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The featured volunteer recognizes the contributions of our dedicated people who keep Editors Canada going. Volunteers are the backbone of the association and we are grateful for the many members and affiliates who answer the call when help is needed.
When Anna Cairns joined Editors Canada in 2019 as a student affiliate, she figured volunteering for the publications committee would be a safe bet to build her editing skills. Instead, she found herself learning to upload e-books and haggling for weeks with an online publisher over the handling of a semicolon. "That was a great lesson in finding out what you'll be volunteering for before you volunteer," Anna says, "but it all turned out well. I love the committee and enjoy being involved in the creation of books in any way."
Anna's love for books dates back to her childhood, when she wrote stories and poetry. She still considers herself primarily a writer and has published a collection of flash fiction, Light in the Dark. She also considers herself a lifelong student. In 2020 she completed an Editorial Certificate through George Brown College and is now pursuing a Writing Certificate at the University of Toronto and a degree in English through Queen's University. "I'm also working on becoming fluent in my native Italian language," she adds.
Just beginning her freelance career, Anna enjoys "the little details of world building" that go into the developmental editing of fiction. She also keeps busy with volunteering. In addition to serving on the publications committee, she has proofread the Editors Canada Volunteer Handbook and written for Active Voice and BoldFace. She also joined the training and development committee and now hosts Editors Canada webinars. "I'm very talkative in a group, but in front of an audience I freeze," Anna says. Being a webinar host has helped her overcome performance anxiety.
In her spare time, Anna enjoys working with stained glass, getting out into nature and driving for Toronto Wildlife. For Anna, volunteering for Editors Canada and elsewhere is "truly rewarding."
~S. Robin Larin
The day Nicola Aquino purchased her student affiliate membership for Editors Canada, she learned the 2019 conference would be held practically in her backyard. She promptly sent an offer of help. "I didn’t know a lot about Editors Canada," Nicola says. "I wanted a time-limited, task-defined role." As session host coordinator, Nicola contributed meaningfully to the success of the Halifax conference.
Although volunteer editing had long figured in her life, Nicola planned a career in science. With her BSc (Hons) and MSc in Microbiology, she pursued technician and research positions. But soon she was volunteering full time with La Leche League Canada (LLLC), organizing conferences and producing its professional newsletter.
After 18 years at LLLC, Nicola began exploring editing as a career. She established Spit & Polish Editing in 2018 and completed her Professional Editing Standards Certificate at Queen’s University the next year. Nicola now specializes in developmental editing of fiction, bringing to it the skills learned during her years in science: critical reading, succinct wording and a desire for clarity.
Nicola has not stopped volunteering with Editors Canada. When the member services task force advertised for a host for an online gathering space, "I put my (virtual) hand up," Nicola says. She and Lenore Hietkamp, her co-moderator of the Editors’ Vine online meeting, plan topics, contact presenters and maintain the ever-growing participant list.
As an introvert, Nicola enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy, cross-stitching and knitting as hobbies. "But, like all humans, I need connection with other humans," she says. The connection is what she enjoys most about belonging to Editors Canada.
"Getting to know people from across the country has allowed me to build social networks to replace the ones lost when I left LLLC." In Editors Canada, Nicola has found a new home.
~S. Robin Larin
It took 10 years, but plying her bilingual language skills while working in the hotel business convinced Marie-Hélène Cadieux to pursue her true passion: translation. After completing a BA in Translation in 2008 at Université de Montréal and working for several professional firms, Marie-Hélène launched her own translation, editing and proofreading business, Traductions Marie-Hélène Cadieux, in 2015. Her love of books took her to Université de Sherbrooke in 2017, where she completed a diploma in publishing two years later. Now, she says, "I have the privilege to work every day on the development of long-term partnerships with companies in finance, publishing, environment, public relations and technology."
In 2017, Marie-Hélène also joined Editors Québec. "I was already volunteering in various areas of my life, but I wanted to get involved from a professional perspective as well," she says. Impressed with the branch's vitality, Marie-Hélène soon took charge of networking activities in Montreal. Over the past three years, she has organized multiple activities, workshops, festive events and annual meetings for her branch.
"Volunteering at Editors Canada means collaborating with wonderful professionals," says Marie-Hélène. "We're all working toward the same goals: improving our skills, sharing our knowledge and meeting interesting peers!"
Living in the heart of the Laurentians, Marie-Hélène enjoys hiking, paddling and gardening. She has also recently discovered pottery. "All these passions allow me to stay healthy physically, mentally and creatively," she says. "This balance is beneficial to my life and my career!"
~S. Robin Larin
As an administrative assistant for an engineering consulting business, Jessica Coles sought a broader scope for her abilities beyond document quality control. To show her manager that her writing and editing skills were "part of a whole profession," she joined Editors Canada in 2009. The result? She now specializes at work in technical reports and marketing proposals under the well-earned job title "editor."
