Indigenous Peoples Television Network wins the 2020 Michener Award


The Indigenous Peoples Television Network won the 2020 Michener Award, for Distinguished Public Service Journalism, for its examination of the abuse and suicide of an Indigenous girl in the care of a child welfare agency in Ontario. It was the news agency’s first victory in the Michener Prize’s 50-year history.

Death by Neglect, by journalist Kenneth Jackson, details the 2014 suicide of Sacha Raven Bob, a 12-year-old Anishinaabe girl in the care of Weechi-it-te-win Family Services.

Two of her sisters, Arizona Bob, 21, and Shania Bob, 18, both of whom had lived in more than 40 family service facilities, also committed suicide earlier that year. APTN reported that Weechi-it-te-win repeatedly failed to comply with government regulations as the legal guardian of Raven Bob.

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“I thought we had to think about these kids who are in care, we have to think about how the pandemic is going to hit them,” Jackson said in his acceptance speech, before adding that he was important for him to wait and see if care at Weechi-it-te-win would improve after the tragedies, before publishing the story. “And then we realized, several years later, that maybe things had gotten worse.”

“We had this death report that no one has ever seen,” Mr. Jackson said, “we had to make sense of it, but we also wanted to honor this young girl.”

The award was presented on Zoom by Michener Foundation President Pierre-Paul Noreau, who said the organization is confident it will host an official in-person ceremony at Rideau Hall next spring to honor the winners and finalists. Michener Awards 2019 and 2020.

Mr Noreau said the judges praised Mr Jackson’s comprehensive coverage, which has helped spur changes in child protection in the country.

The Globe and Mail was also nominated for the Silenced Award, an investigation by journalist Grant Robertson. Mr Robertson outlined how the Canadian government removed some of its top scientists from international pandemic surveillance functions just months before the coronavirus spread across the world, leaving the country ill-prepared when the virus hits its shores.

Four other media organizations also received nominations. CBC reporter Ashley Burke has written about the inner story of Rideau Hall’s toxic work culture under former Governor General Julie Payette.

Montreal Gazette reporter Aaron Derfel discovered horrendous living conditions, such as lack of food, water and sanitation, at a Dorval retirement home that left at least 33 deaths in ‘a COVID-19 epidemic.

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La Presse reporter Gabrielle Duchaine was nominated for discovering an increase in the sexual exploitation of adolescents on the Internet during the pandemic.

Winnipeg Free Press reporter Jeff Hamilton wrote about Canada’s unsuccessful hockey record after former hockey coach Graham James was convicted of sexually abusing some of his players .

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