National e-news update, July 19, 2019

News, events, tips and updates from Editors Canada

In this issue:

1. LEADERSHIP: Meet your 2019–20 national executive council, committee chairs and other national roles
2. UPCOMING WEBINAR SERIES: Academic Editing: Beyond Basics
3. VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH: Blazej Szpakowicz
4. GET INVOLVED: Join our successful webinar team!
7. MEMBER NEWS: A round of applause!
8. NEC: Notes from your national executive council

1. LEADERSHIP: Meet your 2019–20 national executive council, committee chairs and other national roles

The term for the 2019–20 national executive councilcommittee chairs and other national roles officially began on Monday, July 1. Here’s a list of the people assuming these important national jobs.

National executive council

Heather Buzila (Editors Edmonton)

Vice president
Lynne Melcombe (Editors British Columbia)

Michelle Waitzman (Editors Toronto)

Janice Dyer (Editors Hamilton-Halton)

Past president
Gael Spivak (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

Regional director of branches and twigs (west)
Shauna Babiuk (Editors Edmonton)

Regional director of branches and twigs (east)
Anne Curry (Editors Nova Scotia)

Director of communications and marketing
Virginia St-Denis (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

Director of member recruitment and retention
Heather Ross (Editors British Columbia)

Director of professional standards
Berna Ozunal (Editors Toronto)

Director of publications
Anne Brennan (Editors British Columbia)

Director of training and development
Greg Ioannou (Editors Toronto)

Director of volunteer relations
Patricia MacDonald (Editors Nova Scotia)

National committee chairs and other positions

Co-chairs, certification steering committee
Vicky Bell (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)
Jess Shulman (Editors Toronto)

Chair, comité agrément/principes
Anne Fonteneau (Editors Québec)

Chair, communications and marketing committee
Janine Harker (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

Co-chairs, conference committee
Breanne MacDonald (Editors Hamilton-Halton)
Gael Spivak (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

Managing editor, The Editors’ Weekly
Anna Williams (Editors Edmonton)

Facebook group moderator
Joanne Haskins (Editors Toronto)

Francophone adviser (interim)
Sandra Gravel (Editors Québec)

List monitor
Nancy Wills (Editors Kingston)

Suzanne Purkis (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

Chair, mentorship task force
Risha Gotlieb (Editors Toronto)

Chair, member services committee
Alana Chalmers (Editors Toronto)

Chair, national magazine committee
Position vacant

Co-chairs, publications committee
Paula Chiarcos (Editors Kitchener-Waterloo-Guelph)
Jessica Riches (Editors Toronto)

Co-chairs, student relations committee
Mark Grill (Editors British Columbia)
Robin Larin (Editors Hamilton-Halton)

Chair, training and development committee
Tamra Ross (Editors Calgary)

Chair, volunteer management committee
Monica Laane-Fralick (Editors Kingston)

Chair, external liaison committee
Gael Spivak, Editors Canada past president (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

Editors Canada representative, freedom of expression committee
Marg Anne Morrison (Editors Toronto)

Chair, human resources committee
Heather Buzila, Editors Canada president (Editors Edmonton)

Chair, nominating committee
Gael Spivak, Editors Canada past president (Editors Ottawa–Gatineau)

2. UPCOMING WEBINAR SERIES: Academic Editing: Beyond Basics

A grey laptop with the Editors Canada on the screen alongside an open book with a red ribbon bookmark.

Academic competition combined with limited academic resources can create pressures for students that may pose challenges for the freelance editors they contact to hire. The rewards of working with post-secondary students, however, far outweigh any challenges.

Do you want to edit post-secondary student texts? Sign up for our webinar series (Fridays, August 23 and 30 and September 6) Academic Editing: Beyond Basics with Mary Rykov, PhD. Mary recently served as project lead to revise the association’s Guidelines for Ethical Editing of Student Texts.

Catch up on demand: Webinar recordings are available

Did you miss an Editors Canada webinar? Many of our webinars have been recorded and are now available for purchase (and some are even free). When you buy a webinar recording, you’ll receive a video file to watch at your leisure on your computer or mobile device. The file is yours to keep, so you can watch it again and again.

