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Activist and journalist Ewart Walters dies at age 83

Ewart Walters speaks to CTV News Ottawa in 2013. Ewart Walters speaks to CTV News Ottawa in 2013.

Local activist and journalist Ewart Walters has died at the age of 83.

Walters was the editor of the Spectrum Newspaper, Ottawa's Black-community newspaper, for nearly three decades. He also worked at the Jamaican High Commission and played a central role in advocating and connecting Black communities in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

"I think that his legacy is an incredible one; It's an indelible one to the city of Ottawa." Coun. Rawlson King, the Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Initiatives, said on Friday. 

"He really represented the Black community well, represented their interests and, you know, emphasized the challenges that the community had, but also the wonderful achievements that the community had."

"So everything that he was a part of, in terms of the Black community, in terms of the police department, whatever he was engaged in, came out of his faith," Rev. Cheryle Hanna of the Fourth Avenue Baptist Church said.

"We would say that his superpower was letter writing. If there was someone in the church or someone associated with the church that was having an issue, you were to write a letter. His letters broke down doors, they conquered demons. He could write a letter in a way that a protest just didn't do."

Walters was the recipient of several awards, including the Order of Ottawa.   

A 2015 bio on the city of Ottawa's website for the Order of Ottawa states,  "Possessing a passion for justice, strong journalistic skills, and a talent for writing, Ewart Walters edited and published The Spectrum, Ottawa’s Black-community monthly newspaper for 29 years, defending and promoting the rights of visible minorities in Canada."

The description continues to say, "His contributions to Ottawa’s Black community began in 1964 as a co-founder of the West Indian Association of Ottawa, and expanded as one of the creators of Black History Ottawa; Harambee Canada, which replaced the National Black Coalition of Canada; the National Council of Jamaican-Canadians; and the National Council of Visible Minorities."

A triple-gold medallist prize winner of Seprod Awards for Excellence in Journalism, Walters graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University in 1968 and received his Master’s degree in 1979. In 1965-66, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Carleton, becoming the first Black editor of this weekly student newspaper.

Mr. Walters has published five books, and has also served as a diplomat in New York and Ottawa for six years.

Former Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau paid tribute to Walters on Twitter.

"Ewart Walters was a teacher, a leader, an advisor and a friend," Bordeleau said.

"He helped me prior to and during my tenure as Chief of Police. Our community and police service is better because of his commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and justice."

Carleton University professor Adrian Harewood called Walters a "formidable civic leader in Ottawa."

"The Spectrum died this morning. Ewart was a mentor & moral compass to generations, and a tireless advocate for Black communities. He was respected & beloved."

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle Top Stories

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