Three freelancers working in dangerous places to get hostile environment training

LONDON, ON, May 30, 2016 /CNW/ - Three exceptional freelance journalists who work in dangerous places are this year's winners of safety training bursaries from the Forum Freelance Fund (FFF).

One winner is Canadian, one is French and one is Belgian. All count major Canadian news organizations among their clients. Each will now be able to attend a specialized hostile environment training course, from an approved provider of their choice in Canada, Britain or the USA. Their bursaries are worth $2,500CDN each. 

The FFF is a program of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, an educational charity concerned primarily with the physical and emotional wellbeing of journalists. The annual FFF competition is held in co-operation with the UK-based Rory Peck Trust

Forum president Cliff Lonsdale said: "We have been awarding these bursaries now for six years, and we're still finding extraordinary candidates doing exceptional work under dangerous conditions, with no formal safety training. It's really unacceptable that so many freelancers should have to carry the growing security burden on their own. I salute our media sponsors, our supporters and our friends at the Rory Peck Trust, all of whom show in different ways that they recognize safety is very much a shared responsibility." 

Stéphane Siohan, a French citizen, has been working freelance in Ukraine since 2013, the year before the Russian annexation of Crimea. He reports regularly on the continuing conflict for Radio-Canada and for several other prominent francophone news organizations including Le Figaro, Le Temps, Le Soir, iTélé and Canal+.

Reacting to the award, he said: "After two and a half years covering the troubles in Ukraine and the war in the Donbass region, it is a good to take a step back. I am delighted to have been selected by the FFF. It will help me develop new skills and techniques to assess the risks we take." 

Belgian freelancer Patricia Huon has been based in Johannesburg, South Africa, for six years, travelling to the continent's hotspots to report for Montreal's La Presse, as well as major newspapers in France, Belgium and Switzerland; for Radio-Canada; and for several European television companies including TV5. She has never had any hostile environment training. 

"As a freelancer," she said, "this bursary is an amazing opportunity to receive formal security training. It will be a great asset, not only for my own safety in the field, but potentially for the safety of colleagues working with me."

Megan Williams, a Canadian based in Rome, has been reporting a freelance for 15 years, mainly from Europe and North Africa, for CBC News and others, including the Toronto Star. 

She has filed from Tunisia and Egypt during the "Arab Spring" and from the Sudanese-Chad border on the plight of refugees from Darfur. She has also covered the Balkans, Europe's refugee and migrant crisis, and the recent bombings in Brussels, along with stories in southern and west Africa, India and Cambodia. She said she was deeply grateful for the bursary. 

"As a female reporter who works mostly on her own, hostile environment training is especially important. It will allow me to continue to take on risky assignments with more confidence and awareness."

Cliff Lonsdale said: "Media organizations who use freelancers around the world but don't yet support the Forum Freelance Fund or something like it often tell us they don't want to encourage inexperienced journalists to put themselves in harm's way. Neither do we. But this year's winners show quite clearly that there are still many seasoned freelancers out there, doing great work in tough places, and they deserve our collective support."

The FFF is sponsored by CBC News and supported by Radio-Canada and by individual donations. The Forum as a whole is sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CNW Group. Our thanks to CNW Group for supporting this announcement. 

SOURCE Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma

Image with caption: "Patricia Huon, freelancer based in Johannesburg, covering all of Africa (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Megan Williams, freelancer based in Rome, covering Europe and North Africa (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Stéphane Siohan, freelancer among barricades in Kiev (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at:

For further information: Please see the Forum's website or contact the Executive Producer, Jane Hawkes,, Tel: ‪1-519-852-4946.

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