Christie Blatchford was a miracle, an outspoken columnist for all four Toronto newspapers over her career. She died yesterday from lung cancer.
I remember reading her in the Toronto Sun. Right now, this quote fits her perfectly:
I can’t remember what you said
I can’t remember what you did
But I will always remember
How I felt when I was around you
Christie opened my eyes. She showed me a powerful woman, a powerful human being, a straight shooter. She touched thousands of lives.
I don’t want to be Christie Blatchford. I want to be more fully Bruce Kerr. Still, there was so much to admire … and so many people who revered her:
Blatchford passionately championed crime victims, Canada’s soldiers, Canada’s athletes – particularly Olympians – and publicly obsessed over law and order issues. In court, sitting in the front row, she would be relentlessly grabbing at tissues, weeping as she chronicled evidence of child abuse and neglect. And then she made readers weep when reading her account of the injustice.
In 1977, a copy editor at the Globe made changes and cuts to her sports column without consulting her, and the next day she called the rival Toronto Star. She started writing for the Star soon after.
[In Afghanistan] she demonstrated to all of us that there was no place too remote or austere for her to live with us in, no situation too dangerous, no Canadian soldier too rough or crude for her not to win over with her unique directness, toughness and impeccable common sense.
[Christie] It was scary, so raw and important at the time, that nothing else will really match that experience. I loved being with the soldiers. I loved the fear. I loved the excitement, the whole thing.
Blatchford connected with people in her stories in unconventional ways. In some cases, she would hug them and befriend them beyond the confines of journalism. At one extended trial, a witness became so attached to her that he reached out to clasp her hand for support as he nervously walked up the aisle to testify.
She would frequently help young reporters, all the while exhibiting her renowned profanity.
She was a model for knowing how to put your faith in your truths and not worry about the backlash, not worry about how people respond. She was unafraid and unapologetic about her views. It was inspiring for me.
She sparked visceral response. Nobody was on the fence about Christie. They either loved her or hated her. She was never about the middle ground. She had the most consistent moral compass of anyone I’ve ever encountered.
She took flying lessons. She was a lifeguard, played basketball, ran marathons. She was tenacious in everything she did.
I once signed a book for Christie Blatchford. and on the inside page I called her my hero. She read the scribbled words, turned to me and rather succinctly told me to piss off. Only she didn’t use the word “piss”. Then she hugged me.
Thank you, Blatch. You done good