TORONTO, March 27, 2003 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) today awarded Ryerson University's Journalism Diversity Course with the $10,000 first prize Award of Excellence for its commitment to eliminating racism in Canada. Presented at the Foundation's Award of Excellence Gala Dinner held at Toronto's Marriott Hotel, the evening also honoured the CRRF's founding Chair, the Hon. Lincoln Alexander, with the inaugural Award for Lifetime Achievement.
"The winning program was distinguished by the long term impact that Ryerson journalism students will have on the quality of reporting as they enter their profession," said Jury Chair Fil Fraser of Edmonton. "Congratulations to John Miller, designer of the course, for an extraordinary and courageous effort towards bringing a higher level of balance to journalism."
The Award of Excellence program recognizes public, private or voluntary organizations whose efforts represent excellence and innovation in combatting racism. This year, the jury placed emphasis on anti-racism initiatives directed at systemic change, public awareness, education and training. Ryerson University was selected among 20 finalists to win first prize for "Covering Diversity", considered the only course of its kind at a Canadian journalism school. The course was designed by journalist John Miller to show students how to recognize stereotypes, develop sources and story ideas in diverse communities, and apply the same standards of news judgment to all groups.
Joining Ryerson University are recipients of four Awards of Distinction, including: Toronto's Community Builders, Montreal's Images Interculturelles, Prince George-based Students Against Discrimination, and the Regional Multicultural Youth Council of Thunder Bay. Each Award of Distinction included a $2,500 prize.
The Gala also featured the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Hon. Lincoln Alexander for his significant contribution towards positive race relations in Canada. Prior to serving as Chair of the CRRF since its founding in 1997, Mr. Alexander was elected to Parliament as Canada's first Black Member of Parliament, and later became the first Black cabinet minister. Upon leaving politics, he was appointed Head of the Workers' Compensation Board, and in 1985 was made the Queen's official representative in Ontario. Mr. Alexander is the longest-serving Chancellor of the University of Guelph, and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.
"It was time to recognize Mr. Alexander for the hard work, dedication and indefatigable spirit that he's demonstrated throughout his career," said Dr. Karen Mock, Executive Director of the CRRF. "For his entire life Mr. Alexander has been fighting injustice and knocking down barriers. We're proud to present CRRF's inaugural Award for Lifetime Achievement to a true Canadian pioneer in positive race relations."
Effective April 1, 2003, Mr. Alexander steps down as Chair of the CRRF to make way for the newly-appointed Patrick Case, a lawyer and Director of the Human Rights and Equity Office at the University of Guelph. As a lasting legacy to Mr. Alexander, proceeds from the Gala will go towards establishing the CRRF Race Relations Education and Training Centre. The proposed Centre will ensure that race relations education, training programs and materials are developed and delivered to schools, school boards, colleges and universities, police services as well as public and private sectors.
The Hon. Bob Rae and his wife Arlene Perly Rae co-chaired this year's Award of Excellence Gala Dinner attended by 650 guests that included finalists, educators, government and community leaders, social justice activists and CRRF supporters. The following lists winners of this year's Award of Excellence program:
Ryerson University, Journalism Diversity Course (Toronto)
Award of Excellence, First Prize
Since 1997, Ryerson University has required its undergraduate students to take a course called "Covering Diversity". The only course of its kind at a Canadian journalism school stems from its founder's belief that properly educated journalism students offer the best hope of changing the media's historic marginalization and stereotyping of visible minorities. "Covering Diversity" encourages students to build a journalistic tool kit that subjects all groups in society to the same standards of news judgment. Its ultimate goal is systemic change of the media industries " from the bottom up.
Community Builders, Youth Leadership Initiative (Toronto)
Award of Distinction
The Youth Leadership Initiative is an innovative community-based program developed in partnership with elementary schools that aims to make schools more inclusive. It is based on a leadership model that empowers students (grades 5-8) to educate their peers about how racism and other mistreatments/ exclusion affect us all. Community Builders" purpose is to empower young people with the vision, skills and confidence to be leaders in the building of caring and equitable school communities.
Images Interculturelles, Semaine d'Actions Contre le Racisme (Montreal)
Award of Distinction
For many years, Images Interculturelles has been organizing public activities to raise consciousness and educate the public regarding the manifestation of racism. In 1999, it discovered that tackling racism was not a priority in Quebec. Hence, Images Interculturelles decided to create "Semaine d'Actions Contre le Racisme" (SACR) to rally public, private, non-profit and community resources to fight against racism. SCAR has attracted the participation of more than 20,000 people and has garnered strong interest from media who consider it an excellent opportunity to talk openly about racism.
Regional Multicultural Youth Council, Empowering Youth to Make a Difference (Thunder Bay) Award of Distinction
Since its establishment, the Regional Multicultural Youth Council (RMYC) has been involved in a campaign to mobilize youth toward a fair and just society. RMYC acknowledges that racism is learned from adults, the media and misinformation in the education system. RMYC has spearheaded a youth-to-youth campaign in small, isolated communities across Northwestern Ontario with an approach to enhance communication, empower peers, and engage them to be part of the solution. RMYC has been particularly successful at being inclusive and attracting the participation of Aboriginal youth.
Students Against Discrimination, "Say What!"- Video (Prince George)
Award of Distinction
The video "Say What!"- has been very successful in initiating sometimes heated discussions among students about its many short scenarios that depict discriminatory school language. Both the video-making process and the video itself encouraged students to share their stories, discuss discrimination, raise awareness among peers, and learn the skill of speaking out. The 16-minute video by the group Students Against Discrimination, based at D.P. Todd School, was produced with the help of Steve Baker and John McInnes Jr. High drama students. The video is now being presented to schools in Prince George.
Tonight-s Award of Excellence Gala Dinner kicked off a weekend symposium Racism: Breaking through the Denial, where the finalists will share their best practices with educators, human rights and anti-racism activists, as well as members of the public and private sectors and NGO community across Canada. The symposium takes place at the Sheraton Toronto Hotel from March 28-30.