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The end of a die-hard Wealie’s era: Ruwald de Fortier says farewell

Well friends, it’s the end of an era for me. It’s been a blast taking the reins of this grand magazine this past year, and steering it in a direction for a bright future.

I entered the SAIT Journalism program with the intent on one day working as a music journalist, covering bands and albums and all that goes on in that world. Although my career goals changed, the Weal as an open platform and learning environment provided me the opportunities to build a foundation for my journalism and publishing career. I still remember being so excited on interviewing and photographing bands I listened to for some of my early Weal articles.

As most SAIT Journalism students know, and for those of you unfamiliar with how most Weal staff come to know the Weal at first, Weal editors drop by within the first few weeks of classes to talk about the Weal and the opportunities it makes available for students. I was intimidated by the panel of student editors talking to my news writing class. I thought those students were the cream of the crop, the best of the best. I thought I’d never be in their shoes.

I corresponded with the Weal via email and volunteered remotely for about a month before I dropped by the office. I had no idea the Weal even had a physical location at the time, what I happened upon when I was going to pick up a marked-up draft from an editor was a tiny hole in the wall of the SAIT Campus Centre filled with warm sunlight, excitement, the clattering of computer keyboards, and the comradery of the college media newsroom.

I was 100% sold on being part of the Weal right there, I wanted to be part of this space and community that was so cool and full of history, and not only was it cool, Weal red was and is still my favourite colour. I knew from that October day I wanted to be the Arts and Entertainment Editor, and I dreamed of being Editor-in-Chief one day.

The spring of 2017 I got my first wish. I was on reading week break when I got the call from Lambie Hamilton, the Weal’s Publications Coordinator at the time, with an offer for the A&E editor position. I was ecstatic, and bouncing off the walls with excitement. My girlfriend Jill can attest to that.

Right on the tail end of the due dates of my final assignments for the journalism program, opportunity found me in the form of the position I held for this last year as Editor-in-Chief of the Weal. I was in the Odyssey post-job interview, crunching some final assignments, when Lambie called me with that offer that had me through the roof with joy once again.

It was a wild ride this last year, and it was such a privilege to be part of the dawn of the Weal’s new era as a magazine after more than 90 years as a newspaper. I gained a heaping amount of experience this last year, accomplished a few things, made a ton of mistakes more, and learned so much not only in terms of working in publishing and editing, but life as well.

The Weal was where I had many of my firsts as a novice journalist. My first published byline, my first draft marked up and drenched in red ink, my first time staying somewhere past 9:00 p.m. to finish an assignment, my first production day, my first time working at a concert and not just attending, and finally, my first full-time job. It’s a publication and place I can never forget.

SAITSA also provided me with my first part-time job as a sales associate at the Station Market and the Odyssey, a gig I still miss sometimes, also an experience I’ll always cherish.

Cases like mine are why student unions like SAITSA are important. SAITSA’s given me, and so many other students so many great opportunities throughout its long history.

The Weal didn’t just provide a platform for me to get bylines under my belt, it also welcomed me into its fold as a member of its community, gave me a chance to become a leader, and I made friends who I still see often and cherish dearly to this day.

I love the Weal dearly. Almost as if it were a person. Although It’ll be so difficult to leave what’s pretty much been my second home these past few years, I’ll never progress further in my journey, and do even greater things if I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone. 

The past three years flew by oh-so quickly. I blinked around this time last year, and here I am, after all the ups and downs over the years I’m finished at SAIT and ready to conquer whatever comes next.

I hope to return someday in the future as the Weal’s publications coordinator. I also hope to make it big as a comic book artist someday. I’ve always wanted to illustrate and write my own comic in the style of a manga, as I’m absolutely crazy about manga, and I hope to take what I’ve learned here and apply that knowledge of publishing not just on whatever my next career venture is, but also for when the time comes for me to publish that comic and take the world by storm.

For all those who followed my journey at SAIT, and the Weal, I hope I made you proud.

A Weal pin will always have a home in my desk. I’ll never forget the kind people I worked with over the years at SAITSA. I never thought I’d be the last Wealie who worked alongside those editors who introduced the Weal to me in my first news writing class, and a few teams after, to leave campus.

It’s been a pleasure.

I’ll see you around, SAIT.


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