The Foundation in Action


Conversation with the influential women of Montfort

Interview with Sister Jocelyne Fallu, Daughters of Wisdom Congregation

Sœur Marie-Angèle du St-Sacrement, baptisée Gracia Leduc
Sœur Jocelyne Fallu
Sister Jocelyne Fallu

In the panorama of influential women at Hôpital Montfort, two figures stand out, carrying the torch of community involvement and altruistic devotion. Sister Marie-Angèle du St-Sacrement, baptized Gracia Leduc, made history as the first CEO of Hôpital Montfort from December 1952 to 1958.

This visionary woman is often celebrated for her courageous leadership. At the age of 39, she undertook the monumental task of setting up the various departments of a general hospital, while recruiting French-speaking doctors and staff. Her legacy also includes the establishment of a nursing school as early as 1956, emphasizing her commitment to education and professional training. Sister Gracia was driven by the values of compassion and solidarity. She firmly believed that these principles should be integrated within the walls of the Hospital. Her journey inspires by her determination to overcome challenges and raise the standard of healthcare, while embodying the human and Christian values that inspired her.

A few decades later, Sister Jocelyne Fallu emerged as an influential voice within the Daughters of Wisdom community. A dedicated member of this institution since February 1965, her career reflects an ongoing commitment to school and Christian faith education. Her experience both as a teacher and as Provincial Leader of the Daughters of Wisdom of Canada demonstrates an unwavering dedication to the betterment of society through education and spiritual leadership.

My path is paved with enriching collaborations in various environments, including my family, my colleagues, and my life companions. These influences have helped shape my worldview and strengthen my commitment to the community ,” she explains. Her journey illustrates the transformative power of human relationships and education, laying the foundations for her influence in society.

Sister Jocelyne Fallu’s impact is also evident in her commitment to Hôpital Montfort. As a volunteer and board member, she is proud to actively contribute to the evolution and success of the only francophone hospital in the country outside Quebec. Her passionate advocacy for the hospital reflects her commitment to causes that affect the Franco-Ontarian community and emphasizes the importance of supporting institutions such as Hôpital Montfort.

Together, Sisters Gracia Leduc and Jocelyne Fallu embody the spirit of dedication and commitment to the community. Their legacy lives on in the institutions they helped build and the values they embodied. Their journeys illustrate the ability that everyone can make a significant difference in our society, by inspiring others to join them in the pursuit of a common cause.

Interview with Michelle de Courville Nicol

Michelle de Courville Nicol

Michelle de Courville Nicol has been a figure of commitment and influence for decades. Retired but still active, she has left her mark in the field of communications and volunteering. Originally from Timmins, and an Ottawa resident for many years, she has devoted part of her life to supporting her community.

The daughter of an entrepreneurial father, Michelle was profoundly influenced by this pioneer of French-language media in Ontario. Her husband, Jacques de Courville Nicol, was also an entrepreneur. She worked closely with him on various business projects, including the “Ottawa, bilingual city” initiative. These close ties shaped her vision of business and community involvement.

For Michelle de Courville Nicol, “at a time when entrepreneurship was largely male-dominated, I never shied away from the challenges of my gender. While I didn’t set out to ‘make my mark’, I hope I was able to inspire others to get involved through my leadership and social engagement.” As Chairman of the Board of Hôpital Montfort from 1997 to 2001 and Chairman of the Board of Montfort Renaissance from 2006 to 2019, she continues to contribute to their growth and evolution.

Michelle also brings her energy and vision to community initiatives. Michelle also brings her energy and vision to community initiatives. She was instrumental in making the English-language Compassionate Ottawa / Compassion Ottawa bilingual and sits on its Board of Directors. “As a caregiver to my husband during his long illness, I had a unique perspective on end-of-life issues, and I’ve used that experience to help this organization become bilingual,” she says.

Michelle de Courville Nicol has played a crucial role in the fight to maintain and expand the Hôpital Montfort, as well as with Montfort Renaissance and Compassion Ottawa to ensure that these organizations offer quality services to the community. Through her involvement with Compassion Ottawa, she continues to work for the well-being of her community and the improvement of French-language health services.

Her passion for the public good and health care, as well as her generosity, shine through in this ongoing commitment to her community. She urges others to contribute to charitable causes in the healthcare field. “In my opinion, it’s essential for everyone to make a contribution, according to their means, to support the organizations and initiatives that shape our society.”

Michelle de Courville Nicol is much more than a woman of influence: she is an inspiring voice. Her dedication and determination have enriched the lives of many, and her legacy will continue to inspire future generations.

Interview with Valérie Marcil

Valérie Marcil, a retired partner at the Marcil-Lavallée accounting firm, exemplifies professional success and community involvement. Her career has been marked by the challenges of an industry once dominated by men, but also by an unshakeable determination to make a difference.

