Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Toronto Star Reporter Raveena Aulakh, 42 Takes Her Own Life, Union Wants Investigation

TORONTO - The union that represents employees of the Toronto Star is calling on the newspaper’s management to organize an independent, third-party investigation into the death of one of its reporters and the “events surrounding the tragedy."

According to a memo obtained by the National Post, Unifor Local 87-M made the request to company officials Tuesday, after the death of global environment reporter Raveena Aulakh, 42, on the weekend of May 28.

Sources confirmed to the Post that Aulakh took her own life. She left a note in the newsroom, which was discovered by colleagues.

Aulakh requested that no obituary be published in the paper, and sources confirmed to the Post that the Star and its staff are honouring her request.

According to sources, Toronto Star publisher John Honderich has been conducting in-house investigations into the matter since last week.

The editor of the Star's tablet app, Star Touch, Jon Filson, is no longer employed by the company. No reason was given for his departure. Filson could not be reached for comment.

Sources confirmed to the National Post that Filson had previously been in a personal relationship with Aulakh.

On Monday, Toronto Star editor-in-chief Michael Cooke announced that “at her request,” managing editor Jane Davenport would move to a new role “outside the newsroom and within Torstar, effective immediately.” Davenport did not reply to a request for comment.

Aulakh’s former colleagues abroad and her co-workers at the Star remember her fondly. As an editor, they say, she made her colleagues better writers. As a reporter, they say, she made the world a better place.

"She hated injustice and unfairness, a trait one of her relatives commented about," said Donovan Vincent, a feature writer at the Star. "That side of her personality was apparent from her teenage and young adult years back in India."

She was born near Chandigarh, the joint capital of India's Punjab and Haryana states at the foot of the outer Himalayas.

Aulakh studied Mass Communication at Panjab University. She began her career in journalism as an editor and writer, first for The Indian Express and then for HT City, the lifestyle supplement of the Hindustan Times' Chandigarh edition.

"She took a huge gamble in moving to Canada," said former Hamilton Spectator managing editor and former Star staffer Roger Gillespie in a Facebook post. "She left everything behind."

Aulakh became a full-time member of staff, and in 2010, a feature on the emigration of young men from Punjab villages to Canada earned her a National Newspaper Award nomination. She won an NNA and global acclaim when in 2013 she worked undercover at a Bangladesh clothing factory. Please share this

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