If you want something badly enough, no obstacle is difficult.”

-—French proverb

Michelle Smith

2022 Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts

Michelle Smith is a rare pearl indeed: a dedicated volunteer with a background in finance who loves fundraising. As such, she is often called upon for her generosity, creativity and boundless energy. Through her active involvement with and support for many Francophone community and arts organizations in her home province of Manitoba, she has made an indelible contribution to the cultural and linguistic vitality of her community.
A native of Sainte-Anne-des-Chênes, Michelle Smith has volunteered notably with Théâtre Cercle Molière (TCM), Canada’s oldest theatre company, which attracts more than 10,000 patrons every year. As a member of its fundraising committee, she helped raise over $2 million to build a new theatre centre, marking the first time a Franco-Manitoban organization had raised such a significant amount for an infrastructure project. Subsequently, as chair of the board, she spearheaded the establishment of an endowment fund that currently exceeds $1 million and provides TCM with a stable annual income.
Among other achievements, she helped establish the Maison Gabrielle-Roy (restoration of the beloved author’s childhood home), and has done volunteer fundraising for Francofonds (Manitoba’s Francophone community foundation) and Le 100 Nons (an organization dedicated to training and promoting Francophone music artists).
“I’m passionate about creating and implementing fundraising strategies,” she says. “It’s important for me to contribute in my own way to the development of Manitoba’s cultural family. Art is the language of the heart, and it’s of paramount importance to the vitality of our communities.”
She also supports the Dead of Winter choir (formerly Camerata Nova), the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Prairie Theatre Exchange, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Opera, among others. She is also a member of Les blés au vent community choir.
Ms. Smith recently retired from her career as an independent financial planner. She is the co-author of Les Manitobaines engagées, an anthology of autobiographies by Francophone women, published in 2021 to commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in Manitoba.