Seven Francophone entrepreneurs and businesses honored for contribution to economy and community

SUMMERSIDE – March 19, 2017 – The Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI’s hast just presented its seven entrepreneurial awards for 2017 to a popular Island band, a community care centre for the elderly, a mechanic, a former insurance agent, a cement business, a restaurant owner and a teenaged business owner.

The awards – essentially marks of recognition and appreciation – were presented before the 110 people gathered at the Centre Belle-Alliance in Summerside for the Chamber’s colorful and classy 2017 Entrepreneurs’ Gala, Saturday, March 18.

« Even though their sectors of activity are miles apart, our winners all have a few things in common: they all contribute a lot to the provincial economy, they create jobs, they help develop our communities and they provide high-quality products and services, » said Chamber spokesperson Martin Marcoux. « And they’ve also got another ace up their sleeve, compared to their competitors: they offer their services in two languages. »

He noted that the Chamber had received 21 nominations for its seven awards and had been able to retain 19 as finalists. Including the winners from this 16th edition of the Gala, the Chamber has now presented 88 awards over the years.

This year’s winners are:

• 2017 President’s Award of Excellence: Egmont Bay Construction (Claude Gallant) of Abram-Village (sponsored by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency);
• 2017 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award (lifetime achievement): Roger Arsenault, formerly of The Co-operators (sponsored by Mike Bradley Insurance Services – The Co-operators);
• 2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Joseph Sammoun from Shaddy’s Restaurant in Charlottetown (sponsored by the LIENS project);
• 2017 Social Economy Business of the Year Award: Le Chez-Nous Co-operative in Wellington (sponsored by the Evangeline-Central Credit Union);
• 2017 Business Personality of the Year Award: Gerald Arsenault from Wellington Service Centre in Wellington (sponsored by Innovation PEI);
• 2017 Young Enterprising Person of the Year Award: Ten Strings and a Goat Skin from Charlottetown-Rustico (sponsored by CBDC Central PEI);
• 2016 Young Millionaires Award: Janika Godin from Jabling in Stratford (sponsored by Radio-Canada Acadie.


Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Sean Casey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, both delivered congratulations to the winners and finalists as they attended the event for the first time. Sonny Gallant, provincial minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, and Egmont MP Robert Morrissey seconded their messages. Jean-Guy Bigeau, president and executive director of RDÉE Canada, brought greetings from the national network of economic development.

Among the other event sponsors were RBC, ProMax 2000, the Dragons’ Contest and RDÉE Prince Edward Island.


CUTLINE: Accepting awards at the 2017 Entrepreneurs’ Gala, Saturday, March 18, were: Nicole Allain, representing Ten Strings and a Goat Skin (2017 Young Enterprising Person of the Year); Gerald Arsenault from Wellington Service Centre (2017 Business Personality of the Year); Claude Gallant, representing Egmont Bay Construction (2017 President’s Award of Excellence); Roger Arsenault, formerly from The Co-operators (2017 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year); Colette Arsenault, representing Le Chez-Nous Co-op (2017 Social Economy Business of the Year); Janika Godin from Jabling (2016 Young Millionaires Award); and Joseph Sammoun from Shaddy’s Restaurant (2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year).


EGMONT BAY CONSTRUCTION – 2017 President’s Award of Excellence
After working for 13 years in the cement-pouring industry, Claude Gallant of Abram-Village established Egmont Bay Construction in 1985. His reputation as a hard worker who offers high quality service spread quickly. The business installs any kind of cement floor or foundation, either for residences, businesses, governmental institutions, barns or even manure tanks. Among his favorite accomplishments: The Revenue Canada Tax Centre in Summerside and three Island schools: Colonel Gray in Charlottetown, Elm Street in Summerside and Amherst Cove in Borden-Carleton. The business currently provides work for five people for about nine months a year. About 75 percent of their work is residential while the remaining 25 is commercial. Gallant’s wife Gloria takes care of payroll and deposits; his three sons have all worked with him over the years. The company supports many local and provincial causes. (Other finalists in this category were Le Chez-Nous Co-op of Wellington and The Great Shea of Charlottetown.)

ROGER ARSENAULT – 2017 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year
It was while he was working at the Wellington Co-op from 1958 to 1972 that Roger Arsenault was nicknamed « Roger Co-op ». Right from the get-go, he was recognized for his positive attitude, his marvelous sense of humour and his appreciation of clients. In 1972, he was hired as insurance representative for The Co-operators Insurance; he kept that position for 25 years. His customer service was exceptional; he was always available 24 hours a day. Roger was president for 25 years of the housing co-op that built his home. Over the years, he has served on the boards of numerous local co-ops. He has also done lots of volunteer work both as a musician and with the fire department, his parish, the Conservative Party of PEI and the United Way. Roger has also played his accordion and the piano at numerous concerts and festivals. (Other finalists in this category were Claude Gallant from Egmont Bay Construction in Abram-Village and Franky Arsenault from Frank’s Service Centre in Wellington.)

