PressProgress Investigation of International Students Dying From Overdoses Selected as Finalist
PressProgress has been shortlisted for “Best Investigative Article” at the 2023 COPA awards
PressProgress’ investigation of overdose deaths in the international student community has been shortlisted for a journalism award by the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPA).
The work of British Columbia Reporter, Rumneek Johal, has been nominated for ‘Best Investigative Article’ for a story published on January 16, 2023 that revealed students in Surrey are dying at unprecedented rates from drug overdose, while data regarding those incidents isn’t being released publicly by the government.
Neeraj Walia of the Guru Nanak Food Bank says he hears about 1-2 international students a week, dying from drug overdose.
Surrey Gurdwara leader Giani Narinder Singh says they’ve spent hundreds of thousands sending the bodies of students back to India. https://t.co/5E9Q7CyyGA
— Rumneek (@rumneeek) January 16, 2023
The story is based on a deep dive into the experiences of students, their families, the impact on surrounding communities, and the stigma associated with substance-related deaths. PressProgress followed up with the BC Coroners Service, revealing that race-based data on drug overdoses is not collected given the lack of a government standard.
The investigation was covered by a number of news outlets, including Global News, CBC, and CityNews. The resulting social conversation among advocates and community alike compelled an official response from the government. The B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions spoke to PressProgress in a follow-up story, acknowledging the issues and the need for more interventions—along with working on processes to implement the provision of disaggregated race-based data.
PressProgress is a non-profit news organization with a critical focus on investigative journalism that holds the powerful accountable, exposes unsafe and unfair working conditions, and shines a light on hate and bigotry.
Other finalists alongside PressProgress in the same category include The Walrus, The Discourse, Nunatsiaq News, and Energeticcity.ca.
In 2021, PressProgress won three COPA awards for its 2020 coverage of the health and labour impacts of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, including a silver award for Best Digital Content of the Year, a gold award for Best COVID-19 Story Coverage as well as the top COPA prize for Best Independent Publisher of the Year.
The Canadian Online Publishing Awards will be announcing winners at an awards ceremony in February of 2024.
Listen to our episode about this story on PressProgress Sources, a podcast that digs deeper into our investigations in conversation with experts and newsmakers across the country:
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