Columnist bids the News farewell, for now

I can hardly believe it's been 12 years since I joined the pages of the Yukon News. I was the Whitehorse Library writer-in-residence at the time, a wonderful program run by the intrepid Mairi MacRae.

I can hardly believe it’s been 12 years since I joined the pages of the Yukon News. I was the Whitehorse Library writer-in-residence at the time, a wonderful program run by the intrepid Mairi MacRae.

An admirer of this independent newspaper’s breadth of coverage, both local and international, and its courage in tackling tough issues, I was thrilled upon being invited by then-editor Peter Lesniak to write a no-strings-attached column. Those kinds of invitations are rare in today’s branch-plant newspapers, and 1,000-word-columns no longer exist elsewhere, but that’s the kind of courage the News had and continues to have under editor Richard Mostyn, who’s not afraid of unpopular political positions on his editorial pages.

For a local newspaper the News has retained an impressive range of columnists, social and political, and certainly tolerated some controversial columns of mine, though after several years, I finally had to slow down to a monthly column.

But the media is changing faster than a ground squirrel crossing the Alaska Highway. And media that don’t react to these changes end up looking like those ground squirrels with bad timing.

The Yukon News is making changes to keep up with the times, and I am one of those changes. Recently, I’ve become worried about growing stale. And no wonder, considering the hundreds of columns I’ve written. Yet I know I’ll miss the paper. And I’ll miss occasionally sharing a page with the feisty Al Pope as he holds Yukoners’ feet to the coals.

I want to thank publisher Steve Robertson for his courageous, open, and independent newspaper – one of the last of its kind in Canada. Thanks also to editor, Richard Mostyn, of course, for celebrating the local while embracing the news of the world; my good friend Erling Friis-Baastad; Pat Shearer for her sense of humour; and Genesee and the other staff.

Most of all, I want to thank my fans who’ve written me some wonderful letters over the years, and all Yukoners for tolerating my wacky moments. As for my enemies, don’t worry, I’ll be back. The Yukon News has generously offered me the opportunity to write special reports when I encounter hot issues, and have more time, and have recovered from these 12, delightful years.

Thank you all.

Brian Brett, poet, journalist and novelist, lives on Salt Spring Island and returns to the Yukon whenever he can. His new book, Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life, has just been released by Greystone Books.

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