Words live in her bones. From untangling two languages in her native country, to learning their articulation in debate and crafting them into contracts, words have unified her life experiences. She began writing real stories to evidence the living of people and anchor human courage within our memory. She infuses her storytelling with the imagination of a traveler who has sojourned to the edges of the map.
“Words transmit the experiences of others so we may reuse their learnings to shape and create our own lives.”
It comes through the written and the spoken word; sometimes a word, a sentence or a poem or a story, is so resonant, so right, it causes us to remember, at least for an instant, what substance we are really made from, and where is our true home.
Chantal is an international corporate attorney. She launched her career with Gowlings, a leading Canadian law firm. Her expertise grew from trade law to corporate and financial services law eventually taking on the role of General Counsel at a Fortune 500 global company.
Chantal embraced early legal assignments in Mexico, Cambodia and Russia. Keen to be more actively involved in decision making, she completed her MBA in the UK and joined Conair Corporation in the United States where she handled matters ranging from free trade zone manufacturing in Costa Rica to the sale of fast-moving consumer goods in Europe. By the time she became General Counsel at Western Union, she had negotiated a joint venture with La Poste in France, a deal with Banco do Brazil and new regulations with the Central African Banking Commission while living in Austria. She won the Creating Shareholder Value business award at Western Union conferred for the first time in the company’s history to an individual in shared services. She has mentored attorneys from Dubai to Mumbai.
Chantal maintains her licenses to practice law in Ontario, Canada and New York, USA.
In her pursuit to broaden her understanding of our planet, Chantal dove with seals in Hout Bay, South Africa, explored the backroads of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, hiked the foothills of the Himalayas in India and learned to make tofu in Saga, Japan. She met her husband, William Thomas, in Accra, Ghana. Bound by the same thirst to experience the world, they have cycled in Vietnam, trekked in Patagonia and deepened their friendships from Serbia to Argentina. To face her fear of heights, they have parachuted in New Zealand and paraglided in France.
The open road always beckons whether on her Trek mountain bike or her Lemand road bike, she and her husband have pedaled over 10,000 km away from home.
Chantal was born in Ottawa, Canada but quickly became a world citizen before the term was in vogue. Uninitiated to international travels, at the age of 23 she took a sabbatical year from her legal studies and travelled across the globe to Japan. She was one of only two foreign women working in the small town of Saga; the other Monica, from Mexico, remains a friend to this day. The experience sparked a passion to discover the world and forge friendships with people of different cultures.
Chantal was introduced to the term “multi-local” by a Swedish woman living in Thailand. This term immediately resonated with her. We are more defined by the relationships that bind us than the nationality of our passport. Her close friends hail from Argentina, UK and Canada but like her, their roots crisscross the globe. She is as equally intent on mentoring a young Thai businessman, networking on behalf of a recent medical school graduate from Serbia and raising funds for a Canadian female youth climber as she is offering a writing workshop to special needs students in her Philadelphia neighborhood.
In modern terms, her "tribe" shares common values rather than adjoining zip codes.
Storytelling is the essential human activity.The harder the situation, the more essential it is.