Thomson's Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) 2013 Integrity Award
I've put together here a
number of links to material on the involvement of Canadians in
supporting the immigration of Chilean refugees following the brutal
September 11, 1973 military coup.
My award acceptance remarks - Royal York Hotel, Toronto, December 4th, 2013
Good evening. A flood of memories, reflections and emotions entered my mind when I was told that CJFE was to give me this award. Tonight this has become a flood of emotions. I thank you for this honour.
This video and other CJFE materials capture those memories from back in 1973 well. I was a catalyst in those events, but I want to remind you that many other people lobbied the government to change refugee policies and many others were involved in the process of welcoming Chileans to Canada. I was the guy who tossed gas on the fire and I got burnt when I lost my job with CIDA. All those other people, from churches, unions and human rights groups, and a few sympathetic diplomats, also deserve to be honoured because we were all part of that process.
This award is about historical memory. We're remembering atrocities. But we're also remembering how informed citizens can change the course of history, citizens with different experiences and access to different facts from those of our politicians and diplomats and civil servants. It bears witness to the power of information and thus to the importance of freedom of expression.
Without free expression, we can't hear the many diverse voices we need to hear in their pluralistic whole rather than in parts. Without access to and respect for this plurality, we see only part of the truth, and we risk reacting in narrow ways.
Unfortunately, out there tonight and tomorrow and next year, there are going to be more atrocities. We're going to need whistle-blowers about leaky pipelines, contamination from fracking, runaway oil tank trains, excessive carbon emissions and many more irresponsible acts and actors and abuses of power. But there are also going to be inspiring stories of citizens, as individuals and in groups, who come together, not only to oppose unethical behaviour, but also to work toward building better worlds, whatever those better worlds might be or wherever they might be.
I wasn't as badly burnt as Chelsea/Bradley Manning or Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, who are now in jail or in exile. Nor was I as harmed as many journalists in Canada and around the world, in both mainstream and alternative media, have been. They risk their lives and reputations to bring us hidden facts, alternative voices and different interpretations. This Gala reminds us of those people and their importance in keeping us informed of the different realities around us. Your presence here tonight and your support for CJFE's role in working for free expression is very important.
I want to thank my family, my friends and the many other people who supported me during the more difficult moments of this journey. I also want to thank those who have confirmed with hugs and praise that I did the right thing.
I'm proud, and I'm honoured, to be a part of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression's role in supporting a free media and free expression.
See my National Post op ed or listen to the CBO Ottawa Morning interview or watch the CJFE video
Read the cables and 1973 Hansard excerpts (8 page pdf file)
CJFE Press Release and background article and my CJFE Gala Photos
UofT: Meet the Canadian envoy who hid Chileans in 1973
George Cram's remarks on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup, Toronto, September 2013
John Foster's remarks on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup, Toronto, September 2013
John Foster's Chile op ed Toronto 2017
Here are a few links to other documents about Chilean solidarity and refugee experiences in Canada
Chilenos en Toronto: Memorias del Exilio Version espanol - 306 paginas
Chileans in Toronto: Memories in Exile Bilingual Volume One
Chilenos en Vancouver
Chilenos en Montreal
Joan Simalchik: When the refugees came from Chile
You Can't Get Here From There. A 1975 play by Jack Winter at Toronto Workshop Productions, set in Ambassador Ross' Santiago residence in 1973 after the coup and examines Canada's complicity in the 1973 overthrow of Chilean president Salvador Allende
Francis Peddie: Shaming an Unwilling Host: The Chilean solidarity movement, Fall 1973
Jan Raska: 1973 - Canada's Response to the Chilean Refugees
Yves Engler: Remembering Canada's support for the right wing coup in Chile
Dru Oja Jay & Nikolas Barry-Shaw: Canada's NGO radicals confront the September 11, 1973 Chilean coup
Walden Bello: How Middle-Class Chileans Contributed to the Overthrow of Salvador Allende