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Bernadette Lavoie knows where there is a will, there is a way. The professional and successful owner of North Country Massage and Medi-Spa, mother and community supporter, says finding the balance between work and family has been a challenge.

Highly adventurous and well-travelled, Lavoie married, and lived in Italy with her first child, before moving back to Canada when her daughter was three years old. “That’s when I started my first business,” she says. As a new single and sole-support parent, her biggest challenge was the time required. “When starting a business, you have to put in the time. I’d sometimes wait hours to see a new patient, but you had to. It’s the only way the client can recommend you to others.” But then she fondly remembers times her daughter came to the business after school and napped in the laundry room. “We reminisce about those days sometimes,” Lavoie recalls, “it was us against the world.”

Her company, North Country Massage and Medi-Spa, is quite unique. They provide a variety of services and have been the leading provider of coolsculpting, injectables, laser, skin, and spa treatments in the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan area since 2010. It’s important to her that her clients leave both healthy and happy. It’s something she takes very seriously, hence the medical in “Medi-Spa.” “We have two great nurses and a doctor that are employed here. As well, 99 per cent of our employees are Métis or Indigenous single mothers.” Lavoie is determined to give back to her community however she can.

“I had so much help along the way,” she states. “The most important person, throughout it all, has become a sister to me. Maxine Redekopp, who works for the Clarence Campeau

Development Fund, has done so much more for me, more than I could have ever expected. You need people around you who support and encourage you. There is enough negativity out there.”

Lavoie tells the story of a bank manager years ago, who remarked that she was a huge liability in terms of lending and that they were surprised she could even eat on her income. She assured him that she and her daughter would be just fine—and they are.

A later relationship brought a second daughter, and the family continued to prosper. Lavoie’s eldest daughter has even decided to become a nurse, potentially following in her mother’s footsteps in the healthcare industry, and there is a proud and hopeful note in her voice as Lavoie shared that story.

Lavoie, and her family, recently moved to the family farm. As she explains more, she mentions that she is putting the eaves troughs back on the family home while talking. “Who knew?” she says. “From Milan to South Africa, I thought perhaps one day I would end up on a luxury yacht somewhere.” Then she laughs, “But I am the happiest now that I have ever been.”

The Clarence Campeau Development Fund helped Lavoie achieve her dream. The  Development Fund offers a variety of loans and grants for Métis businesses in Saskatchewan.


Learn more about some of the Indigenous women entrepreneurs that the Aboriginal Financial Institution network has supported at nacca.ca.