Nicholas Hune-Brown Wins 2022 Canadian Hillman Prize for Journalism

The prize was awarded in recognition of Hune-Brown’s long-form feature “The Shadowy Business of International Education,” published by The Walrus.

A photo of Nicholas Hune-Brown on the left side of the image. On the right side of the image is an illustration by Cornelia Li of hands holding a piggy bank that looks like a building, and instead of coins going into it, it is an image of students going into it.
Nicholas Hune-Brown wins 2022 Canadian Hillman Prize. Illustration by Cornelia Li.

The Walrus is proud to announce that Nicholas Hune-Brown’s investigative article “The Shadowy Business of International Education” has been awarded the prestigious Canadian Hillman Prize for Journalism.

“I’m so thrilled to have this story recognized by the Sidney Hillman Foundation,” says Nicholas Hune-Brown. “When I first pitched my editor Daniel Viola a feature about the international student business, back in June 2018, the industry was in a very different place. In the years since, I’ve had to reimagine my feature over and over again as the world has turned upside down multiple times. I’m grateful to Danny and the rest of The Walrus team for supporting me throughout the long process of telling this story. And I’m especially grateful to the many international students who spoke with me about the difficult, sometimes brutal reality of their lives in Canada.”

“The Shadowy Business of International Education” is an incisive feature that explores the business of luring international students to Canada from countries like India with the false promise that higher education will lead directly to immigration. Through first-hand accounts, Hune-Brown identifies the many parties culpable in this “student trafficking” and the tragic impact it has on the students and families caught in the trap. The story is available to read on

“When Nicholas started working on ‘The Shadowy Business of International Education,’ the world was a different place,’ says Daniel Viola, a features editor at The Walrus. “Overnight, our pre-COVID-19 reporting plan of sending him to China and India had to be tossed out, and it speaks to Nicholas’s dedication that he effectively started again from scratch to create the brilliant feature we have here today.

“Nicholas spent years developing relationships with international students across Canada and researching the inner workings of how these young men and women became a commodity among our postsecondary institutions. This type of journalism takes a lot of time, and it takes even more effort. We’re lucky that Nicholas spent years seeing this story through, and I hope it marks a turning point for how we think about higher education in Canada.”

“Over the last few years, The Walrus’s investment in investigative journalism has grown such that we are able to publish in-depth, influential pieces such as ‘The Shadowy Business of International Education,’” says editor-in-chief Jessica Johnson. “Nicholas interviewed students and experts around the world to develop a work of major significance.”

Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has honoured journalists who pursue investigative reporting and deep storytelling in service of the common good. Recipients exemplify reportorial excellence, storytelling skill, and social justice impact. In 2011, the foundation inaugurated the Canadian Hillman Prize, honouring journalists who seek out stories that change lives, identify important social and economic issues, and help bring about improvement in Canada.

The Walrus congratulates writer Nicholas Hune-Brown, illustrator Cornelia Li, and features editor Daniel Viola.

The full release about the award can be found on the Sidney Hillman Foundation website.

The Walrus Staff