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Haileybury entrepreneur lauded for contributions to community

Nicole Guertin one of three in province recognized for their work
2020-12-23 Nicole Guertin DB
Nicole Guertin is a project manager at Cultural Crossroads: 101 Experiences. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/TimminsToday)

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 are sponsored by Desjardins Financial and the Ontario Cooperation Council (OCC).

Bestowed annually, the awards acknowledge the commitment of cooperatives and social enterprises, as well as major collective entrepreneurs. Winners were announced during the OCC’s annual general meeting held virtually on Sept. 28.

A long-time entrepreneur based in Timiskaming District, Guertin received the Individual Collective Award of Excellence for her “exceptional contribution to her community.”

“I come from four generations of entrepreneurs, but I have always had difficulty seeing myself as an entrepreneur,” Guertin is quoted as saying.

“But when I discovered the title of social entrepreneur, there I realized that this is what I am. And that's what I do: bring change in communities, make a difference.”

Guertin has worked on numerous projects over the last 20 years, in both Ontario and British Columbia.

After beginning a career in nursing, Guertin turned to entrepreneurship, focusing her efforts in health, culture, communications and tourism.

Among her projects, she’s launched a theatre troupe, formed a nursing organization, started the Destination Nord tourism group, operated a clothing store, created a French newspaper (which she later sold to Québecor), developed a French tourism smartphone app, instigated a French health centre, established a glamping experience, and even opened a restaurant.

In Haileybury, she is probably best known for Les Suites des Presidents, the accommodations business she runs with her partner, Jocelyn Blais, which offer visitors a stay in homes originally built by the area’s lumber and mining barons and beautifully restored by the couple.

Most recently, Guertin created 101 Experiences, a collection of tourism 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 micro social enterprise for each of the providers, while promoting tourism in Northern Ontario and creating more welcoming communities.

Guertin was previously named an Influential Woman of Northern Ontario by Northern Ontario Business.