People

RIP Maggie Hughes

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.

See also:


There will be a visitation and service for Maggie on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By Barb (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2012 at 07:49:02

Very sad news!! Maggie Hughes was a fixture at demonstrations, meetings and events. No hipster, she really was an independent journalist before it was cool to be one. She could be sharp but people who don't have time for BS and call it out when they see it usually are. A lot of people are going to miss her.

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By Matt (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2012 at 09:30:26

I'm deeply saddened by the passing of Maggie Hughes who was a tireless reporter, educator and broadcaster for all the local environmental causes. I got to know her during the struggle for the protection of the Red Hill Valley. We were literally running towards the machines to try and stop the destruction while she recorded everything and took verbal notes and interviews of the situation. She phoned the CBC numerous times to fill them in. I thought she was working for the CBC! If only they had someone so dedicated. I will try to remember her best by continuing the fight against climate change, pollution and ignorance. Thank you Maggie for living a life of service to Hamilton, and the world.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted November 09, 2012 at 13:45:33 in reply to Comment 82701

I too met Maggie through the same forest cause and at a few events thereafter. She was a pleasure to talk to and I also admired her fight.

RIP Maggie and my sympathy to all her friends and family.

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By tree sitter (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2012 at 16:28:40

Thank you Maggie for all your dedication and inspiration. If people had half the heart and passion you did the world would be a far different place!!!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 09, 2012 at 22:57:16

Rest in peace Maggie. You deserve it after everything you went through.

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