Consultant, manager, assistant director, executive director, author and volunteer are some of the roles and responsibilities occupied by Senator Maria Chaput in the course of her career. A native of Manitoba, she is known across the province for her commitment and contribution to her community, dating back to 1965. She is also lauded for her determination to make living in French an accepted fact in Manitoba. Her activities have consistently entailed involving the community by focusing on concrete action at the local level. Her understanding of the need for collaboration among regions, and among francophones in different provinces, has been evident in everything she has undertaken.
She has sat on the boards of directors of a number of organizations: the Deer Lodge Hospital, the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française, the Société d’assurance dépôt des Caisses populaires du Manitoba, the Conseil économique provincial francophone, the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface and Entreprise Saint-Boniface, to name just a few. She has also sat on a number of other committees with the following organizations: the Chambre de commerce de Sainte-Anne, the Manitoba Arts Gaming Fund, the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg, the Hôpital général Saint-Boniface, the Corporation de développement économique Riel and, more recently, the Cercle Molière.
Senator Chaput has frequently been recognized for her ability to mobilize people, her in-depth knowledge of Franco-Manitobans and their communities, her perseverance in completing projects needed for her community’s development, her role in bringing together the francophones of Western Canada, and her efforts to promote Canada’s linguistic duality. The awards and honours she has received are proof of this:
• in 2002, the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal, for exceptional contributions to Canada, her community and her fellow citizens;
• in 2002, the Ordre des francophones d’Amérique, the Western Canada francophone leaders award;
• in 1998, the Société franco-manitobaine’s Prix Riel, for “her 33 years of dedication and for being a model for young and old of what it is possible to achieve when you care about the people, the community, La Francophonie and your country”;
• in 1989, the Prix Réseau, for being a driving force in the cultural sector;
• in 1987, the Prix Radio-Canada CKSB, for Manitoba’s outstanding francophone woman;
• in 1975, the Prix du journal La Liberté, medal for francophone women activists.
Senator Chaput studied and trained in a variety of disciplines including management of health-care institutions, management of non-profit organizations, management of volunteers, strategic planning, translation, gerontology, handwriting analysis, behavioural psychology, performance evaluation and fundraising.
She is also the author of a novel, Pour l’enfant que j’ai fait (Les Éditions des Plaines, 1979).