NAJA selects APTN Investigates for Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Journalism

The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network investigative team will receive the award for reporting that triggered a state investigation into police practices

The Native American Journalists Association named APTN Investigates as the 2020 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Journalism recipient as part of the 2020 National Native Media Awards.

The APTN Investigates team – Holly Moore, Cullen Crozier, Brittany Guyot, Brittany Hobson, Kathleen Martens, Laurie Hamelin, and Executive Producer Paul Barnsley – published a series in 2019 that began with Crozier’s episode “Broken Trust,” that reported on a scheme in British Columbia, Canada, involving a social worker taking advantage of vulnerable Indigenous youth in Canada’s child welfare system.

Subsequent reporting included a video in court evidence, obtained by APTN Investigates, that showed a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer interrogating an Indigenous child in the care of the child welfare system about her reported sexual assault.


Prior to the video’s disclosure, APTN Investigates had been working with the alleged victim of the scheme to produce a series of stories that led to an external review of all sexual assault cases handled by the Kelowna RCMP detachment.

That review revealed that underinvestigated sexual assault cases in Kelowna were 40 percent higher than the rest of Canada.

The video and APTN Investigates reporting offered a rare glimpse into how some Indigenous women are treated in the Canadian justice system – a theme found in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls testimonies.

The Ministry of Children and Family Services subsequently admitted vicarious liability for the woman’s trauma and is paying for her therapy.

Her original complaint has also been re-opened and RCMP is currently investigating.

The APTN team was able to provide a deeper look into sexual assault reports by Indigenous women in Canada. More women and men have come forward in the months that followed as well as service providers hoping to educate the police.

Their accomplishments will be highlighted during a virtual awards presentation on Oct. 15, and members of the APTN Investigates team will join a NAJA virtual roundtable to discuss the award-winning investigation on Sept. 17.

The NAJA Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Journalism recognizes groundbreaking work by journalists that creatively use digital tools in the role of community watchdog and includes a $500 cash prize for the individual or team selected.


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