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Speaker Spotlight

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Mariette Mulaire is the President and CEO of the World Trade Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba’s leading trade organization. She has spent most of her career developing economic and trade initiatives and is the founding President and CEO of three economic development organizations that have been key to Manitoba’s growth, among them the Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues au Manitoba (CDEM).

Mariette has been elected as Vice-Chair of the World Trade Centers Association Board of Directors and brings a unique trade perspective to her roles as a Director on the Bank of Canada Board, the Canada West Foundation board as well as TV5 Canada-Québec.


Over the years, Mariette has volunteered on many boards and committees in a variety of sectors, such as health, sports, culture, francophone affairs and economic development. Her many awards and recognitions demonstrate her dedication and contributions to the community. She was the spokesperson for the 200th anniversary of Université de St. Boniface (2018). She was the 2015 recipient of the Award of Excellence – Promotion of Linguistic Duality from the Commissioner of Official languages. She received the Prix Riel and the Prix Maurice Gauthier in 2017 in recognition of her ongoing commitment to the promotion of linguistic duality in Manitoba and Canada.

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Rémi Massé’s public service career spanned 15 years and several ministries, including Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Health Canada, the Department of Justice Canada, and Public Works and Government Services Canada. Following his public service career, he was nominated as the head of Cégep de Matane.


In 2015, he was elected as federal deputy and held this position until 2019. During this time, he served as president of the Quebec Liberal deputy caucus and was appointed as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada. 

Following his political career, Mr. Massé occupied the position of Director General of a naval construction and repair business in Matane.


Since April 2021, he has been the Director General for Halles d’Innovation et de Formation Avancée, an organization whose mission is to equip the Bas-Saint-Laurent with an innovation centre dedicated to collaborative applied research in manufacturing intelligence and training to equip the next generation with knowledge and capacity related to technology in the manufacturing sector.


Mr. Massé completed his Master’s of Linguistics studies at Université de Sherbrooke.

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Alexander Reford is the director of Les Jardins de Métis / Reford Gardens and of the International Garden Festival and was instrumental in creating the not-for-profit organization that purchased the Gardens from the Quebec government in 1995. He is the co-founder of the International Garden Festival, one of the premier garden design events in the world. The gardens are a leader in nature conservation, undertaking the creation of an ecological park on the banks of the Metis River. 

Alexander Reford holds degrees in history from the University of Toronto and Oxford University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bishop’s University in 2018. He held the position of Dean of College at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto before leaving in 1995 to run Les Jardins de Métis.

He is the author of several books, including Des jardins oubliés 1860-1960, an album of photographs of Quebec’s historic gardens, a guidebook to Reford Gardens as well as Elsie’s Paradise – Reford Gardens and its sequel on the garden’s plant collections, Treasures of Reford Gardens: Elsie Reford’s Floral Legacy. He is also the author of Au rythme du train 1859-1970, an album of photographs illustrating the history of trains and train travel in Quebec. He has written biographies for the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and various articles on the history of the Lower St. Lawrence region where he lives. 

Alexander Reford is a member of the board of directors of various local, provincial, and national organizations committed to gardens, historic preservation, and culture. local, provincial, and national organizations committed to gardens, historic preservation, and culture.



S. Ashleigh Weeden, MPA is an award-winning rural futurist, feminist, and researcher. Her work focuses on the way people, place, and power dynamics are reflected in and affected by policymaking, particularly in rural contexts. A long-time advocate for community-engaged, place-based approaches to public policy, Ashleigh has spent her career championing locally-led innovation. Ashleigh holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Development (Political Economy and Administrative Change, University of Guelph) and a Master of Public Administration (University of Victoria). She is currently a Research Associate with the Ontario Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and completing her PhD in Rural Studies at the University of Guelph. Recognized as a thought leader on rural revitalization and a contributor to a growing body of research and advocacy on ‘the right to be rural,’ Ashleigh works to advance evidence-based policy and public sector leadership across a wide variety of critical portfolios, including infrastructure, innovation, and inclusive community economic development. Ashleigh has supported the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by coordinating and contributing to CRRF’s Rural Insight Series on COVID-19 and has provided expert commentary to outlets like Buzzfeed News, CBC News, and CTV News. Her work can be read in publications like The State of Rural Canada 4, The Conversation Canada, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Policy Options, and Municipal World.