Jessica was previously a member of the former Prairie Provinces branch of Editors Canada as well as a member of Editors British Columbia before returning to Editors Edmonton in 2018. "I promised myself I'd find a way to volunteer [in Edmonton] because I didn't want to lose the sense of professional community I'd had in BC," she says. Jessica enthusiastically volunteered as twig coordinator when the position became available. Along with her co-coordinator Alicia Chantal, Jessica organized events and promoted the editing profession locally. Jessica and Alicia's combined efforts resulted in what Editors Canada president Heather Buzila calls "unique, interesting programming" that has served the twig well through the pandemic.
Although Jessica's two-year term as twig co-coordinator ended in July 2020, the rewards of volunteering continue. Asked what she enjoys most about belonging to Editors Canada, she says "finding a community of people who share one of my passions, but who aren't afraid to share opinions and disagree with each other. Simply interacting with other professional editors has changed the way I do my work and improved my abilities."
Jessica's interest in language goes beyond editing. She has a BA in linguistics and self-published her first poetry chapbook, Unless You're Willing to Evaporate, in 2019. In the summer she loves relaxing in her garden where she can spend time "thinking about the similarities between weeding and editing."
~S. Robin Larin
Alicia Chantal achieved her long-held dream of an independent editing career when she opened Fresh Look Editing in 2019, focusing on health care and education. Her preparation for that moment included work in public relations, customer service, administration and newspapers. Simon Fraser University's Editing Certificate, which she completed in 2020, capped her communication credentials.
But it was joining Editors Canada in 2018 that opened the door to wider possibilities. When Alicia noticed Editors Canada was seeking a co-coordinator for the Edmonton twig, "I threw my hat into the ring," she says. Heather Buzila, Editors Canada president, notes that Alicia and her twig co-coordinator, Jessica Coles, have "worked hard to come up with unique, interesting programming continuing through the pandemic." Alicia has also served on the nominating committee. "Everyone I've encountered while volunteering has been generous with their time and knowledge," she says. "It's an honour to call these incredibly interesting, talented people not only colleagues but friends."
Alicia has battled imposter syndrome when facing new ventures, but says "sometimes the best way to learn is to dive right in." Doing so has opened up invaluable opportunities such as joining the task force for Editors Canada's Statement of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. "I'm so passionate about this topic," Alicia says. "This work reinforces that we're an organization committed to offering safe spaces where our members, and those we seek to serve, can be heard."
When not working, Alicia enjoys family time, reading, tae kwon do, and an unusual form of wordplay, subversive cross-stitch. "I find crafting very relaxing," she says, "so getting a chance to combine that with the irreverent, cheeky sense of humour I picked up from British comedy is a perfect mix!"
~S. Robin Larin
Little did Becky Noelle know when she became a student affiliate that she would soon be a vital Editors Canada volunteer. Becky joined Editors Canada in early 2019, seeking editorial connections and opportunities. In June she travelled from her hometown of Okotoks, Alberta, to the Halifax conference. There she met Robin Larin, student relations co-chair, and before she knew it, she had joined the team.
Since then Becky has assisted with the committee's successful advocacy for student participation in Editors Canada's mentorship program and the revival of the student affiliate Facebook group. She regularly contributes posts to help create "a space where student affiliates can connect and feel supported." Currently she's helping prepare "a larger scale information-sharing project for the Facebook group" and is excited to see how it turns out.
This past year Becky also completed her Professional Editing Certificate at Mount Royal University in Calgary and launched her own freelance editing business. With a background in elementary school teaching and a degree in science, Becky focuses on educational and academic editing. "I've really enjoyed helping students in the pursuit of their degrees," she says.
Her love of teaching informs her work on the student relations committee, too. "I saw some areas for improvement, like how we organized and shared our files, so I started coaching others in how to access, share and use files in Google Drive."
"Becky is meticulous, organized and team-focused—the ideal committee member," says her nominator Robin Larin.
Amid her busy life, Becky puts aside time for travel and hiking. She loves the outdoors and encourages other editors to counter the often stationary and solitary work of editing by joining her in the #StetWalk movement. "You'll feel connected," says Becky. "Not just to nature, but to your fellow editors, too."
S. Robin Larin
Volunteer of the Month for April 2020: Virginia St-Denis
Virginia St-Denis launched her freelance business three years ago, but she's no newcomer to the field. Virginia began her career in 1991 as a reporter-photographer for newspapers and magazines in the Niagara Falls area after graduating from Humber College's Journalism program. Moving to Ottawa in 2002, she became the communications editor at a national non-profit organization. When she launched the plain-language Journal of Aboriginal Health, the multi-skilled Virginia became what she calls "a one-woman production team," covering the peer review process, desktop publishing and proofreading. Since then, she has been the managing editor of three medical journals.
Virginia joined Editors Canada in 2015 when she returned to magazine work. With her Social Media Certificate from Algonquin College in hand, she created a social media strategy for Editors Canada in 2017 and volunteered as the in-house editors' networking organizer for Editors Ottawa–Gatineau.
