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Kahnawake Weekly Wins Top Honors for Community Journalism

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The publisher and editor of The Eastern Door, already a finalist for Canada’s prestigious Michener Award, has won top honors in the community-newspaper category from the Canadian Association of Journalists.

Steve Bonspiel’s stories in 2010 about attempts to force 35 non-Native residents to leave the Kahnawake reserve outside Montreal caused Mohawk officials to reverse the policy.

“This is huge,” Bonspiel told the Montreal Gazette. “Ever since I started in journalism in 2003 I’ve known that the community newspaper category was the only one in which we could compete.”

He told the Gazette that the 2,000-circulation Eastern Door was competing against papers with much higher numbers in Prince George, British Columbia, and Woodstock, Ontario.

Likewise, for the Michener Award, Bonspiel is also up against big guns such as Radio-Canada, the CBC, the Calgary Herald and the Vancouver Sun. That prize, which recognizes excellence in public service journalism in Canada, will be announced on June 14.

Bonspiel has published the community weekly with his wife since 2008, but the newspaper itself has been around since 1992.

The Canadian Association of Journalists announced the awards on May 14. Other winners included Steve Buist, who received the Don McGillivray Award for Investigative Journalism for a series in the Hamilton Spectator, "Code Red," that shined a light on the links between poverty, geography and health.