The Nation parties with the competition at the 2016 QCNA awards gala

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The Quebec Community Newspaper Association (QCNA) hosted its 2016 awards gala June 3 at the Holiday Inn Pointe-Claire to honour journalists, photographers, editors and publishers from across the province for their work in community media.

As a relatively young writer at my first QCNA awards, it was inspiring to discover so many passionate people compelled to share the unique stories of their communities and represent the people in the court of public opinion. Alongside the Nation were other Indigenous newspapers such as the Nunatsiaq News of Nunavik and Kahnawake’s Eastern Door. They both work tirelessly to defend the rights of their people, pressure the government to address issues of inequality and above all celebrate Indigenous culture.

The awards gala was an enjoyable evening spent with my bosses and colleagues – publisher Linda Ludwick, editor-in-chief Will Nicholls, editor Lyle Stewart and fellow journalist Joel Barde. All told, the Nation took home five writing awards, a couple of honourable mentions and the prestigious Lindsay Crysler award.


Lyle Stewart won third prize for Best Business Column or Feature with his profile on the Inuit company Kong-struction, and was also one of the contributing writers to the Nation’s first place finish in Best Feature Series. Our coverage of the Val-d’Or crisis and allegations brought against the Sûreté du Québec by Native women in the city was deemed “powerful and thorough” by QCNA judges.

“The topic is handled with dignity without sacrificing the hard-hittingness of the piece or skirting the tensions between the Native and non-Native populations within the community,” the panel wrote. Congratulations to Lyle Stewart, Jesse Staniforth, Peter Wheeland and Joel Barde who helped expose the unfortunate reality of systemic racism that still exists today and shared the struggles of these women and the efforts taken by the Cree Nation, Val-d’Or and the government of Quebec to repair relations between the communities.

Best Feature Series

An article I wrote on the disappearance and subsequent return of Mistissini’s Lynn Iserhoff earned second place for Best News Story – an obvious second to Nunatsiaq’s coverage of a Russian helicopter pilot who crashed in Arctic waters, swam to an ice floe and fended of polar bears for two days before being rescued. After the awards, first-place winner David Murphy smiled and told me, “That piece just sort of wrote itself.”

Joel Barde grabbed second place for Best Feature Story with his article on the annual Mamoweedow Festival, where he spent a few days on Fort George Island learning about Cree culture and traditions and living off the land. He also won third place for Best Arts & Entertainment Story with his feature on Cree comedian Howie Miller.

Finally, editor and long-time contributor Lyle Stewart was recognized for his “outstanding contribution to the growth and development of community newspapers in Quebec” – becoming the third member of the Nation to win the Lindsay Crysler Award, following Will Nicholls and Linda Ludwick.

Lyle Stewart and Steve Bonspiel QCNA

Lyle Stewart receiving the Lindsay Crysler Award from QCNA President Steve Bonspiel

Lyle’s journalism resumé is quite impressive. He began in 1984 as a staff writer for a student newspaper called the Martlet in Victoria, BC, where he went on to become news editor and editor-in-chief. After covering political, social and environmental issues with Western Report and Monday Magazine, where he also became assistant editor, Lyle moved to Montreal where he wrote for the Montreal Mirror and worked for Hour Magazine as news editor and political columnist before spending time with the Montreal Gazette, Radio Canada International and CBC-TV news.

Since joining the Nation in the late 1990s Lyle has become deeply involved with the communities of Eeyou Istchee and a crucial part of the Nation’s editorial staff as a writer, copy editor and mentor to all of our journalists. We couldn’t be happier to have him on board and see his hard work rewarded. It’s clear to see he understands the role we play as journalists and the impact we can still have in a media landscape saturated with clickbait headlines and viral content.

Here’s to another year serving Eeyou Istchee and First Peoples across Canada and beyond!

Will and Linda QCNAs

Editor in Chief Will Nicholls with Publisher Linda Ludwick

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