jack webster foundation

We gratefully acknowledge our sponosors of the 2020 Jack Webster Awards:

Five BC Journalists receive Webster fellowships to cover sub-Saharan development issues

Generously funded by

The Jack Webster Foundation today announced five recipients of the third Seeing the World through New Eyes fellowship established in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

These five BC journalists will visit sub-Saharan Africa in early 2008 to experience firsthand reporting from developing countries:
  • Sarah Artis, The Terrace Standard, Terrace
  • Colleen Dane, Comox Valley Record, Union Bay
  • Elaine O'Connor, The Province, North Vancouver
  • Sarah Petrescu, Times Colonist, Victoria
  • Marylene Tetu, CBC Radio-Canada, Vancouver

"These fellowships benefit BC journalists who want an opportunity to see beyond their borders and view the developing world from a perspective of the people who live there," said Neil Soper, Co-Chair of the Jack Webster Foundation.

"By arranging these Fellowships with the support of CIDA, it is the Foundation's goal to offer British Columbia journalists an experience that will widen their horizons in a globally significant way."

A training seminar in November will precede February travel to Mozambique and Rwanda with project team leader Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun columnist and veteran reporter on global development issues. Neither the Jack Webster Foundation nor CIDA will have editorial control on the resulting work of the Fellowship recipients.

Seeing the World Through New Eyes was a juried competition for BC-based journalists aged 30 or younger, or in their first five years of journalism. The competition was open to full time employees of media organizationS or freelancers with a record of printed or aired work. The Jury Panel (Don Cayo, Ross Howard, Margo Harper and Scott Macrae) evaluated 33 entries from a diverse section of BC print and broadcast journalists. Earlier in 2007, five journalists traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia in the second CIDA-funded Seeing the World Through New Eyes program. The Jack Webster Foundation will be applying to CIDA for continued funding for 2008/2009.

Experiences from the 2007/08 Seeing the World through New Eyes Fellowship Recipients

Personal Blogs | Sarah Petrescu February 14 | Sarah Petrescu February 14 | Sarah Petrescu February 10 | Elaine O'Connor February 9 | Sarah Artis February 8

africaThe 2007 Fellowship recipients travelled to Rwanda and Mozambique.

2007 fellowship recipients2007 Fellowship recipients at the CIDA Intercultural Learning training session on November 2, 2007. L to R: Sally McLean, Intercultural Learning, Elaine O'Connor, Sarah Artis, Sarah Petrescu, Marylène Têtu, Colleen Dane and project leader Don Cayo

Elaine O'Connor's B.C. Without Borders blog (new window)

Elaine O'Connor's Blog #2 (new window)

Colleen Dane's report here (new window)

Report from Sarah Artis in Rwanda

February 14

The earthquake last night woke up me and my colleague Sarah P, though our other peer who we were sharing the room with, had been awake a few minutes before.

Animals had been howling outside for a few minutes before the 10 second rumble, she said.

We were all startled. Colleen and Sarah ran to get their flashlights and all three of us sat in our beds, lined against the wall, and waited to see what would happen next.

Giggling nervously, not sure if we should be worried or not, we made a basic plan should there be another, bigger quake: grab our stuff and run outside - fast!

The animals - be they dogs, cats, goats, birds and whatever else - began to make noises again. Colleen and Sarah readied their bags just in case. I was so tired, I decided not to worry.

Nothing happened and we all went back to sleep.

Later in the night, likely an hours or so later, the animals once again acted up.

But...again, nothing happened.

In the morning it all felt like a dream.

I swear, someone up there is throwing a little big of everything our way on this trip - a riot, an earthquake and many, many more adventures. I couldn't be happier about it!

Report from Sarah Artis in Rwanda

February 14

Stabbed in the eyes.
Bludgeoned with a club.
Smashed against a wall.
Hacked to pieces with a machete.
Tortured to death.

Photos of children aged one to 17 killed in Rwanda's 1994 genocide hand on the wall. Underneath each portrait is a plaque that describes the child. Categories vary. Some of the plaques list the child's favourite hobby, their best subject in school, the name of their best friend. The last category is the same for each child. It tells how they died.

