Michelle Lang, 34, The first Cdn Journalist killed in Afghanistan
Yesterday was the bloodiest day for Canadian Forces in 2009. While on a Community Security Patrol 4 soldiers and one Journalist were killed as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device. The powerful blast also injured five other soldiers. The injured were taken to a Military Hospital at Kandahar Airfield. While the names of the soldiers have not yet been released, pending notification of next of kin, the name of the journalist have been released. She is 34 year old Michelle Lang, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia. She had been in Afghanistan just two weeks on a rotational assignment for the Calgary Herald.
Michelle Lang was a respected reporter for the Calgary Herald, who was health beat reporter. Just last year she won a national journalism award for best beat reporter.
Seemingly shaken by the incident the Editor in Chief of the Calgary Herald, Lorne Motley, described Michelle as well respected by the newsroom. He said in part:
"It's a devastating day. I'm totally heartbroken. I feel for her family, her fiancee, her friends and I feel for the newsroom,"
"It creates this hole, not only for the Herald, obviously, but also for Canwest and any other news organization because we're a pretty tight-knit group as journalists. We're family and when we lose one of our own, that's difficult for all of us to accept."
He said that Lang left a huge hole on the Calgary Herald Staff and that it will take the staff a long time to come to grips with her loss.
Dimitri Souda, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office also mentioned Michelle Lang in the statement on behalf of the Prime Minister:
"While not regularly the subject of news, those journalists who risk their lives reporting alongside the men and women of the Canadian Forces in one of the most dangerous regions in the world should not be forgotten,"
Michelle Lang earned her achievements the hard way. She did not go to journalism school, but earned her degree at Simon Fraser Univeristy, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.
She started her journalism career at small weekly newspapers in British Columbia and with hard work found her way to the Regina Post, in Regina, Saskatchewan. She was an agriculture reporter for that newspaper.
Michelle Lang moved to the Calgary Herald in 2002 and started covering health four years ago. She was often at odds with health officials, but always gave full and well researched coverage on the health beat. Her steadfastness earned her the National Best Beat Reporter Award last year.
A RIP Facebook Group has been formed in honour of Michelle Lang.
Michelle Lang was a dedicated reporter, who wanted to tell the stories of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. With only two weeks in Afghanistan, she ventured outside the wire with a convoy that embarked on a Community Security Control. For her efforts she paid the ultimate price.
This reporter sends his sincere condolences to Michelle's family, her fiance Michael Louie, the staff of the Calgary Herald and Regina Post, her friends and the community of Canadian Journalists in general.
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Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada