The Liberty Awards celebrate exceptional individuals and organizations who have made contributions to advancing civil liberties and human rights in Canada. Winners are selected from a list of nominations made by the BCCLA’s supporters and members of the public.
We’re so pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Liberty Awards. Ideally, we would have celebrated them and their achievements at our Liberty Awards Gala. However, due to COVID-19, we cancelled our gala last year. We still want to celebrate the people and organizations that our supporters nominated and honour their important work. Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2020 Liberty Awards!
Reg Robson Award
Award Rescinded – Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
Update: on 9th March, 2023, the BCCLA rescinded the award given to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in light of revelations regarding her purported Indigenous identity and professional claims.
As a largely settler organization, the BCCLA recognizes our responsibility to stand with Indigenous communities on the appropriate measures to address ongoing harms faced by Indigenous peoples. The BCCLA also recognizes that in awarding Dr. Turpel-Lafond the Reg Robson Award, our organization contributed to amplifying Dr. Turpel-Lafond’s claims and position of influence. We acknowledge that Dr. Turpel-Lafond’s misrepresentation regarding her purported Indigenous ancestry must also be contextualized within the greater, widespread pattern of Indigenous identity fraud, and the severe harms that it causes in perpetuating colonial violence and assimilation practices.
The BCCLA re-iterates our commitment to standing in solidarity with Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, and to listen with open hearts and minds in our support against colonial violence.
Read the full statement from staff and Board on this unanimous decision.
Excellence in Legal Advocacy – Group
Migrant Workers Centre
Migrant Workers Centre (MWC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to legal advocacy for migrant workers in BC. MWC facilitates access to justice for migrant workers through the provision of free legal advice and representation. Each year, the organization provides legal services in over 2,200 immigration and employment-related matters. Their members and clients are migrant and undocumented workers working in low-wage jobs in the child care, home support, restaurant, hospitality, construction, agricultural, and manufacturing industries. Currently, the organization is advocating for pathways to permanent residence for all essential workers, including undocumented workers.
Excellence in Legal Advocacy – Individual
Alison Latimer has a litigation practice at both the trial and appellate level with an emphasis on public law and in particular constitutional, administrative law and criminal law. She has been counsel on a number of landmark cases including cases establishing a constitutional right to physician assisted death and a constitutional limit to the use of solitary confinement.
Excellence in Youth and Community Activism
Bashir Mohamed is an Edmonton based writer focused on researching Alberta’s history of discrimination. He has previously researched carding data in Edmonton, the Edmonton SRO program, and the history of the Ku Klux Klan in Alberta. He is an avid cyclist and enjoys being by the water.
Excellence in the Arts
Kent Monkman is an interdisciplinary Cree visual artist. A member of Fisher River Cree Nation in Treaty 5 Territory (Manitoba), he lives and works in Dish With One Spoon Territory (Toronto, Canada). Known for his provocative interventions into Western European and American art history, Monkman explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience—the complexities of historic and contemporary Indigenous experiences—across painting, film/video, performance, and installation. Monkman’s gender-fluid alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle often appears in his work as a time-traveling, shape-shifting, supernatural being who reverses the colonial gaze to challenge received notions of history and Indigenous peoples.
Excellence in Journalism
From interviewing ISIS members to being on the ground during a political assassination in Russia, for nearly a decade Ben Makuch has been covering national security issues all over the world. Makuch hosted the hit TV show Cyberwar on Hulu and VICEtv, an investigative documentary series examining the covert world of signals intelligence and hackers. He has since worked on the Emmy-award winning show VICE News Tonight on HBO, and Fringe Nation on VICEtv. Currently, Makuch has been covering the rise of domestic terrorism in the U.S. and exposing the inner workings of neo-Nazi terrorist groups.