Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) has posthumously awarded its 2019 JHR Award in Extraordinary Achievement in Human Rights Reporting to Hodan Nalayeh.
Nalayeh, a Somali-Canadian journalist, was among 26 people killed in a July 12 terrorist attack in Kismayo, Somalia.
The 43-year-old was the founder of YouTube channel Integration TV, aimed at “building a community of inspiring & uplifting stories for Somalis worldwide.” Born in Somalia, she emigrated to Canada with her family at age six and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Windsor, later studying broadcast journalism at Seneca College.
Working in radio and television in both sales and production, in 2013 she was named vice-president of Sales & Programming Development of Cameraworks Productions International, based in Vaughan, ON – a video and television production facility focused on distributing multicultural programming. In 2014, Nalayeh served as host of half-hour Somali community show Integration: Building A New Cultural Identity, which aired on Citytv. More recently, she’d hosted English-language show Integration on OMNI Television.
The JHR award recognizes journalists whose body of work exemplifies principles of human rights reporting, including “commitment to professionalism, accuracy and fairness, paired with a relentless focus on giving a platform to the marginalized of society, opening up important public conversations on issues that matter, and moving that conversation forward towards solutions that make life better for everyone.”
“Hodan Nalayeh put the stories that mattered to her in to headlines. She wanted to help Somali people, in particular women, understand what their rights are and how they can change their destiny,” said JHR in a release. “While we mourn her tragic death earlier this year on assignment in Somalia, we are honoured to celebrate her life and legacy as an inspiration for the change we hope to see worldwide.”
Previous honourees have included David Bruser and Jayme Poisson for their coverage of mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows First Nation in the Toronto Star; Sara Mojtehedzadeh, also of the Toronto Star, for her reporting on workers’ rights in Ontario; Paul Barnsley of APTN for his work promoting the voices and stories of Canada’s Indigenous peoples; and Christiane Amanpour for her leadership and commitment to human rights reporting on CNN.
Award for Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter
JHR also handed out its first-ever award recognizing outstanding journalism from a First Nations, Métis or Inuit journalist. Conceived as part of the organization’s Indigenous Reporters Program, which seeks to increase the quality and quantity of Indigenous stories and voices in Canadian media, the inaugural Outstanding Work by an Indigenous Youth Reporter has been awarded to the Mushkego Lowland Advocates.
The group of eight high school students and recent graduates from Fort Severn First Nation in Ontario, came together this past summer to learn how to write and produce multimedia for their community with an aim to bring attention to Indigenous life and issues. Mentored by community journalism trainer Karli Zschogner, they took to producing stories they and the community believed were important through writing, photography, video, and audio-based storytelling.
The winners were recognized Monday night at the annual JHR Night for Rights gala in Toronto.
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