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Val Werier, a Winnipeg journalist who wrote unrelentingly as a champion of the environment, has died at the age of 96.

Werier, who over the course of his long career was honoured with both the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba, wrote his last column for the Winnipeg Free Press only last year.

In it, he alluded to his first published piece.

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"I got my first byline as a reporter 75 years ago, freelancing for the Winnipeg Tribune at a princely sum of 20 cents per column inch. How happy I was to open the newspaper and see my name in print."

Over the long career that followed, he would continue to write with passion, purpose, humour and insight, even as his eyesight faded to black over the last three decades.

But Werier wasn't just a lifelong environmentalist, he was a man who cared deeply about his city and the people who inhabit it.

Two years ago, when Werier was honoured by the Winnipeg Press Club, Free Press publisher Bob Cox summed up the man and his career in these words: "Val crusaded for the less fortunate and the threatened – whether they were people or trees – and took on the highest authorities in Manitoba when justice was on his side. Through his work, Val won respect for his judgment and fairness that took him beyond journalism."

Free Press city editor Shane Minkin called Werier "the conscience of the province."

His funeral is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue.

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