JOSEPH SAMMOUN – 2017 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year
After studying and working several years in Montreal, Joseph Sammoun (originally from Lebanon) moved to Charlottetown to establish his restaurant, Shaddy’s, in 1991. He first set it up in Sherwood but soon moved to his current location on Great George Street. His menu focuses primarily on Lebanese dishes: shistaouks, shawarmas and falafels. He imports ingredients, herbs and spices to ensure the authenticity of his menu. He also offers Canadian dishes, including seafood, steaks and sandwiches, along with vegetarian and gluten-free options. The restaurant is recommended by « Where to Eat in Canada », earning its red seal 10 years in a row. The businessman provides work for three other people. In 1992, Sammoun began a new adventure by setting up a booth at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. Still today, he can be seen there every Saturday morning preparing his delicious Lebanese dishes. (Other finalists in this category are the psychologist Dr. Abder Sahouli of Montague and Gideon Banahene from Danso Bikes in Charlottetown.)

LE CHEZ-NOUS CO-OPERATIVE – 2017 Social Economy Business of the Year
Frustrated that local seniors ad to move in other regions when they needed assisted living, five ladies launched the idea of establishing a community care centre in the Evangeline region. Supported by the entire community, Le Chez-Nous Co-operative was formed in March 23, 1992. The following year, the first 25 residents moved in. Five people were hired to care for them. In 1999, a first expansion added 10 rooms to the building. Then in 2012, another dozen rooms were added. The centre now lodges 47 seniors and employs 15 bilingual people. Some 250 volunteers help serve meals, provide musical entertainment and host recreational activities. The Co-op is now pursuing efforts to get some of its beds designated for manor care for those who require more advanced care. (Other finalists in this category were The Bottle Houses in Cape Egmont and the Coopérative d’intégration francophone de l’Î.-P.-É.)

GERALD ARSENAULT – 2017 Business Personality of the Year
After studying mechanics, Gerald Arsenault of Wellington was hired at his brother Donnie’s garage, Wellington Service Centre; he’s been working there as a mechanic for the past 26 years. Since his college graduation, he has obtained more than 150 certificates as he has always strived to keep up with the latest mechanical technologies. For the past few years, Gerald has also been the garage’s manager. He is known as one of the best mechanics on PEI. Very often, when mechanics from other garages or even car dealerships are unable to solve a mechanical problem, they consult with Gerald. In addition to his technical expertise, Arsenault excels in customer service. He warmly welcomes every client with a huge smile and always explains in great detail the work that has to be done. His greatest priorities are safety, prevention and maintenance. Gerald is a board member with the Wellington Legion and also volunteers regularly in his community. He also acts in local plays and dinner-theatres. (The other finalists in this category were Ghislaine Cormier from The Great Shea in Charlottetown and Nathalie Arsenault and Pepeto Pinto from Solos Steel Instruments in North Winsloe.)

TEN STRINGS AND A GOAT SKIN – 2017 Young Enterprising Person of the Year
Ten Strings and a Goat Skin is a young traditional-folk trio from the Charlottetown-Rustico area that integrates Irish, Acadian and Quebecois styles, along with modern and world rhythms, into its music. Made up of brothers Rowen and Caleb Gallant and their friend Jessie Périard, the band was established in 2010. The trio offers French, English and bilingual shows. It is constantly touring throughout North America and Europe. It has so far recorded three bilingual albums: Tri, Corbeau and Auprès du poêle. The band won the World Music Recording of the Year at the 2015 East Coast Music Awards and the Roots Traditional Group Recording of the Year from MusicPEI in 2012. Its recent album, Auprès du poêle, is nominated for a Juno, two ECMAs, four Canadian Folk Music Awards and six MusicPEI awards. (The other finalists in this category were Adrien Buote of Rustico and Kaylee Arsenault of Abram-Village.)

JANIKA GODIN – 2016 Young Millionaires Award
Janika Godin, daughter of Eric and Chantal Godin of Stratford, joined the Young Millionaires Program last summer. She established Jabling to produce and sell wooden plaques for athletes to hang their medals on. Janika primarily focused on running athletes. At the start of the season, she pitched her products during an impressive verbal presentation to the members of the Running Room in Charlottetown. She set up a sales booth at various runs during the summer: The Cox and Palmer Race in Charlottetown, the half-marathon in Montague, the « On The Way to Cavendish » run, the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival and the Franco Festival in Charlottetown. This young entrepreneur sold 10 of her plaques over the summer months. Janika is a very motivated and committed entrepreneur who always remains polite and positive.

For more information:
Raymond J. Arsenault
2017 Entrepreneurs’ Gala