The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) is pleased to announce the first set of 2024 Special Award recipients, presented to four trailblazing individuals within Canada’s vibrant screen-based industries. All of this year’s Special Award honourees will be recognized for their outstanding contributions and successes during Canadian Screen Week 2024, taking place in Toronto from Sunday, May 26 through to Saturday, June 1. 

“A heartfelt congratulations to our first group of Special Award recipients, all of whom have left an indelible mark on the heart of our nation’s film and television industries, enriching our screens with innovation, passion, and unparalleled talent,” said Tammy Frick, CEO, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “As we celebrate their impactful journeys, let us recognize and honour their unwavering commitment to their craft, which not only upholds the spirit of Canadian film and television, but also inspires audiences worldwide.”

“On behalf of the Canadian Academy’s Board of Directors, I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to these four outstanding pillars of our industry,” said Thomas Santram, Chair, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “These remarkable individuals embody the term “excellence” with their unwavering dedication, talent, and creativity in everything they do, and we eagerly await the opportunity to honour them during Canadian Screen Week 2024.” 

The first group of the Canadian Academy’s 2024 Special Award honourees are:

The Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award, honouring a Canadian individual for their extraordinary impact on the growth of the Canadian media industry, is posthumously presented to Jeff Barnaby, whose uncompromising films paint a stark and scathing portrait of post-colonial Indigenous life and culture. He used magic realism, body horror, and sci-fi to pioneer what’s now known as Indigenous Futurism. A pioneer of contemporary Indigenous cinema, his fearless storytelling and vision continue to inspire a new generation of filmmakers. 

The Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award is also being given to John Brunton, Chair & Chief Executive Officer, Executive Producer, at Insight Productions. John has produced thousands of hours of television, much of it sold internationally, including three of Canada’s highest rated shows of all time – The Amazing Race CanadaBig Brother Canada, and The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration, a live concert special watched by one in three Canadians. Over his 45-year career, John has been a tireless advocate for Canadian-centred stories across all genres and for the Canadian production industry at large. His passion, entrepreneurial spirit, and creativity have helped make Insight synonymous with first-rate programming around the world.

The Changemaker Award, which recognizes and honours those in the media community in Canada who are using their voice or platform to call out systemic racism and discrimination, supporting and amplifying the voices of those who are actively engaged in anti-racist work, and seeking structural transformations in media, film, and television in Canada that promote values of equity and inclusion, is presented to award-winning actress, producer and activist, Tonya Williams. Named one of the 2024 100 most influential Black Canadians for three years in a row, Tonya Williams has worked in the screen industry for the last 48 years in Canada and the US. Frustrated by the lack of racial diversity on and behind Canadian screens, Tonya founded Reelworld in 2000, to advance the opportunities for Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, and People of Colour, making her instrumental in creating systemic change in the Canadian screen industry.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, honouring a Canadian individual for an exceptional lifetime of work that has had a profound impact on the media industry at home or abroad, is presented to Marilyn Denis. Marilyn’s impressive 40-year career in television began reporting on weather, sports and entertainment. This led her to hosting Cityline for two decades and 13 successful seasons hosting CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show. Marilyn continues to place her fans at the centre of it all, as she provides a unique blend of entertainment and topical lifestyle information to viewers across the country and listeners on CHUM 104.5.

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