The Globe and Mail has received two nominations for the 2022 Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism: investigative stories on Hockey Canada’s secret funds and the death of Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux.
“The quality of submissions was unusually high this year; an impressive body of work from newsrooms across Canada,” said chief judge Margo Goodhand in a Michener Awards Foundation news release Wednesday.
An investigation by a team of Globe reporters that included Grant Robertson, Robyn Doolittle, Joe Friesen, Colin Freeze and Susan Krashinsky Robertson revealed that Hockey Canada had been using registration fees to settle millions of dollars of sexual assault claims, never disclosing to parents or players how their money was being used, while keeping rape allegations out of the public eye for decades.
The series also uncovered discrepancies in Hockey Canada’s public statements about an alleged gang sexual assault in London, Ont., involving members of the 2018 world junior team and how it was investigated.
“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 kick-starting of a stalled police investigation; and ultimately, the reshaping of Hockey Canada for years to come,” notes the foundation in its release.
The second finalist for the Globe came from Nancy Macdonald and Mike Hager’s investigation into the death of Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux, who died in care, by suicide at 17, in an Indigenous-centred facility in British Columbia in 2020. The investigation revealed an array of failures at multiple levels, from untrained staff at the facility, to the agency meant to care for Mr. Desjarlais-Chalifoux, and with the B.C. government.
A public inquest was called into the teen’s death less than one week after The Globe’s investigation was published, notes the foundation, leading B.C. Premier David Eby to announce his government would phase out group homes in the foster child system. “With dogged and sensitive reporting, Macdonald exposed the fatal flaws in a system that utterly failed Traevon,” reads the foundation’s release.
The work, Globe editor-in-chief David Walmsley said, exemplifies the newsroom’s dedication to public service journalism.
“As a newsroom, we felt very strongly that both these issues be subjected to intense investigative rigour,” he said. “In both cases, the work resulted in improved accountability and significant policy change.”
Other finalists for the 2022 award include CBC News Saskatchewan, The Eastern Graphic, Toronto Star, and Radio-Canada.
The Michener Award, which is considered Canada’s premier journalism prize, was founded in 1971 to honour excellence in public service reporting.
The winners and finalists of the 2022 and 2021 awards will be celebrated at a ceremony in Rideau Hall, hosted by Governor-General Mary Simon, on June 16, after two years of virtual ceremonies because of the global pandemic.
Finalists for the 2021 award also included two Globe and Mail projects: the newspaper’s coverage on the legacy of Canada’s residential school system, and an investigation into the high prevalence of dangerous eating disorders among elite athletes.