In Canada and around the world, individuals regularly face obstacles in order to get the truth out. Whether the threats be judicial, physical or otherwise, these dedicated and principled individuals continue to work tirelessly—risking their jobs, their freedom and even their lives—so that the news media remain free.
At the CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting, we present awards to honour those who champion free expression in different ways. Winners are announced in November.
CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer with 2015 CJFE Gala award winners Jameel Jaffer, Linda Sills (accepting on behalf of Safa Al Ahmad) and Ken Rubin.
2016 AWARD WINNERS
International Press Freedom Award:
Chinese dissident journalist Chang Ping has faced an array of daunting challenges. Chinese authorities have censored his work, prohibited him from publishing books, raided his home and ordered his removal from editorial positions at news organizations. Since 2011, he has lived in exile in Germany, where he continues to report on sensitive political issues and advocate for human rights and press freedom in China.
"I hope that my resistance can bring further attention to the predicament of those who have been labelled as dissidents and forced into exile. In this difficult situation of freedom of expression, both personally and globally, I even more strongly believe that if we cannot bring justice through journalism, more people will be harmed, and our freedom will be eroded until it is lost."
Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award:
Ali Mustafa (1984–2014) was a Canadian photojournalist and humanitarian who documented conflicts in Brazil and the Middle East. While covering the Syrian civil war in 2014, he was killed in Aleppo by an aerial bombing carried out by the government. As a freelancer, Mustafa travelled independently to Brazil, Palestine, Egypt and Syria to chronicle uprisings. His images were powerful and his photography humanized conflict.
Asad Aryubwal isn't a journalist or a fixer, but he played a crucial role in exposing the war crimes of Afghan vice-president and warlord Rashid Dostum. In 2002, Aryubwal began to speak to reporters and the Canadian government to alert us to the dangers of getting involved with warlords. After Dostum's agents told him that he and his sons would be killed, the Aryubwal family fled to Pakistan where they continued to face threats, until they were granted refugee status in Canada in November 2015.
CBC Indigenous launched its missing and murdered Indigenous women's database in 2015, in response to a 2014 RCMP report that paints a devastating picture: police recorded 1,181 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women from 1980 to 2012. The database includes profiles of 287 women whose cases are unsolved. Lead reporter Connie Walker says the goal of the database is to humanize the women's stories. "It's really easy to not think about the human impact of the number. We wanted to ensure that we were sharing these women's stories in a respectful way." The database has amplified public concern for the tragedies and spurred a national inquiry.