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Marie Fortier - Loyal Donor of the Year Award

Consistent contributions on many fronts

I started in Commerce, but in 1969 I discovered a new program existed – Masters in Health Administration – and I never looked back. 

There’s no question that formal education gives you credentials and opens doors, but it’s only the base. You build on that foundation with your experience, your successes and, especially, your failures. If you make no mistakes at all, you’ve probably not done much. 

I got a lot of satisfaction in my first 10 years at the old Ottawa General Hospital, and when I became CEO of what was then the Hull Hospital. However, my impact was limited to one city, one hospital, and I knew there was something bigger I could do, so I took a low level government job in Indigenous Health. 

I jumped into that and I saw how basic the services were for Indigenous peoples in some places. It stimulated me into thinking about the country as a whole. You can’t just think of your own narrow mandate or perspective — you have to see and understand other points of view, even if you don’t necessarily agree on everything. Respect and collaboration are key, especially for tackling today’s more complex public policy issues. 

This eventually served me well as Associate Deputy Minister and Deputy Minister in my work with minority language communities across the country, resulting in organizations that continue to make a big difference today. I’m very proud of that. It was the main reason I was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2016. 

I feel partly humbled and partly grateful for this recognition. I didn’t realize I’ve been contributing for over 40 years! It’s like compound interest — no matter how small the contribution, if you are consistent and faithful and stay the course, it can be appreciated to an extent you never thought possible.