Born into a family that instilled solid values in her, Valérie admits that it is the personal experiences she made throughout her career that have shaped her the most. Her professional life in public accounting has exposed her to a diversity of perspectives, leading her to develop valuable business and interpersonal skills.

“Although my primary values and beliefs were instilled in me by my family, it was through my career and associated activities, such as board meetings, cocktail parties and fund-raising events, that I really grew. My career in public accounting, and more specifically in customer service, has enabled me to meet a wide variety of people, from businesspeople to public and parapublic sector players,” she recounts.

This diversity opened her mind and made her aware of the varied needs of everyone, as well as the importance of community mutual aid and philanthropy. Through these enriching encounters, she developed not only business skills, but also remarkable interpersonal skills.

For Valérie, it is thanks to these experiences that she has learned to adapt to diverse environments, to understand the complex issues that drive our society, and above all, to value diversity as a source of mutual enrichment. “These interactions have also enabled me to refine my sense of empathy and strengthen my ability to work as part of a team to achieve common goals.”

In a formerly patriarchal professional field, Valérie had to overcome prejudices and stereotypes. Despite what was prevalent in her professional field at the time, Valérie became a partner and led the way for other women in her sector. At just 25 years of age, she was often mistaken for an administrative assistant during meetings with the customers she accompanied.

“At the age of 30, when I was promoted to partner, I was one of two women around the associate-owner table, out of a total of ten. Although my male colleagues never made any distinction in this respect, potential customers made me feel it, especially at networking evenings. They would ask me how many children I had rather than discuss business. I was careful to keep my appearance neutral, as well as my words.”

With time and experience, she developed tricks to steer the conversation towards business and avoided more personal topics. As a result, the focus was more on her skills than her gender.

At 40, her challenge was now internal to the firm; it was to show young professional women that it was possible to succeed in public accounting while raising a family. At the age of 50, when she retired, it was rare for her to feel that she was being treated differently from a man In fact, since her appointment as partner in 2003, eight women have been promoted to partner at the firm.

“I’m proud to have set an example for them. What an evolution,” says Valérie Marcil.

Her close involvement with Hôpital Montfort is a testimony of her commitment to the health and well-being of her community. For decades, Valérie has supported the hospital through her professional work and personal involvement. Indeed, she is always on hand to support the Montfort Foundation’s initiatives, such as her participation in the major fund-raising campaign for the construction of the Aline-Chrétien Health Hub in Orléans, as well as her regular presence at the annual charitable golf tournament or during her ascension of Mount Kilimanjaro, which raised over $734,000. As a member of the Montfort Foundation’s Audit and Finance Committee, she continues to play an essential role in developing and supporting vital projects for the hospital.

Valérie Marcil continues to encourage other influential people to contribute to charitable causes such as Montfort. She highlights the hospital’s achievements and emphasizes the importance of its role in the aging community.

With a remarkable career and a deep commitment to philanthropy, Valérie Marcil embodies the power of individual impact. Her determination to create positive change and her dedication to her community remain an inspiring example to us all.

Interview with Liza Mrak

In a male-dominated sector like the automotive industry, standing out from the crowd requires not only boldness, but also resilience and a commitment to excellence. Liza Mrak, co-owner and Executive Vice President of the Mark Motors Group, embodies these qualities and more, carving out a place for herself as a woman of influence, both professionally and philanthropically.

The reality of women in traditionally male-dominated fields has changed considerably over the years, and Liza Mrak bears witness to this transformation. While acknowledging the industry’s historical prejudices, she stresses the importance of focusing on her actions and attitude, being authentic and believing in herself. For Liza, succeeding in this environment is not about conforming to expectations, but about finding your voice and leveraging your unique perspective to drive change.

“If I’m perceived as a woman of influence, it’s surely because of the importance I place on preparing for a future where diversity, inclusion and business ethics are unshakeable pillars,” says Liza. Her commitment to these values reflects her deep conviction that true leadership lies in authenticity, integrity and inspiring vision.

Philanthropy is the cornerstone of Liza’s approach to social change, and her affiliation with Hôpital Montfort emphasizes her commitment to supporting causes that enhance the well-being of the community. As such, Liza and her brother Michael Mrak presented the Montfort Foundation with a cheque for $250,000 on behalf of their family in support of the construction of the Aline-Chrétien Health Hub in Orléans. For Liza, “(…) it goes back to the basic principle that the health of your community depends on what you give back to it,” she declares. “Whether it’s a financial contribution or volunteering, everyone has the opportunity to do it.”

Encouraging others to contribute to charitable causes such as Montfort, Liza emphasizes the tangible difference such support can make in improving patient care and creating spaces where individuals feel secure and well served.

By combining her professional success with philanthropic projects, Liza Mrak embodies the values of leadership, compassion and community service. Her journey is a source of inspiration not only for women who aspire to break barriers in male-dominated sectors, but also for all those who seek to make a meaningful difference in the world. As she continues to shape the automotive industry and contribute to the well-being of her community, Liza’s influence continues to grow.

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