New Carleton journalism award in honour of Shireen Abu Akleh to be unveiled at Sept. 22 tribute concertWritten by School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University
A new award honouring the legacy of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has been established by Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication.
The Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism will be supported by an endowed fund recently established at Carleton. It is hoped the endowment will generate a reporting award of at least $5,000 each year, in perpetuity.
A special event will be held on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa as a tribute to Abu Akleh and to launch the award.
The event will feature tributes by Abu Akleh’s friends, family and colleagues and a concert by renowned oud player Abdul-Wahab Kayyali and cellist Sheila Hannigan.
Abu Akleh was 51 at the time of her death on May 11, 2022, when she was fatally shot while reporting for Al Jazeera at the entrance to Jenin Refugee Camp, in the West Bank.
The Israeli human rights group B’tselem as well as media organizations such as the BBC, CNN, New York Times, Al Jazeera and Bellingcat, all concluded after detailed investigations that Abu Akleh had been killed by a bullet fired by the Israeli military. For its part, the Israeli government initially denied involvement, but eventually acknowledged the fatal shot was probably fired by an Israeli soldier but denied allegations a soldier intentionally targeted her.
News of Abu Akleh’s killing sent shock waves around the world and through the journalistic community.
As a trailblazer for journalists internationally and a role model for young reporters, Abu Akleh relentlessly pursued stories about the lives of Palestinians living under occupation, often at great personal risk.
The story is told again and again of young women standing in front of the mirror, holding a hairbrush as a microphone as they emulated Abu Akleh’s style and famous sign-off for Al Jazeera.
With the permission of Abu Akleh’s family, and the support of initial donors Shawky Fahel, Maher Arar and Monia Mazigh, Carleton’s journalism program has established this new award.
Different from other scholarships, students who want to be considered for the Shireen Abu Akleh Emerging Reporter Award in Social Justice Journalism will submit a proposal for a journalism project they would like to undertake that would shed light on an important social justice issue.
Representatives of Abu Akleh’s family strongly supported the proposal for the award and will participate in the launch event.
“The family believes it is very important to enshrine her legacy going forward,’’ Shireen’s brother Tony Abu Akleh said. “Such scholarships will maintain her legacy, will maintain her name and I’m sure people will be interested to know about her achievements, her journalism, her death – all these issues.”
“We would like to thank Carleton University because awards like these, which honor Shireen and her contributions to journalism and her commitment to giving voice to those who live under brutal military occupation, are a way to keep her memory alive and let young journalists continue her legacy,” Abu Akleh said. “And that legacy was speaking truth to power and shining a light on both the pain of injustice and the perseverance of those who live under it.”
Donations to the endowment are tax deductible. More details can be obtained by visiting the FutureFunder page created by Carleton’s Advancement office.
The endowment will create a new opportunity for journalism students at the senior undergraduate and graduate levels to receive funding to explore stories related to social justice.
In the august surroundings of the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, the Sept. 22 tribute and launch event will include remarks from Abu Akleh’s brother Tony Abu Akleh, who plans to travel from Jerusalem. A highlight of the concert by oud musician Abdul-Wahab Kayyali and cellist Sheila Hannigan will be the first public performance of a new piece of music composed in honour of Abu Akleh.
A reception will follow the concert.
Tickets for the tribute event and concert are $25 (with a student rate of $10) and those interested in attending are strongly encouraged to purchase online ahead of time to guarantee their seat.