Visit our webinar recordings page to see what’s available now. We’re adding new recordings regularly, so be sure to check often.

3. VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH: Blazej Szpakowicz

Headshot of Blazej Szpakowicz

Blazej Szpakowicz serves on the Editors Canada training and development committee assisting with the webinar program. He liaises with presenters, hosts webinars and runs the software behind the scenes. When he joined Editors British Columbia in 2017, experienced editors advised him that volunteering for Editors Canada would be a great way to network and learn. “Since I came to the editorial world as a self-employed novice with no formal training and no professional contacts, both benefits had obvious appeal,” he says. “And with my academic and computing background (a PhD in history and a BSc in computer science), the webinars seemed like a good fit.”

For Blazej, the biggest hurdle was his first webinar. “I was absolutely terrified that I’d forget something important,” he says, even though he had detailed checklists, had shadowed other webinars and had a solid understanding of the software. In the end, everything went smoothly with that first webinar, and since then he has been responsible for running about half of Editors Canada’s webinars since 2017.

Prior to taking up professional editing two years ago, he proofread and beta-read for friends, colleagues and family. Blazej currently edits academic writing and fiction across a wide range of disciplines and enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy. “English is wonderful,” he says. “I love all the clever ways you can twist it around without quite breaking it.”

Blazej has found volunteering to be a valuable experience and says he has learned a great deal about being a freelance editor, including editorial techniques, time management, finances and communication. He has also met numerous people and made professional contacts. “Freelance editorial work can be very solitary, so any opportunity to meet people is great—even through a computer screen.”

The volunteer of the month highlights the dedicated people who keep Editors Canada going. Volunteers are the backbone of the association. We are grateful for the many members and affiliates who answer the call when help is needed.

4. GET INVOLVED: Join our successful webinar team!

Last year our webinar program was wildly successful. Enrolments (and revenues) went far beyond our most optimistic projections. So we’re hoping to expand the program this year. And to do that, we need help. We’re especially looking for people to do the following:

  • train webinar presenters on the webinar software;
  • host webinars (tasks include running the software, introducing the presenters and managing the Q&As);
  • collect and organize post-webinar feedback; and
  • put together and carry out a social media plan to promote the webinars throughout the year.

This is an opportunity to acquire new skills and even get occasional free webinars. To volunteer, please email


The certification steering committee is recruiting members to pilot the Copy Editing exam in early September.

Pilot test volunteers will write the exam from home over an uninterrupted, three-hour block of their choosing sometime on September 6, 7 or 8. The Copy Editing exam is administered as a Word document, which piloters will complete on their own computers and upload to a secure site when done. Piloters are welcome to use Macs or PCs.

Why help out?

  • There is no better way to practise for the actual certification exams than preparing for and writing a pilot test.
  • If you already have one or more certifications, preparing for and writing a pilot test is worth 10 points for credential maintenance.
  • Editors Canada will give you a free copy of the newly updated Copy Editing Test Preparation Guide, a $70 value, for each test you pilot.
  • You will be notified of your result, which will help you to gauge whether you are ready for certification.

To ensure the validity of the pilot tests, volunteers should have at least five years’ experience in copy editing, and should prepare as thoroughly as they would for the actual exam. All members, including certified members, are welcome to volunteer for pilot tests.

Please note: Piloters will not be eligible to take the Copy Editing certification exam in November 2019, but they can write it during the next administration.

If you’re interested, please contact membership and professional standards coordinator Adrienne Scott by Friday, July 26.


There are countless examples of successful people who have been mentored by a trusted counsellor or guide. Mentorship can offer lasting life- and career-changing benefits to both mentors and mentees.

The mentorship program offered by Editors Canada now boasts an impressive list of some 25 mentors across Canada.

How it works

Once the mentee makes an application, a committee matches them with a mentor. When they’re matched, the mentor and mentee meet informally in person or virtually for a free two-hour cafe session (sort of like a first date) to determine if they’re compatible. If so, they proceed to work together by phone, email or Skype over a period of two months (or longer, if they wish).