When I initially applied for this Jack Webster/CIDA scholarship, I was determined to write positive stories about Africa.

So many people have the impression that should they venture over to this continent, they will be met immediately by poverty, AIDS, malaria, starving children, beggars, war and thieves. I was determined, and still am, to learn and write about the incredible and inspirational people and projects, which are making a difference.

I believe I will succeed. But I must admit, after visiting Kigali's genocide memorial site on Tuesday, I look at each person here differently. I can't help but wonder:
How many in your family were murdered?
Were you raped?
How did you survive?
Did you run? Or did you hide?
How far or for how long?
Or were you one of the killers?
Either way, how did you and do you cope?

I see people working on the streets, trimming trees with machetes. That's normal here but I can't help but stare at the machete - the main killing tool in the death of approximately 800,000 Rwandans just 14 years ago - and imagine it hitting the back of someone's neck.

It's gruesome, I know.

I visited the memorial with the brother of a Rwandan ex-boyfriend of mine. As we walked through a hallway with walls depicting the genocide's timeline, Claude told me his and his family's story. At first I was asking questions. By the time we went upstairs, I was silent and breathing heavily to arrest my oncoming tears.

One room upstairs was filled with bones and skulls, some visibly crushed, others marked by machete. Another room had only photos of a small portion of the victim. Another had just filthy bloodstained clothes including one small child's grubby ripped T-shirt with the words "Ottawa, I love Canada" written across its front.

Report from Sarah Petrescu in Kigali

February 10

I am in Kigali now after the first leg of my trip in Mozambique which went well but was a serious adventure. I travelled through the worst of the flood zones to visit to Sena and Kapasseni to see a Victoria couple who are running a Victoria funded HIV/AIDS orphan and home-based palliative care program. Every step of the trip was tricky and treacherous. All the roads were washed out, the power was out; food was scarce and the water wells contaminated. I made the trek in the back of an NGO pickup along a makeshift road where the railroad used to be. We got to Kapasseni riding double on the rat traps of bicycles for six hours. But we did it, even avoiding crocodiles, a rogue hippo and deep waters. I seem to be spending most of my time in the bush - coffee farmers today in Butare.

Report from Elaine O'Connor in Mozambique

February 9
Maputo, Mozambique

Any traveller knows you can learn a lot about a city from its taxi drivers.
In Vancouver, you are likely to meet an immigrant to Canada with more training in medicine, engineering or accounting than time logged behind the wheel.

In Mozambique, you are likely to meet Tomas Malimane.

Malimane, a 37-year-old father of four, is like many in this country of 20 million -- scraping out a living in menial, low wage jobs in a country where only 1.5 million residents are actually salaried workers.

The remainder of Mozambicans earn a living on the fly: everything they can find is for sale by the side of the road.

Silver trees of hanging mufflers. Clothes lines strung with socks. Women in "capulana" cloth skirts selling groundnuts by the cup from plastic basins balanced on their heads. Grandmothers guarding bananas under the shade of a tree. Teens in bright yellow "Mcel" cellular phone card uniforms, offering coverage by the minute. Others sit under orange umbrellas shading land-line phones and offer call time to those who can't afford the luxury of mobile phones.

Craftsmen minding complete bedroom sets of wicker furniture set up in the street like a sidewalk IKEA. Women sitting in the dust at the chapa (mini bus) stops on coolers full of sweating orange Fanta pops. Girls selling single candies to school children on their way home. Men waiting under the hot sun to sell a bundle of gnarled firewood or a careful pile of charcoal before they can go home.

In Africa, entrepreneurship isn't a choice. It's a necessity.

A simple drive along the highway in Malimane's taxi offers a real window into Mozambique's chaotic, grossly underdeveloped market economy.

Malimane has a front row seat. He says he's been driving these roads seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. for years.

At night, he goes to school at the Universidade Pedagogica, studying business administration, in the hopes of finding a job that will one day get him off the road.

