Q&A: Reflections from former female Editors-in-Chief

Female EICs from the past 15 years share their thoughts about International Women’s Day and where they are now

Bridget Stringer-Holden (she/her) // News Editor
Freya Emery (she/her) // Illustrator


Over the past 15 years, there have been many powerful female Editors-in-Chief of the Capilano Courier. For the following Q&A, we spoke to Alisha Samnani (2021-2023), Ana Maria Caicedo (2020-2021), Rachel D’Sa (2019-2020), Christine Beyleveldt (2018-2019), Leah Mae Scheitel (2013-2015) and Samantha Thompson (co-EIC with Sarah Vitet, 2011-2012) about working for the paper, what they’re doing now and what International Women’s Day means to them.

What was the most rewarding or memorable part of working at the Courier?

Alisha: Being able to tell stories that reflect the lived experiences of underrepresented, marginalized and racialized communities.

Ana: Interviewing people from all walks of life and researching stories was very rewarding—I don’t know of many other jobs that give you an excuse to reach out to people you want to hear from and dig into things you’re curious about.

I’m also grateful to have had the chance to develop strong writing and editing skills with the help of my fellow journalists and friends. It’s enriching when you can work with someone else to edit a piece of writing—words carry our thinking, and in the process of editing with someone else, your thinking evolves. This was something that was very satisfying for me.

Rachel: The people I met and friendships I made. I had the opportunity to interview artists I looked up to and connect with vibrant communities outside my own. Attending the NASH conferences in Toronto, Calgary and here in Vancouver was a huge bonus. Hearing changemakers speak on design, investigative journalism, and freedom of information was inspirational to my career path. 

Christine: The highlight of my time at the Courier was connecting with people from different departments all over campus. I’m grateful that I was able to have such a full experience. 

Leah: While I’d like to say I had to think about this question, I really didn’t. It was the people I worked with—the other student journalists who became friends in intense and meaningful ways. Working with them to create this wonderful student newspaper every week, even if it was riddled with mistakes, was absolutely the best experience, not just at the Courier but of my university experience at Capilano overall. 

Samantha: We tried to utilize the Courier as a platform to do a deep dive into what I think were important stories that weren’t getting the publicity they deserved. I feel this is the critical role of a student publication.

What are you up to now?

Alisha: I am currently working on a couple Social Sciences and Humanities Research CouncilSSHRC-funded projects centred around polarization and decolonial practices in media production.

Ana: I am a few months away from becoming certified as an Elementary teacher! 

Rachel: I’m currently doing freelance creative directing and photography coordination—something that always interested me during my time at CapU. I’ve also taken up pottery!

Christine: I got into dentistry about a year after leaving the Courier and to my surprise as much as anyone else’s, I loved it. I worked as an assistant for three years, came back to CapU briefly to take my health sciences and now I’m in the Dental Hygiene Program at Vancouver Community College.

Leah: Somehow student journalism morphed into a semi-professional career as a stand up comedian. I’m based in Calgary where I still freelance write but also work in the film industry in the costume department. 

Samantha: I am a feminist urban geographer and postdoctoral researcher at UVic, where my research explores renters’ experiences of housing crises.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Alisha: It’s a day to celebrate the power that we all hold, and likewise to reflect on how we are using that power in our own lives every day.

Ana: It’s not a day that I’ve thought about often. What I will say is that if we have a day to celebrate women and consider patriarchal violence and structures, then the lens we do this from needs to be intersectional. I think about the connections between capitalism, patriarchy and imperialism often. Consumerism is so normalized here; we rarely consider who is making the products we use, and as a woman living in Canada, I benefit from a global class system that disenfranchises and exploits the labor of women across the world. It can feel daunting to consider how we can resist and change this, but I think considering who we give our money and labour to is a crucial part of the work.

Rachel: To me, it means collectively acknowledging our individual accomplishments and those of the marginalized women (whose names are and aren’t in textbooks) who historically established women’s rights. I take it as a reminder to thank the women in my life for their care and give myself some grace. 

Christine: International Women’s Day is a day of celebrating women’s accomplishments and strides made toward a more equitable society. But it’s also in recognition of the unsung work women have always done that holds society up.

Leah: In earnest, it’s of a mixed set of emotions for me. While I think it’s great that we take time to celebrate women as a culture and society, part of me gets rather depressed that we still need to set aside a day to remind ourselves to do it. But every year I’m reminded why we need to celebrate women and their achievements, especially in spaces that are still male-dominated, like stand up. 

Samantha: International Women’s Day recognizes what has been accomplished so far and celebrates our communities. Importantly though, it’s also about recognizing structural ways gender hierarchies continue to shape who has access to power and safety. For example, trans women, trans men, and non-binary folks are all deserving of care and safety and yet many folks do not have access to those things. These impacts are shaped by intersections with other power systems, like structural racism. As much as IWD is a celebration, it is also a day to remember those lost and continue to organize so that people of all marginalized genders are recognized, protected, and valued.

Who is a woman that inspires you?

Alisha: Alicia Garza

Ana: I am cheating and picking two—my best friends Monica and Tamia. They show me new ways of existing and engaging with the world, and they move through life with love and empathy. 

Rachel: My mom is one of my biggest inspirations. She’s immensely strong, thoughtful and effortlessly creative. Somehow she makes friends wherever she goes and always finds ways to help others. Her compassion motivates me to be a better person. She’s that kind of mom that left “have a great day at school” notes in our lunch boxes. I’m very grateful to have her support. 

Christine: Robyn Doolittle. She’s a Globe and Mail investigative journalist and everything I ever wanted to be while still in the publishing business. She asks tough questions and her reporting has influenced public policy for the better.

Leah: Professionally, writers and creators who have carved out spaces for themselves just by being good-old fashioned nerds, like Dana Schwartz who hosts a history podcast that I adore.

Personally, my grandmother and mother who never once let anyone tell them “No”. 

Samantha: The Moms 4 Housing movement in Oakland, CA, a collective of homeless and marginally housed Black mothers who took possession of empty, investor-owned houses to provide immediate housing for each other and their children.

What advice do you have for women in leadership roles, or wanting to run/apply for one?

Alisha: It’s easiest to lead when you’re doing something you love and are passionate about.

Ana: Don’t underestimate the importance of building rapport and community with the people you work with. Actively make space for people to have agency over their work. Take care of yourself—if you’re not well, chances are you will have trouble responding to challenges in ways that are mindful, caring and considerate. 

Rachel: Don’t let the fear of taking up space stop you from going after what you want and voicing your ideas. I would also encourage those in leadership roles to consider their ability to actively listen and mentor to uplift those who are in the position they were in not so long ago—let’s create room for everyone.

Christine: Enjoy the journey. This was something former Editor-in-Chief Leah Scheitel told me when I stepped into her shoes. Taking on a leadership role isn’t easy. Try to have fun while you’re doing it. 

Leah: Take chances and fail a little. Not on purpose and not because it’s particularly fun, but because you won’t know until you try. And it’s okay— – not only okay but actually really productive— – to be a wee bitchy and bossy at times; that’s when the work gets done. 

Samantha: A mentor once told me that you shouldn’t take yourself out of the game before you’ve even played—it’s always worth trying to do something even if you are not sure that you’re ‘good enough’. Value yourself and your labour.

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