By Ryan McGreal
Published November 09, 2012
Maggie Hughes has died after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. Maggie was an independent journalist and a tireless advocate for social justice, citizen activism and environmental sustainability. For 12 years she produced a weekly radio program on CFMU 93.3 FM called The Other Side that reported and examined news and events from a grassroots rather than an institutional perspective.
Her topics of interest included the Alberta Oilsands, global warming, pollution, corporate globalization, justice for First Nations communities, sustainability, civil rights, the concentration of wealth, environmental destruction, and government accountability. She published interviews with scientists, activists and advocates to present more detailed information and background that could not be found in the sound-bite media. You can listen to a collection of her recordings.
Just before her death, Maggie focused on the Enbridge plan to run diluted bitumen through a 37 year old pipeline that passes through Hamilton on its way east. On October 30, she published audio recordings of the citizen delegations to the City's General Issues Committee on the plan.
Maggie suffered from multiple sclerosis, a degenerative inflammatory disease that attacks the nervous system and leads to progressive physical and cognitive disability.
Despite her disease and its unpredictable but increasingly debilitating symptoms, Maggie continued single-handedly to publish detailed reports on important issues, producing thousands of hours of audio and video recordings from public meetings, protests, lectures and other events.
James Tennant, program director at CFMU, writes about her dedication. "We remember a woman who needed a motorized chair, yet hitched a ride on the back of a motorcycle to gather news from Caledonia in 2006."
In her last email to me, Maggie expressed her deep frustration dealing with MS:
I can tell you it is like living in a circus of constant change. Very difficult. ... Be nice if I made some people understand that MS isn't just about going lame, or having speech struggles. It is far more.
Maggie's relentless dedication to social justice in Hamilton has long been a major inspiration for me, not only through her willingness to get involved but also as an example of what a difference one person can make with determination and skill.
She will be deeply missed.
There will be a visitation and service for Maggie on Saturday, November 17, 2012.