Michelle Lang, the first Canadian reporter to be killed in Afghanistan, was remembered Monday as a tenacious journalist and gifted writer, as well as someone who always found time for family and friends.

About 700 people packed the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver for Lang's funeral. The 34-year-old Calgary Herald reporter and Vancouver native was in the second week of a six-week reporting assignment in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb killed her and four Canadian soldiers on Dec. 30.

Her Canadian flag-draped casket was surrounded by wreaths of flowers. As family members, friends and colleagues eulogized her, pictures of her were projected on a large screen.


Calgary Herald editor Lorne Motley remembered Lang as a feisty reporter who would often stay late into the evening, poring over every word of a story before it went to press.

"Her sense of fairness was second to none," he said.

In seven years at the Herald, Lang penned 1,760 stories, many of them landing on the front page. Her command of healthcare issues earned her the nickname "Dr. Lang."

Motley said one of the proudest moments of his career was seeing Lang win a National Newspaper Award for her health coverage in May.

"She was uncompromising, fair, trustworthy, courageous, sweet, fun-loving, caring and kind. That was our Michelle," he said.

Relationship with family

Lang's relationship with her family and friends was also deeply important to her.

She talked to her parents, Art and Sanrda Lang, three times a week.

Every member of the family has a stubborn side, and Michelle was no exception, her younger brother, Cameron, fondly recalled, eliciting chuckles.

She also knew how to get into mischief.

During April Fool's Day one year, Michelle crank called their mother. Using a handkerchief to disguise her voice, Michelle pretended that their mother had won a contest.

"My sister and I listened on the phone and giggled with glee. Michelle and I were often partners in crime," he said.

Cameron Lang said he felt a range of emotions when he learned of his sister's death: anger, hate, denial, shock.

If only he had tried a little harder to convince her to stay, he said he thought to himself.

But it was Michelle's adventurous spirit, persistence and stubbornness that led her to Afghanistan, he said.

She was a "naturally gifted writer" with an exceptional ability to "observe, understand and communicate with people."

"She died being who she was. She died doing what she loved. We should take solace in that."

'True love'

Michelle Lang was engaged to be married to Michael Louie.

Choking back tears, Louie said that Lang was his "true love" who taught him to live life outside his comfort zone.

He remembered many of the moments they shared together.

How, on their first date, she blushed when he told her that she had a sesame seed stuck on her lip.

How they rubbed noses and kissed each other before going to bed each night.

How he kissed her when he left for work in the morning, and how on special occasions, she would surprise him back with a kiss and say, "'Have a good day baby cakes.'"

Louie shared that Lang was the only woman he had ever taken home to see his parents.

His parents cried in front of him when they learned of her death and said it was as if they had lost one of their daughters.

Louie said he was once a marriage cynic.

And then Michelle Lang came along.

"It takes that special someone to make you believe," he said. "Michelle was the one who made me believe."

With files from CTV British Columbia's Leah Hendry