After four long years, my degree has come to an end and so has my tenure at the Martlet. With the end of this semester so different than any of us had expected and many of us left without closure, I count myself as one of the lucky ones for this opportunity to say a proper goodbye.
The best part of being a journalist is shining light on stories which would otherwise go untold. For just a moment, I’d like to shine this light on the extraordinarily talented individuals that make the Martlet what it is.
The work we did this year would have been impossible without the tireless dedication and tenacity of our team, both staff and volunteers. Some, such as our incredibly talented Design Director Darian Lee, continue to surprise and amaze me every issue, no matter what challenges were thrown their way.
Together, we put together entire issues dedicated to tackling two of the biggest crises impacting our community — housing and climate change — and worked hard to hold both UVic and the UVSS to account. Joshua Ngenda and Natasha Simpson won not one, but two John H. McDonald Awards for Excellence in Student Journalism for the Martlet for the first time in over five years. Shortly after, we were recognised by the Canadian University Press for our work covering the Wet’suwet’en solidarity movement — coverage written by many of our staff who spent long, often cold nights and days on the scene to ensure nothing was missed.
I am so, so proud of our team this year — I asked a lot of them, and they did not back down from the challenge. Although there is not room here to properly convey how much I individually appreciate them, I hope they can see as I do the impact they’ve had and how they’ve grown.
As journalists, we at the Martlet are here to tell the stories of UVic and the wider Victoria community. This year, we had the privilege to tell (and sometimes break) so many significant stories. There were the pieces that saw members of our community come together as a force for change, from the Global Climate Strike, escalated actions by Divest UVic, and the Wet’suwet’en solidarity movement. But all too often, the biggest stories were those that were harder to tell on a personal level — two first-year students who lost their lives in a bus crash during a class trip, the death of a first-year student on Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752, allegations of harassment and abuse by UVic’s current Women’s Rowing coach Barney Williams, and the ongoing, overwhelmingly devastating impact of COVID-19.
Local journalism is one of many sectors hit hardest by COVID-19, with mass layoffs, pay cuts, and even closures. To all the young — and even seasoned — journalists out there, this is indisputably discouraging. But especially in times like these, journalism is an essential service. Despite every setback, reporters are still working every day to provide our communities with accurate, hard-fought information.
It’s my hope that other young journalists don’t see this as a death knell for the industry, but as a call to action.
Working to represent the voices of students — all students — on campus is an arduous, unending task, and one that the Martlet hasn’t always gotten right. The mistakes have stuck with me, fuelling me to work to do better.
There are many people I have met through this newspaper who have irreversibly shaped my time here. I will always be grateful for everyone who shared their stories — particularly those who trusted me with their trauma.
This job is not an easy one, and I would be nowhere without the guidance of those who came before me, both in my time as a writer and any time in the last year when they’ve picked up the phone. Anna, Hugo, Cormac, and Myles, along with Alex and Belle, there’s so much I want to say, but within this word count I can only say this: thank you.
By and large, the Martlet has been the most fulfilling part of my time at UVic. For me, it will always be worth so much more than any lectures I attended or assignments I turned in. It was where I met some of my best friends, the reason I was forced to spend far too much time paying attention to student and university governance, and the place I realized my passion.
The Martlet has been so many things for me, for those I’ve had the privilege to work alongside over the last four years, and I hope for you reading this as well. This publication exists for you, the people of the University of Victoria — and for your role in that, whatever that may be, I want to thank you.
There’s so much more work to be done — accountability is a never-ending process — and I have no doubt that my successor is up to the task. Of them, and all of those who will make up Volume 73, I ask one thing: Give ‘em hell for me.
All the best,