The Spec’s Steve Buist wins U.S.-based Hillman Prize for investigative series

Hamilton Spectator reporter Steve Buist has won the 2011 Canadian Hillman Prize for his investigative piece, “Code Red,”  which shows how living in one of Hamilton’s most impoverished neighbouhoods can wreak a dramatic toll on one’s health. He will be honoured in a March 22 ceremony in Toronto, where he will receive a cheque for $5,000. He will attend the U.S. prize ceremony in New York City in May.

The series examines the connection between poor health and poverty and how “glaring disparties in wealth and health have taken a shocking toll on a huge number of Hamilton’s people.”

Buist is already a two-time winner of the National Newspaper Awards and was named Canada’s Investigative Journalist of the Year in 2009 by the Canadian Association of Journalists.

The Winnipeg Free Press got an honourable mention for their series “No Running Water,” which examined a First Nations community in Manitoba whose access to clean running water is almost non-existstent and where residents must walk further to get it than if they lived in a United Nations refugee camp.

Buist’s win marks the first time the Hillman Prize has been awarded in Canada.  A U.S. prize has been given out to American reporters since 1950. The prize is named after Sidney Hillman (1887-1946), an American labour leader and the founding president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. Hillman helped line up labour behind President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal. The Sidney Hillman Foundation honours journalists, writers and public figures who pursue social justice and public policy for the common good.