Céline Le Heurteux – Making a Difference
by Benoît Bleau, translation : Susan Fisch (April 2019)
I would like to introduce you to a young woman, mother of three children, veterinarian, entrepreneur, inventor, pet therapist and life enthusiast, who, in-between her many travels and engagements, resides in our township.
As a child, she was deeply touched by a tv show about a veterinarian who treated a dog that had been hit by a car. It was a decisive moment for her. She was hooked on veterinary medicine and set herself the goal of changing the lives of animals. She hungrily devoured any medical magazines that she could lay her hands on and was fascinated by medical uniforms.
While Céline was born in Quebec, both her parents came from the Côted’Azur in France, and lived in Martinique before her birth. Having arrived here in February, her mother wanted to return to France after only a few weeks; but her pregnancy was too far advanced. She had to wait, and finally never left. Her father, a country boy at heart, created an Eden on their Montreal property. They raised chickens, pigeons, rabbits, and had a greenhouse bordered by bougainvillea and hibiscus brought back from Polynesia. She grew up in a hybrid culture between Europe and America; and especially centred around beauty, and a respect and love for nature. Her family always valued entrepreneurship from the perspective of making a difference and preserving freedom.
At the age of 11, she was initiated into the business world by selling ice-cream in Montreal parks on her scooter with her brother. Later, after a difficult passage, much perseverance and lengthy studies, she obtained her veterinary license. She is extremely proud of this profession, through which she can help people as well as animals, with her devotion, integrity, empathy, meticulousness, her readiness to take on challenges, and her commitment.
However, she encountered a preposterous situation. After having provided so much care and attention to an animal, once it died, she was supposed to dispose of its body in a common garbage bag. The frustration this caused, pushed her to design a respectful body bag with a professional look to fill this void in today’s veterinary arsenal. She calls her “fourth baby”, the EUTHABAG. This entrepreneurial adventure brought her to master all the steps of development and marketing by participating in all the major conferences, to promote her innovative product. After only 3 years of activity, more than 1000 clinics in 12 countries have adopted her product; and she continues to receive positive feedback.
In the Spring of 2018, she participated in Radio Canada’s tv show, Dragon’s Den. She adored the experience, but found it very stressful. After the show aired, her sales increased by 30%, and she benefitted from some wonderful advice and great contacts. She is still in the midst of discussions for a possible partnership. As she put it, “Entrepreneurship is a fire that consumes you and keeps you warm at the same time”.
Another important dimension of her life is her involvement in La Ferme d’André of Ormstown (www.fermeandre.com). It is a place she’s been going to since she was 16 years old, and where she could unwind during her studies to become a vet. The farm’s mission is to allow children from all backgrounds to make contact with, and get to know, animals. Children arrive all afraid of animals, and as if by magic, after watching a hen lay an egg, a lamb nurse from its mother, or after hugging a cow, they return to the city full of confidence. Children are more and more cut off from this reality, which is missing from official educational programmes, and which could help build more solid adults in the face of adversity
Simultaneous to all these activities, she also participates with her family in a project of reforestation in Costa Rica, where they have planted 12.000 trees. And on her land in Hemmingford, with her husband and friends, she has planted 5,000 oak, maple, pine and larch trees to contribute to creating an environment favourable to the establishment of wildlife, and in the hopes of harvesting quality wood in a couple of decades.
When asked what she would like to accomplish in the future: “Write stories about my career as a vet, that would also be a sociological study, and including some very important emotional moments that were tragic and funny – a journey to the heart of humanity. I would also like to organize conferences among veterinary doctors, who don’t talk to each other, and who have so much to share for their own well-being, and also for their respective patients. Finally, I would like to be a mentor for young Quebec entrepreneurs, so I can give them the benefit of my experience and contribute to creating a richness and wealth right here at home, to preserve our social and educational programmes, and to better protect the environment. Money serving humanity — and not humanity serving money. As my dad used to say, “Money is a great tool, but a bad master!”
Kudos, Céline! Please keep inspiring us with your ardour and your passion!