CAISO: Sex and Gender Justice announced Jacqueline Burgess as the winner of the second annual Colin Robinson Hard Head Award, at a virtual award ceremony, on Human Rights Day (December 10).
The ceremony was held on the Zoom platform and streamed on CAISO’s Facebook page. It featured tributes to late co-founder Colin Robinson and a celebration of the five finalists.
In a release, CAISO said the award was inspired by the “fearless ways” in which Robinson used creative imagination to speak out against injustice. It also seeks to recognise and honour “exceptional leadership in transforming how others see and imagine the world, particularly in the spheres of transformational activism, artistic boldness and meaningful solidarity.
“The purpose of the annual award is to support individuals working towards equity and justice for all, whose work connects political advocacy, creativity and coalition building,” the release added.
Recipients receive a commemorative plaque, judges’ citation and cash award of $15,000 and is named for Robinson’s poetry collection, You Have You Father Hard Head.
“Together with radicalism and resilience, these attributes are necessary for speaking out against power and how it is exercised, in the home, community, or by economic and political elites. ‘Hard Head’ reflects the ways Colin applied these attributes throughout his life, to speak out insistently against injustice while demanding change and transformation,” it added.
The Hard Head Award was launched in 2020 at the joint Bocas Lit Fest/CAISO poetry event.
For the 2021 award, the Hard Head award planning committee reviewed scoring criteria, selected the external panel of judges and shortlisted the nominations, selecting five finalists.
The judges’ decision was submitted on December 5. This year’s panel of judges comprised: poet, stage director, playwright and activist Brendon Alekseii; author, artist and professor Rosamond S King; and journalist and director of the Lloyd Best Institute Sunity Maharaj.
A total of nine nominations was received, recognising and celebrating activism and advocacy across a broad range of human rights and social justice work, the release said.
The five finalists were indigenous activist Tracy Assing; feminist activist,Jacqueline Burgess; LGBTQI+ youth activist Jeremy Steffan Edwards; disability rights activist Laura Pierre Escayg; and labour rights activist Ida Le Blanc.
Alekseii, who delivered the judges’ citation, said, “While it is by no means an easy feat to judge the work of any of these thoughtful advocates, our panel strongly felt that Jacqueline Burgess best exemplified the spirit of the award. Or, to quote the praises of one of my fellow judges, she “is just the definition of hard head.
“Jacqueline Burgess became an activist when activism was synonymous with a dangerous subversion of the status quo. In a life uncompromisingly guided by an innate sense of justice, she never fails to show up when the rights of the disadvantaged are under assault. Unflinchingly and unafraid, she has brought her clear-headed compassion, training as a sociologist, imagination and networks of support to the task of making the world safer and more equitable for all, especially for women and girls.
“At age 74, Jacqui Burgess is undaunted and unstoppable in the quest for equity and justice across a range of issues. Her longstanding activism includes fighting around gender-based violence, climate justice and disability awareness, among other issues.”