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Mar 28th, 2024

Telling HERStory: Meet the Women of OCH, An Interview Series – Christine  

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Christine Garnier came to work at OCH in February 2020 as a Project Manager after a journey of self-discovery.  

As part of our International Women’s Day celebration, we chose Christine to be interviewed as part of our “Women of OCH series.”  

“In August of 2017, life as I knew it changed,” she said. “I had just ended my 13-year marriage, had to sell my home, then just as I was feeling like it couldn’t get worse, it did. I lost my job when the company I was working for downsized. With nothing else to lose, I took a job in Thunder Bay. I packed up my car with everything I could and made the 2,019-kilometre trek across Canada with my two cats in tow.”     

Christine spent the next year and a half as a project manager in northern Ontario, working in several First Nations Communities.  

“This experience was an eye-opener. To witness the isolation and living conditions in these communities was something that I was shielded from in my everyday life,” Christine said, adding that previously, she was on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity, Chair of her local United Way, and volunteered at the local shelter. Still, this experience offered her a new world view.   

“The true reality of the situation was that I was lucky to be born into a life where I had options,” she said. “I was tired of working for corporations that lined the pockets of the big machine. I didn’t want to be just another cog in the wheel of the corporation. I wanted to do something that mattered.”  

In January 2020, I applied for a position in OCH when life changed again.  

Christine started her career with OCH as a temporary Project Manager with the Project Implementation Team in February 2020. Within six months, she moved to Senior Manager of the Building Systems Team with Project Implementation. The following year, she stepped into the role of acting Director, and then in February 2024, she was offered the permanent position of Vice President, Asset Renewal and Digital Solutions.    

“OCH has provided me so many opportunities to grow and develop my career aspirations,” she said.   

Why OCH?  

“Poverty and monumental life changes are just some of the situations that several of our tenants face every day, but I was one of the lucky ones, I had the resources and the opportunity to rebuild my life,” Christine said.

“I feel gratitude that every day I get to come to a place, where even if I am having the most challenging day, I can still make a difference in the life of someone who may not have had the same opportunities as I did.”      

What does a typical day look like for Christine?  

The only thing typical about her days is that they are never typical.    

“Some days I feel like an air traffic controller, some days I am the gladiator, some days I am the mother hen, the problem solver, the bus driver, and the shoulder to lean on,” she said. “Whatever hat I am wearing, the most important thing to me is my team, and that I am there to give them the support they need and empower them so they too can thrive. I have the best job in the world, and I get to do it with an amazing group of people.”   

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?  

It is a day to reflect on how far we have come in the fight for gender equality, our reproductive rights and ending violence against women, but it is also a day to realize we still have so far to go,” Christine said. “I am so thankful to the women who paved the way for me so I could have the opportunity to break that glass ceiling and keep pushing those limits.”  

When asked about her favourite parts of her position, Christine had this to say:  

“That every day is different from the last, this role provides me with challenges that keep me on my toes,” she said.    

Christine is always growing and learning. She gets to work on groundbreaking initiatives, implement new technologies, and repair and maintain OCH’s portfolio. She’s even planted trees with our partners. Now, she is working on renovating our entire office space.    

“Sometime there is a certain comfort in the chaos,” Christine said. “I love that I get to lead and champion a group of exceptionally talented people, and hopefully make a difference in their lives by creating opportunities for them to develop and grow.”    

What are some of the challenges?  

Limited funding means we must prioritize our capital investment and operational requirements while increasing tenant satisfaction.    

Christine is a storyteller, quick to laugh and doesn’t take herself too seriously. We asked her to tell us something about herself, and this is what she had to say.   

“I hate Nutella. I don’t wear socks – I feel like I am suffocating when I wear them.”  

She also added that her idea of self-care is getting a new tattoo.