company’s existing campuses, the newly opened Moncton campus, and two nursing homes being built in Miramichi.
She said her role is a “perfect combination of care and service within the context of a busy and progressive organization.” Her challenge? Travelling.
“I travel a great deal, which I enjoy, but it results in having less time home with my family.”
6) Haley Green
Green is the president and co-partner at Adams Green, a Saint John-based accounting firm and proud B Corporation, which means it is a for-profit company certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
“Lately we are putting a lot of emphasis on working with the non-profit sector and I’m very proud of the work we have been doing,” says Green.
“Early in my career, I didn’t see the accounting skill set as one that could make a difference to ‘people’ (other than paying them, which I suppose is popular). By working with non-profits in the community, we can help to ensure that they are armed with solid financial information from which to base their decisions. That feels good.”
This year, Green says she hopes her company will help continue to grow its work within the non-profit sector.
“I take great deal of satisfaction in accomplishing goals & doing purposeful work,” she says. “Building relationships with my clients is deeply gratifying.”