Toronto Star: from mother to daughter
By Jasmeet SidhuIn some ways, you can say newspapers are the family business.
I don’t mean that I come from a long line of reporters and editors, or that my middle name is secretly Atkinson.
When we first came to Canada in late December 1988, one of my mother’s first jobs was delivering the Toronto Star. She did it for nearly a decade while I was growing up, getting up at 2 a.m. (including on cold Christmas and New Year's mornings), stacking the Toronto Star into our station wagon and then delivering each and every one to the houses in our corner of Mississauga, ready for subscribers when they got up early in the morning.
I would often get up with her at those ungodly hours as a 5 or 6 year old, and still remember the blistering cold winds during the winter, or walking the dead streets with her and the feeling of utter astonishment at watching meteor showers, stars and planets that shine only in the darkness of the night. I remember growing up with stacks of weeks-old Toronto Star copies lying around the house before I was even able to read them (and often using them to make some impressive forts), and sharing in the happiness with her when subscribers would tip her or give a Christmas bonus. The job didn’t pay much, so every little bit was helpful.
During my last couple of months here working at the Toronto Star, I’ve thought more about those times than ever before. Reporters feel lucky to be in the position they are in, and be the eyes and ears for Toronto and Canada on issues that affect our lives. But I also feel lucky looking at the trajectory of my family’s life like any immigrant or child of immigrants would, from a mother who delivered a newspaper for a living, to a daughter who is now able to write for that newspaper.
Mom and I laugh now about how slim the Saturday editions of the paper
are getting. We remember how difficult it used to be to lug those ones around,
especially with the large advertising inserts that definitely bruised a
shoulder blade or two. We sometimes wondered if anyone who gets their paper in
the morning really remembers that someone in the middle of the night had to
place it there. We wonder too, if reporters remember that those lone souls are
the lifeline in getting their words out to the city.
I wanted to take her up to the Toronto Star newsroom before I finished my internship and show her the place where the newspaper is created, the newspaper she for so many years delivered to houses across Mississauga. Unfortunately a last minute turn of events had my mother leaving the country for a family illness before it could be arranged, so I decided to write this blog in tribute to her, and the sacrifices I know she made for me to be able to sit here in the newsroom and write this.
Like most things in life, a song probably expresses it best. Here’s a line from the K’naan song ‘Take a minute’. In it, he sings, “Dear Mama, you helped me write this, by showing me to give is priceless.”Jasmeet Sidhu is a recent graduate of University of Toronto in peace and conflict studies. She worked as a summer intern for the Star this year, a radio room intern last summer, and sat on the Star’s community editorial board the summer before that. Follow her on Twitter or email at email@example.com