It’s not very often that we at the Nation toot our own horn but once per year we gather with about 30 other Quebec-based community newspapers and magazines for the annual Quebec Community Newspapers Association (QCNA) conference and awards banquet. And, once again, I am proud to say that we emerged from the event victorious.

Cruising the friendly waters of the St-Lawrence River, this year’s nominees embarked on an AML cruise-line ship for the gala on May 18 and disembarked five hours later as winners.

In total the Nation came home with five awards: 3rd Place for Best Overall Newspaper, 2nd Place for Best Advertisement, Lyle Stewart received a 2nd Place Best Column Writing award, newcomer Pierre Coulombe received a 1st Place Best Arts & Entertainment Story and I managed to pick up 2nd Place for Best Feature Story.

While the Nation does manage to get nominations and win awards from the QCNA every year making it look like wining these awards is a small feat, it really isn’t. Unless you are a part of this association, you wouldn’t realize exactly how stiff this competition is.

“It is very hard to get nominated. You have basically about 30 papers and as everyone is trying to get the awards you will get multiple entries from each paper because there are multiple writers,” said Nation co-founder and editor-in-chief Will Nicholls.

He went on to explain how at times there can be up to 120 competing articles for just one category and so being picked for a first, second or third place is quite an honour and a win within itself.

After 20 years in the publishing business, Nicholls reflected that receiving anything from the QCNA only goes to show just how polished of a product the Nation really is and how much work goes into it.

“This year’s awards ceremony went really well and it goes well every year. We are up for nominations every year and we come out well in this. It shows the professionalism of the paper and the professionalism of the people working for it as they are judged by their peers in this business.

“Obviously we are doing something right because there are people out there who don’t win anything and are not nominated for anything and we are. This is something that I am very proud of,” said Nicholls.

New to the awards crew this year was Pierre Coulombe, a French teacher living in Waskaganish who freelances for the Nation.

For Coulombe, getting called for a first place award for a story he wrote came as a big shock.

“I was moved by winning 1st place, it really means a lot to me. I didn’t expect it – I am a freelance francophone, why would I win,” said Coulombe.

Despite his own doubts he placed first in front of so many other hopefuls.

And hopefully he, along with every other one of our writers and staff, will emerge victorious with awards at next year’s gala…. We can only hope.