I’m the Toronto bureau chief for the New York Times.
That makes me a very lucky person. I get to travel all over Canada, from Haida Gwaii to Saskatoon, Newfoundland to Tuktoyaktuk.
I am a foreign correspondent in my own country, living 20 minutes from my childhood home.
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved to immerse myself in different cultures. My mother was a book publisher and took me with her to conferences in Jerusalem, Banff, London and Dubrovnik. I would wander while she worked. Since becoming an adult, I’ve moved to France, India, and most recently, Senegal.
I’ve lived across Canada too — in Montreal, where I got my B.A. from McGill University, in Chicoutimi where I worked to improve my schoolroom French, and finally, in Vancouver. After finishing my M.A. in English Literature from York University, I jumped in my car and drove across the country, stopping in every town and city’s newsroom to ask for a job. The Vancouver Sun gave me a 3-month shot which became two years. I was hooked.
Over the past two decades in the business, I’ve come to specialize in narrative journalism, immersing myself in stories to turn up intimate details and unrehearsed moments. When reporting on an arranged marriage in Karachi, I moved in with the groom’s family for five weeks.
I’ve worked as a city hall reporter, an environment writer, and a columnist for The Toronto Star, writing about issues that stirred my hunger for social justice. I was bullied in grade school, so I champion the underdog.
In 2010, I was on the second team of Star journalists to arrive in Haiti after the devastating earthquake that killed up to 300,000. My first story was on a ‘miracle’ 2-year-old girl named Lovely who was hauled out from under the rubble six days after the earthquake. My decision to enroll her in school triggered an enormous response from readers who sent me more than $30,000 over the following months to enroll other Haitian earthquake victims in school. By the year’s end, I had registered more than 170 students — from grade school children to university students and mothers learning to read at night school.
I have returned to Haiti to report more than 25 times.
I have won two National Newspaper Awards and the Landsberg Award for my professional work, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee for community activism in my east-end pocket of Toronto.
I have written three e-books for the Toronto Star, and in 2019, published an old-fashioned book about my experiences in Haiti called A Girl Named Lovely.
My website is a sampling of my writing and projects. All photos not attributed to someone else are mine — either taken by me, or if I’m in them, taken by a friend.