MichelleLang

Reporter Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald was killed in Afghanistan in December 2009. ((Canadian Press))

Michelle Lang, the Calgary Herald reporter who was the first Canadian journalist to be killed while working in Afghanistan, has won the Canadian World Press Freedom Award.

Lang was remembered in Kandahar on Monday in a small ceremony marking  World Press Freedom Day, a day set aside to raise awareness of the importance of a free press.

Master Cpl. Claude Arsenault, who knew Lang and was with the public affairs office in Kandahar at the time of her death, placed a bouquet of flowers at a memorial for her outside the media tents at task force headquarters. 

Vancouver-born Lang died Dec. 30, 2009, when a vehicle she was travelling in was struck by an improvised explosive device. Four Canadian soldiers also died in the attack.

The 34-year-old journalist was in Afghanistan to cover Canadian military and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan for CanWest News. She had been in the country only 20 days.

A small group of Canadian and British journalists and Canadian soldiers at Kandahar airfield took a few minutes to remember her on Monday.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom announced Lang's award on Sunday in Ottawa. It is the first time the award has been given posthumously.

"Michelle Lang paid the ultimate price for her craft," committee president David Gollob said. 

"As we reach the end of close to a decade of involvement in Afghanistan, questioning about the achievements obtained for so much sacrifice has never been so intense.

"In this, our own journalists are playing a critical role, by bringing us the stories that allow us to have informed opinions. Michelle's legacy is not just her contribution to this debate: her courage and sacrifice are an inspiration to all."

The award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate of honour from the press freedom committee and the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

With files from the CBC's Darrow MacIntyre