Each year the Charles Bury President’s Award is given under circumstances of exceptional merit to those people or organizations that have made a significant contribution to Canadian journalism. This year, the award is presented to Jerome Turner, Jesse Winter and Amber Bracken for their dedicated reporting and, in particular, for protecting the public’s right to know how events unfolded at Wet’suwet’en.

Here are the remarks on that award from CAJ president, Karyn Pugliese: 

Police have been trying to keep journalists away from important stories. 

We’ve seen this. 

After events at Kanesatake in 1990, police blocked reporters from Gustafsen Lake Lake. There were no reporters present the night police moved in at Ipperwash and shot at unarmed people, killing Dudley George. 

Jeremy Cohn, Dave Ritchie, John and Brett Hueston are reporters wrongfully arrested in recent years for trying to report on local news events.

Justin Brake faced both civil and criminal charges for following land protectors and demonstrators after they broke a lock and occupied a crown company. His victory in the civil case reaffirmed the media’s constitutional rights. 

That did not stop police from setting up an exclusion zone, beyond their legal authority to keep public eyes off their actions in 2019 in both Nova Scotia and at Wetsuwet’en.

Media rights are not about us; they belong to every single person in Canada. Events taking place, right now, south of our border, remind us how one video can be a moment of truth. One picture can make a society face their darkest reality and, hopefully, motivate change.

Nothing is more critical to a free and just society than the right to know. 

This is why we chose to be journalists. 

On the ground this year at Wetsuwet’en police again set up an exclusion zone, knowing it was beyond their legal authority. Journalists were detained by police, threatened with arrest even though police knew this was wrong. Some of these journalists pushed back hard. Three stood out. And their moral courage benefits us all. 

I am pleased to present the Charles Bury award to Jerome Turner, Jesse Winter and Amber Bracken.

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