NEWS RELEASE: Nathan VanderKlippe, Sarah Cox Win Press Freedom Award

OTTAWA, May 3, 2021— Nathan VanderKlippe, The Globe and Mails China correspondent, and Sarah Cox, investigative reporter with The Narwhal, have been declared co-winners of the 2021 Press Freedom Award by the Ottawa-based advocacy group World Press Freedom Canada.

Risking detention, deportation or even imprisonment, VanderKlippe reported on forced labour camps where thousands of Uyghurs, a Muslim minority ethnic group, are being held. VanderKlippe evaded attempts to physically bar him from the area, and his photos and reporting helped document China’s controversial practices in Xinjiang.

For years Cox has doggedly covered the controversial Site C power dam on the Peace River in northeast B.C. Through her pursuit of documents through Access to Information, she exposed major problems with the dam which government officials had known about for a year but had not revealed to the public.

The two winners will be awarded $2000 each.

WPFC’s annual award recognizes outstanding achievements by Canadian media workers who produce public-interest journalism while overcoming secrecy, intimidation, refusal to comply with freedom of information requests or other efforts to foil their work.

WPFC gave press freedom award citations of merit to The Toronto Star’s Kevin Donovan for his battles in court to obtain documents in high profile criminal and civil cases, and to The Calgary Herald duo of Meghan Potkins and Madeline Smith who used the city’s freedom of information system and diligent reporting to uncover financial abuses by a city counsellor.

Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement

WPFC also awards its Spencer Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement to Kim Bolan of The Vancouver Sun.

Bolan has covered wars, the Air India bombing of 1985, gangs, and organized crime. She was the original recipient of the World Press Freedom award in 1999 and hasn’t stopped since. While covering a murder trial in 2017, she learned that she had been the subject of a murder plot, which she then reported on.

The Spencer Moore Award, which is named for one of our organization’s founding directors, is awarded to a journalist or media worker to honour their lengthy work in the pursuit of press freedom.

WPFC awards are usually handed out at the annual luncheon in Ottawa to mark UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day on May 3. However, the luncheon has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the stresses of lockdowns and working remotely, Canadian journalists produced extraordinary journalism in 2020 that held to account those in power,” WPFC president Shawn McCarthy said.

“Our winners overcame significant hurdles that were thrown up to prevent their stories from coming to light.”

McCarthy said that even though Canadian journalists work in a country of relative freedom, we still have to be vigilant because there are glaring examples where freedom is frustrated or threatened.

To see a video of our award winners discussing their work, go to

Editorial Cartoon Contest Winners

The WPFC also announced that Jean-Loïc Bélom is the grand prize winner in the 21st International Editorial Cartoon Competition, with the theme: Censorship, Shaming and Disinformation in Social Media. Second prize goes to Edwin Perales Gonzales of Peru and third prize to Tom Janssen of the Netherlands.

Bélom is an independent cartoonist who has exhibited his cartoons and won awards in the UK, Italy, Belgium and Japan.

Gonzales is a graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist in Peru. Janssen is the editorial cartoonist for the Dutch national daily Trouw and has been published in The International New York Times, Le Monde and The Japan Times.

“Our annual cartoon contest is getting increasingly known internationally, and we received a record number of 406 cartoons from 59 countries,” said Guy Badeaux, coordinator of the contest.

The winning cartoons can be accessed here.

WPFC is also supporting the Canadian Commission for UNESCO with its awareness campaign that brings attention to the issue of threats to women journalists.

About World Press Freedom Canada
World Press Freedom Canada (formerly Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom Canada) is an Ottawa-based volunteer group whose mission is to raise public awareness for the right to free expression, to identify violations, and defend freedom of the press. The advocacy group works with the patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the sustaining sponsorship of the Canadian Bankers Association.


Media Contact
For further information and to arrange media interviews please contact:Shawn McCarthy at 613-294-4491