19 Montréal women who are driving diversity and progress

published on March 7, 2024
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This International Women’s Day, the world is celebrating the unifying theme Invest in women: Accelerate progress. It’s a propitious opportunity to applaud the social, economic and cultural achievements of women working in Montréal to make the world a better, more progressive and inclusive place. Here are just a few of the incredible Montréal women who are driving change.

Esther Youte, Stéphanie Jecrois and Carla Beauvais are three of the co-founders of technology platform Unite Prosper (UP), an initiative of non-profit organization 0rijin Village, equipping entrepreneurs from Black communities with innovative technology solutions. 

France Margaret Bélanger is the Montréal Canadiens’ Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer and one of a few women in NHL upper management. In her role on the Inclusion Executive Council, she helps develop actions to fight racism and advance inclusion and diversity in hockey and the NHL. 

Entrepreneur, activist, author and Librarie Racines bookstore founder Gabriella G. Kinté shines a spotlight on the stories, culture and experiences of Black and other racialized people on various platforms — including an impressive online boutique.

Never Was Average co-founder and Executive Creative Director Joanna Chevalier, otherwise known as Hanna Che, collaborates to create an inclusive space for BIPOC in artistic and creative fields through conversation, art exhibitions and more.

Founder and director of bilingual media platform Lez Spread the WordFlorence Gagnon continues to boost LGBTQ+ voices in Québec and around the world.

The first Black dean at McGill UniversityDr. Yolande E. Chan heads the university’s Desautels Faculty of Management. She is focused on bringing more diversity and inclusion to the program and shaping leaders and entrepreneurs of the future.

Farah Khan is Principal and Creative Director of graphic design firm House9. She emphasizes collaboration and inclusivity with artists, researchers, non-profit organizations and cultural institutions, including on the House9 Art&Humanity Podcast.

Pauline Wong is a distinguished business woman, former CEO of food business les Aliments Wong Wing, and was named to the Ordre National du Québec. She continues to work for representation and equality for the Montréal Chinese community and promote intercultural connection in Montréal’s Chinatown and beyond. 

Named among the 25 Women of Influence of 2021, anti-racism activist Nelly Bassily is the Director of Youth Initiatives and International Relations at DAWN Canada (Disabled Women’s Network Canada), where she works to improve accessibility for young women with disabilities and hearing impairment. 

As co-founder of Théâtre de la Sentinelle and an actor herself, Tatiana Zinga Botao is focused on equity, giving racialized people leading roles in meaningful productions, and promoting diversity in Québec through representation and inclusion.

Multidisciplinary artist Meky Ottawa creates video, illustration and installation art specific to Indigenous worlds, such as the profound mural in homage to filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin — see it at the corner of Atwater and Lincoln, in downtown Montréal.

Co-founder and Director of social enterprise Petites-Mains, Nahid Aboumansour is a Knight of the Ordre de Montréal and a recipient of the Cross for Meritorious Service (Civil Division) from the Governor General of Canada for her commitment to the service of immigrant women in Québec. 


Montréal-based artist Monique Régimbald-Zeiber, whose perspective-shifting works on “invisibilized” history have been shown at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Galerie de l’UQÀM, is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Writer and academic Robyn Maynard penned the influential book Policing Black Lives and a regular commentator on racial issues in the province — she also co-authored the acclaimed Rehearsals for Living with renowned scholar, writer and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

Creator of Montréal vogue-ball mainstay House of Barbara, singer-songwriter, performance artist and activist Elle Barbara creates music and community with a message of queer, Black and trans inclusivity.

Named among Canada’s 100 Best, Partner and Director of Beverage & Education at Groupe Barroco Kate Boushel teaches her teams how to incorporate sustainability and diversity into their restaurants. A mixologist herself, she was also on the Québec team for Speed Rack, a national female-focused bartending competition that raises money for breast cancer research.

A collective of Montréal women from diverse backgrounds and careers, culinary enterprise Les Filles Fattoush provides an avenue for Syrian women refugees to tackle social, cultural and economic obstacles by harnessing their culinary talents. 


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