London journalism comes home for a visit

Kalyeena Makortoff, 27, came back to Grand Forks to be reunited with friends and family this week.

Kalyeena Makortoff

A local woman is enjoying being back home in the Boundary this week after living and working in London, England as a journalist for the past several years.

Kalyeena Makortoff, 27, came back to Grand Forks to be reunited with friends and family this week after moving to London several years ago. Makortoff is currently celebrating a new job as a city reporter with the Press Association, a United Kingdom-based wire service—all this after getting her start doing a work placement with the Grand Forks Gazette when she moved to Grand Forks from Fruitvale in high school.

Makortoff, who studied political science at the University of British Columbia (UBC), said she always figured journalism would be a good fit for her. “You’re learning every day. No day is ever the same, you’re not necessarily sitting at a desk, you’re never doing the same thing twice,” she said.

It started with a work placement at the Gazette, which eventually turned into an internship. From there she worked for the Ubyssey, UBC’s student paper.

She interned at CTV where she discovered a love of broadcast journalism, before eventually deciding to move to London to be closer to her partner, Alex, whom she met while studying in Vancouver.

Living across the pond took a bit of getting used to, but she was eventually hired at CNBC after doing some freelance work—including getting an article published with The Guardian, one of the U.K.’s most well-known news outlets.

Makortoff said it has been a big adjustment, moving from somewhere so small to one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities.

“You forget you have that support in a small town. Everyone knows everyone, everyone is happy to see you and says hi. I went from having a huge network to moving to … not knowing anyone,” she said. “That was isolating and scary at first. It took a while to process how far away I was.”

Despite all of London’s many charms, Makortoff said she has missed Grand Forks greatly, especially the outdoor lifestyle of the Boundary.

“Swimming, tubing, going to the lake. The mountains, going for hikes. Some of my friends in London say, ‘We’re going for a hike this weekend. And I’m like, ‘no, you’re going for a walk up a hill,’” she laughed.

While home she attended a family gathering, one of the many things she loved about being home.

Proud family members include her father Dmitri Makortoff, mother Lunya Savinkoff-Foyle, and grandparents Peter Savinkoff and Laura Savinkoff, and Pauline Makortoff.

“We just had a family gathering yesterday where we had about 40 people. My partner’s family is quite small . . . they are so lovely and welcoming. But you forget you have all these wonderful people who love you and whom you love. Skype is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

In the future, Makortoff said she hopes to delve deeper into economic and business reporting, but also hopes to put her Russian speaking skills to good use.

“I’m relearning Russian and taking lessons, [I want] to do a stint in Russia as a Russian correspondent, through a wire service or a newspaper,” she said. “Being Doukhobor, you have a connection and I’ve never really been . . . so I want to be there and tell the stories.”