'Justice and journalism': NSCC students win national award for North Preston project

Journalism students at the Nova Scotia Community College have won the Canadian Association of Journalists' Group Student Award of Excellence for their digital documentary Untitled: The Legacy of Land in North Preston. 

The award was given out Saturday night at an awards gala in Ottawa.  

The project focused on the struggle people in the Halifax Regional Municipality community of North Preston have had trying to gain legal title to land their families have lived on for generations.

"I think it's a huge honour," said Kristen Brown, one of the former students who worked on the project. "It's really special to win the student award and get that recognition," she said. 

2nd award for project

The award recognizes outstanding journalism that creates change and impacts society. 

The project already won the students Amnesty International Canada's 2016 Youth Media Award. The award honours the best human rights journalism from a Canadian post-secondary institution.

"Hopefully each award that we win is a step in righting the wrong for North Preston residents because it has been happening for far too long. Hopefully each award is a platform to have justice for them," said Brown. 

As a result of the students' work, the province began to take steps to sort out exactly who owns what land in North Preston. However, that process has only just begun and hasn't resulted in any resolved land claim applications yet, said Erin Moore, journalism instructor at NSCC. 

Little program that could

About 50 students took part in the two-year project. Journalism, radio and television students all added their skills to make the digital documentary. They did interviews with community members, went through historic documents and examined the laws around land titles. 

All the students involved were passionate about the project, Moore said. She believes her students weren't just working to get grades: they were excited about being journalists and telling an important story. 

"We're a small little program and I think it shows that even a small little journalism program can do great things."

Moore said she's "incredibly proud" of what her students have accomplished.

"It's not just a class project that ends there. It's an idea about justice and journalism that they will carry into their careers and that as their instructor is thrilling for me to see."