( The Packer )

MONTREAL — The Canadian Produce Marketing Association brought Bernadette Hamel back from a retirement trip to Florida to honor her with the CPMA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hamel, who was recognized by The Packer as the 2011 Canadian Produce Person of the Year and also was part of 2008 Packer 25 class, said she had a hunch the award might be in her future at this year’s event.

Christian Bourbonniere from Metro Richelieu Inc. presented the award, praising Hamel’s national and international leadership during her career.

“Normally this should be a surprise but since you had to draw me away from Florida I had the chance to prepare a few words,” Hamel said when she accepted the award April 4.

Hamel retired from her position as vice president of national produce procurement with Metro Inc. in November after a career that began with the company in 1983.

In her 35-year career, Hamel served on the board of the Produce Marketing Association, was CPMA president and helped launch Canada’s national “Half Your Plate” program. She was the first woman elected president of the Quebec Produce Marketing Association and was named “Pillar of the Quebec industry” in 2014.

Hamel expressed thanks for the people who worked with her at Metro. She also thanked produce suppliers she did business with.

“I loved interacting with you all, and even though sometimes there were encounters or conversations that were a little more agitated, everything was done to our mutual satisfaction,” she said. “We got the job done — and I must say I miss the stimulation of a good negotiation.”

Hamel thanked the CPMA executive committee and the group’s board of directors for the award.

“I carry in my heart a lifetime of happy and great memories.”