APTN journalists nominated for Michener Award for First Nation child welfare series

APTN News journalists Martha Troian and Kenneth Jackson have been nominated for a Michener Award for their series, Stories on Child Welfare: Life and Death in Care.

The stories exposed the system that is supposed to keep First Nations teenagers who are in care of the child welfare system safe including investigating the death of a 15-year-old from Poplar Hill First Nation, Kanina Sue Turtle, who filmed her suicide while in a foster home owned by a child welfare agency.

They set out to investigate the connection between the high rate of suicides among Indigenous youth — five to six times higher than in the non-indigenous population — and child welfare.

APTN exposed the lack of a surveillance system by all levels of governments and coroners’ offices to keep track of suicides in First Nations across the country.

Based on the data from northern Ontario, there were close to 600 suicide deaths of Indigenous people since the mid-1980s. 87 of those deaths were Indigneous children between the ages of 10 to 14 years of age.

But as APTN’s investigation shows, without proper data tracking, the legislation cannot deliver on its promises.

“Everything changed the morning I watched Kanina Sue Turtle die on video,” said Jackson. “From that point forward we were determined to shine the biggest light we possibly could on the child welfare system in Ontario.

“Our work is far from over and in many ways just beginning.”

Read: Stories on Child Welfare – Life and Death in Care

In February, Ottawa tabled Bill C-92, aimed at stopping the over-representation of Indigenous children in foster care.

The Michener Awards honour excellence in public-service journalism.

“I am deeply honoured by this nomination, and would like to thank the Michener Awards Foundation, Kenneth Jackson and APTN,” said Troian. “These young lives of Indigenous children and youth are important, and need to be valued and recognized by governments,  provincial and territorial coroner offices and  by all members within the child welfare system.

“One death is too many.”

The nominees for 2019 also include work by the Waterloo Region Record; the St. Catharines Standard; the Telegraph-Journal of Saint John; CBC TV News; the Toronto Star, CBC News and Radio-Canada; and CBC North.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette is to announce the winner at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on June 14. The Michener Award was founded in 1970 by former governor general Roland Michener.

The Waterloo Region Record is nominated for Greg Mercer’s months-long investigation of the health problems inflicted on workers by the once-important rubber industry in Kitchener, Ont.

The St. Catharines Standard earned its nomination for reporter Grant LaFleche’s year-long investigation that led to more than 50 stories on a conspiracy behind the hiring of the top bureaucrat in Ontario’s Niagara region.

The Telegraph-Journal is nominated for an 18-month investigation that exposed problems with New Brunswick’s ambulance service. The newspaper uncovered a severe shortage of paramedics that left ambulances sitting empty, which meant some people in emergency situations were transported in regular vehicles.

CBC TV News is nominated for an investigation by the program “The Fifth Estate” into longstanding claims by Transport Canada that school buses are safer without seatbelts, contrary to the department’s own conclusion that they would have prevented numerous deaths and thousands of injuries.

The Toronto Star, CBC News and Radio-Canada received a joint nod for their collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that shone a light on lax approval, regulation and oversight of the country’s medical-device industry.

APTN and CBC North earned a joint nomination after they exposed failures in the child-welfare system that led to physical abuse and neglect of Indigenous teens. The reporting led to a public apology by the Yukon government for its failure to protect the youths as well as corrective actions.

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-with files from the Canadian Press

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