Media Club of Ottawa

February 19, 2019

Margaret Graham Award Presentation
Connor Ike Connor Oke Alberte-V-Sinclair
Iliyana Shoushounova
Iliyana Shoushounova

Tuesday February 19, 2019
Margaret Graham Award presentation 
Guest speaker: Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair, author and newspaper columnist 
The meeting took place in the Honeywell Room, 2nd Floor, Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Ave, West. Ottawa from 6:15 p.m. - 8 p.m.
There was coffee. tea and lemon poppyseed cake.
Admission was $10  and June Coxon was the  RSVP contact
Free underground parking after 6 p.m,  a welcome accommodation by City Hall.

The Margaret Graham awards were presented to journalism students
Connor Oke of Carleton University and to Iliyana Shoushounova of Algonquin College

Photo credits
Banner from left to right: 1. Connor Oke by a friend,    2. Connor and a friend by June Coxon.    
3. Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair by
Annie Lafortune  4. Iliyana Shoushounova and a friend by Iris ten Holder  5. Iliyana Shoushounova by a  friend

Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair
Alberte V Sinclair
Photo Credit: Baico Publshing

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is passionate about life, the people she encounters and their relationships. Now retired after thirty–two years of teaching in Ottawa, her eclectic range of interests varies from writing and painting, to psychology, spirituality, esoterism and the paranormal, to horticulture and bird watching.

Women’s issues and mental health have always been of interest also as she has spoken to women’s groups since 1990. A member of the Ottawa Independent Writers, she is proud to present her prize-winning novel, first written and published in French. A study in relationships, some abusive, some destructive, a story of courage, self-discovery, acceptance and forgiveness.

Her novels are dedicated to all women who still suffer silently, to those who had the courage to leave a destructive relationship, regain their freedom and start anew. Also dedicated to men and women who are entering a loving relationship, it is an invitation to love and know ourselves as this is the first step to better love the other.

Alberte's website
Alberte's Facebook page

Alberte has written columns for:
True North Perspective:
Canaan Connexion

Margaret Graham (1870-1924)

Margaret Graham-by-Kate-Allen

     Margaret "Miggsy" Graham was born at Upper Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia. At age 16 she attended Normal School at Truro, Nova Scotia.

     She taught school for a few years and during that time advocated for women teachers through the provincial Teachers' Association. In 1893 Graham moved to Trinidad as a missionary but was unable to complete her term there because of a horseback riding accident.

     After returning home to convalesce she visited her journalist brother in New York. By 1897 she had become a journalist at the Halifax Herald. Seven years later she was in Ottawa as a correspondent for the Herald, covering Ottawa society.

While working briefly in Montreal for the Montreal Star in 1904, Graham was the inspiration behind the Canadian Pacific Railway's giving 16 women journalists the same free passage it offered male journalists to travel to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, commonly called the St. Louis World Fair. During that trip the women founded the Canadian Women's Press Club.

In 1905 Graham married Albert Horton, a well-known editor of Hansard and they lived in Ottawa until her death at Montreal in 1924. The awards in her name were funded originally by their daughter, Mrs. Lois Grant

The Award

    Margaret Graham awards are presented annually by the Media Club of Ottawa (MCO) to  honour the memory of Margaret “Miggsy” Graham, a pioneer woman journalist who played a leading role in the formation of the Canadian Women’s Press Club (CWPC). 

     The first award was presented in 1976 for the best feature story written by a male or female reporter with less than three years’ experience, who was employed by an Ottawa-area daily or  weekly newspaper. That year a framed certificate and $150 went to Linda Florence for a story she wrote for the Kingston News. Formally established in 1977, the award was initially given to a journalism student at Carleton University then broadened to include an Algonquin College journalism student and an Ottawa University communications student. It recognizes both academic success and overall excellence. Student winners are selected by the schools.

Award Recipients

Alberte and Iliyana
Photo by Robert Craig
Algonquin College Award winner Iliyana Shoushounova
 and author Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair

Connor Oke and Iris ten Holder
Photo by Robert Craig
Carleton University Award winner Connor Oke and Media Club Treasurer Iris ten Holder

     Iliyana Shoushounova was homeschooled her whole life and decided to complete her high school a year early so she could pursue her love of writing as a journalist at Algonquin College. When she's not writing she enjoys spending her time painting or exploring Ottawa with her friends.

     Connor Oke, a fourth year journalism student at Carleton University, originally from Bowmanville, Ontario, decided to enter journalism out of a love of storytelling and current affairs. Through Carleton, he was able to report for Farm Radio International in Ghana in the summer of 2018. He has also completed a short-term internship with the Canadian Museums Association and CPAC. After he graduates he hopes  to write long-form stories for magazines or work in television.

