PROFILE of PUBLISHER & EDITOR MARY P BROOKE
ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS | Last update: August 6, 2023
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke is a life-long journalist who has been active in the business and leadership community in Greater Victoria and the west shore for decades. She is the founder, editor and publisher of Island Social Trends.
Her company Brookeline Publishing House Inc has published books, magazines, newsletters, catalogs, and newspapers; produced real estate marketing for many years; and delivered online IT training to government clients for over a decade. But journalism is at the heart of all this.
Mary Brooke has lived in Toronto, Saskatoon/Regina, Victoria/Oak Bay, Sooke and Langford. She has visited most university campuses across Canada and travelled to fun places like New York City on July 4, DisneyWorld in Orlando, an ashram in San Francisco, electrical generating stations across Saskatchewan, and so much more.
From top to bottom, she’s done a lot… on the same weekend in 2016 she was both knee-deep in the Sooke River during salmon restoration and out on the front lines with international media as a photojournalist on the Royal Visit by William and Kate in Victoria in 2016.
Journalism at the heart of it:
Over the decades Mary Brooke has travelled many journalism roads, interviewing and photography the many people, businesses and organizations who contribute to the news of the day.
In her recent active journalism she has asked live media questions to the prime minister, various premiers, federal and provincial government ministers, and many other elected officials, leaders in education and business, first responders, and sports leadership.
Mary uses her middle initial ‘P’ (Paula) in her public name, as a distinguishing factor for her name in the public sphere.
Giving back to the community through journalism:
Mary Brooke takes seriously her role to reflect back to the community about themselves, through writing, photography and publishing.
Here on south Vancouver Island she backs the local arts community by each year sponsoring the Sooke Fine Arts Show as a Platinum Sponsor and the farming/food community by providing free advertising to farmer’s markets.
With her B.Sc. in Foods and Nutrition in her back pocket since university days, now, Mary Brooke has been moving ahead since 2022 with fostering greater awareness about urban food resilience in the local and regional area as well as in contributing to broader discourse on the subject of food security on Vancouver Island, around BC and across Canada. [Mary Brooke is available to make a presentation to your municipal council or organization about Urban Food Resilience; contact email@example.com ]
Caring a great deal about the quality of public education in BC, Mary P Brooke ran for school trustee on south Vancouver Island in 2022, using a strong base of 10+ years of governance-level school district journalism coverage under her belt. While door-knocking, she was astonished to discover the gaps between what she heard at the school district board room level versus what people were saying in the community.
Mary also keeps a sociocultural eye on the differences between society, economy and government in Canada vs the USA. Canadians have long seen themselves both as separate and apart from American culture, but maintain a running comparative analysis — not realizing how similar we can be but how different we really are. Mary P Brooke participates on Spoutible with a Canada/US theme.
Curiosity and a sense of fierce independence are two of many essential ingredients for being a forthright journalist. Mary Brooke has those qualities — and many others — in spades. She has high reverence for the English language — once told that she writes ‘in the King’s English’, Mary thirsts for every opportunity to write plainly and clearly. She follows the principles of Accessible Writing and Plain English as well as using Canadian Press Style in her daily journalism.
In the early 1990s, Mary P Brooke wrote the 36-week Writing for Business and Journalism curriculum for the former Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, and was a co-founder of the Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island (PEAVI). She was an early leader in web/HTML for small business in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Since 2008, Ms Brooke has delved deep into news coverage of local, regional and BC news through a socioeconomic lens (on business, politics, government, health, education and sustainability), with a knack for producing easy-to-read journalism with fresh angles and insights.
Mary Brooke is available to deliver talks on the role of journalism and in particular how important it is to main a free press in Canada. She has delivered talks at high schools about journalism — in some cases this has led to summer employment for students and in some cases the furtherance of their careers including scholarship applications.
Mary P Brooke now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery and attends various municipal council and school board meetings (often remotely) to continue gathering frontline news about the community, the economy and society as a whole.
Custom formats, great images:
Back in the mid-1980s Mary Brooke published her first newspaper — the monthly Regina Commerce News.
On south Vancouver Island, Mary P Brooke first published her journalism work as the quarterly colour glossy MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then weekly in a black-and-white print 11×17 tabloid as Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), then weekly in the colour 11×17 print/PDF as West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). All those print publications are now archived in the permanent collections at the Sooke Region Museum.
