AJAs 2017 Finalists


Date Aired or Published Aug 22, 2017
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Deep
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Halifax
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

2006-07 was a turning point in Canada’s Afghanistan conflict. Canadian casualties surged, and waves of soldiers returned home to a country and government unprepared to care for their physical and mental ailments. Faced with that gap in care, soldiers began turning to ad-hoc solutions, often created by veterans themselves. One of those was Nova Scotia–based Trauma Healing Centres (THC), co-founded by Afghanistan veteran Trevor Bungay. THC linked veterans with doctors who prescribed medical cannabis to treat PTSD. In 2016, reporter and Deep co-founder Chelsea Murray began investigating the ramifications of private care providers like THC billing themselves as the solution to a major and growing public-health problem. Over the course of more than 30 interviews and 10 months of reporting, she discovered a far more complex story, of broken friendship, personal obsession, and unresolved trauma. THC had grown out of Marijuana for Trauma, another cannabis advocacy group started in Oromocto, New Brunswick, by a friend of Bungay’s, Fabian Henry. MFT dwelled further on the fringes of the cannabis world—after a conversion experience in his Oromocto garage, Henry developed a nearly religious fervour for the drug. Through dogged proselytizing, he helped turn Oromocto into Canada’s ground zero for veteran cannabis use, one veteran at a time. By 2015, New Brunswick accounted for 37 percent of medical-cannabis prescriptions by Veterans Affairs, the vast majority around Oromocto. MFT’s rise and fall eventually saw Henry and Bungay on opposite sides of a legal battle that also involved scandal-plagued cannabis producer Organigram Ltd. Federally, the spike in cannabis costs caused by MFT was a key trigger for controversial changes to Veterans Affairs’ policy on cannabis prescriptions for veterans. In the centre was the story of one man who—for better or worse—almost singlehandedly changed how thousands of Canadian veterans treat their illness.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Modest expense budget for travel and incidentals ($500)

Return to list of finalists