Joining the national executive council in 2018, Virginia became the director of communications and the interim chair of the communications and marketing committee. There she earned her biggest reward volunteering so far: creating an integrated marketing and communications strategy for the webinar flash sale that raised more than $22,500. "That was about a quarter of the total webinar sales for 2018 and did not include any paid promotion, so that was straight profit," she says proudly.
In her spare time, Virginia enjoys nature, architecture and abstract photography. This hobby has not only won her many awards from ViewBug, an online photography community, but also prompted her to volunteer as photographer at the 2017 and 2019 national conferences. "Being a volunteer photographer gave me an excuse to talk to different people and helped break me out of my shell," Virginia notes. "I learned so much from the sessions, I met so many great people and I have the pictures to prove it!"
- S. Robin Larin
Volunteer of the Month for March 2020: Glenna Jenkins
2013 was the perfect time for Glenna Jenkins to join Editors Canada. As a proud Nova Scotian, she volunteered that year at the Halifax conference, filling swag bags and organizing the indexers' evening dinner. When the annual conference returned to Halifax in 2019, Glenna upped her volunteer game by providing website content, organizing a dinner and a walking tour, and presenting a session on academic editing. The biggest reward in volunteering, she says, is seeing positive collaborative outcomes. Currently she's on the new finding work for members task force intended to help freelancers find meaningful, well-paid work. "Stay tuned!" she says.
Glenna's passion for editing emerged long before her first conference. She "became an editor by happenstance" when a friend turned her blog into a book and asked Glenna to edit it 10 years ago.
"That's how I got hooked," she says.
To develop her editing skills, she took courses from Ryerson University's Chang School of Continuing Education and from UC Berkeley. Now she specializes in academic editing, mainly for non-native English speakers. The work can be challenging. "It oftentimes means working with text that is so convoluted I have to try to figure out what the author is trying to say, take a stab at it and query in the comments pane," she says. But Glenna brings her attention to detail to the job—a skill honed during her years as an economist.
When not wearing her editor's hat, Glenna enjoys writing young adult fiction, running and cycling long distance ("because I can do this sitting down"). But volunteering for Editors Canada remains an ongoing part of her life because her fellow volunteers are "a joy to work with."
"Editors are smart, courteous, civilized and a lot of fun," she says.
- S. Robin Larin
Volunteer of the Month for February 2020: Raya P. Morrison
Raya’s path to becoming an editor was "a winding road." After graduating from Seneca College’s Digital Media Arts program, she worked as a web developer before becoming a writer for and later managing editor of a music magazine. In 2018, she completed her Editing Certificate at George Brown College. Now editor-in-chief of the literary journal Blood & Bourbon, Raya is also an in-house editor and proofreader for Diamond Integrated Marketing in Toronto. Her interests and training have led her to specialize in marketing communications, social media, articles and short stories.
"Next up," says Raya, "I want to edit novels."
Although balancing work and volunteering can be challenging, the "biggest reward is all the lovely people I get to meet through every new role I take on!" says Raya. In particular, the team for the task force "was golden. They allowed me to learn to be a leader by being patient and kind."
Raya will be assisting again at the International Editors Conference 2020 in Montreal.
"I love travelling," she says, "so I get extra excited for the annual conference. It’s such a great way to see more of Canada!"
- S. Robin Larin
Volunteer of the Month for January 2020: Jess Shulman
After 17 years in the corporate world, Jess Shulman was ready for a change. Her experience with business writing and editing prompted her to join Editors Canada in 2013 and—after serious study—to tackle the challenging certification exams. Emerging as a certified professional editor (CPE), Jess volunteered as a session host at the first international conference of editors and joined the certification steering committee in 2015. Her confidence buoyed, Jess began her own freelance business in 2016 and hasn't looked back.
As a volunteer, Jess has been an exam marker and a "test shepherd" overseeing the creation of the Proofreading exam. Now co-chair of the CSC, Jess is helping to "rethink" the certification program "to find ways that we can make it run more efficiently, attract more candidates and modernize it."
In her freelance work, Jess says, "I like to keep my options way open." She happily edits, at all levels, everything from corporate documents to textbooks to novels by indie authors. She also enjoys writing web copy, social media posts, marketing materials and reports for corporate clients.
Beyond editing, Jess keeps busy with her family, yoga, hiking, travel, and singing and playing mandolin in a band. "It's really just for fun," she says, "but we do one or two gigs a year as charity fundraisers." Fitting volunteer work with Editors Canada into her active life can be a challenge, but Jess "blocks out time for it to make sure things get done." Anne Brennan, director of publications for Editors Canada, sums up Jess's attitude of commitment succinctly: As a mother, singer, CPE and "very capable committee member," Jess, she affirms, "is amazing."
- S. Robin Larin
Want to make a difference in your association? Find out more about volunteering for Editors Canada.