Jennifer is an influential marketing professional, community builder, restaurateur and feminist. After starting her career in corporate marketing at John Deere Canada, Jen founded the Ag Women’s Network to connect and empower women in the agriculture industry. While working in Ottawa for a national non-profit, Jen met her partner Chris and soon after, they moved back to Bruce County to start their entrepreneurship journey. In April 2020, they opened Bonfire on Queen to serve Italian-style food made with local ingredients and expanded to packing some of their products for sale in a market space next door, called the Bonfire Pantry. Additionally, Jen is working as the Executive Director of Catapult Grey Bruce, a Startup Canada Community and new business accelerator for the rural region. She is also the President of her local Chamber of Commerce, a member of 100 Women Who Care Grey Bruce and vocal proponent for gender equality in agriculture leadership. Jen is an avid traveller, enjoys being outdoors with their dog Molly and spending time with her family on their grain and dairy farm. Jen has a Bachelor of Commerce, Agricultural Business from the University of Guelph and an EMBA from the Ivey Business School.

Remi Masse
Alexander Reford
Ashleigh Weeden
Jennifer Christie

President and Chief Executive Officer, CEDEC 


John Buck is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC).  CEDEC has designed a new and innovative approach to economic development that helps communities achieve lasting success by identifying and leveraging their strongest opportunities for growth.  Specifically, CEDEC helps create public-private-civil society partnerships to foster economic innovation and creativity, combine resources and expertise, and drive local economic development initiatives.


Mr. Buck has served in his capacity as President and CEO at CEDEC since 2006 and he has been involved with CEDEC since the organization was created in 1999.  As a founding member, Mr. Buck served on the Board of Directors and then went on to serve as Treasurer and Secretary, and as Chair of the Board of Directors in 2002-2004.  Prior to working at CEDEC, Mr. Buck worked in the field of finance with one of Canada’s leading consulting firms.


Mr. Buck is a Board Director on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED) Forum.  He is also the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE), and a Director on the Board of Directors of CSAE.


Mr. Buck studied at Bishop’s University, McGill University and Laurier University and holds degrees both in sciences and in business administration. He also holds a Certified Association Executive (CAE) professional designation and certificates in governance from The Institute for Corporate Directors (ICD).  Mr. Buck is also a member of the Government Relations Institute of Canada and the Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC).

Director general ÉCONOMUSÉE Network Society

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Since 2013, Carl-Éric Guertin has been the director general of the ÉCONOMUSÉE Network Society (ENS) overseeing the Canadian and International development of the organization.  Established in 1992, the ENS, a not-for-profit organisation, is the founder, owner and promoter of the ÉCONOMUSÉE® concept. Now grown into an international organization with its head office in Québec City, Canada, the network of partners shares the same goals: the continuation, protection and promotion of traditional trades and know-how in the craft and agri-food sectors. 


The primary mission of ENS is to maximise the full potential of the ÉCONOMUSÉE® concept worldwide by allowing artisans and craft enterprises to develop and promote in-situ traditionally inspired crafts and knowledge as well as to offer the public a high-quality cultural and tourism learning experience.


Carl-Éric Guertin earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry in 1993 from the Faculty of Forestry of Laval University (Québec City, Canada) and started his forestry career overseas. In 1997, he completed a master’s degree from the same university in Forest Sciences in the field of forest policies and community forestry.  After working for 15 years for trade associations in the forestry and forest products sector, where he developed expertise on responsible trade and sustainability issues, promotion of the use of wood in construction to tackle climate change, communication, regional and international development, he joined the tourism industry in 2013.

Laval développement économique

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Lidia Divry is a seasoned manager with more than 25 years of experience in local and international economic development. Her expertise combines regional planning and economic development, and industrial and scientific parks development, with an emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship, and financial support for businesses. 

