Inspiring – The Inaugural Canadian Sidney Hillman Award

I had the honour of attending the inaugural Hillman Prize Canada presentation ceremony held at the Steam Whistle Brewery tonight. And I found it a very inspiring event, as well as timely.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation was established in 1950 in honour of Sidney Hillman (the founder and president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America). This American award has been handed out annually to recognize outstanding achievement from “journalists, writers and public figures whose work fosters social and economic justice”. The list of previous winners is impressive; Woodward & Bernstein, Cronkite, Bill Moyers, far too many amazing journalists to list.

Thanks to the work of Alex Dagg (Canadian Director of Workers United) and Bruce Raynor (President of the Hillman Foundation) the first Canadian Hillman Prize was awarded tonight. The photo is of Mr. Raynor speaking to the approximately 100 invited guests. I only had my iPhone, so the quality is what it is.

The winner was Steve Buist from the Hamilton Spectator for his “Code Red” piece on the social fabric of the city of Hamilton and the impact of financial imbalance between neighbourhoods. Working with Neil Johnston they were able to map a number of health characteristics and illustrate them on an interactive map. One startling fact that was exposed: a 21 year difference in life expectancy from one end of the scale to the other. A generation lost, within a thriving city in a first world country.

There was also an Honourable Mention award given to the team of Tyler Walsh, Helen Fallding, and photographer Joe Bryksa from the Winnipeg Free Press for the newspaper and video pieces entitled “No Running Water“. Their in-depth coverage of the effect of very limited running water in First Nation communities is both shocking and telling. It caught the attention of the judges who requested that an Honourable Mention be awarded.

I know I’ve talked about being a journalist (and I did cover events in the mid 70s for the Midland Times in addition to my cycle racing coverage) however my current thoughts of being a sports journalist covering bike races feels very small compared to the importance of the commentary presented by these talented individuals. I take it as inspiration, and look forward to seeing what I can do with it.

Thank you, Sidney Hillman.

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