I make it a practice to not embarrass friends by extolling them on my blog. It’s only fair, after all. But in this case I will make an exception for a remarkable human being I have known for 40 or so years. Man, that’s a big chunk of life.
That person is Jody Paterson. I was mainly inspired to put these words together after having read her words on her blog in which she stated that she and partner, Paul, are heading back to Central America to do a further stint with CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) to lend their considerable talents to helping others in an often benighted part of the world. This will be their second stint in Nicaragua, and their first (the long duration one) was in Honduras – one of the most challenged countries in the region.
Takes big cojones to leave the comforts of home and hearth in Victoria to do that sort of thing. But, life is short and help is needed and Jody has those cojones even though in real life she is a strikingly exotic looking lady. I truly envy her bravery in many aspects of her varied life.
Now, I knew Jody well as a journalist, during her stint in the ink-stained wretch biz she was a reporter, a crackerjack columnist, and ultimately managing editor of the Victoria Times Colonist. But pounding out stuff on a keyboard is just part of who Jody is. First, let’s got back 40 years.
I first met Jody, a Comox Valley girl, in the English 11 class I taught at Vanier Secondary back in the day. She was whip-smart, perceptive and mature beyond her tender years. And, I must confess, I also thought, with her exotic looks that she was pretty darned cute.
After she graduated and became a young mom I ran into her a few times. It was always a delight to meet up with her. I also thought there were many more things she should be doing with her life, as there was so much potential there. Nothing wrong with being a mom, but all that untapped talent, I thought, shouldn’t remain untapped. And ultimately it didn’t. She went off to journalism school and learned the trade that I had been toiling in myself for a few years.
After that I noticed her byline popping up on occasion and that made me very happy. And her investigative reporting style was impressive indeed. We didn’t contact much in those years but I remained aware of what she was doing. And then, many years later, mid-point in the first decade of this century, I was living part time in Victoria and was also doing some freelancing for the Times Colonist, we finally crossed paths again. We had a couple of coffee dates and it was just like old times. Since then we have kept in touch and I have followed other aspects of her career.
She stopped her column and went to work for PEERS (Prostitution Empowerment Education and Resource Society), a passion that grew from her journalistic pursuits in which she saw sex-trade workers too often assaulted, abused, even murdered, as well as being treated with contempt by the legal system. She ultimately became executive director of the organization and her passion stemmed from the fact she was increasingly appalled at the lack of legal rights for these women (and some males) who are treated contemptibly by the system. She remains a strong advocate for legalization of the sex trade, if only to protect the lives of those who ply the trade.
During those years she had many involvements in her quest, and also attained a number of laurels, including an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Victoria in 2012.
And then, if life wasn’t enough of an adventure she, and her life-partner Paul, decamped for Honduras to begin the next phase of life.
And now they’re off to continue their good stuff, and I can only applaud and self-indulgently say I hope we can get together again for coffee some bright day.
I feel privileged to known you, my dear friend.