HALIFAX — A former local journalist is among five to be honoured with an inaugural award.
The new Atlantic Journalism Hall of Fame will be officially launched at the Atlantic Journalism Awards gala dinner and awards show on April 28 in Halifax. Aleta Williams, former family editor and columnist at the former Evening News, will be among the five Atlantic Canadian journalists and journalism builders to be inducted. For Williams, the induction will be posthumous; her funeral was held Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in New Glasgow which was nearly swelled to capacity.
Williams is being honoured for her 40 years as a journalist with the New Glasgow newspaper and as the first African Nova Scotian woman to work in the province’s mainstream journalism industry. She was nominated by four female journalists who consider Williams to be a mentor: Sherri Borden Colley, CBC reporter who grew up in New Glasgow; Rosalie MacEachern, former reporter at The Evening News and a current columnist; Sueann Musick, community editor and reporter at The News; and Jackie Jardine, editor at The Advocate and former editor with the daily New Glasgow newspaper.
In her letter of nomination MacEachern wrote: “Throughout her career she believed passionately that everyone has a story to tell and immediately put people at ease in the telling while she listened without judgment. Her writings, saved in many treasured family scrap books and memory boxes, are a rich tapestry of Pictou County’s social history. They record the trials and triumphs of miners’ widows, ministers of congregations, kitchen entrepreneurs, social advocates, volunteers and hard-working people just trying to stretch a dollar to feed a family — in short, all people who are unlikely to appear in our conventional history books.”
Musick wrote: “Through hard work, quiet determination, openness of spirit and unflagging kindness she gave shape to the stories of everyday people for decades and in the process, she surely shaped the younger journalists who watched and worked with her.”
Borden Colley, who is a cousin to Williams, noted: “Throughout her career as a reporter and columnist with the New Glasgow Evening News, she provided a voice for common folks, including those in my neighbourhood … members of my community were excited to see Mrs. Williams’ profile picture and read her column in our local newspaper! I credit Mrs. Williams’s influence in my decision to become a journalist and spending 21 years working for a newspaper, before moving on to work for a national public broadcaster.”
Jardine wrote: “She has earned the respect of everyone whose life she touches in her quiet, unassuming way.”
Other inductees are Don Connolly, recently retired after 42 years of hosting CBC’s Information Morning radio show in Halifax; Jim and Linda Gourlay who have created a number of publications, including the popular Saltscapes magazine; he is celebrating 50 years in the journalism industry. Another inductee will be Dirk van Loon, a 41-year veteran journalist, editor, and publisher who has created a number of magazines focused on rural readers, including his flagship publication Rural Delivery. And Maurice Rees is being inducted for his more than 55 years of dedication to many facets of the journalism industry in the Maritimes and now publisher/editor of Nova Scotia’s Shoreline Journal.
Details of the inductees’ contributions to journalism in Atlantic Canada can be found at www.AJAs.ca click on Hall of Fame.