The Winnipeg Free Press's No Running Water project has won an Amnesty International Canada media award.
The human rights organization named the 2010 project the national winner in its online media category. The Free Press series included stories, photographs and a documentary of the homes at St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake, which do not have running water.
Judges commented on how the project moved the viewer from the abstract legal issue of the right to accessible clean water and into the homes of people living without that access.
Winnipeg Free Press editor Margo Goodhand said the paper is pleased with the award and said the documentary held the real power of the series: the people who agreed to share their stories.
"This was a powerful series in paper and online. But the documentary really put us into the community and showed us how they live. We are grateful they opened their hearts and homes to us," Goodhand said.
Photojournalist Joe Bryksa, assistant city editor Helen Fallding and multimedia editor Tyler Walsh worked on the project. The online component was designed by Amy Paulic and Mark Lowe.
The project was made possible by a $20,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
The Free Press continues its investigation into the northern Manitoba issue, even as other reserves such as Attawapiskat dominate the headlines. Two years after No Running Water first began, the federal government pledged to fix the problem of homes with no running water, starting in March 2012.
The project presented the stark facts about living life without running water, a reality for thousands of Island Lake residents on Manitoba First Nations and the political battle over the solution. The Free Press investigation revealed that more than 40 per cent of the homes on First Nations reserves without running water are in Manitoba, even though Manitoba has only 15 per cent of the country's reserve housing stock.
The No Running Water documentary has also been selected to screen in the 2012 March 21st: Human Rights Film Festival sponsored by the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties.
Find this project at www.winnipegfreepress.com/no-running-water/ .