Mary Kemmis, president of the Prairie Division of Black Press Media, was one of those kids who was always asking questions in class.
That natural curiosity and a talent for writing led to her leaving the family farm near Smithers, B.C., to enrol in the Langara College journalism program in the ‘80s.
Her move from rural British Columbia to Vancouver — at the time, the biggest city she’d ever seen — was made easier by the supportive learning environment created by the dedicated instructors who cared deeply for both their subject and their students.
Fast forward to today, Kemmis is the recipient of the 49 Langarans Award for her contributions to the community newspaper industry. Recipients were chosen from Langara alumni and staff for the positive difference they’ve made to their communities, industry or Langara over the past 49 years.
Kemmis’ career began as a reporter at her hometown paper, the Smithers Interior News, followed by the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, where she met her husband Mel.
After a few years as a reporter, and a move to the Lower Mainland of B.C., Kemmis made the switch to media sales and sales management, working for newspaper and radio companies across Western Canada, and later, Ontario.
Kemmis returned to community newspapers as a publisher with Black Press Media in 2007.
For Kemmis, newspapers offer more than a long career in a stimulating work environment.
“Newspapers remain integral to supporting our democratic process by shining a light on decisions that affect our readers and by telling the stories that resonate in both small and big ways,” says Kemmis.
In addition to the ability to make positive changes, Black Press Media has been a particularly good fit for Kemmis because it offers an equal-opportunity environment that supports career growth.
“I’m proud of the people that I’ve worked with who have gone on to greater success, and I hope that in some small way, I’ve helped contribute to that.”
Kemmis’ history of board-level volunteerism in Western Canada includes the Red Deer Health Foundation, Volunteer Richmond, Tourism Richmond, the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association, Banff Canada Day and Banff First Night.
Among the many recognitions she’s received are the Paul Harris Fellowship and Inspirational Women of Richmond Award.
About Langara College’s 49 Langarans
Celebrating its 49th year on 49th Avenue, Langara is honouring 49 Langarans; those who are making an impact in the community and have helped shape the college into what it is today. From theatre directors and journalists to small business owners, community advocates, and dedicated employees – the stories of the award recipients are as varied as the college’s journey over the past 49 years.
Meet the 49 Langarans at https://beyond49.langara.ca