EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – SUSAN WOODFINE
Susan holds a MA in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario. She is the executive director of Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence (HLSL). Originally from Nova Scotia, Susan has lived in Rimouski for more than 20 years and is familiar with the organization’s mandate both through her engagement in the community over the years and having been a former Heritage board member. As a skilled communicator and the voice of our region on the CBC airwaves for many years, Susan’s background in journalism, business development, and education technology ensures the continued visibility of HLSL in the media, community, and with various stakeholders in the eight MRCs of the Lower Saint Lawrence. Susan has raised her two children here and knows that integration into the Francophone community is not always easy, like any other language and cultural immersion. She is passionate about the region and committed to improve the social, cultural, and economic life of the English-speaking population so as to ensure a better sense of belonging and desire to stay in the Lower Saint Lawrence.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES) – ANNA CONE
Anna grew up in the Southwestern United States in a Ukrainian, Scottish, and Irish family and has a deep-rooted appreciation for the beauty that cultural and linguistic diversity can bring to communities. She immigrated to Canada in 1991 and has worked in the field of socio-cultural development in Rimouski as a musician, a teacher and an engaged citizen for over 30 years. She currently devotes some of her time to community service as a Centre intégré de santé et services sociaux Bas-Saint-Laurent Regional Access Committee member and maintains her connection with the vibrant cultural community of the region as a double bassist and founding member of the Orchestre Symphonique de l’Estuaire. With support from Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence’s Dialogue McGill Community Leadership Bursary program, Anna graduated with a bachelor of social work from UQAT/UQAR in 2017 and officially joined the Heritage team in 2018. Anna networks, builds partnerships, and pilots projects with key health and social services stakeholders & service providers to improve access to services in English for English speakers residing in the Lower Saint Lawrence.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (CULTURE, HERITAGE & COMMUNICATIONS) – MARGARET WINN
Originally from Eastern Ontario, Margaret moved to Rimouski in 2020. The Lower Saint Lawrence region is close to her heart, having spent her childhood summers on Lighthouse Point, Métis-sur-Mer, where her great-grandmother’s cottage is still enjoyed by family near and far every summer. An interest in bilingualism and language use has guided her personal and professional choices over the last 20 years. After earning a BA in English Literature and Canadian Studies from McGill University, Margaret lived and worked in Montreal, Toronto, and Paris. She has been a freelance translator for several years, work that evolved out of her many years teaching English in France. At HLSL, Margaret finds inspiration in the ways in which the regional English-speaking communities have evolved and are sustained by the organisation’s cultural, historical, library and literacy services.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR – MARIE-CLAUDE GIROUX
Marie-Claude is now the deputy director of Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence (HLSL) due to her extensive experience and deep connection with Métis-sur-Mer. Having spent summers in the village since the age of 5 and becoming a year-round resident over 35 years ago, her strong ties to the community are undeniable.
Since joining HLSL in 2009, Marie-Claude has been instrumental in developing partnerships with various organizations, public health, and social services stakeholders. Her efforts have raised awareness about the needs of the English-speaking community in the Lower Saint Lawrence region. Through her dedication to promoting public health campaigns and producing Info-Metis, a vital community resource, she has further solidified her connection to the community.
Marie-Claude’s appointment as deputy director is a natural and well-deserved progression, given her extensive experience, community involvement, and profound understanding of the English-speaking community’s needs. Her ongoing contributions significantly impact the growth and mission of Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence in serving the community.
COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR – MELINDA TURRIFF
After graduating from Metis Beach School in 1999, life took Melinda on many work related adventures, from working in the oil fields in Western Canada to logistics coordinator for Chemin de Fer de la Matapédia et du Golfe. Melinda devotes her time to helping out community members whichever way she can and has been on the Town Hall Committee for a few years now. As HLSL Communications Coordinator, Melinda works with each staff member individually to create and diffuse promotional items, such as flyers, posters, website and Facebook content as well as e-newsletter announcements and press releases. She also works on the coordination of internal communications documents such as HLSL’s Annual Reports.
ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATOR – ANNIE LECAVALIER
Born and raised in Baie-Comeau, Annie studied at Université Laval and at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. After graduation, she worked in a number of economic regional development organizations in Lower Saint Lawrence. Retired from the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves, she is now an active Firefighter and Rescue Boat Coxswain with the Canadian Auxiliary Coast Guard. As the Administrative Coordinator of Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence since 2016, she primarily supports the administration of the organization, but she also coordinates the Canadian Heritage Administrative Project and co-coordinates the McGill Retention & Educaloi Projects.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (FINANCES & SUSTAINABILITY) – ANJA KREYSCH
Anja grew up in East-Berlin in East-Germany. Her years in this socialist country formed her sense for community, equality and solidarity. She holds a master’s degree in economics with a specialisation in operations research at Humboldt University in Berlin. For the past 15 years, Anja has been active in the creation and promotion of innovative community projects in Rimouski. She enjoys outdoor and cultural activities, having friends from many different countries and the possibilities to make the world a better place. Anja has recently co-founded the library of things, L’Outillerie.
LIBRARY SERVICES COORDINATOR – MILÈNE BÉLANGER
Milène grew up in Northern QC. She learned English, and discovered the beauties of the country while travelling from the Yukon to Newfoundland. A former French and English as a second language teacher, she has worked in various educational systems for more than fifteen years. Milène moved to the Lower St. Lawrence area about ten years ago, and enjoys learning about the people, languages, and stories from here as much as from around the world. Armed with curiosity and a love of nature,, she likes to travel with a backpack, on a bike, and in books!
