Lucie Pagé, Québécoise journalist, director, writer (born 29 November 1961 in Greenwood, Nova Scotia). As a correspondent for Société Radio-Canada in South Africa, Lucie Pagé witnessed first-hand the fall of the apartheid regime and the advent of Nelson Mandela’s government. Over a period of 25 years, she has turned out more than 1,000 news stories, documentaries, articles and lectures on her adopted country.
Education and Early Career
Born to Québécois parents, Lucie Pagé spent the first 10 years of her life in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Manitoba. When she was 12, her parents decided to return to Québec, where Pagé attended high school and college. She earned a Diploma of Collegial Studies in psychology at Cégep de l’Outaouais and then went to Asia for a year to make documentaries especially about China and Nepal.
After returning to Québec, Pagé completed a BA in journalism at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in 1985. Having finished near the top of her class, she received a summer internship at Radio-Canada, where she would stay for 30 years, first as a contract employee and then as a freelancer. At Radio-Canada, she contributed to Contrechamp and Le magazine économique, and at Radio-Québec (now Télé-Québec) to the programs l’Indice, Visa Santé and Nord-Sud.
Nelson Mandela was released from prison on 11 February 1990 after 27 years in custody. Sent on assignment by Nord-Sud, she left Québec for South Africa and made approximately 10 documentaries on the country’s political and social climate. In 1991, she became Radio-Canada’s correspondent in South Africa and director of the Audiovisual Unit of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg. Through these roles, she came to be in charge of training South African journalists and politicians between 1992 and 1993, including Nelson Mandela.
It was during Pagé’s first visit to South Africa that she met her husband Jay Naidoo, an anti-apartheid south-african political activist of Indian descent who became minister responsible of the Reconstruction and Development Program, and then minister of Telecommunications in the Mandela government (1994–99). The couple would have two children. Also mother to a little boy of whom she had shared custody, Pagé was constantly shuttling between her newly adopted country and Québec. The feeling of being torn between two continents and two lives marks her early books.
Essayist and Novelist
In her first book, titled Mon Afrique (2001), Lucie Pagé, as a first-hand witness to the fall of the apartheid regime, evokes the major upheaval that marked Mandela’s release and election until the end of his presidence (1990–99). She shares African life with her readers through her experience as a woman, mother, government minister’s wife and foreign correspondent. A bestseller (the book has sold nearly 50,000 copies), Mon Afrique was published in several countries and translated into English under the title Conflict of The Heart. French television station TV5 also made a documentary based on the book.
Eva, Pagé’s second book and first novel, was published in 2005. An historical novel, it tells the story of impossible love between a white woman and black man in South Africa from the 1960s to 1990. In Notre Afrique (2006), the follow-up to Mon Afrique, she describes the situation in South Africa after 10 years of democracy, taking a candid, sensitive look at mixed marriages and Africa’s status in the age of globalization.
In 2010, Pagé published Encore un pont à traverser, a Western social fable with South-African flavour. The guide Comprendre l'Afrique du Sud came out with Ulysses in 2011. These two works were another attempt to raise awareness about and spread her love of Africa in the hope of breaking down prejudice towards the continent. In 2014, she published Demain, il sera trop tard, mon fils ("Tomorrow will be too late, my son"), a conversation between a mother and her son on the state of the planet.
Social and Political Involvement
In 2004, Lucie Pagé was the artistic director for the Grande fête d’ouverture of the 25th Festival international de Jazz de Montréal, which highlighted the 10 years since the fall of the apartheid regime. The event showcased South African artists Johnny Clegg, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and South African-born Montréaler Lorraine Klaasen (see African Music in Canada). Pagé has also directed and produced several documentaries, including on the issue of rape (Toutes les 83 secondes / Every 83 seconds, 1992) and on South Africa’s songs of liberation (La route des chants de libération, 2000).
A freelance journalist, Pagé is a regular contributor to La Presse and L’Actualité. She can also be heard on Radio-Canada. She gives lectures on journalism as a profession and the issues of justice and social solidarity. Having had the opportunity to associate with Nelson Mandela for a number of years, she wishes to continue spreading his message of hope, freedom and resilience: “The world is one stage and the actions of all its inhabitants part of the same drama.”
Honours and Awards
In 1985, Lucie Pagé won the Concours de journalisme des universités francophones de l'est du Canada. She also received an honourable mention at the 1991 Vues d’Afrique Festival for her documentary on health in South Africa. The Southern African Film Festival honoured her in the same way in 1993 for her documentary on domestic violence (When Love Hurts, 1993).
In 2004, the National Magazine Awards presented Pagé with a silver medal in the health category and an honourable mention for her article on the Phelophepa, a medical train that travels to rural areas of South Africa. She was Présidente d’honneur at the Salon du livre de l’Outaouais the same year.
Mon Afrique (Libre Expression, 2001). Tr. Conflict of the Heart (David Philip, 2003).
Eva (Libre Expression, 2005).
Notre Afrique (Libre Expression, 2006).
Encore un pont à traverser (Libre Expression, 2010).
Comprendre l’Afrique du Sud (Ulysses, 2011).
Demain, il sera trop tard, mon fils, with contributions from Kami Naidoo-Pagé and Jay Naidoo (Stanké, 2014).