Gordon Sinclair Jr. — the Winnipeg Free Press’s senior columnist — was born into a newspaper family, and the Free Press, where his father was a respected reporter and assistant managing editor.
The younger Sinclair began his newspaper career while still in high school when his dad found him a summer job as a copy boy at the competing Winnipeg Tribune. It was there, while working weekends during the school year, that Sinclair began writing small stories for the sports department.
Later he would go on to write sports at the Free Press, the Vancouver Sun and the Edmonton Journal, where he also would cover police, provincial politics and be appointed the Alberta newspaper’s Far North correspondent based in Yellowknife.
After a decade away from Winnipeg, Sinclair returned in the late 1970s to become the night sports editor of the Tribune, a position he held until the paper closed in 1980.
Not wanting to leave Winnipeg again, Sinclair turned down offers at the Ottawa Citizen and Calgary Herald to stay in the city and work as a magazine editor for Ducks Unlimited. A year later he was hired by the Free Press as its city columnist.
In the more than three decades since coming “home” to the Free Press, Sinclair has been the recipient of three National Newspaper Awards (1988, 1997 and 2007), including two in the columns category and one as a member of the Free Press team that covered Manitoba’s Flood of the Century.
Sinclair has also been honoured for his journalism by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Heritage Winnipeg, and by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission which, in 1989, presented him with the Human Rights in Journalism Award for his series of investigative columns on the police-related death of aboriginal leader J. J. Harper.
Sinclair’s book on that subject, Cowboys and Indians: The Shooting of J. J. Harper (McClelland & Stewart) was recognized with multiple honours, including the Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award as the best non-fiction book of 1999. The book has been studied at several Canadian universities and colleges and in various classes , from journalism and policing to sociology and native studies.
Cowboys and Indians was subsequently turned into the made-for-TV movie of the same title, which was premiered on the same weekend by the Aboriginal Television Network and the CBC.
2014 marked the 50th anniversary of Sinclair’s start in journalism as a 16-year-old copy boy and apprenticing reporter.
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