Glammis native Allan Thompson receives medal from Governor General


By Kristen Shane


Governor General Michaëlle Jean last week gave journalism professor and former Glammis resident Allan Thompson a medal to recognize his work to help rebuild the media sector and work toward freedom of the press in Rwanda.


Thompson grew up in Glammis and cut his teeth as a reporter with The Kincardine Independent. He later worked for The Toronto Star and is now an associate professor of journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa.


He has edited a book about the media’s involvement in the 1994 genocide, in which more than 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. He is also the co-director of the Rwanda Initiative, which, since 2006, has taken more than 125 journalism students and seasoned journalists to Rwanda to volunteer as visiting lecturers or intern reporters, filling the ranks of the local media sector. It was decimated during the genocide.


Jean presented Thompson with a medal of honour at a ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, late last week at the end of her state visit to that country. Rwanda was one of several African nations she visited during a one-and-a-half-week trip.


Journalism professor and former Glammis resident Allan Thompson receives a medal of honour from Governor General Michaëlle Jean last week in Kigali, Rwanda, during her state visit to the country. (photo courtesy Allan Thompson).


“It was so important for someone of the Governor General’s stature to come to Rwanda and to go out of her way to speak in public about the importance of press freedom and the rights of journalists in a transitional society like Rwanda,” Thompson was quoted as saying in a Carleton University news release.


“Allan Thompson has proven to be a wonderful ambassador of free speech in Rwanda,” Ross Hynes, Canadian High Commissioner for Rwanda, was quoted as saying during the medal ceremony.


The day before receiving the medal, Thompson took part in a panel discussion on the media’s role in a democracy that Jean hosted at a Rwandan university.


Jean’s office and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade invited Thompson to Rwanda to participate in the discussion.


He almost didn’t make it. Thompson’s mom Eleanor later recalled how her son had to rearrange his typical flight path to Rwanda to bypass the volcanic ash cloud hovering above most European airspace last week.


When he’s not on the move, Thompson lives with his family in Ottawa.


He still maintains many family ties in the Kincardine area, including two brothers Gord and Tom, sister Nancy (Alexander) and parents Eleanor and Ron.


“It never ceases to amaze us what he does and what he accomplishes,” said Eleanor last week, after receiving a voicemail message and e-mail from her son about his time with the Governor General.


“He has energy to no end. I don’t know where he gets it,” she said.


Thompson’s passion for helping Rwanda stems partly from his admitted lack of attention to the genocide while it was unfolding during his time as a reporter with The Star.


He later visited the country and saw the need, said Eleanor.


“We’re very proud of him” she said.


She hopes to see her son come home this summer for a Thompson family reunion he’s helping to organize.

Wow- pretty neat for a "ghost town"

Allan himself has noted that Glammis has shrunk in size and stature over the last century resulting in it being called a ghost town in some publications. Well he sure has helped put Glammis back on the map again. Thanks for all the hard work - WELL DONE.