Today, in a ceremony at Rideau Hall, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, recognized the exceptional journalistic work of the Michener Award finalists from the past two years. The Michener Award for 2021 is presented jointly to CBC Saskatoon: Inside the failed push to make Catholic Church pay for its residential school abuses and The Globe and Mail: Residential Schools. The winner for 2022 is The Globe and Mail: Hockey Canada’s Secret Funds.
“We are so fortunate to be able to confer the Michener Award for 2021 and 2022 in person once again at Rideau Hall. The Michener Awards honour the very best in Canadian journalism. But, in fact they do much more than that: they recognize the power journalism has to change laws, save lives and make our society better. Each of the winners from 2021 and 2022 have done just that, and the changes they have set off continue to ripple across the country,” said Pierre-Paul Noreau, President of the Michener Awards Foundation. “The journalists and the newsrooms that support them deserve our thanks for taking on the tough issues, exposing wrongdoing, giving voice to the voiceless, and improving the quality of life for Canadians.”
2021 Michener Award Winners – CBC Saskatoon: Inside the failed push to make Catholic Church pay for its residential school abuses; and The Globe and Mail: Residential Schools
In the summer of 2021, Jason Warick at CBC Saskatoon broke the story that the Catholic church — which had run the majority of the country’s government-funded residential schools — had paid out just a fraction of the $79 million it promised years ago to survivors. Instead, millions had been funnelled from that account to pay the church’s legal fees to lawyers and administration. And even as the church said it could not meet its fundraising goal for survivors, CBC revealed it was spending nearly $300 million on cathedrals and church buildings. A Globe and Mail team was also on the story, conducting the first-ever analysis of the Catholic church’s net assets in Canada, amplifying the voices of survivors, fighting to obtain RCMP and church records, and producing more than a dozen stories in 2021 that scrutinized the church’s financial obligations to Indigenous peoples. These two powerful investigations prompted a landslide of change, from a national apology from Canadian bishops and a renewed $30-million fundraising campaign for healing and reconciliation projects, to a meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, and an historic apology in Canada in 2022 to survivors. The repercussions continue.
2022 Michener Award Winner – The Globe and Mail: Hockey Canada’s Secret Funds
This series’ first bombshell revealed that Hockey Canada had been secretly using registration fees — collected from Canadian parents over decades — to settle millions of dollars of sexual assault claims, never disclosing to parents or players how their money was being used. The practice had systematically kept rape allegations out of the public eye for decades. As Hockey Canada stonewalled and misled to protect its system of management and finances, the Globe kept reporting, and its impact was profound: a refocused inquiry, the exit of Hockey Canada’s CEO and resignation of its entire board, the kickstarting of a stalled police investigation; and ultimately, the reshaping of Hockey Canada for years to come. Because it was never really about hockey. It was about how the game was played.
The Michener Award was founded in 1970 by the late Roland Michener, then governor general, to honour excellence in public service journalism. The Michener Award submissions are judged by an expert panel of journalists who have worked in media outlets and in academia across the country.
The following Finalists were also awarded a certificate of merit:
- CBC News: Peter Nygard Investigations (2021)
- CBC Saskatchewan: Indigenous or Pretender (2021)
- Global News: Exposing sexual misconduct among Canada’s top military commanders (2021)
- Kamloops this Week: Spending at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (2021)
- The Globe and Mail: Dangerous Games, Suspect Science (2021)
- CBC Saskatchewan: Disputed History (2022)
- The Eastern Graphic: Through the Cracks (2022)
- The Globe and Mail: Who failed Traevon? (2022)
- Radio-Canada: Arsenic, secrecy, and health: the saga of the Horne Foundry (Arsenic, cachotteries et santé : la saga de la Fonderie Horne, 2022)
- The Toronto Star: Unchartered (2022)
In April, the Michener Awards Foundation also announced the recipients of the new Michener – L. Richard O’Hagan Educational Fellowship and the Michener – Deacon Investigative Fellowship. Each of the 2023 fellowships is worth $40,000 plus $5,000 in expenses.
The Michener Awards Foundation announced its Michener – Deacon Fellowship has been awarded to Molly Thomas for her investigative project on education in Afghanistan; and the Michener – L. Richard O’Hagan Fellowship goes to Sarah Trick and Alanna King to create a new media style guide on disabilities.
Thank you to the Michener Award Judges:
- Chief judge Margo Goodhand: former editor of the Winnipeg Free Press and the Edmonton Journal
- Guy Gendron: former ombudsman of Radio-Canada
- Sally Reardon: former senior CBC-TV news producer
- Katherine Sedgwick: journalism professor at Loyalist College and former deputy editor of Montreal Gazette
- Jim Compton: Producer at Rising Day Media, formerly of CHUM-TV and APTN
- Mary McGuire: retired journalism professor at Carleton University