While at Technoparc Montreal and TechnoMontreal, she developed innovative, structuring projects that encouraged a business ecosystem, innovative communities, and sustainable development.  

Ms. Divry was involved in the Eco-Campus Hubert Reeves concept, a 20-hectare site unique to Canada, dedicated to the values of sustainable development of the clean technology sector with a focus on mobilizing and high-growth projects for the future of Greater Montreal – Digital Metropolitan Montreal. 

In 2016, she focused on ecosystem development by building bridges between various technology industry stakeholders, other industrial sectors, and the institutional and user experience domains, including the health, transport, and commerce sectors.

Since September 2019, Ms. Divry has been at the helm of the City of Laval’s economic development services team where she focuses on new collaboration approaches designed to transform the territory’s economy within the context of COVID-19. In July 2020, she launched the city’s economic recovery plan, “Laval, Capital of Opportunities”, and will round out 2021 with a new strategic economic plan for Laval. 


President & CEO, Steel River Group

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A proud Indigenous entrepreneur and business leader with 23 years of experience with some of Canada’s most prominent pipeline, infrastructure, and mining companies, Mr. Fequet founded Steel River Group 3 years ago based on the belief that there has never been a better time to reimagine how a private Indigenous business defines, creates and captures value for Indigenous communities’ & people. To achieve this goal, Mr. Fequet centered his company around Governing Principles, which are deeply rooted in Indigenous values, beliefs, and culture. The foundation is grounded by a strong sense of community, centered around people and relationships. These relationships are premised around creating alignment between three critical groups: Steel River Companies; Indigenous Communities; and Alliance Partners through Steel River Group’s Inclusion Ecosystem Model. 


Steel River Group brings these entities together under a shared vision and common goals and facilitates agreements, partnerships, and the creation of new companies. As a management entity, Steel River Group provides corporate governance, structure, and support to its group of companies as well as to its Ecosystem partners. 


As President and CEO, Mr. Fequet drives Steel River Group’s vision and provides support and guidance to his team and Ecosystem partners. He believes strongly in helping those around him to succeed and spends countless hours supporting and enabling his staff and mentoring entrepreneurs and individuals around him. His vision for the organization’s future is to support the process of collaborative engagement, foster the preservation of cultural and traditional values, and champion social sovereignty and economic sustainability for his people. 

John Buck
Lidia Divry
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Shayna Jones, award winning actor, performance storyteller, and spoken word artist will bring to life the story behind The Black and Rural Project - an artistic inquiry into the hearts and minds of black Canadians tucked away on the countryside.

Presenting Sponsor Speaker

Vice President of Customer Network Implementation, TELUS

Shazia Sobani, Vice President Network Implementation, is an accomplished multilingual senior executive with domestic and international experience in highly transformative, multi-stakeholder complex technology driven projects. She is a results oriented, people centric, decisive leader with proven success in creating systemic change while spearheading operational excellence and driving efficiency and optimization of resources. She excels in dynamic, demanding environments that focus on capturing the synergies between doing well in business and doing good in our communities.  

In Shazia’s 15 years with TELUS, she has held a variety of leadership roles across wireline and wireless businesses including churn management, pricing strategy and management of wireline network assets. In the last seven years, she has played a key role establishing project management and capital management models for PureFibre network build and copper turn down strategies.

In her current role as Vice President Customer Network Implementation, she is focused on accelerating fast and high quality broadband connectivity to boost community based economic and social outcomes with an intention to minimize the digital divide.  She is passionate about building a team and culture that fosters innovation, risk taking and perseverance.

Outside of work, Shazia shares her passion for coaching and mentoring at the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association and University of Calgary where she is involved with regular adult learning programs, helping aspiring professionals make their dreams come true. She sits on the board of Women in Communication and Technology and is an advisor to the TELUS Diversity & Inclusion Council.

She lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and 15-year-old son who always has interesting stories about robotics and video games to share with her.

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