HEAD OF RESEARCH AND OUTREACH – ALEXANDRA RAO
Alexandra was born in Brazil, raised in Portugal and the USA, pursued her studies in the USA, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium, and speaks 5 languages. Alex holds a PhD from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA. She moved to Rimouski in 2012 to teach and do research in the field of marine geochemistry and to study the St. Lawrence Estuary as a professor at UQAR-ISMER. A true cosmopolite and polyglot who identifies with multiple minorities, Alex is passionate about diversity, inclusion, and cultural identity. Mother of two firecrackers, in 2019 she joined Heritage, where she applies her zeal for data to develop a better understanding of the regional English-speaking community. She developed the regional English-speaking Community Portrait and coordinates the Community Needs Assessment.
SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENT – MICHELINE WILLIAMS
Micheline was born Toronto, raised in Mississauga, but has roots in the Lower Saint Lawrence. Her mother was born, raised and married in Price. The family moved to Ontario after the Price sawmill burned down, but returned yearly to visit relatives, until they purchased a home on Leggatt’s Point in 1971. In 2003, Micheline moved to Metis to care for her ailing mother and worked in the Wind Industry until 2016. She purchased the house from the estate in 2009. She comes with 6 years as both a board member and volunteer for Heritage and 6 years’ board experience from Oxford Child and Youth Centre in Woodstock, ON, (a children’s mental health centre). She was also their representative on the regional and provincial boards for children’s mental health. She enjoys photography, ceramics and pottery.
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTATION OFFICER – CLAIRE NEWTON
Claire arrived in the Lower Saint Lawrence region in 2011 as a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire d’Archéologie et de Patrimoine, UQAR, and joined Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence in 2022 to assist with historical documentation. Initially trained as an agricultural scientist, she holds a PhD in Biology from the Université Montpellier II, where she specialized as an archaeobotanist in the environmental and agricultural history of arid regions and oases. She has lived in France, Egypt and the UK, her fieldwork taking her mostly to Northeast Africa, Arabia and Southwest Asia. Since moving to Rimouski, she has continued to collaborate on archaeological projects with academic institutions in Europe, the UK, the USA and Australia as a freelance archaeobotanist. Originally from France, she also has roots in New England. She likes to be involved in her adoptive community in a variety of ways.
BOOKKEEPER – JENNIFER SMITH
Although she was born in Baie Comeau, Jennifer spent quite a bit of time in Métis-sur-Mer until her family finally decided to move there when she was 6. Jennifer graduated from Metis Beach School in 1999, then attended a few CEGEPS, trying out a few disciplines in search of her calling. After obtaining her diploma in auto mechanics, Jennifer decided to go back to school and get her vocational school diploma in accounting. She moved to Quebec City and worked for various companies operating on the international scene, including Load Systems International (now a division of Trimble) and Show Distribution. However, missing the Lower Saint Lawrence region deeply, she moved back in 2008. Since then she has worked with companies such as Groupecho, New Holland, and Telus. Jennifer was also a part-time firefighter in the region for several years. When she isn’t working, taking care of her husband and 4 kids, or spending time with her parents, she enjoys hiking, reading, paddle boarding and photography.
SOCIAL & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AGENT– JOANA PROJECTO-GARCIA
Joana was born in Lisbon, Portugal, but lived a fair amount of her childhood in the Azores (Portugal) where the North American culture is quite prevalent due to a strong emigration movement from the archipelago towards the USA and Canada. The 4th of July is celebrated (unofficially) and many American English words have populated the insular vocabulary. She eventually returned to the mainland to pursue her studies until university (she majored in Marine Biology). After that she went abroad to do her Masters in Germany and PhD in France. The pleasure of living in foreign countries and to be in contact with other cultures was too great, so returning to her home country was out of the question. This decision led her to study and live the following 10 years in the USA, Denmark, and UK. Throughout her 18 years abroad she has met many people belonging to language minorities and belonging to that group herself she has witnessed first-hand the struggle it can be to integrate in another society speaking a different language. From her experience, preserving cultural diversity is the best way to understand and respect different parts of the same community. The move to Rimouski, in 2022, was a family decision due to a job opportunity for her partner. In December of the same year, she started working with Heritage. She is responsible for the early childhood development programs (Bright Beginnings and Healthy Early Years), she assists in other health related projects, and she is also the coordinator of the Rimouski Resource Centre, where the Rimouski English library resides.
CULTURAL PROJECTS COORDINATOR– SASKIA KIRCHNER
Saskia, originally from Germany, pursued her passion for history and art history at the University of Dresden. While destiny brought her to Île de la Réunion, she met her Québécois partner, sparking a new adventure as she moved to Québec.
Having faced the challenges of adapting to a new country, language, and culture firsthand, Saskia deeply empathizes with newcomers facing similar obstacles. As the Cultural Projects Coordinator at Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence (HLSL), she dedicates herself to organizing enriching cultural activities and events for the English-speaking community. Saskia’s role not only allows her to live her passions for history, culture, art, and museum work but also to immerse herself in Quebec’s unique heritage.
Through her work, Saskia fosters connections between newcomers and long-time residents, continuously learning about the rich nuances of Quebec culture. Her unwavering commitment to her role makes a meaningful difference in the lives of those she serves. With each project and event she coordinates, Saskia’s passion for cultural exchange shines brightly, leaving a lasting impact on the community she now calls her own.
NPI COORDINATOR FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES – TINA BABIN
Tina, the NPI Coordinator for Health and Social Services, has a diverse background in multiple locations and professions. Born in Connecticut with both American and Canadian influences, she embraced both French and English languages. After her father’s illness, she moved to Maine for 22 years, excelling in Medical Billing, Translation, and Customer Service for a combined 42 years. Beyond work, Tina enjoys cooking, baking, crocheting, and crafting flower arrangements. Her well-rounded experiences and passions enrich her role as NPI Coordinator, actively supporting health and social services.