Sue Montgomery has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She has reported from London, South Africa, Angola, Namibia and Rwanda. By chance, she ended up in the former Czechoslovakia in November 1989, just as the Velvet Revolution was unfolding. She was trapped in Haiti during the 2004 coup and was held at gunpoint. She has returned to the country several times since, covering further tragedies including the 2010 earthquake that killed 200,000 people and left millions homeless. In 2013-2014 Montgomery spent several weeks in Rwanda examining the state of mental health 20 years after the genocide against the minority Tutsi.
Most recently, Montgomery has worked as the justice reporter for the Montreal Gazette, giving voice to many victims of crime, especially survivors of sexual abuse. In 2008, she uncovered widespread sexual abuse at the prestigious Montreal private boys school College Notre Dame. Hundreds of victims who were students as far back as the 1950s, and who had kept their experiences secret, came forward following the publication of Montgomery’s articles and joined a class-action suit against the school’s owners, Les Frères Ste. Croix. They settled for $18 million – the biggest class-action settlement against a religious order in Canada.
Recently, Montgomery covered the Luka Magnotta murder trial – one of the most gruesome trials in the history of justice in Canada. Magnotta was found guilty of killing, decapitating and dismembering Chinese student Jun Lin, then mailing his body parts to Canadian political parties and to two schools in Vancouver.
While many of her subjects are serious, Montgomery approaches her work with a healthy sense of humour. She still believes in the kindness of humans and tries to practice it herself. In the past few years, Montgomery has hosted two children – one from Nepal and the other from Haiti – who came to Canada for surgery and long-term recovery at the Shriners Hospital.
Before becoming a journalist, Montgomery worked as a flight attendant and prison guard – jobs she says require similar skills. Those skills, she says, have helped her more or less successfully raise two children, a boy and girl, as well as stay married for 20 years.