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Amnesty International recognizes student work

A group of 19 individuals stands close together and smiles for a photo.
Update: The Canadian Association of Journalists has also chosen Untitled as the winner of the CAJ / CNW Group Student Award of Excellence.

For their work to bring national attention to the issue of land titles in North Preston, Kristen Brown, Nic Meloney, Whitney Middleton and their fellow Radio Television Journalism (RTJ) students at Waterfront Campus led by Erin Moore (complete list below), have been awarded the Amnesty International Canada Youth Media Award.

“I'm sure I can speak on behalf of my entire class and say it feels great to receive this honour,” says Kristen. “There's something to be said about student journalism and the impact it can have on a much larger scale outside of the classroom.”

The Amnesty Canada Media Awards honour journalists for outstanding human rights reporting. The Youth Media Award specifically honours students who have covered international or national human rights issues and places emphasis on how these issues impact young people.

Even-handed, journalistically-sound and hard-headed Untitled demonstrates human rights issues violations are not just the stuff of distant places. They can be in our own back yard, and need to be brought into the light.

Rick MacInnes-Rae
Amnesty International Judge

Land titles in North Preston

As some of Nova Scotia’s first settlers, Black Loyalists were offered plots of land in exchange for their support during the American Revolutionary War – and again during the War of 1812 – in an area of the province known today as North Preston. However, the Black Loyalists were not issued deeds or land titles for those plots.

Today, approximately one-third of North Preston's residents do not have legal title to their land. After more than 200 years have passed, many property boundaries have merged, new homes have been erected on the space between properties, and vegetation has left many boundary markers lost. Remedying the situation for one property can cost upwards of $10,000 and require years of effort on the part of residents, lawyers, and surveyors; therefore, little progress has been made since the 1990’s.

In the fall of 2015, RTJ students began investigating the issue of land titles in North Preston. Their work resulted in the launch of a two-year-long project known as Untitled: The Legacy of Land in North Preston.

“This is an important story to tell,” says Nic. “These are real people experiencing a real struggle. We’ve been taught there is a duty behind journalism: to speak on behalf of every voice—not just the mainstream—to be a voice for every voice. This is particularly true of marginalized communities. They deserve equal attention, and on occasions such as this, special attention.”


The series tells the story of residents of North Preston and how they are being affected by the land issue. It communicates the residents’ struggles and frustrations, and calls on the government to re-examine its stance on the issue. By presenting their research in a text-on-video format, the students sought to encourage content sharing that would highlight the historic wrong and encourage future action.

“This social injustice needs to be corrected,” says Whitney. “If not, it could destroy, not just a community, but an important part of Canadian culture. The work we’ve done has the potential to give families their homes back. It's so much bigger than a piece of paper.”

As the winners of the award, the students have been invited to participate in a ceremony on April 5, 2017 at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. During the ceremony, they will be presented with a certificate and cheque for $500. The students have decided to donate the award money to the North Preston Land Recovery Initiative, the community group working on the land claims issue.

For more information about the award, go to the Amnesty International Canada news release.

The NSCC Foundation provided financial support to allow a student to attend the ceremony at no cost.

Full list of NSCC RTJ Youth Media Award winners:

Class of 2016

  • Kristen Brown
  • Ellen Coles
  • Ed Halverson
  • Scott Hastings
  • Nicole Martelle
  • Jane Nicholson
  • Andres Porras
  • Christian Roach
  • Marilyn Sexton
  • Olesya Shyvikova
  • John Wimberly
  • Morgan Jessome
  • CJ Killam
  • Nick Madore
  • Jake Nissen
  • Romney Tarasco
  • Jason Cohanim
  • Michael Decoste
  • Wyatt Estabrooks
  • Richard Harris
  • Caitlin Hartlen
  • Alyssa Lewis Graham

Class of 2017

  • Allister Aalders
  • Skye Bryden-Blom
  • Benoit Crawford-Leblanc
  • Jennie Cyril
  • Jenn Edwards
  • Kadence
  • Joel LeBlanc
  • Chris Lee
  • Nicole Ly
  • Dan Macisaac
  • Dan Mackenzie
  • Nic Meloney
  • Whitney Middleton
  • Matthew Moore
  • Brandon Munroe
  • Hilary Pettigrew
  • Jean-Marc Samson
  • Ethan Saulnier
  • Blake Seymour
  • Callum Smith

Fast Fact

The Youth Media Award category is new. While the Amnesty Canada Media Awards are in their 22nd year, this is only the second time that the Youth Media Award will be presented.