Heather Robertson wins the 2011 NMA Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement

Heather Robertson. Photograph by Aaron Marshall.

That National Magazine Awards Foundation announced this afternoon that Heather Robertson has won the 2011 Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement. Ms. Robertson will be presented with her award at the 35th anniversary National Magazine Awards on June 7. [Version française ici]

Founded in 1990, this award recognizes an individual’s innovation and creativity through contributions to the Canadian magazine industry. Nominations are accepted from across the country and voted on by the board of the NMAF.

Over the course of a 40-year career in journalism, Heather Robertson has been a prolific and award-winning writer, news reporter, and television and radio producer. Her work in magazines has included regular contributions to Saturday Night, Equinox, Elm Street, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Canadian Forum, Canada’s History, Weekend, The Canadian, and Maclean’s.

As class representative in Robertson v. Thomson, which reached the Supreme Court in 2006, Robertson brought suit on behalf of a group of fellow freelance writers whose work was being reproduced on certain electronic databases without permission or reimbursement. Robertson’s work and leadership secured a large settlement in one of the most important copyright cases in recent Canadian history, with $11-million awarded to the writers involved. Robertson has since led the charge in a similar suit, Robertson v. ProQuest et al., resolved in 2011 with another multimillion-dollar settlement benefiting Canadian freelance writers. [Read the full bio of Heather Robertson]

Here’s what the Canadian magazine industry is saying about Heather Robertson:

Heather Robertson’s bravery in tackling the profound changes taking place in our industry is about personal triumph and the rights of creators in a new media landscape. Regardless of where you sit in the debate her court case engendered, we all agree that the rules were going to change. It took a lot of guts to lead the charge. For that Heather is a worthy winner of this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award.” ~ Arjun Basu, President, NMAF

“[Through] her staunch belief in the need for creators to maintain control over their works, Heather has been instrumental in clarifying Canada’s copyright law, in pushing publishers to exercise care in their handling of freelance content, and in ensuring that those whose rights are violated are compensated.” ~ Kim Pittaway, freelance journalist and former President of the NMAF

“When I started my career as a magazine writer in the early ’80s, I was inspired by Heather’s feature writing in Saturday Night, Toronto Life and other markets. The success [of her copyright lawsuits] was a game-changer, making everyone more conscious of those who work so hard to provide the content that makes readers love magazines.” ~ David Hayes, freelance journalist and NMAF board member

“Even a cursory search will reveal Ms. Robertson as among the most prolific and dedicated writers in Canada and her service to the community is certainly unique.” ~ Tanya Gulliver, Past-President of Professional Writers Association of Canada

“Heather is more than just a champion for writer’s rights; she is a symbol of what is possible when writers stand up for themselves.” ~ Michael O’Reilly, President of Canadian Freelance Union

“Heather Robertson has provided an important service for writers in forcing publishers to recognize that their articles have value, both for first publication in print or online and for subsequent repackaging or republishing.” ~ Sandford Borins, Professor of Management at University of Toronto

“Robertson’s courage and tenacity may provide an example in the long term for all freelancers to stick up for their rights and demand reasonable treatment and fair compensation.” ~ D.B. Scott, President of Impresa Communications, Ltd, author of Canadian Magazines blog, and the 2010 recipient of the Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement

“We celebrate Heather Robertson for her courage and persistence in standing up for our rights and principles, quietly, unshakably, for so many years, when new technologies seemed about to sweep our rights away” ~ Alan Cumyn, Past-Chair, Writers Union of Canada

“Many journalists now associate Robertson with those landmark lawsuits. They celebrate her for standing up for her peers, keeping everyone updated on the case and, of course, for the ‘Heather Robertson cheques’.” ~ Regan Reid, author of “Firebrand,” Ryerson Review of Journalism

If you’d like to add a quote or testimonial about Heather Robertson, deposit a comment below.

The nominees for the 35th anniversary National Magazine Awards will be announced tomorrow – May 1. Keep it right here on our Magazine Awards blog to find out who is nominated this year, or sign up for our newsletter.

The Canadian magazine industry will gather to honour Heather Robertson and all the winners at the 35th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala on June 7, 2012 at The Carlu in Toronto. Tickets go on sale May 1.

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