An award shared with others

From left to right, John Ruetz. Chair of the Governing Council of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada (CHAC), Micheline St-Hilaire, and Michael Shea, President and CEO of CHAC.

Micheline St-Hilaire has been working in the Catholic healthcare field since landing her first summer job more than 20 years ago at Taché Centre, now known as Actionmarguerite St. Boniface. St-Hilaire, Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at St. Boniface Hospital (SBH), has made her mark.

The Catholic Health Alliance of Canada chose her as the recipient of its mid-career leadership award, which was presented to her at the organization’s annual conference held this year in Banff, Alberta from May 15 to 17.

“It was definitely a surprise and I was touched to get it,” says the recipient. “But the award also belongs to all those who’ve worked with me throughout my career. Had I not been well surrounded and supported by colleagues and family, I wouldn’t be here. The list of people who’ve inspired and influenced me in the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba network, and even nationally, is long.”

The first person to inspire her was Francis LaBossière, the Executive Director of Taché Centre when St-Hilaire began working with CHCM.

“That job drew me in like a magnet. There was something about the culture of the place. They made me feel that my talents could really be of service, that I had something to offer. It was thanks to Francis LaBossière, and Taché Centre, that I wanted to keep working in the network and contributing to CHCM’s mission.”

St-Hilaire went on to work at Centre de santé Saint-Boniface, then later as an external consultant, “but often for Grey Nun-related works.” She went back to CHCM in 2008 before joining the SBH team in 2018.

She explains. “I went back to CHCM because I wanted to see how I could get people excited about the organization’s mission. That’s where I helped to create the Compassion Project aimed at reconnecting people with their deepest aspiration. The initiative owes its existence to the creativity and dedication of many people, and the most rewarding part for us about the whole process was to be able to work closely with all kinds of people who understood what we were doing and believed in it.”

Compassion is a fundamental value of the Grey Nuns and the bedrock of most of CHCM’s Communities of Service. Since the Project began, nearly 1,600 people have attended conferences on compassion, more than 800 have viewed the documentary This Film is About Compassion, and over 600 have taken part in compassion-related training.

The Project has had an impact on all of CHCM’s Communities of Services, as well as the wider community. “That’s my community development philosophy, which I acquired very early in my career: we live, work, and face our joys and sorrows together, either at the Community of Service level or within CHCM. We’re all working together on the same mission and we all have a role to play, we’re all important. That’s what has always guided my leadership approach, a participatory style of leadership.”

Others who have influenced St-Hilaire’s leadership style are Suzanne Nicolas, Daniel Lussier and Martine Bouchard, according to St-Hilaire.

“To become a good leader, you need people with experience, leaders who are willing to share how they do things. I’m fortunate to have had outstanding mentors, at the national, local and even international levels, who’ve inspired me. I share this recognition with them.”