Lorette Beaudry Ferland – honourable representative of Sister Margaret Teresa Mc Donell

On November 3, 2016, Lorette Beaudry Ferland became the fourth recipient of the Margaret Teresa Mc Donell Award presented by Santé en français.

Awarded four times since its inauguration in 2009–2010, Santé en français’s Margaret Teresa McDonell Award is presented in recognition of the outstanding commitment and contribution of a French-language health or social services professional in the workplace.

Though she may not have trained as a health or social services professional, Lorette Beaudry Ferland’s incomparable volunteer commitment to promoting French-language services in these two areas, among others, for more than 30 years, has made her the 2016 recipient.

“Over the last 30 years, she has shown a deep and exemplary commitment to the French‑speaking community in the provision of quality French-language health and social services,” says the Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba (CHCM), Daniel Lussier, who submitted her candidacy to the jury. “She is driven by the same mentality as the Grey Nuns: if there is a need, she responds.”

Daniel Lussier knows a thing or two about this since Lorette Beaudry Ferland was his Chair at CHCM from December 2011 to November 2, 2016.

Prior to this, she contributed to the creation of the Consortium national de formation en santé [National health training consortium], which implemented French-language Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Social Work programs at the Université de Saint-Boniface’s École technique et professionnelle [Technical and vocational school], Centre de ressources Santé en français [Resource centre] in 1992, and Centre de santé Saint-Boniface in 1999, as well as having been involved for some 25 years in CHCM’s work before becoming its Chair.

“I’ve always been in the right place at the right time,” says Lorette Beaudry Ferland, “but I’ve always dared to move initiatives forward, even those that seemed difficult, by getting people who could make a difference to sit down together. I did not work alone, but I did make things happen.”

For example, the Centre de santé Saint-Boniface project took 20 years before it was completed. “It was a new model in the neighbourhood so everything had to be developed when there was a shortage of French-speaking human resources: doctors and nurses” she says. “I needed a lot of energy, patience and conviction to motivate people to work on this project, but we finally succeeded!”

During her five years as the CHCM Chair, Lorette Beaudry Ferland was also responsible for developing a tool to assess the Corporation’s service communities, as well as the compassion project tool.

“The compassion project led to a major change in approach among stakeholders in the various service communities,” she says. “It helped them to take better care of themselves so they could take better care of the patients.”

In light of her many contributions to CHCM but also to French-language health care in Manitoba in general for over 30 years, Daniel Lussier describes the recipient as “a committed, visionary and humanist woman, very much like Sister Margaret Teresa Mc Donell.”

Lorette Beaudry Ferland was very moved by these compliments as well as her Award. “I was very surprised and touched to receive the Margaret Teresa McDonell Award. She was a Grey Nun and I always wanted to continue the work of the Grey Nuns and other progressive nuns like them,” she says. “They provided French-language health services where none existed to better meet the needs of the community.”

“This is extremely important, especially since studies have shown that people recover faster when served in their mother tongue. That message has to be sent loud and clear to the general public. We need to understand why we are fighting for French-language services. It’s not just a whim!”

The new recipient plans to continue to be involved in CHCM’s work, and perhaps also in addressing the issue of palliative care services for French-speaking seniors.