Marilyn Moysa (1953-2009)

Photograph courtesy of the Edmonton Journal.

Marilyn Moysa, who was one of the best and toughest reporters I’ve known, has died after fighting a long and determined rearguard action against cancer. In 1992 she came to Wolfson College as a Press Fellow, with an established reputation as a campaigner for journalistic rights. In 1989, as the Labour Reporter of the Edmonton Journal, she had gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to protect her sources. She risked being sent to jail for refusing to testify at a Labour Relations Board hearing, but she wouldn’t back down.

“I think she was apprehensive about how it might turn out, but she had decided in her own mind she wasn’t going to testify,” said the Journal’s lawyer, Fred Kozak, this week. “It was more a matter of principle.”

He went on to say that the case has stood as a warning to anyone wanting to subpoena a reporter.

“To put it bluntly, since then, many, many times we have used ‘Moysa’ to illustrate how seriously the media takes the issue,” he said.

In its obituary, the Journal said that “her stand for journalistic principles continues to shield her colleagues from being dragged into court to reveal their sources. When she died Monday at age 56 after battling cancer for two decades, she left a template for courage and determination, both in life and in her work.”

I remember Marilyn as a passionate, warm, funny and intelligent journalist. She came to Wolfson to study the changing legal climate around assisted human reproductive technology. (Cambridge was a pioneering centre of research and practice in the area at the time.) After she returned to Canada she was diagnosed with breast cancer and she kept us awestruck and moved by her annual dispatches from the chemotherapy battlefield. She was one of those life-enhancing people who left the world a better place than when she found it. I feel privileged to have known her. May she rest in peace.