Global Montreal’s senior anchor Jamie Orchard was awarded the Toastmasters’ Communication and Leadership Award on Saturday.
The award was presented to her by Montreal’s premier bilingual Toastmasters club president Phil Torre.
The honour was presented to Orchard for her dedication, passion and outstanding contribution to the community as a communicator and leader.
“She’s a phenomenal person,” said Torre, who listed her many awards and career achievements when introducing her to the crowd at the event.
“I’m really blessed to do what I do for a living,” Orchard said to the audience after receiving the award. “I’m always amazed and honoured that people trust me and our crew at Global television and invite us into your living rooms every single night to help you sort through the news.”
In her speech, Orchard recalled her early years when a high school teacher told her she was a good writer. She was painfully shy, however, so the born-and-raised Montrealer focused on print.
When it came time for her journalism school interview, she botched it, she said.
“It was a defining moment for me, because I knew in my heart I had something to contribute,” said Orchard. “The only thing that had stopped me in that moment was my own insecurity, and I swore I would never let that happen again.”
Two years later she applied again. This time she nailed the interview, she said.
Orchard then recalled her career trajectory to the audience.
After graduating in 1991, she packed up and headed to B.C., where she knew no one. She had landed a job at 105 CICF, a small station in Vernon, where she was the first woman in the history of the station to read the news.
“105 CICF is where I found my voice,” said Orchard. “I really discovered that every community has something to say about itself, and if you give it a chance and listen, you can really tell their stories with compassion.”
Two years later, CHOM FM’s Andrew Carter called with a job offer. She packed up her little blue Toyota and drove back to Montreal.
When she was working at CHOM covering local Montreal news, her colleagues convinced her to give TV a try. Wanting to face her fears, Orchard took a TV position at CBC Montreal. She was told she was “too pretty” to do television news, so she was offered a gig as a weather presenter.
“I didn’t want the job, but I wanted the opportunity,” said Orchard.
A year later, Orchard got another call — this time from CTV.
She headed over to CTV Montreal and covered local arts and culture stories during the week. On weekends, she got sent to film junkets where she interviewed countless actors on movie sets.
Orchard told the crowd how she then got another call. This time it was Global, which was opening up its first station in Montreal.
She started off anchoring a show called Global Tonight, then the morning show, and then helped launch several new shows and formats. She is now the station’s senior news anchor.
“I called those experiences my babies, and then I had real babies, facing the big fear of growing my family and career at the same time,” said Orchard, who was recently named assistant news director of Global Montreal, adding to her role as senior news anchor.
“Listen to people’s stories,” said Orchard, speaking on what she has learned over her career. “Empathize, even with the people who seem to have everything in the world, and especially with those who don’t.”
Facing challenges head on is important, she added.
“Do not let your fears keep you down,” she said. “Face them, embrace them and ride them. You just never know where they are going to take you.”
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