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Arnold Amber, colleague and friend: In memoriam

On 4 September 2017, the world lost Arnold Amber, one of its fiercest social justice and press freedom advocates.

Arnold Amber speaking at a Canadian Embassy reception in Beirut, Lebanon, during the 2011 IFEX General Meeting
Arnold Amber speaking at a Canadian Embassy reception in Beirut, Lebanon, during the 2011 IFEX General Meeting

On 4 September 2017, at the age of 77, Arnold Amber left us, and the world lost one of its fiercest social justice and press freedom advocates.

The majority of Arnold's journalistic career was spent at Canada's national public broadcaster the CBC, in Toronto, where he started out as a writer and rose in the ranks to be executive producer of news specials there from 1979 to 1993. But his interests took him far and wide, including a decade as a young Reuters correspondant in Europe and Africa.

A life-long journalist and union leader, his passing has been reported in the media that he dedicated his life to, and felt, at a much more personal level, by his many colleagues and friends in IFEX, the global free expression network he helped found 25 years ago.

Arnold died on the day that is celebrated as Labour Day in Canada and in the United States, and it seemed a symbolic date for his passing. He was a union man, deeply committed to social justice. He walked in the Labour Day parade each year, without fail. At the CBC he represented his fellow journalists as a union leader, and for years was president of the Canadian Media Guild. He was "chief strategist, bargainer, and architect of some of the most progressive union agreements for media workers in Canada" according to Carmel Smyth, the former head of the union.

As his son, David, says in an article in the Toronto Star, “He wasn't a big man physically, but he was a force to be reckoned with.”

In 2014 Arnold became the first person to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom, in recognition of his work helping journalists around the world.

As president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression—a founding member of the IFEX network—and as an IFEX Council member for more than two decades, Arnold lived his commitment to the ideal of an international network of freedom of expression activists, and supported it with guidance and with leadership.

IFEX staff, members and partners truly benefitted from his participation in the network. He understood the importance of collaboration, a message we should all continue to take forward in our work as we remember him.

On behalf of everyone at IFEX, we recognize here, with profound gratitude, the immense impact of Arnold's decades of service to the promotion and defense of the right to freedom of expression and information, and convey our heartfelt condolences to his family.

The memorial service for Arnold will take place on Sunday 24 September at 2:00 p.m, in the Imperial Room at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto, Canada.

Below, we share just a few of the many tributes to Arnold that were spontaneously sent to us when people in the IFEX network heard the sad news last week.

Annie Game
Executive Director
IFEX


I will always remember and deeply admire his humanity, his dedication to the cause, to freedom of expression, to the wonderful IFEX community and to each one of its members. How he always reminded us about the importance of accuracy and procedures, but mostly about reciprocal respect and the values that unite us.
Barbara Trionfi, Vienna

It is a mark of Arnold's vision, stubbornness, grit, wit and persistence, over many years, that journalists and activists from all over the world are pausing to reflect on him today.
Marian Botsford Fraser, Toronto

Sad news indeed. Arnold was an inspiration at GMs, a leader at Council meetings and a teacher at Executive Committee Meetings. He cherished freedom of expression, demonstrated to us what commitment to the movement meant, and he lived it. He will forever be remembered.
Sulemana Braimah, Accra

It is a real loss for the freedom of expression community around the globe. He was a genuine crusader for freedom of expression till his last breath...He was a fatherly, caring personality, with a mix of wit & humor, but fully committed to the cause. An inspirational figure.
Bulbul Mojurul Ahsan, Dhaka

It was a privilege to know him. I was very much impressed by his mastery of all things related to journalism and press freedom, as well as his wonderful storytelling ability and sense of humour.
Ernest Sagaga, Brussels

He was the greatest man, and he will stay alive in my memory. I learned a lot from him, and every meeting with him was a new discovery for me. Shocked by this terribly sad news.
Khashkhuu (Naraa) Naranjargal, Ulaanbaatar

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