Haileybury entrepreneur Nicole Guertin has been recognized for her work in the tourism industry.
Guertin is one of three recipients in Ontario of a 2021 Desjardins Group Excellence Award, which is sponsored by Desjardins Financial and the Ontario Cooperation Council (OCC).
Awarded annually, the prizes recognize the commitment of cooperatives and social enterprises, as well as major collective entrepreneurs. The winners were announced at the OCC’s Annual General Meeting held virtually on September 28th.
A longtime entrepreneur based in the Timiskaming District, Guertin received the Individual Collective Award of Excellence for her “outstanding contribution to her community.”
“I come from four generations of entrepreneurs, but I have always struggled to think of myself as an entrepreneur,” said Guertin.
“But when I discovered the title of social entrepreneur, there I realized that was who I am. And that’s what I do: bring change in communities, make a difference.
Guertin has worked on numerous projects over the past 20 years, both in Ontario and British Columbia.
After starting a career in nursing, Guertin turned to entrepreneurship, focusing his efforts in the areas of health, culture, communications and tourism.
Among her projects, she launched a theater troupe, formed a nursing organization, launched the Destination Nord tourist group, operated a clothing store, created a French newspaper (which she later sold to Quebecor), developed a French tourism smart phone app, initiated a health center, created a glamping experience and even opened a restaurant.
In Haileybury, she is probably best known for Les Suites des Presidents, the accommodation company she runs with her partner, Jocelyn Blais, which offers visitors a stay in houses originally built by the timber barons. and mines in the region and beautifully restored by the couple.
More recently, Guertin created 101 Experiences, a collection of travel experiences promoting northeastern Ontario, which are presented by local hosts and guides.
They range from traditional indigenous teachings to a greenhouse tour to a lesson in food self-sufficiency.
Each experience functions as a social micro-enterprise for each of the vendors while promoting tourism in Northern Ontario and creating more welcoming communities.
Guertin was previously named an Influential Woman of Northern Ontario by Northern Ontario Businesses.