TVO’s Migrant Dreams has been awarded the 2017 Canadian Hillman Prize for Journalism in recognition of the difference that the groundbreaking documentary has made to the lives of Canadians.
“The power of documentaries like Migrant Dreams is that these are the stories that challenge our assumptions and lead us to ask new questions,” says Lisa de Wilde, Chief Executive Officer of TVO.
“Through intelligent, in-depth journalism, TVO programming like Migrant Dreams creates the space for citizens to engage with the issues that affect all of us.”
Migrant Dreams was commissioned by TVO and made its world broadcast premiere on TVO on September 14, 2016. The feature documentary is a critical examination of migrant labour in Canada and tells the story of a group of women, mostly from Indonesia, who came to work in Ontario greenhouses as part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The film exposes the harsh working and living conditions these women face and reveals how despite coming to Canada to build a better life, they find themselves exploited by corrupt recruiters and a broken system.
“TVO is honoured to be awarded the 2017 Canadian Hillman Prize for Migrant Dreams. Congratulations to Min Sook Lee for creating this extraordinary documentary,” says de Wilde.
The Sidney Hillman Foundation has named Migrant Dreams writer / director and producer Min Sook Lee, producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson, executive producer Rose Gutierrez and TVO’s Executive Producer, Documentaries, Jane Jankovic as recipients.
Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has honoured U.S. journalists who pursue investigative reporting and deep storytelling in service of the common good. In 2011, the Sidney Hillman Foundation inaugurated the Canadian Hillman Prize, honouring journalists who seek out stories that change lives, whose work identifies important social and economic issues in Canada and helps bring about change for the better.
In selecting Migrant Dreams for the Canadian Hillman Prize, judges Bonnie Brown, Tony Burman and Armine Yalnizyan cited the film’s sobering depiction of the long-standing injustices facing migrant farm workers in southern Ontario, and described the film as a wake-up call to Canadians. They also praised filmmaker Min Sook Lee for winning the trust of the migrant workers in the film, who took great risks to tell their story.
“The migrant workers profiled in this documentary risked their livelihoods and status in order to expose the criminal treatment of workers in Canadian farms,” says Lee. “The Canadian Hillman Prize for Migrant Dreams is recognition of their courage. We are honoured to be able to use documentary as a medium to mobilize truth and testimony for social justice.”
Encore presentations of Migrant Dreams will air Wednesday, March 22 at 9 pm and at midnight on TVO.
The documentary is available online at tvo.org, as is an interview with Lee on TVO’s current affairs program, The Agenda with Steve Paikin.