To apply to be a mentor or a mentee, visit the John Eerkes-Medrano Mentorship Program page.

7. MEMBER NEWS: A round of applause!

Editors British Columbia member Iva Cheung successfully defended her thesis on Tuesday, July 2. Her research, done within Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, was about helping involuntary patients better understand their rights under British Columbia’s Mental Health Act. She invited people who had experienced involuntary hospitalization to co-create and then user test a new suite of plain language rights-communication tools. The tools are freely available at

Editors Toronto member Diya Lim is the author of La marchande, la sorcière, la lune et moi, winner of the 2019 Trillium Book Award for Children’s Literature (French). Learn more about Diya’s book and the other 2019 Trillium Award winners.

Editors Nova Scotia member Virginia McGowan’s book Harness the Power of Mentoring: How to Find and Work with the Right Mentor–A Guide for the Solopreneur is a finalist in the Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business category of the 2019 International Book Awards. The book is a practical, step-by-step guide for the solopreneur in how to prepare for a mentorship, find the right mentor and develop a healthy, effective mentoring relationship. It is available online globally in print and eBook formats. Japanese and Portuguese translations are in progress.

Do you have an achievement you’d like to share? Are you excited about a new project or opportunity that has come your way? We’d love to hear from you! Please send your stories to the member news coordinator. Each item will be posted on our website and will be included in the Editors Canada e-news updates.

8. NEC: Notes from your national executive council

This is my last note to members as the association president. Heather Buzila is taking over as I finish my term (and she will be a fabulous president).

You can find information about all the directors and our positions for the coming year on the national executive council page. You can also see the committee chairs and national positions for the coming year.

As I leave the role of president, I’d like to mention some trends I’ve noticed at the national and branch level.

Welcoming new people and young people

The association tends to revere members who have been around for a long time. Which is great; those people have a lot of knowledge, experience and advice.

But I don’t think we’re balancing that with the value that comes from new editors, young editors and inexperienced editors. They see where the association has holes or isn’t working. They can tell us how and where we’re presenting information ineffectively. They can show us where we’re lagging behind (and they can help us catch up).

Over the past few years, I’ve heard from people who have not felt welcomed at meetings or who felt patronized when they volunteered. I think we can become better at welcoming, listening and working together.

I was welcomed and mentored by a couple of very experienced members. They never treated me like I ought to listen to them and they never spoke down to me. They gave me a helping hand. They gave me tools. They shared their knowledge. They believed in me. They pushed me. I’d like as many new members as possible to have a similar experience.

Other elements of diversity

We strive to have volunteers from all across the country but there are other elements of diversity that contribute to that mix:

  • levels of volunteer experience (being new can be just as valuable, or more valuable at times, as having lots of volunteer experience)
  • different background (for example, having people with professional communications experience or professional testing experience)
  • broad interests and skill sets
  • lived experiences

I think we need to consciously stay aware of the value that being different from each other can bring. And we need to pay attention to that when asking for help in running our association.


Sandra Gravel recently noted this: “Our organization is more complex than our capacity to manage it.”

I agree with this. And it’s become very clear to me that we can’t keep doing things the same way we always do. The association won’t survive if it doesn’t adapt.

  • We’ve had a hard time adapting and keeping up with technology changes.
  • We have a low tolerance level for making mistakes. But you can’t have creativity and risk taking in that sort of environment.

If we can think differently, and support that creative thinking, we will, instead, become stronger.

Structure and continuity

I was surprised by how many things we make our volunteers start from scratch. People leaving positions don’t do handovers and there’s little continuity. We often don’t share files or information and we didn’t have processes written down. We didn’t even have most director and staff tasks written down. All of that made the association vulnerable. And it created a lot of work for volunteers.

I’ve been doggedly working to correct some of that. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s been one legacy I wanted to leave behind. To make the association more robust and to improve volunteers’ experiences.

Listen to the quiet

Three thoughts from me as I climb down from the podium:

  • Listen to the quiet people.
  • The loudest isn’t always the most logical.
  • All members and affiliates are valuable.

Gael Spivak

The national e-news update is produced on behalf of the national executive council by the national office.

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