The Voice has taken home seven awards from the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards competition. Run by NewsMedia Canada, the prestigious annual awards program features 27 unique categories honouring outstanding editorial, photography, multimedia and overall excellence in community newspaper publishing.

Postponed due to the pandemic in 2020, this latest round of competition covered work published in both 2020 and 2021. The Voice won three national CCNA awards in 2019, the first year that the paper entered the competition.

Healthy lifestyle writer John Swart won First Place for Outstanding Columnist. This was an open circulation category, meaning Swart was up against papers of all sizes and circulation across Canada.

The paper also won First Place for Best Multimedia Breaking News Coverage, another open circulation category, for its reporting, in April 2020, of Fonthill Sobeys franchisee and now-former Pelham Town Councillor Ron Kore’s controversial conduct within the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“To be candid, this particular award didn’t come as a surprise,” said Voice publisher Dave Burket. “It was an almost unbelievable sequence of events, playing out over days, and the story was picked up by regional and national news outlets as well, including the CBC.” Burket added that of all the winning entries, the Kore story involved the greatest number of contributors. “It was absolutely a huge team effort on our side, and we have to remember and thank the Sobeys employees who spoke out.”

A basketball action shot by Bernie Puchalski won Second Place for Best Sports Photo. Writer Helen Tran’s emotionally moving interview with Faith Flagg, who, at 17, was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Fonthill in 2015, and who continues to struggle with the life-changing injuries she sustained on that fateful night, won Second Place for Best Feature Story.

An August 2021 editorial entitled, “Two years of blissful silence, but the natterer may be back,” which called out former Pelham mayor David Augustyn for ill-informed criticism of the then-current Pelham Town Council, won Third Place for Best Local Editorial. “For what purpose he believes his kamikazi posturing will benefit him we can only speculate—and pray that is does not involve the seeking of further elective office,” we wrote at the time. Augustyn was indeed named the NDP’s MPP candidate for Niagara West a few months later, and was beaten decisively by incumbent Sam Oosterhoff in last June’s provincial election.

The paper’s online presence, thevoiceofpelham.ca, took Third Place for Best Community Newspaper Website.

Finally, a touching reminiscence of Ron Leavens, entitled “A life well lived, A man well loved,” won Third Place for Best Photo Essay. Leavens, who passed away suddenly in August 2021, was a former Pelham mayor, a local business owner, youth sports coach, and beloved public school teacher.