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Forum Freelance Fund Bursaries

Applications for the 2019 FFF competition are now closed. 

Last year five more freelancers working in dangerous places around the world for Canadian and other media received Forum Freelance Fund (FFF) bursaries for hostile environment training in the 2018 competition.


This brought the total number of freelancers who have benefitted from safety training bursaries provided by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma since 2010 to 32.  

FFF bursaries are worth $2,500 CAD each. 

Freelancers must have sufficient field experience to apply. 

Applicants must be Canadian or show a considerable body of work for Canadian media. 

Priority is given to those whose work puts them in greatest need. 

Sponsors include CBC News and Radio-Canada Information

The 2018 winners, chosen by an independent international jury, were:

Leyland Cecco, a freelance reporter and photographer from Toronto who started his freelance career in Egypt during the Arab Spring, and has covered Palestine, the Turkish-Syrian border, Kashmir and tensions between India, Pakistan and China. His work has been used by numerous media organizations including BBC and The Guardian. 


Anna Cunningham, a former BBC staffer now freelancing from Nigeria for CBC, BBC, The Toronto Star, Elle Canada and others. She has extensive experience covering the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria and outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa. She previously worked as a freelancer from Paris and Mumbai. 


Shannon Gormley, from Brentwood Bay, B.C., a freelance reporter and columnist  for The Ottawa Citizen, who has also written from the Middle East and Europe for Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and The National Post, particularly about the Syrian refugee crisis. She is currently based in Turkey, having previously worked out of Beirut. 


Sarah Lawrynuik, a former CBC producer, now freelancing as a reporter, producer, photographer and video journalist in Antibes, France, a base from which she will cover the Middle East. She foreshadowed her switch to freelancing by taking time off from her CBC job in 2016 and travelling on her own to Iraq to make a 30-minute radio documentary about the siege of Mosul, later broadcast on The Current.  


Sabrina Myre, a journalist from Quebec. After working as a staff 
reporter with Radio-Canada, she is now a freelance correspondent 
based in Jerusalem, covering Israel and the Palestinian territories – 
including recent clashes at the Israel/Gaza border - for Radio-Canada, 
La Tribune de Genève, Radio France International and others.  

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These are intended to help Canadian freelancers working abroad, and freelancers of other nationalities with a considerable body of work for at least one Canadian media client, attend hostile environment training courses offered by our approved providers. We expect to award 3 to 5 of these bursaries each year, depending on the availability of funds and the quality of applications.

Courses are currently available in Canada, the United States, Britain, Kenya and Afghanistan. Course providers may add locations from time to time. These are the same kind of courses many staffers now get before they are deployed into potentially dangerous situations. We don’t encourage freelancers - especially inexperienced ones - to place themselves in danger. It is vital that freelancers have a firm grasp of their craft before attempting to work where dangerous conditions will increase the demands on them. Through these bursaries, we try to ensure that freelancers know how to evaluate, reduce or avoid risks and how to handle a range of dangers that now befall journalists in many situations abroad. Courses include appropriate field first aid. 

The regular FFF competition is held in cooperation with Rory Peck Trust (RPT) which may, in its sole discretion, grant additional bursaries to successful candidates. FFF applications are assessed by an independent panel, including a representative of RPT.The Forum and the Rory Peck Trust are both members of the ACOS Alliance, an international group of organizations concerned with the safety of freelance journalists around the world. For further details of the 2019 competition click here. #FFF2019


This bursary was introduced in 2015 and is sponsored by acclaimed filmmaker Giselle Portenier, a member of the Forum's board. It is open to freelance journalists or independent documentary makers with projects focusing on human rights abuses. The competition recognizes that such work can place practitioners in danger equal to that found in many conflict zones.   

The sole winner each year will receive up to $3,000 CAD for hostile environment training by one of our approved course providers, as listed below. The competition is open to people of any nationality, with no requirement for a Canadian connection. The bursary is for safety training and associated travel only, not general production costs. #portenierbursary  Get all the details of the 2018 bursary competition, plus key dates for 2019, here.


AKE, Blue Mountain Group, Dart Centre at Columbia Journalism School, 1st OptionGlobal Journalist Security, Pilgrims GroupRemote Trauma, SEPAR International and Tundra GroupThese courses typically run 3 to 5 days. The list of course providers is reviewed from time to time. 



For a selection of comments from previous winners and course providers, click here



For a full list of all previous FFF and Portenier bursary winners, click here.