Latest NewsMarilyn Denis, John Brunton among Canadian Academy 'Special Award' recipients

Marilyn Denis, John Brunton among Canadian Academy ‘Special Award’ recipients

Broadcaster Marilyn Denis, Insight Productions CEO John Brunton, Reelworld founder Tonya Williams, and late filmmaker Jeff Barnaby have been revealed as the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s 2024 Special Award recipients.

Presented to trailblazing individuals within Canada’s screen-based industries, they’ll be recognized during Canadian Screen Week, taking place in Toronto from Sunday, May 26 through Saturday, June 1.

Dennis is being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award, honouring a Canadian for a lifetime of work that has had a profound impact on the media industry at home or abroad. Currently the long-running co-host of mornings on CHUM 104.5 Toronto, her 40-year career in television includes hosting Cityline for two decades and 13 seasons of The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV.

Brunton is being presented with the Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award, honouring a Canadian individual for their extraordinary impact on the growth of the Canadian media industry. The Chair, CEO and Executive Producer at Insight Productions, he has produced thousands of hours of television, much of it sold internationally, including The Amazing Race CanadaBig Brother Canada, and live concert special The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration. 

Barnaby, who passed away in 2022 at age 46, will also posthumously be recognized with the Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award. A pioneer of what’s now known as Indigenous Futurism, Barnaby’s storytelling – including feature horror films like 2019’s Blood Quantum – continues to inspire a new generation of filmmakers.

Williams is the recipient of this year’s Changemaker Award, which recognizes those in the media community using their voice or platform to call out systemic racism and discrimination, supporting and amplifying the voices of those actively engaged in anti-racist work, and seeking structural transformations in media, film, and television in Canada that promote values of equity and inclusion. An award-winning actress, producer and activist, and the founder of Toronto’s Reelworld Festival, which celebrates and provides professional development for racially diverse filmmakers and media artists, Williams has been named one of the 100 most influential Black Canadians three years running.

The Academy says additional Special Award recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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