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2016 Liberty Award Winners

Meet Our Liberty Award Winners:

The BCCLA is delighted to honour the 2016 Liberty Award recipients for their outstanding leadership to promote human rights and freedoms in Canada. The BCCLA began issuing these awards in 2012 to mark our 50th anniversary as an organization. Previous Liberty Award recipients can be viewed here.

Reg Robson Award

Named after a BCCLA past president and well known civil liberties advocate, the Reg Robson award is given annually to honour a community member who has demonstrated a substantial and long-lasting contribution to the cause of civil liberties in B.C. and Canada. This is the first, and longest standing, award given by the BCCLA.
Kent Roach is Professor of Law and Prichard-Wilson Chair of Law and Public Policy at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Craig Forcese is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) at the University of Ottawa.

These two individuals have been critical to mounting a resistance to the infringement of civil liberties in the name of national security. The astounding turn in public support for bill C-51 was due to a public education effort that was virtually all premised on their real-time legal analysis. They have exemplified what it means to be engaged public intellectuals, and the civil liberties community owes them a great debt. Since we can’t pay that debt, we’d like to recognize them with our oldest and highest honour, the Reg Robson Award.

Previous Reg Robson Award recipients can be viewed here.

Kent Roach. Photo credit: David Stobbe.

Craig Forcese (2016)
Craig Forcese.

Excellence in Legal Advocacy – Individual

Dr. Cindy Blackstock is a Canadian-born Gitxsan activist for child welfare and Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. She is also an associate professor at the University of Alberta. Dr. Blackstock’s tireless work to fight for justice for First Nations children, including her historic work before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, has forever changed Canada’s human rights landscape. After the wonderful opportunity to have her as our Keynote Speaker at the 2014 Liberty Awards, we are truly honoured to be able to recognize her in 2016 as the Liberty Award winner for Excellence in Legal Advocacy- Individual.

Dr. Cindy Blackstock

Excellence in Legal Advocacy – Group

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network promotes the human rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in Canada and internationally, through research and analysis, advocacy and litigation, public education and community mobilization. Their contributions have been invaluable to advancing the rights of people most affected by HIV/AIDS, including prisoners, drug users, sex workers, LGBTQ+ people, and more. In particular, they are being honoured for their groundbreaking work to champion safe injection sites in our communities, and needle exchange programs in Canada’s prisons.  

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Excellence in Journalism

Mohamed Fahmy is a Canadian award-winning journalist and author. In 2013, he was the Al Jazeera English bureau chief in Egypt when security forces arrested him and two colleagues.  He was sentenced to 7 years on fabricated terrorism charges and incarcerated at the Tora maximum security prison in a trial internationally recognised as unjust and lacking in due process.  In 2015, he was pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after spending 438 days behind bars. His previous humanitarian work as a former member of the International Committee of the Red Cross responsible for protecting the right of refugees and political prisoners in Lebanon coupled with Mr. Fahmy’s extraordinary work to champion free speech and fight the suppression of the press and the Fahmy Foundation’s recent initiative to create a Protection Charter for Canadian citizens and journalists detained or risking imprisonment abroad, is very deserving of recognition and celebration.  

Mohamed Fahmy

Excellence in the Arts

Founded in 1981, Vancouver’s Theatre for Living (formerly known as Headlines Theatre) is a leading example of theatre for social change. Theatre for Living’s work is having an important impact on the human rights and civil liberties landscape through dialogue creation and community empowerment. This company is leading by example in engaging individuals with some of the most difficult issues in our communities including racialized discrimination, homelessness, reconciliation, and mental health.  

Theatre for Living gang. Left to right: David Diamond, Dafne Blanco, Susan Shank, David Ng. Photo credit: Dafne Blanco

Excellence in Community Activism

Transportation not Deportation is a community campaign calling for an immediate end to Translink and Transit Police collaboration with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This group believes that everyone deserves access to public transportation without fear of being criminalized, abused, detained, and deported. Through their efforts, they secured the end of a Memorandum of Understanding between Transit Police and CBSA as well as other directives which have significantly reduced contact between CBSA and Transit Police. This is an extraordinary victory for migrant justice, privacy rights, and CBSA accountability.
Transportation not Deportation


Unsung Hero 

Lynda Hird has been with the BC Civil Liberties Association in one role or another for nearly 50 years. After receiving her law degree from U-Cal Berkeley in 1964, Lynda began to work with the BCCLA in 1968.  At this very moment she is navigating the complications involved in setting up an official archive for the BCCLA’s more than 50 years of human rights and civil liberties history. We look forward to finally singing her praises. LyndaPic


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