By Naomi Zurevinski

Bernadette Lavoie always knew she was an entrepreneur. After travelling and working abroad, she decided to come back to her roots in Saskatchewan, having grown up 30 minutes outside Prince Albert on a grain farm. In 2005, she opened North Country Massage and Medi Spa in PA, and hasn’t looked back since.

North Country has become the leading provider of cosmetic injectables, laser treatments and skin and spa treatments in the PA area. In 2010, Lavoie was interested in expanding the business and applied to the Business Plan and Business Development programs through the Clarence Campeau Development Fund, for the purchase of two crucial pieces of medical equipment.

“I bought a piece of laser medical equipment for the purpose of laser hair removal, and I also bought an IPL for the purpose of skin rejuvenation, to expand some of the services we offer. There wasn’t really anything like that in PA,” Lavoie said. “Those two pieces of equipment that [the CCDF] helped me purchase changed my life.”

The CCDF is an organization established in 1997 by the Saskatchewan government to assist with the economic and development activities of Métis people in the province. Increasing the employment rates among Métis people has numerous socioeconomic benefits, including improved self-esteem and health and wellness of individuals and families. Lavoie feels that accessing the CCDF’s funding helped with her level of confidence in her business.

“I was a single mom and I didn’t have a lot of money or collateral, but [the CCDF] saw the potential in me as an entrepreneur. I had gone to the bank and they said I was just a small business, and I said, ‘Well yeah, I’m a small business, but small businesses become big businesses.’ But the CCDF gave me a lot of confidence, and it’s provided me with a much better life than I had before as a single mom.”

The purchase of the equipment gave Lavoie the opportunity to expand, and in 2015 she took on business partner Lindsey Rask, who helped contribute to North Country’s growth. Through her business, she has also been able to pay it forward by employing many Aboriginal people.

“Lindsey and I are Métis and probably 90 percent of our staff are Aboriginal, so I really feel like we are giving back,” Lavoie said. “We provide training for them to expand their careers, so we feel like we are giving back in that way.”

Overall, for Lavoie, the best part of operating North Country is seeing how clients feel when they leave.

“I love the fact that clients always leave happy. This is a place they come to for pampering – that’s the thing I love about spas. I like the transformation we can give people with their skin and body, and improve their well-being and their perception of themselves. It is very rewarding.”

For information on North Country Massage and Medi Spa, visit www.northcountrymedispa.com. For more information on the CCDF, visit www.clarencecampeau.com.

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