Annie Burns-Pieper, 2017 Roving Reporter Bursary winner, to report from Madagascar

TORONTO (June 12, 2017) – Journalist Annie Burns-Pieper will use the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary to travel to Madagascar to report on US President Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule – which bans foreign aid to groups that perform or promote abortion – and how it has impacted global health programs, specifically family planning and women’s health services.

The Gordon Sinclair Foundation awarded the bursary today at its annual meeting, in Toronto. Burns-Pieper, a 31-year-old investigative reporter who has worked as a producer with CBC’s Investigative Unit, CTV’s W5 and Global 16×9, plans to use the $15,000 bursary to examine how the loss of USAID funding has impacted women, their families as well as aid organizations in Madagascar. The Canadian government has pledged $20 million to sexual health and family planning initiatives to try to offset the loss of USAID funding. Burns-Pieper will follow Marie Stopes International and other groups which have recently lost funding as a result of the Mexico City Policy, or Global Gag Rule.

2017 bursary winner Annie Burns-Pieper

“The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule has brought Canadian attention to the issue of reproductive health aid,” said Burns-Pieper. It’s estimated that from 2017-2020 USAID funded programs in Madagascar would have prevented more than one million unintended pregnancies, and averted almost 340,000 abortions and more than 2,200 maternal deaths.

The Roving Reporter Bursary was created in memory of Gordon Sinclair, who made his name gallivanting around the world for the Toronto Star in the 1930s. The bursary replaces a university scholarship for journalism students that has been given out annually since 1986 by the Gordon Sinclair Foundation, established by friends of the remarkable journalist, author, radio commentator and television personality who until his death in 1984, was one of Canada’s most enduring celebrities. He earned that celebrity during a career that included periods with the Toronto Star, CFRB radio and as a panelist on CBC’s long-running news quiz program Front Page Challenge.

Burns-Pieper is a graduate of the Masters of Journalism program at Ryerson University, in Toronto. She also has an MSc in Global History from the London School of Economics and a BA from Dalhousie University.

Burns-Pieper has proven her ability to take the lead on stories of national interest as reporter and producer on Canada’s top investigative broadcast teams. In recent years she has led investigations into alleged mistreatment of pregnant women in Canadian delivery rooms, dangerous building materials used in schools and other public buildings and the Alberta wild horse cull. In 2015, she led a cross-platform investigation into inpatient suicide in Canadian hospitals for CTV W5.

The legendary Gordon Sinclair

At a time when most news organizations have cut back on travel, the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary is meant to support a major research and reporting trip by an early career Canadian journalist who has within the past five years graduated from one of Canada’s university-level journalism programs. The purpose of the $15,000 bursary is to encourage a young journalist to get off the beaten track and to spend a considerable period – a minimum of six weeks – away on a reporting assignment.

In recent years, bursary winners have used the award to document stories anywhere from the Middle East to Northern Canada. Burns-Pieper is a seasoned young reporter who also has experience living and working abroad. Prior to her studies in journalism she worked in both Guatemala and Morocco and has travelled extensively around Latin America and Asia.

Applicants to the Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary were invited to submit a proposal to travel abroad or to a region of Canada that is not usually well covered by the media and to research and then prepare a substantial body of journalistic work on an important issue.

Two of Sinclair’s former employers – the Toronto Star and the CBC – are associated with the bursary and have undertaken to provide mentorship by senior editors to the bursary winner as he prepares for his reporting trip and then to consider the work for publication or broadcast.


– 30 –


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Brett Popplewell, Executive Director – Gordon Sinclair Foundation  / 416-826-0542

Annie Burns-Pieper   / 416-262-2393


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *