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Michelle Shephard (born 1972) is an investigative reporter with the Toronto Star newspaper in Canada, author and filmmaker.[1] She has been awarded the Michener Award for public service journalism and won Canada's top newspaper prize, the National Newspaper Award, three times.[2] In 2011, she was an associate producer on a documentary called Under Fire: Journalists in Combat.[3] She produced the National Film Board documentary, Prisoners of the Absurd, which premiered at Amsterdam's film festival in 2014.[4] Shephard also co-directed a film based on her book about Omar Khadr, Guantanamo's Child, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.[5]

Michelle Shephard
Michelle Shephard.jpg
Born1972 (age 46–47)
OccupationAuthor, journalist, filmmaker
Spouse(s)Jim Rankin
AwardsMichener Award, National Newspaper Awards

Shephard was the 2015 recipient of the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy.[6][7]


Michelle grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, and attended Thornhill Secondary School.[citation needed] She began working at the Star in 1995 as a summer student, when she met her future husband Jim Rankin.[8]

She is the author of Guantanamo's Child, about the ordeal of Omar Khadr in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.[9] She was also thanked in the foreword of the 2006 book Betrayed: The Assassination of Digna Ochoa by fellow Star reporter Linda Diebel, as well as Marina Nemat's 2008 Prisoner of Tehran.[10][11]

Her second book, Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone, was published in September 2011.[12] The book was nominated for one of Canada's most prestigious literary awards, the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.[13][14]

In 1999, she came into possession of copies of convicted murderer Karla Homolka's application to transfer to the Maison Thérèse-Casgrain, run by the Elizabeth Fry Society, and published the story noting the halfway house's proximity to local schools, hours before the Canadian courts issued a publication ban on the information.[15]

On September 11, 2001, the day al-Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Shephard described going to the airport to fly to New York City, only to find all flights in North America had been ordered to land and no new flights were being allowed to take off.[16] So she and two other Toronto Star reporters drove to New York City, arriving at the Ontario/New York State border shortly before it too was shut down. Covering 9/11 began her career as a national security reporter.

In 2006, she attended a hostile environment training course in Virginia, in preparation for her overseas reporting.[17] Her foreign reporting from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia has included Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Djibouti, Kenya, Syria and Dubai.[18]

In 2010, she was banned from Guantanamo along with Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg, Globe and Mail's Paul Koring and CanWest reporter Steven Edwards for identifying an interrogator who had been convicted in his role in the death of an Afghan detainee in U.S. detention in Bagram. The Pentagon lifted the ban following an outcry by various news outlets, including the New York Times, and an appeal by the Pentagon Press Association.[19] The Washington Post condemned the Pentagon for trying to exclude four "veteran" reporters with "a depth of knowledge."[20]

In 2019 Shephard hosted Uncover: Sharmini, the fifth season of CBC's crime podcast Uncover.[21]


In 2004, she co-hosted a Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement panel following up on the Star's series on racial bias in the police force, subtitled "Stagnation, Progress or a Turn in the Wrong Direction?" along with her husband and Scott Simmie.[22] She co-hosted a 2006 round table event with the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies with other Canadian journalists including Stewart Bell and Colin Freeze entitled "The Media and the Secret World".[23]

In April 2008, she co-hosted a lecture entitled "The Big Idea: The ICC, American Empire and the Search for the Rule of Law" with Erna Paris.[24]

In April 2013, she delivered the Atkinson Lecture on her years as a national security correspondent.[25]

2015 Atkinson FellowEdit

In June 2015 Shephard was awarded the prestigious year-long Atkinson fellowship.[6][7] The fellowship lasts a year and awards the fellow a grant of $75,000, and up to an additional $25,000 for research, to pursue a public policy issue of their choice.[26][27]


  • Guantanamo's Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr. John Wiley & Sons. 12 February 2010. ISBN 978-0-470-67546-5.
  • Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone. Douglas & McIntyre. 26 August 2011. ISBN 978-1-55365-659-3.
  • Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd. National Film Board.[28]
  • Guantanamo's Child. White Pine Pictures.[29]


