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Amnesty International Canada's 2010 Media Awards announced

    December 16, 2010

    A probing series of articles had reporters travelling the globe revealing the impact of Canada’s security certificates process, the plight of missing Aboriginal women was examined in an investigative TV report, and the “national disgrace” of First Nations education was dissected in a magazine feature article. They were all recognized today as winners of Amnesty International Canada’s sixteenth annual Media Awards for outstanding reporting about human rights issues in the Canadian media.

    Jim Bronskill and Sue Bailey from Canadian Press are the winners this year in national print for a series of four articles - “Canada’s Scarlet Letter: Security Certificates at the Crossroads” printed in December 2009. Interviewing a senior cabinet minister, the head of the RCMP, lawyers, and human rights activists, the reporters skillfully outlined the flaws in the process used to deport non-Canadians considered a threat to national security. They also explored the fate of forgotten individuals who were deported, travelling to meet them and record their stories.

    “These articles show the real impact on lives of this flawed security certificate process based on secret information,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “They underscore how wrong-headed and unlawful it is to deport using this mechanism, to accept the promise of governments to respect human rights that they are known to violate.”

    In the video/audio category the winner, in a field of exceptional radio and TV reports, was a moving documentary from reporter Tina House about the loss of Aboriginal women - “APTN Investigates: Missing Women” broadcast on 15 January 2010. Framing the report with the tragic case of the death of her own cousin Tina House illustrates the dismissive attitude of the police and others who failed to address the issue of missing and murdered women. Drawing on reports about the downtown eastside of Vancouver, the Walk for Justice and the legacy of the loss of over 500 women Tina House has put the issue into context in a powerful and effective way.

    “The casual attitude reported of the police officer who didn’t file a missing person report leaving it on his desk before rushing to get away for the weekend gnaws at the viewer and sparks outrage,” notes Neve. “With details from her own family, Tina House has careful drawn together all aspects of this critical issue and shown why we all must make it a concern of our own.”

    In the local alternative print category the winner is Richard Wright for his article “A National Disgrace” about education on First Nations’ reserves in the January 2010 edition of The United Church Observer. The article explores the history of education on the reserves from the residential schools to “Indian control of Indian education” since 1972 that has created an unequal educational system with federal funding. The “high school completion gap” is now huge, a 60 % drop-out rate on reserves compared to 14 % in the rest of Canada. With studies and examples of First Nations really taking control of their education system, Wright shows how as one counselor says “good education is a part of Aboriginal culture now, not apart from it.”

    “The legacy of residential schools was a loss of culture and respect for the value of education”, says Neve. “Richard Wright shows that there is still hope that ‘a national disgrace’ can be turned around because as AFN Chief Shawn Atleo notes, ‘it is fundamental in civil society that all people be well educated’”.

    In the new category for online articles there was no winner this year. The judges encourage online submissions for next year that must be “a journalistic product, produced for a Canadian audience, that is only available online from a website where journalists have originated the content, or selected and amplified it.”

    The judges for the Amnesty International Canada Media Awards in English this year were: Jeff Sallot, an instructor in journalism at Carleton University and former Parliamentary reporter for The Globe and Mail, Madelaine Drohan, an author and Ottawa correspondent for The Economist, and John Tackaberry, Media Relations for the English branch of Amnesty International Canada, a former reporter for Inter Press Service and Pacifica Radio News.

    The awards are for national print, video/audio pieces, local/alternative print and online articles printed or broadcast in the period from 1 October, 2009 to 30 September 2010.

    For further information,
    please contact:

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    For further information,
    please contact:

    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332

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