Mary Brooke is also a powerful photojournalist, capturing images that speak for themselves as well as enhancing her written journalism.
Going daily with Island Social Trends online:
In mid-2020, Ms Brooke’s impactful journalism went fully online with the daily news portal IslandSocialTrends.ca and a Twitter stream @IslandSocTrends; she has also continued with hyper-local news for the west shore as posted on Facebook at IslandSocialTrends.
Starting in October 2023 Island Social Trends will launch back into a bi-weekly print edition, while continuing the online news portal.
Langford is home:
Since 2017, Mary P Brooke has called the south Vancouver Island municipality of Langford home.
She keeps an editor’s eye on community growth and change in the west shore and the broader Vancouver Island region including Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Highlands, View Royal and Sooke.
BC-level coverage & awards:
Ms Brooke generated daily news coverage about the COVID pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021, including many editorials. During COVID, as media Mary Brooke was notably the first journalist to ask Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry about MIS-C in children, long-COVID syndrome, and the immunization prioritization that left young adults to last.
Mary Brooke has covered the political news trajectory of now former Premier John Horgan through the period 2008-2023. Mary P Brooke now reports with the BC Legislative Press Gallery. In summer 2023 she has actively covered the Langford-Juan de Fuca by-election.
In June 2023, Mary P Brooke was nominated for the Jack Webster Foundation Shelley Fralic Award for her community contributions as a woman journalist. She was also an applicant for the 2023 Lieutenant Governor’s BC Journalism Fellowship in long-form journalism.
In June 2023, Island Social Trends was mentioned in the House of Commons by Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) and Peter Julian, MP (NDP House Leader and Critic on Canadian Heritage) as a resourceful journalism publication on south Vancouver Island.
Back in the 1980s, Mary Brooke was awarded the McGeachy Prize in Journalism at the University of Saskatchewan. In that decade she worked as a communications specialist for the Saskatchewan Power Corporation (writing energy conservation speeches and documents for senior executives). She created and published the monthly pre-digital Regina Commerce News before relocating to Victoria, BC.
Raising children, encountering the education system:
Mary Brooke is now in her 60s and going strong. She raised her four now-grown children (son James, and daughters Rebecca, Catherine and Jennifer) here on south Vancouver Island; she credits raising intelligent creative children to her consistent youthful approach to things and her approach to holistic well-being.
Mary’s experiences and observations of the shortfalls of public education having such impacts on students, parents, families and society during the BC Liberal years (2001-2016) led in large part to her launching her news publications. In the 2022 election cycle she ran as a school trustee candidate in SD62 (west shore Belmont Zone: Langford / Colwood / Metchosin / Highlands).
Training the next generation:
Back in 2021 Ms Brooke launched the Island Social Trends Journalism Scholarship, available to graduates of SD62 in the west shore; in 2022 that morphed into a year-round mentoring program. She first launched the MapleLine Journalism Program for adult learners in 2010.
Exposing youth to journalism opportunities is part of saving our precious fragile democracy.
Food resilience leadership:
Mary Brooke holds a B.Sc. in foods and nutrition (with community education component, and a second major in sociology), 1981. She also holds a university Certificate in Public Relations (1985). She earned those in parallel with her freelance journalism and corporate communications career.
In the late 1970’s she led a six-month federal project in urban nutrition education in downtown Toronto, the largest project of 30 across Canada. In the early 1980s she composed manuals on prenatal nutrition (for nurses, and pregnant women) for the Saskatchewan Health Department.
In summer 2023, Mary Brooke has made two presentations to City of Langford Council committees about urban food resilience. She is encouraging urban municipalities to include food-growing capacity into housing zoning and development, and to support communities with fostering individual household food-growing resilience.
In March 2023 Mary Brooke presented an information booth on Food Security at the Sooke Seedy Saturday event.
===== HOW TO SUPPORT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Anyone can find Island Social Trends articles online at IslandSocialTrends.ca — that is Mary Brooke’s commitment to making professional journalism available to the full community.
Journalism is a key plank of Canadian democracy; without independent news coverage and analysis of those who hold society’s power, then we are in danger of losing the freedoms that many people take for granted in our Canadian democracy.
Journalism is in danger of being significantly diminished in Canada due to the decimation of the traditional media publishing industry under the onslaught of social media tech giants like Facebook and Google. Hopefully the Canadian government’s Bill C-18 will help small media enterprises survive.
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