Alberte Villeneuve Sinclair
A love of teaching
By Cynthia Cee

Alberte was raised on a farm in Cumberland where she helped her dad in the fields.  As a child, she loved nature and was a tomboy.  Public school was a one room schoolhouse where she was called upon as the older student, to teach the younger students.  This started her love of teaching.

During her free time, Alberte read books.  She read all the books in the schoolroom and when done, read all the books in the back room of the schoolhouse. When she graduated from grade school she won all the school prizes at Le Concours and was awarded a book – The Diary of Anne Frank.  This inspired her to start keeping her own diary and gave her a love of writing.

Alberte  married at 19 and had a daughter.  After ten difficult years of marriage she made the decision to leave and fend for herself; she became a teacher.  During her summers off, to heal from the difficult relationship, she wrote her story.  This became her first novel: Le jardin négligé.
She encouraged her daughter to write as well, sending both their works in to a writing contest which they both won.  “This gave me credibility and confidence, since I wasn’t sure if my writing was very good,” she said.

At 30 Alberte became a widow.  “I had to learn what love was really all about and it wasn’t about control,” she said.  Her story resonated with many women and she started attending (and speaking) at conferences dealing with difficult relationships and how to cope.  After these conferences, she ended up staying behind to talk to the women and hear their stories.  After one such a conference, in Sudbury, she was so popular that they called ahead to her next booking and cancelled it, so she could stay behind to answer questions.

In the meantime, her first book was so successful that it was translated into English titled The Neglected Garden.  She was encouraged and next she wrote Une prière pour Hélène about 2 women friends (one an unwed Catholic mother) and their transformation.

Alberte joined many organizations and got involved with the Ottawa Independent Writers (OIW). This gave her the opportunity to write for their online paper. She was given free rein to write on any topic of her choice and post her own pictures.  It turned into a once a week assignment. Other papers, Canaan Connexion, True North Perspective and Perspectives Vanier asked her to write for them as well. 

After a few years, Alberte started to collect the articles published in these papers. On March 24, 2018 she launched Muses from the Blue Shack , a first compilation of some of her favourite articles.   By this time, Alberte had a grand-daughter and encouraged her to write as well  when  at age 6 she wrote with  five of her friends a story on bullying. It was put into book form, published, sold and translated into English.

Alberte continues to live and write in Cumberland, contributing to Perspectives Vanier's Seeds for Thought. She started painting after retirement and didn’t think she could do that either.  She took a class and exhibited her work in a class show.  One of the local artists came and liked her portrait the best..

About the Media Club

     The Media Club of Ottawa, considered to be one of the oldest writing groups in Canada, had its beginning as the Ottawa Women's Press Club in 1916, which  in 1920 became a chapter of the Canadian Women's Press Club

   Since 1971. under a new name, the Media Club of Ottawa officially welcomes men and women members and, although the focus is still on journalism, also embraces other media.

   Our mandate includes uniting people engaged in communications and providing a forum to examine issues relating to free and responsible communications.

   The Club organizes monthly meetings where writing professionals speak and answer questions about media related topics, holds workshops dealing with the same topic and offers four annual awards to local journalism or communications students.

   All writers and those interested in writing are welcome to attend meetings and become members. Unless otherwise noted members and guess meet at Ottawa City Hall from September to June,  offering an inviting place to network, share writing experiences or learn about new aspects of writing.

   Membership includes professional authors, journalists, students, and aspiring writers. It is
considered the oldest continuous press club in the world. Check our website  and follow us on Facebook .


(A love of teaching cont'd)

When asked where she gets the inspiration for her columns Alberte said: “Three days before the deadline I’ll get an idea for a column and I’ll write it, but I always wait a day and read it before sending it in.”  She mentioned that she keeps a book of quotes “to insert into articles when needed. If a quote speaks to me, I add it to the book.”

Alberte’s first books were sold through Chapters, Indigo and other major publishers.  “But they take 45% of the sales”, she said.  “I chose to go with smaller, independent publishers. Book fairs are also important to make contacts”.

When asked about writer’s block,  Alberte said that when writing her bio, she found it difficult to move forward.  Around that time she went on a trip to Barbados and decided to integrate the trip into the book to balance out the seriousness of the content. “So try approaching the piece from a different angle or add in a new thing”, she suggests.  “Also, believe in luck!”  While in Barbados she met the Ambassador.  Back in Canada he came to her book launch and was so impressed by her portrayal of his country that he invited her to a free promo tour.

Alberte ended her talk with some good advice:

Talk to everyone;
Believe that you can reach a certain goal;
Always try.