Elizabeth Laird, 73, on Dec. 31, of cancer. A longtime radio station owner who used her business to champion industry, tourism and non-profit organizations, Laird relocated with her family from Ontario to Nicola Ranch near Merritt in the early 1980s. In 1984, Laird became the owner and operator of JADE Garden Centre, in addition to serving as a School District 58 trustee for a decade. Her involvement in broadcasting began through her son Andrew, former morning show host at CJNL 1230 Merritt. In 1994, she invested in Merritt Broadcasting and in 2016 became the sole owner of what is now Q101. As the only female independent broadcast owner/operator in B.C., she gave many broadcasters their first opportunity in the industry, an accomplishment she took a great deal of pride in. In 2021, Laird completed the sale of Q101 to Pattison Media. Even with the many challenges of running a business, she found time to serve her community, including serving as the first female president of the Merritt Rotary Club in the 1990s and sitting on the board of the Merritt Chamber of Commerce.
Jean-Marc Vallée, 58, on Dec. 25. Born and raised in Montreal, Vallée studied filmmaking at Le Collège Ahuntsic and L’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). His early career began directing music videos in the mid-1980s for Montreal bands including Wild Touch and Park Avenue. He went on to produce a number of short films with his feature length directorial debut Black List, the highest grossing Quebec film of 1995, nominated for nine Genie Awards. Follow-up films included 2005’s C.R.A.Z.Y.; 2009’s The Young Victoria, which received three Oscar nominations; 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club; and 2014’s Wild, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing. Vallée went on to direct and executive produce Big Little Lies (2017) and Sharp Objects (2018) for HBO. Big Littles Lies earned him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. Vallée was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017 and an officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2020.
Candy Palmater, 53, on Dec. 25. Born in Point La Nim, NB and a member of the Eel River Bar Mi’kmaw Nation, Palmater was the first Indigenous law student in Canada to be valedictorian of her graduating class at Dalhousie Law School. She quickly realized she didn’t want to practice corporate law and went to work with the Nova Scotia Department of Education before turning to comedy and producing her own radio and television programs. A regular contributor to CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera (DNTO) and an interim host of Q, Palmater went on to host and write The Candy Show on APTN from 2010-14. She produced her first film, Building Legends: The Mi’Kmaq Canoe Project in 2011. Among other television roles, she appeared on shows like Forgive Me, Trailer Park Boys, and was a regular on CTV’s The Social. She also lent her voice as a narrator to series like Skindigenous and True North Calling. Prior to her death, she was slated to have a recurring role on CBC sitcom Run the ‘Burbs.
Stan Bailly, 74, on Dec. 18, of complications from COVID-19. Following his graduation from BCIT, Bailly’s 31-year radio career began in Williams Lake in 1968. He returned to his hometown of Kamloops in 1987 to work for CIFM and was best known as the co-host of “Hank and Stan In The Morning” for 25 years, alongside Henry “Hank” Small. He retired from radio in 2018. Following his retirement, he ran his own DJ business playing events and parties in the Kamloops area.
George Stephenson, 69, on Dec. 5. Stephenson graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in the 1970s and started his journalism career working at weekly newspapers around Alberta, before joining the Lethbridge Herald. Stephenson (and his first wife, reporter Wendy Stephenson) joined the Winnipeg Sun in the 1980s where he rose from legislative reporter to city editor and eventually managing editor. In the 1990s, he went on to work with CBC Radio in Winnipeg where he served as news director. Post-journalism, Stephenson’s career took him to the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) and a communications role where he served as the publications and website manager. He retired from MTS in April 2021, but continued to contribute columns to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Broadcasters We Lost in 2021:
Revisit our Sign Offs columns paying tribute to those who left us from radio, television & film over the past year.