Kim Bolan | 1999 Courage in Journalism Award

The Vancouver Sun, Canada.

Bolan’s reports have led to critical breaks in the 1985 bombing of an Air India jet and a police investigation of a local independent school controlled by several suspects in the bombing. Since December 1997, Bolan has received death threats by mail, telephone and local Punjabi-language radio shows in conjunction with these stories. In February 1999, police received information that Bolan was on a hit list circulating among Sikh fundamentalists in Vancouver.

Bolan worked on the Air India story from the night it happened in June 23, 1985, often writing about the frustrations of victims’ families and the broader Sikh community that no one had yet been charged, despite the fact that the suspects were well-known members of separatist groups. In 1997, she saw how several of these suspects were controlling an independent school that was receiving millions in government funding, and she began digging into it. The resulting series on the Khalsa School exposed financial wrong-doing, close ties to terrorist groups, sexual abuse of young girls and the fact a convicted hijacker who was illegally in Canada was living in the school. The first death threats she received were by mail and in connection with these stories.

Bolan started working for The Vancouver Sun since 1984, and had been covering the Sikh community, women’s issues, education and social services. The work at Sun had taken her to wars in El Salvador, Guatemala and Afghanistan, as well as repeatedly to northern India in the 1980s when the region was a major battle zone. She had also been a regular contributor to CBC radio and an occasional writer for various magazines and periodicals.

She got her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing at University of Victoria, and completed Master’s Degree in Journalism at University of Western Ontario in London.

Kim Bolan is the first Courage in Journalism Award winner from Canada, followed by Kathy Gannon (2002).

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Kathy Gannon, Canada | 2002 Courage in Journalism Award