But unemployment is high. His wife is studying too. His son and daughter, two and four years old, are still too young to go to school. But he wants something better for them than he currently has to offer.

In this way, Malimane's could be the story of so many other taxi drivers in the Lower Mainland.

Could be, that is, until he reaches down to lift his jeans and show the bullet holes.

In 1989, he was going to school in Maputo and living with his mother at home, the fourth child of nine. Then he turned 18. The country was at war and they needed more men. Within the space of a month, he went from learning English to learning how to shoot a gun.

He was pulled out so fast, he said his mother didn't even know he had gone.

In a way, Maliman was lucky he was called up when he was.

Mozambique suffered agonizing 17 years of civil war. And this war came on the heels of more than 10 years of the war for independence. Frelimo, (the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) had been already fighting the Portuguese colonialists for more than a decade starting in 1964, before winning self-rule in 1975.

But the victory was short lived. Fearing the destabilizing effects of an African-ruled government in the region, the White South African apartheid government channelled funding to a dissenting party called Renamo (the Mozambican National Resistance)which launched a brutal military campaign that ravaged the country and ruined its infrastructure.

By the end of a civil war that had lasted almost a generation, an estimated 1 million were killed. Another 1.7 million fled to neighbouring countries, and many more millions fled their villages for safer parts of the country.

The Frelimo-founded schools and hospitals, teachers and health workers were a favourite target, so even when peace was finally reached in 1992, the country struggled to educate and care for its battered population.

When Malimane's mother finally got word of her son, it was to hear that his group, Batallion 16, stationed deep in Renamo country in the bush surrounding the north-central city of Beira, had taken heavy fire and heavier casualties.

She thought he was dead. But he lived. And he's got the scars to prove it.

As this traveller now knows, you can learn a lot about a country from its taxi drivers.

Report from Sarah Artis in Mozambique

February 8
Maputo, Mozambique

rat sniffingI saw the cutest rat on Wednesday - and he was so skilled.

The little guy was wearing a small harness, which was attached to two ropes, each held by handlers situated 25 metres apart. The rat - a big African one, almost the size of a rabbit - scurried back and forth between the handlers, up and down a taped-off grass field. As he scurried, he sniffed the ground. After a few lines back and forth, he suddenly stopped, started to groom himself, then scraped at the dirt with his tiny paws. My new furry little friend had just located a landmine.

Most demining operations use dogs to sniff out mines but these rats, brought over from Tanzania to be tested and trained in Inhambane, Mozambique, may be the next big thing in the world of landmine clearance. Brought over from Tanzania, their trainers say they are more effective than dogs because they can pinpoint the specific location of a landmine, not just its general area. They are also easier to care for.

Cute and doing good in the world - I was impressed and almost wanted to take one home with me.

fishermanThursday I woke up at 5 am to check out the local fishermen on Tofo beach. If you are driving, Tofo is 20 minutes down the road from Inhambane. If you are taking the bus, it's about an hour. Waking at that early hour would be a feat for me in Canada but here's it's been the norm. At that time it is cooler but still light.

As I waited by their red, green, orange and yellow boats, groups of men streamed across the beach, each with a long rustic fishing pole slung across his shoulder. The men dawdled in, joking and laughing with each other, taking their time. They took about an hour to prepare their bait for the day, tying zippy silver fish onto their lines. One man in particular caught my ear. He was bald man and missing at least three teeth. He was obviously the joker of the group, teasing his friends incessantly. All the men were laughing but his whole body shook when he roared. His jolliness was contagious and soon, I was laughing too.

When the sun rose higher in the sky, the men pushed their boats into the water and crashed through the surf. They rounded a rocky point and within minutes they were all gone. Only a few lonely boats and I were left on shore.

I felt elated and smiled continuously throughout the day every time I thought of that laughing fishermen.

After two days at the beach, learning about tourism, and potential developments and investments, in Tofo, I'm back in Maputo. The riots here subsided since the president announced bus fares will not go up.

back to top


Previous Recipients

Reports from



Previous Recipients and their Experiences