Andrew Bailey, Desmond Cole, Wendy Gillis, San Grewal, Royson James, Hidy Ng, Jim Rankin, Patty Winsa | Hillman Foundation

2016 Honourable Mention

Andrew Bailey, Desmond Cole, Wendy Gillis, San Grewal, Royson James, Hidy Ng, Jim Rankin, Patty Winsa
The Toronto Star

In 2015, the Toronto Star significantly expanded its already ground-breaking and award-winning coverage of police carding. Using hard won data saved by Toronto Police Service, the Star had exposed the disproportionate impact of carding on black and brown-skinned people. Now, with the publication of Desmond Cole’s piece, “The Skin I’m In” and the Star’s increased pressure through its investigative reporting, columns and editorials, the issue came to a head. Informed civic influencers, social justice groups and politicians called for an end to carding. 

And while the new police chief disagreed, Ontario’s Premier, and the Mayor both agreed to implement regulations that would restrict, if not eliminate carding. While those regulations have yet to be introduced, in the meantime, police forces have cut back on unwarranted interrogation of citizens and the recording and filing of their personal information.

The conversation has also taken hold in other provinces. In September, Alberta Justice and Aboriginal Relations Minister Kathleen Ganley asked the Edmonton police for a review of carding data, after reports that racialized and indigenous people in Edmonton were being unfairly targeted by police.

The Star investigation has been incremental, spanning many years. It is clear that in 2015 it mobilized residents in Ontario, drawing their attention to an oppressive police policy. And ultimately, it has helped launch the process for reform. 

Andrew Bailey is a data journalist and founder of Primary Data. He has been crunching numbers at the Toronto Star for just over a decade. He spends his days translating pdf files, cleaning spreadsheets, querying databases and scraping websites. He spends his evenings driving his three sons to the rink.

Desmond Cole is a Toronto journalist and weekly Star columnist who took off his journalist hat to become an activist voice in the fight against arbitrary police stops. A personal piece in Toronto Life magazine connected with many.

Wendy Gillis is the Star’s crime and policing reporter. She earned a double honours undergraduate degree in English and History from the University of Saskatchewan, and obtained her Master of Journalism degree from Ryerson University. She was previously a reporter for the StarPhoenix in Saskatoon, her hometown.

San Grewal is an urban affairs reporter with the Star who focuses on Peel Region, west of Toronto, where he uncovered police carding numbers there through freedom of information work.

Royson James writes about city politics and nothing became more political than the carding file. His searing, authoritative commentary gave readers a look behind the scenes.

Hidy Ng is a mapping and data specialist and the brains behind neighbourhood-level demographic comparisons that showed racial disparities in carding.

Jim Rankin is a reporter-photographer specializing in data journalism and social justice stories. He was part of the original team that first began looking into racial disparities in Toronto police data in 1999. 

Patty Winsa is a reporter and graphic designer on the Star’s features team. She has worked on a number of projects examining the links between race, policing, poverty and prison.