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Journeys: Wolverines, cupcakes and Sudbury’s Brigitte Labby

Labby has had so many jobs and hobbies, it’s impossible to encapsulate her in a headline, but her most unusual job was surrogate mother to wolverines
Brigitte Labby (centre) with her daughters Genevieve (left) and Adrienne.

When Brigitte Labby is out and about in the community, the most common question she gets asked is “What are you up to now?” 

And no wonder. Labby’s resume makes your head spin. 

She has worked as a zookeeper to wolverines (yes, really), animal control officer, a waitress at the Science North Snowflake restaurant, non-profit sector worker (including for ALS Canada, where she headed up the “ice bucket challenge” fundraiser locally), as a boating safety educator and as a First Aid and babysitting instructor.

Her current job is as constituency assistant to Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe. That’s just her day job, though. Her side hustle is a cupcake baking business called Driving Mrs. Labby Cupcakes

People might also know her from selling her artwork at the farmer’s market during the pandemic or for her penchant for sharing historic Sudbury photos on social media.

Labby is also always up for trying a new hobby. 

Brigitte Labby participating in the Mrs. Ms. Regional Canada Pageant 2022 in the “Elite” category for women over the age of 40. Supplied

She participated in the Mrs. Ms. Regional Canada Pageant 2022 in the “Elite” category for women over the age of 40. She also acted in her first play in 2024, Sudbury Performance Group’s “Strawberry Fields.”

Her favourite job title is that of mom to her two daughters, Genevieve and Adrienne, aged 21 and 28, and soon-to-be grandmother. She raised her daughters as a single mother.

While Labby is a real go-getter, she said she was actually shy and timid as a child, but she gradually came out of her shell and found her own way in the world. A stint as a model following high school boosted her confidence.

Born and raised in the Sudbury area, she moved around a lot in her younger years (a total of 34 times in her life, actually), which forced her to adapt to new situations. 

Labby said she gets bored easily, and she thrives on variety and change, enjoying working in different sectors, learning a new skill, or visiting or moving to a new place.

So, the zookeeper to wolverines job, we obviously had to ask Labby more about that one.

Brigitte Labby with the wolverines she raised in the early 1990s. Supplied

In 1992, she was living in Timmins and working as a veterinary assistant, and wasn’t terribly satisfied with the work. So she went to the local library and applied to every zoo across Canada, and got a job at a wildlife park just outside of Edmonton.

Labby was hired to become the surrogate mother to wolverines born in captivity in the wildlife park after their mother rejected them. 

When she was interviewed for the job, “my first question was ‘Do you have any hockey equipment?’” referring to the ferocious reputation of wolverines.

“What I did for the next 10 months is I spent all my days and afternoons spending time with them in their quarters,” she said.

“Not only did I learn a lot from these animals, we had a very close bond, where they trusted me, I trusted them. I was able to train them and teach them to pull a wagon and jump into my arms.”

While she eventually moved on to become an animal control officer, she continued to visit the wolverines on weekends for the next eight years. 

Brigitte Labby’s side hustle is a cupcake baking business called Driving Mrs. Labby Cupcakes. Supplied

“I thought I could just walk away from that job and not see those animals again, but I truly missed them,” she said.

Labby’s willingness to dive in and try new things has brought her several new passions in recent years. 

With her cupcake business, Labby said that all stemmed from her bringing in cupcakes to her older daughter’s workplace in 2019, because she’d made too many.

“Her bosses fell in love with those cupcakes,” and suggested she start selling them, which she now does as a hobby bakery, with most of her customers living in her home community of Azilda. “I love it,” she said.

In terms of her hobby as a painter, Labby said that came about after she was laid off as a result of the pandemic, as many people were, in March 2020.

After watching a YouTube tutorial, Labby, having never painted before, fell in love with the pastime, creating a new painting every day for about 200 days. 

“I sold probably 90 per cent of my paintings, which was over 300 pieces,” she said, adding “that was a beautiful highlight for me during the pandemic.”

As for her recent stints as a pageant contestant and an amateur actor, Labby said one shot at pageantry was enough for her, but she’s caught the acting bug now, and hopes to take part in future productions.

Brigitte Labby is seen here delivering a babysitting course in 2014. Supplied

Many people know Labby locally and across Northern Ontario for her work as a boating safety educator and as a first aid and babysitting instructor.

“I just love providing education,” said Labby, adding that she thinks she actually would have made a great elementary teacher.

“I just love promoting safety, education, awareness. It's just fun. When you instruct a course, you can make it your own. You can bring your own little props and little videos or little. I try to teach in a fun way.”

If you haven’t run into Labby in any of her aforementioned pursuits (which would be surprising, given their great variety), be sure to say hi if you’re at MP Lapointe’s office, where she’s been working as a constituency assistant for the past year. 

Asked what advice she has for others who might want to try something new, but might be afraid, Labby said “just try it, get out of your comfort zone … Life is short.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. Journeys is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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