Dawna Friesen

Dawna Friesen was born on October 8, 1964 in Winnipeg, Canada. She works as a Canadian television journalist and is the chief anchor and executive editor for a news program called Global National. She was previously a foreign correspondent for NBC News.


Dawna had a very unique upbringing as her parents were non practicing Mennonites. The Mennonites are a group of Christians named after Menno Simons. Simons taught his followers with lessons from early Swiss Christians around the 15th century. The religious group promoted adult baptism and rejected military service and politics. Even though Friesen’s parents weren’t actively practicing their religion, her childhood still reflected a rural Christian lifestyle.

Friesen spent most of her childhood being raised on a grain farm that was 40 minutes west of Winnipeg. As a young girl, she learned to work on the farm including driving a tractor. Her parents needed an extra hand on the farm and they weren’t going to outsource the work to a family outsider. They believed putting Friesen to work would teach her a lot of life lessons. She would learn that you would have to work hard to produce resources to keep a person alive. She would learn discipline because the long farm hours required her to wake up early. Friesen’s life on the farm removed any possibility that she would become lazy in the future. Friesen did not turn down many tasks that her parents assigned her. Even when a job was more fit for a boy, Friesen still wanted to do it.

Dawna’s parents were very surprised that she ended up with a career on television. She was considered to be very shy when she was growing up. During social gatherings, she hated being the center of attention. She was used to the routine rhythm of her farm work and didn’t have much opportunity to develop her social skills. She kept most of her thoughts inside until she left her parents’ farm to develop her character in the outside world.

Career Start

Friesen completed a degree in Communications when she graduated from Red River College. She may have chosen that field because she knew it was a point of weakness in her toolbox. As a shy girl growing up, she wanted to break out of her shell and show people who she really was. She started her career as a journalist in 1985 with the Portage La Prairie newspaper. The newspaper job ended up being a great launching pad for Friesen. From there, she went on to report for various stations in Thunder Bay. She reported for multiple provinces in Canada. Her work spanned major Canadian regions such as Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto.

Career Explosion

Friesen was bound for huge success after a decade of experience in her field. By the late 1990s she was recruited by national networks in both the US and Canada. She got her first major break when she joined NBC News. At NBC, Friesen covered stories out of London as well as the Middle East. In the desert region, she covered the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Israeli Palestinian conflict has been going on for centuries and is considered to be a very dangerous topic for journalists to cover. Friesen relied on her tough farm mindset to get through the stress and tension of that assignment.


Friesen was determined to bringing her audience exclusive coverage. She even traveled to Iraq for a few days while Saddam kept Iraqi Government under control. She wanted to fully immerse herself into the environment so that she could understand the environment she was reporting on. The strong and tough farm life that Friesen grew up with prepared her for the risky situations that she would put herself in as a journalist. Raising livestock and growing vegetables while dealing with hardship of lost crops due to unexpected weather built an ability in Friesen that allowed to adapt in most situations.

Friesen did not try to shy away from dark topics, she was a key figure in covering the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi.  Journalists can be cut throat and competitive with each other but they also have a sense of kinship because they share the same industry. Friesen wanted to make sure that her follow journalist Pearl got the proper coverage that he deserved.

Friesen hit a milestone when she received an Emmy for her part in NBC's coverage of the 2008 U.S Presidential Election. She was able to represent all the multiple angles and viewpoints that were coming in during a historical presidential race. It was Barack Obama’s first term which marked the first time an African American took the seat of United States President. There was a lot of tension during the race and Friesen was applauded for her ability and opinions as she covered the election.

In 2010, Friesen replaced Kevin Newman as Global National anchor at Global News. Friesen became the first full time female news anchor to lead a nightly newscast in Canada. In 2011 she won the Gemini Award for best news anchor. She had built up enough experience in America to return to her home Canada as a seasoned veteran.

On the set, Friesen has earned a very good reputation among her employers. Senior Vice President Cheryl Gould of NBC News mentioned in one of her interviews that Dawna lit up the TV screen with her intelligence and intensity of storytelling.

Personal Life

She has faced many ups and downs during her life, but according to her, nothing can come in the way between her career determination and her lifestyle. She works hard in her career so that can enjoy a comfortable life.

Dawna is married to Tom Kennedy who is a Correspondent of CTV which is based in London. Tom and Dawna love each other very much and ignore the questions they get about their 12 year age difference. They think age doesn’t matter when it comes to love and relationships. They gave birth to a baby boy in 2005.

Friesen was very thankful for how her parents raised her. Unfortunately, both her parents developed dementia as they reached their later ages. Friesen was deeply saddened with the mental conditions of her parents. She became an active supporter and advocate for the Alzheimer Society of Canada. She is grateful that her parents were thinking clearly enough to see her success outside of the farm. It would have been devastating to her if their dementia had developed earlier and they missed out on seeing their tough little girl become an amazing woman.

She loves to spend her free time cooking, reading and gardening. She spends a lot of time with her two sons as well. She is very satisfied with the present lifestyle and does not want to do anything that would disrupt her lifestyle.

Last Modified: Apr 8, 2020

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