Media Matters: Time to change

We were appalled last week to hear that an assault of a Centre Wellington District High School student is, according to parents and students, part of an escalating pattern of abuse and violence targeting the school’s 2SLGBTQ+, BIPOC and special needs students.

One Upper Grad District School Board (UGDSB) official said he would never want “one act of violence” to overshadow the incredible equity and inclusion work done at the board. This is extremely insensitive, not to mention tone-deaf, considering what we’re told has been happening at the school recently.

Ironically, some school and UGDSB employees who pride themselves on empty platitudes and public shows of feigned solidarity are the same people who allowed a culture of fear, intimidation, violence and intolerance to fester at the Fergus school in the first place. It’s a travesty.

Just imagine how repeatedly-targeted victims must feel about useless performative acts that have solved nothing for them. A lot of people have failed these marginalized students, including parents and fellow students, but most notably teachers, support staff, principals and board officials.

This newspaper hopes that going forward we can help shine a light on intolerance, particularly as it impacts young and vulnerable members of the community.

But pointing out injustice is just the beginning. Officials at the school and UGDSB must immediately take meaningful action and abandon the current path of hollow feel-good exercises that produce little in terms of real-world results.

A good first step would be to crack down hard on perpetrators of hate and violence and actually protect marginalized victims instead of worrying more about the “rights” of assailants and negligent parents upset about their child’s punishment.

Goodbye to a giant

Sadly, Advertiser founder Bill Adsett passed away on Oct. 5.

Bill was a huge influence early in my career and regularly took the time to voice his appreciation for the job I was doing. Always dressed in a suit, he was a funny, sensible and caring man who recognized the value of loyalty, dedication and hard work.

Three years ago, in an interview with me about the newspaper’s 50th anniversary, he shared many personal stories that never made it to print – some amusing, some heartbreaking, but each one enlightening. It was a special time I will always treasure.

In his retirement, Bill would often visit the office and stop by for a chat. Before long he would smile and say, “I’ll get out of your hair,” ever cognizant of deadlines but seemingly oblivious of the high regard in which he was held and of the pleasure it was to hold his attention for a few fleeting moments.

His encyclopedic knowledge of local events, people, organizations and places was invaluable to me over the years, a remarkable gift surpassed only by his friendship.

Whether or not you knew Bill, every single person reading this newspaper owes him a debt of gratitude. His legacy and contributions to this community remain invaluable.

Rest easy, Bill.

It was an honour.