From street kid to man on the street
Reporter inspires students to take responsibility for themselves

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 28/97) - He came to deliver a message and to entertain.

Victor Malarek, a Fifth Estate reporter for CBC, spoke to students about controlling their own destiny during his visit to Yellowknife last week.

The award-winning journalist told the students about the need to take responsibility for their own choices. "You need to be able to say -- I am in control of my own life," he said.

The message likely couldn't have come from a better source.

A street kid from Montreal who was bounced from foster home to foster home, Malarek said he learned as a teen how not to be a victim.

"I was in solitary confinement for three days and by the third day, I realized I had to change," he said. "Before that, I was in constant rage, and everyone I knew in the system was a victim."

A sharp critic of Canada's child-welfare system, Malarek said he became who he is in spite of the system, not because of it.

"Well, it happened and I dealt with it," he said. "I got on with life. But I think that kind of upbringing gave me an edge. The kind of edge I like."

His words are poignant and gives students hope and inspiration to work toward the kind of future they want.

His presentation is entertaining, filled with stories about foreign correspondent work in Somalia, Iran and Croatia.

He describes his speaking engagements around the country as "something like a career day."

Malarek has worked for the xxxGlobe and Mail and has written three books, including an autobiography, a book about Canada's refugee and immigration policy and a bestseller about the country's drug trade. He's also renowned as one of the nation's finest investigative journalists.

When he's not tracking down stories or spending time with his wife and daughter, Malarek does a lot of public speaking.

"I do it to give back," he said.

Malarek also spoke last week about the media to members of the public at the legislative assembly.