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'She was a beautiful soul': CTV News Vancouver colleagues remember Kuljeet Kaila, who died of cancer at age 46

When CTV Morning Live anchor Keri Adams moved to Vancouver in 2001, one of the first people in the media she connected with was Kuljeet Kaila.

“(She) reached out to me and wanted to get to know me and said, 'Hey, we should go for a coffee sometime.' She just randomly reached out to me, she knew I was new and needed a friend,” said Adams. “I will never forget how welcoming she was to me, and that meant a great deal to me being new to the city.”

Fast forward 20 years, and the two friends were working together at CTV Vancouver. Adams was anchoring CTV Morning Live, and Kaila was filling in as a weather and traffic presenter.

“Working with Kuljeet was almost like a warm hug. And she was hugger! She was a hugger. One of the great things about her,” said Adams. “She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Always very generous on the set, complimentary, always had a kind word.”

CTV Morning Live weather presenter Marke Driesschen said Kaila had a big heart.

“She was a beautiful soul on the outside and the inside. And she was very generous, always wanting to know how you were doing and (if she) could she get you anything. If I was running out of my packets of coffee, she would go out and buy some and bring some in for me.”

And Driesschen said she was the consummate professional. “It’s that one thing I remember is how seamlessly she blended with everybody,” he recalled.

Kaila, who launched her career in 1998 at CKWX, and worked at TV and radio stations in Vancouver and Victoria, was a weekend morning news reader and part-time weather anchor at CBC News when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

“It was about three months ago, and I reached out immediately," Adams remembered.

"She said, 'I’m in hospital, I have brain cancer, they’ve removed the tumour.' And she was staying positive,” continued Adams, who marvelled at her friend's strength and determination when she visited her at the BC Cancer Clinic.

“She talked about the dance parties they had in hospital, and that she couldn’t wait to get out, because she was going to have a huge party when she got out and she beat cancer,” Adams recounted.

Driesschen spoke to Kaila by phone in August while she was at the cancer clinic. “And we were saying that because I was going through my own health challenges, I was recovering from heart surgery, we both agreed we would get together and celebrate us coming through our challenges,” said Driesschen. “And now I’m sad I’m not going to get to do that with her.”

On Sunday, Kaila lost her battle with cancer. In a statement, her family said: ‘She valiantly battled brain cancer with an astonishing strength, grace and resilience until her very last moments, leaving us all deeply shaken by the abruptness of her departure.”

Kaila’s sudden passing shocked her friend Adams.

“She seemed to be on the mend, and like so many of these situations, we have a false sense of security of how someone is doing,” Adams said. “My regret is not reaching out three days ago when I was thinking of her, just to see how she’s doing.

In a statement, the senior managing director of CBC News British Columbia Johnny Michel said:

“Kuljeet was a kind, warm person and had a terrific presence both on and off the air. Her voice connected with people and her passing will be felt not only by audiences, but also by the close teams and colleagues she worked with at CBC.”

Adams says that pain is being felt by everyone who worked with and loved Kaila. “The broadcasting community is mourning, because we have suffered a loss. And like so many things, we don’t realize what we lost until it’s gone. So she will be missed.” Top Stories

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