TSN senior correspondent Rick Westhead, Global News reporter Rachel Gilmore, The Hill Times’ journalist Erica Ifill, and Toronto Star podcast host Saba Eitizaz were among those recognized at the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 23rd Fundraising Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting on Wednesday evening.
Westhead was presented with the Arnold Amber Award for Investigative Journalism, recognizing contributions to advancing public interest reporting in Canada. The veteran investigative journalist was acknowledged for his work breaking the story that Hockey Canada had quietly settled a lawsuit by a woman who alleged players on the Canadian Men’s Junior team had sexually assaulted her following an event in 2018.
The 2023 Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award is presented to @sabaeitizaz , @atRachelGilmore and @wickdchiq on behalf of all women Canadian journalists fighting back against misogyny and their online abusers. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/s7Tpjb1uiu
— CJFE (@CJFE) February 16, 2023
The Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award, recognizing a Canadian journalist who, through his or her work, has made an important contribution to reinforcing and promoting the principle of freedom of the press or who has taken personal risks or suffered physical reprisals for their work, was jointly presented to Eitizaz, Ifill, and Gilmore. Recognized on behalf of all female Canadian journalists fighting misogyny and online abuse, all three women have spoken out about an escalation in racist and sexist comments, harassment and death threats they’ve faced in the course of doing their jobs. That propelled their respective news outlets and the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) to start a conversation with police agencies and Justice Minister David Lametti calling for greater coordination and a formal complaint process for media who’ve become targets of harassment and threats.
“Five years ago, I arrived in this country as an exile escaping my homeland from a malicious digital campaign that escalated and almost killed me. Five years later, I stand before you talking about several malicious online campaigns in Canada, so it seems we’ve come full circle,” Pakistani-born Eitizaz told the gala audience, who along with Ifill, was on hand to accept the award Wednesday night.
As previously announced, the CJFE’s International Press Freedom Award was presented to The Associated Press team of photojournalists Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka, and field producer Vasilisa Stepanenko, who documented the Russian siege of Mariupol after the Russians cut all communication lines to the city and other international journalists left.
A second International Press Freedom Award recognized Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who remain in prison for their coverage of last September’s death and funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, attacked by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her headscarf properly.
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