  1. ^ Anna Maria Tremonti (2009-01-22). "The Current". CBC News. Retrieved 2013-01-15. For her thoughts on all of this, we were joined by Michelle Shephard. She's a reporter with the Toronto Star and the author of Guantanamo's Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr and she was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  2. ^, Bio
  3. ^ "Charles Lynch award". Toronto Star. 2011-11-20. Archived from the original on 2012-06-11. Retrieved 2013-01-15. This has been an excellent past few days for women at the Toronto Star. One of my colleagues, Michelle Shephard, has a film credit as associate producer for the documentary, Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, which is on the short list for an Oscar nomination.
  4. ^ "Michelle Shephard". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  5. ^ ""Guantanamo's Child": Michelle Shephard on Omar Khadr's case". Retrieved 2015-09-21.
  6. ^ a b "Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy". Canadian Journalism Foundation. 2015-06-21. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  7. ^ a b "Highlights from the Canadian Journalism Foundation Awards". Voice of Toronto. 2015-06-21. Archived from the original on 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2015-08-28. The Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy provides a seasoned Canadian journalist with $100,000 and an opportunity to pursue a year-long investigation into a current policy issue. It is sponsored by the Atkinson Foundation, the Toronto Star and the Honderich family. This year’s recipient is Michelle Shephard, national security reporter for the Toronto Star, author and filmmaker. For her fellowship, she plans to produce character-driven pieces on the effectiveness of Canada’s public policies related to national security.
  8. ^ Emily Mills (March 2005). "More Than a Love of Craft: Journalists dish on the pleasures and the pitfalls of romance in the biz". Ryerson School of Journalism. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. After joining the Star permanently, Shephard occasionally collaborated with her husband at work. Known for solid investigative reporting, the duo shared bylines on stories from Walkerton's tainted water to Paul Bernardo's trial.
  9. ^ Amazon: Guantanamo's Child
  10. ^ Linda Diebel (2012). "Betrayed: The Assassination of Digna Ochoa". Harper Collins. ISBN 9781443403498. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  11. ^ Marina Nemat (2008-04-01). "Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman's Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison". Penguin Canada. ISBN 9780143179207. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  12. ^ Michelle Shephard (2011-09-13). Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism's Grey Zone. Douglas & McIntyre. ISBN 9781553656586. Retrieved 2013-01-28. Daniel Fried was on board with his deputy, Tony Ricci, a retired U.S. Army colonel with previous posts in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  13. ^ "British Columbia Achievement Foundation". 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2013-01-28.
  14. ^ Kathy English (2011-09-09). "Covering the terror beat". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2011-09-11.
  15. ^ Michael Harris (2003). "Con Game: The Truth about Canada's Prisons". McClelland & Stewart. p. 133. ISBN 9780771039621.
  16. ^ Jordan Press (2011-09-09). "New book details 'grey zone' in war on terror". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2011-09-11.
  17. ^ Michelle Shephard (2009-11-28). "Amanda Lindhout: Gutsy Reporter or Naive Thrill-seeker?". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2013-01-15. Many media outlets send their staff to "hostile environment training" courses to help prepare for this reality, among others. In 2006, I spent a memorable week in a Virginia field getting roughed up by ex-British marines, who seemed to relish the opportunity to yank me out of the car by my hair and throw a burlap sack on my head in a fake hostage-taking.
  18. ^ "Yemen both dangerous and beautiful". Toronto Star. 2011-03-05. Archived from the original on 2011-03-09.
  19. ^ Lesley Clark (2010-07-08). "Pentagon allows banned reporter to return to Guantanamo". McClatchy News Service. Archived from the original on 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2013-01-15. The decision comes a week after a coalition of major news organizations, including McClatchy, protested as unconstitutional the rules that were used in May to ban Rosenberg and three Canadian reporters from the commissions.
  20. ^ "Pentagon should rescind decision to expel reporters from Guantanamo Friday, June 11, 2010". Washington Post. 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  21. ^ Todd Vandonk, "Peterborough rapist Stanley Tippett focus of CBC podcast Uncover: Sharmini". My Kawartha, October 5, 2019.
  22. ^ "Annual Activities Report to SSHRC Phase II Metropolis Project" (PDF). Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement – Toronto. 2004. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-05-05. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  23. ^ "CASIS 2006 Conference Programme]". CASIS. 2006. Retrieved 2015-08-28.
  24. ^ "The Big Idea: Whose Justice?". 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16.
  25. ^ Laura Tribe (2013-04-13). "Michelle Shephard gives 2013 Atkinson Lecture". Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2014-02-03. Toronto Star national security reporter Michelle Shephard is giving this year's Atkinson lecture at Ryerson University, discussing her experiences reporting on security both in Canada and internationally.
  26. ^ "Investing in policy discourse and program excellence". Atkinson Foundation. Retrieved 2015-08-28. The Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy provides a seasoned Canadian journalist with the financial means to pursue a year-long investigation into a current policy issue. This award is a collaborative project of the Atkinson Foundation, the Honderich Family and Toronto Star.
  27. ^ Tara Deschamps (2015-06-03). "Toronto Star staff win two awards and two fellowships at journalism gala". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-08-28. Meanwhile, Michelle Shephard, the Star’s national security reporter, was bestowed with the 27th annual Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy, giving her a stipend for a year’s worth of reporting on the threat of violence posed by young people joining the Islamic State.
  28. ^ Canada, National Film Board of, Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd, retrieved 2015-09-21
  29. ^ Festival, Toronto International Film. " | Guantanamo's Child: Omar Khadr". TIFF. Archived from the original on 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2015-09-21.

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