Raveena Aulakh, award-winning reporter with the Toronto Star, has committed suicide, it was announced on Tuesday. There was no information on how she died and where. That remains a mystery.
Raveena, 42, was of Indian origin and had worked with Hindustan Times in Chandigarh and the Indian Express before she came to Canada in 2006. She joined the Star editorial desk in 2008, after getting a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario in London.
She took her own life on May 28, but the news came to light only after rumours and stories began swirling around news desks throughout Toronto.
Toronto Star public editor Kathy English wrote that Raveena did not want her death to be discussed by anyone. English wrote that Aulakh explicitly asked her paper not to publish an obituary. However, this stand has been criticized by media persons across the spectrum. The Toronto Sun has warned that it would publish an obituary if the Star did not.
Aulakh had, before her death, sent emails to several people, saying that she was in a relationship with senior Star manager Jon Filson. That relationship had ended recently. She was despondent after she allegedly discovered that Filson — who is married — was also involved with his boss, Managing Editor Jane Davenport. Davenport was named managing editor of the Star in 2012 and was earlier the paper’s deputy national editor and news editor.
On Monday, Star columnist Heather Mallick — who last week described Aulakh as “wonderful” in a tweet — called the situation “surreal” and tweeted “we have been in a state of grief since May 28.”
Union demands investigation
The union representing Toronto Star newsroom employees has not intervened, saying it had asked for an outside investigator to conduct an inquiry into events surrounding the death.
“The newsroom is heartbroken and angry. Employees want answers. Workplace health and safety is at stake,” said a letter dated Tuesday from Unifor’s Toronto Star Unit, Local 87M to Brian Daly, the Star’s vice-president of human resources. Steve Gjorkes on behalf of Unifor’s Star unit said it wants “the third-party investigator’s mandate to include workplace health and safety and harassment issues, along with company policies and practices.”
“For transparency’s sake, we are calling for a third-party investigation into a newsroom tragedy,” reads the memo. “While many of us continue to grieve the death of our colleague Raveena Aulakh, your union has listened to newsroom members and has formally asked the Toronto Star to appoint an outside investigator to conduct an inquiry into the events surrounding the tragedy.”‘
One of her tweets
Aulakh covered environment news and was part of a National Newspaper Award winning Star project that was published in 2013. One of her last tweets, on May 13, was a quote from Mark Wahlberg’s character in 2006’s film The Departed. “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe fuck yourself.“ Could easily apply to others, & much more.”
English wrote that the Star said they “conducted a thorough internal investigation” after allegations were made in emails from Aulakh that were sent to several people.
“Action has been taken.” English said: “Filson and Davenport have lost their jobs in the newsroom.” Davenport has transferred to another department and will remain an employee of Torstar Corp. Filson hd left the organization last week.
Torstar chairman John Honderich said: “We have conducted a serious investigation at the highest levels; two senior managers have lost their jobs in the newsroom and policies are under review. We are open to any suggestions about policies moving forward and are ready to listen to anyone who wants to come forward with concerns.” – CINEWS