British Columbia

CBC Vancouver's Angela Sterritt named best local reporter at Canadian Screen Awards

CBC Vancouver reporter Angela Sterritt has won the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for her coverage of two members of the Heiltsuk Nation, including a 12-year-old-girl, who were accused by a teller of fraud after trying to open a bank account using Indian Status cards.

Exclusive story about 2 members of Heiltsuk Nation wrongfully accused of bank fraud secured Sterritt's win

Angela Sterritt, left, is pictured in Bella Bella, B.C. in March 2020 speaking with Astrid Wilson, Heiltsuk Nation member, about the communal pain of the community after two of their members were wrongfully handcuffed after trying to open a bank account in Vancouver. Sterritt's coverage of the incident and its aftermath has earned her the 2021 Canadian Screen Award for best local reporter. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television is handing out hardware this week to the country's top talent in the film, television and digital industries and CBC Vancouver News at 6 journalist Angela Sterritt has been named among them.

At the Canadian Screen Awards on Monday, Sterritt won the best local reporter award for her original story about an Indigenous man and his granddaughter who were wrongfully handcuffed while trying to open an account at a Bank of Montreal branch in Vancouver.

Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter Tori-Anne, both members of the Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella on B.C.'s Central Coast, were handcuffed in December 2019 after bank staff looked at the pair's identification documents and called 911 to report an alleged fraud in progress.

Johnson and Tori-Anne were using government-issued Indian Status cards, his birth certificate and her medical card.

The duo had been trying to open an account for Tori-Anne that Johnson could put funds in while she was away on basketball trips.

Sterritt followed the story from the initial incident and brought readers continued coverage from January to the spring of 2020.

Her reporting included an exclusive interview with Johnson and Tori-Anne, accountability interviews with police and bank personnel, and an inside look at a subsequent healing ceremony in Bella Bella attended by 15 bank executives.

LISTEN | Johnson and Tori-Anne recount being handcuffed:

12-year-old recounts handcuffing at BMO

4 years ago
Duration 2:32
Twelve-year-old girl Tori-Anne and her grandfather were handcuffed by police after trying to open an account at a BMO branch. She describes what happened.

"This is a win for the entire newsroom as several journalists worked hard to get accountability from numerous institutions", said Sterritt Tuesday.

"Mostly, it is for Maxwell Johnson and his then 12-year-old granddaughter, who despite being traumatized by the incident, and the retelling of it, took the time to recount the details," she added.

Within hours of the CBC publishing Sterritt's initial story in January, it went viral, opening up conversations across the country about the everyday racism Indigenous people experience while shopping, trying to do business or banking.

The bank apologized and the Vancouver Police Department called the incident "regretful."

"This win represents the shift in our [news] industry to recognize and uphold the significance of investigative stories that uncover systemic racism experienced by Indigenous people every day," said Sterritt.

It is the second time Sterritt has been nominated for the award and her first win.

The award-winning Gitxsan journalist started with the CBC as an on-air researcher in Prince George in 2003 and is now based in Vancouver where her stories can be heard on CBC's The Early Edition, watched on CBC Vancouver News at 6 and read online.

The Canadian Screen Awards are being presented virtually for a second year in a row, due to the pandemic, on the academy's website and social media pages.

The first day of awards was Monday and events continue until May 20.

The National won two awards: best live news special, for its May 31, 2020 edition, and best national reporter for health reporter Christine Birak.