A Distinction-One Difficult Year Later

It's been 12 months since being honoured as an inductee into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction. ...an incredible experience as the new 2011 inductees now know. At the time, I was embarking on the second season of a brand new TV series, "Always good News". Two years after a traumatic end to 32 years as an anchor/reporter/producer with CHCH Hamilton, I was re-invented and re-energized. The media business has one year later been tossing me about again...yes, my good friend singer/songwriter John Ellison reminds me it's time for a new opportunity ...but it's easy to nosedive into a place I don't want to be. So tonight I'm reliving that evening that marked one of the highlights of my career if not my life. Sunni Genesco was M.C.....

Good evening…thank you Sunni…I’m so used to doing what Sunni does, keeping the evening moving along, introducing the special guests….that I’m feeling quite overwhelmed to be in this part of the agenda.

But Mark{Chamberlain}, Alan{McPherson}, Bob {Morrow}, Steve {Smith} and Dan {McLean}….. it is an honour to sit at the same table with you… and Dan I knew we’d be back together one day. Now we’ll be hanging around forever!

… thank you Gallery of Distinction and my nominator and former Mohawk classmate Jim Slomka who knew enough back then to move into advertising.

I don’t think it’s until you’re well into adulthood that you starting about why you do what you do and how you end up where you are in life.

There was a best selling novel called the Celestine Prophesy…enlightenment…no such thing as coincidences….situations we find ourselves in, opportunities that present themselves, people who come into our lives…are all guideposts in our life journey..

Like our parents. I was small for my age…school was daunting…everyone was bigger but my parents helped me find my voice…writing that first speech … my Dad correcting my grammar… my Mom sitting in the front row more nervous than I was… encouraging me to do well, to have a career, to be independent.

My 2 sisters and family have been anchors in my life while I was being an anchor to everyone else.

Our teachers:..Mrs. Wray taught me the power of words, Mr. Bateman: how to see the beauty all around us… Mrs. Cranfield : that even the guys could still be cool and speak French…with an accent. Norm Marshall …gave me confidence in front of that microphone. Hey kid, he’d say… you can do it….

They all came back in my life decades later with stories I would tell…Jennifer Wray and her amazing sister Elizabeth and her Concerts of Hope, Margaret Ann Cranfield and irrepressable Knot a Breast Dragon Boaters…and Norm, working together on the six o’clock news. Coincidenses? I don’t think so.

There are all the people who hire us and fire us….
Mrs. Carson gave me my first job at the Red and White grocery store and taught me the customer is always right...

Con Stevenson at CKOC taught me how to supply the night DJ’s with elastics to hold their hair back while they read my newscasts,

Bob MacIntyre at CKVR
taught me to be careful driving to Penetanguishene and back in a blizzard to shoot my own story..in a Hornet!

Dick Grey trusted the advice of another old classmate Stan Keyes and hired me at CHCH. John Best had the guts to put a woman on the anchor desk beside Dan …

Tom Cherington taught me to ask tough questions but treat people with dignity…all guideposts.

Half way through my career, another signpost jumped in front of me and changed my life forever. …my greatest fan…just ask any of the cashiers at Fortino’s who were at the receiving end of his toddler interrogations: Do you know who my Mommy is???? But like my Cal, our kids teach us how to nurture and make us so proud.

My life and work partner, is my constant guide….I call him Australia’s gift to Canadian broadcasting and this Canadian broadcaster: my husband Dave Wilson. I couldn’t do any of this or be what I am without your love, talent and God knows patience.

I have Dave and another Dave: David Lee to thank for coming up with a concept for news that was years ahead of its time. They knew that journalism was only covering part of the story.

And it was Rob Sheppard and the gang at CTS , who agreed now was the time for a little more Good News.

Last but not least, my guideposts have been every individual, every child who opened their homes, their hearts to me, who trusted me with their hopes that by sharing their stories our world could be a better place.

Thank you to our community leaders like Kevin Smith and Sister Theresita for allowing me to sit at your table, learn from you wisdom and compassion and share in your vision.

I’ll close tonight with that grade 5 speech..the first time I stood before an audience. I still have those dog-earred, yellowed-with-time index cards somewhere. “I wonder what would happen if I woke up one morning and found myself living 100 years from now”…

Well I’m half-way there…I’ve seen a lot of change but one thing has stayed the same…the goodness in the people of this community, the willingness to reach out and make a difference and if I’ve been able to play the smallest role in helping connect those who need with those who need to give, then I am the better person, the grateful one for it.

More change will come in the next 50 years but there isn’t another place I’d rather watch the future arrive.
Thank you Hamilton.