Our team of investigative journalists dives deep to tell stories about Canada’s natural world you can’t find anywhere else.
We have just two rules: 1) Follow the facts. 2) Tell it like it is.
We’re tired of false dichotomies and business-as-usual perspectives. We’re not shy about the fact we think Canada’s greatest assets are our people, our lakes, our rivers, our forests. We tell stories Canada’s big news outlets miss and hustle to help our readers make sense of complex (sometimes downright messy) issues.
As a non-profit magazine, our goal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to bring evidence-based news and analysis to the surface for all Canadians. The Narwhal is a pioneer of non-profit journalism in Canada and is supported by more than 1,700 monthly members. In April 2019, The Narwhal became the sole Canadian member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, recognizing our adherence to strict standards of editorial independence and financial transparency.
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The Narwhal has been the recipient of several awards since its launch. In 2018, The Narwhal won four Canadian Online Publishing Awards, including silvers for best news website and best publication and gold and silver for best photo journalism. In May 2019, The Narwhal won an award for excellence in photojournalism from the Canadian Association of Journalists. In November 2019, The Narwhal won two awards from the Northwest Territories Professional Media Association — one for best published word and one for best documentary short. In May 2020, The Narwhal won two awards from the Digital Publishing Awards — silver for photo storytelling and silver for feature writing. Also in 2020, photographer Amber Bracken was awarded the Charles Bury President’s Award by the Canadian Association of Journalists for her outstanding contributions to journalism in Canada for her coverage of the Wet’suwet’en crisis for The Narwhal.
The Narwhal was created by Carol Linnitt and Emma Gilchrist in 2018, and grew out of their previous project, DeSmog Canada.
DeSmog Canada’s reporting sparked coverage by the New York Times, the Globe and Mail and CBC and was frequently cited in the House of Commons and the B.C. Legislature.
Why The Narwhal?
Narwhals have intrigued explorers and scientists for hundreds of years. Indeed, just a few years ago, scientists discovered the narwhal’s tusk is actually highly sensitive like an antenna.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the narwhal was hunted for its tusk — which was more coveted as a magical unicorn horn than as the elongated tooth of a marine mammal. Whalers made a fortune selling horns while the rest of the world was duped into buying teeth.
The Narwhal is here to celebrate the truth, and to tell stories about the world around us — even if those stories sometimes dispel cherished myths. The Narwhal is here because there’s no such thing as unicorns.
Our commitment to more thoughtful, inclusive journalism
The storytellers in any society hold tremendous power. At The Narwhal, we recognize that this power represents both a privilege and a responsibility and we aim to use this power for the public good.
To that end, we must recognize the inequities in Canadian media and in Canadian society at large.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report recognized that Canada is a country built on cultural genocide. It stated “cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group. States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized and populations are forcibly transferred and their movement is restricted. Languages are banned. Spiritual leaders are persecuted, spiritual practices are forbidden, and objects of spiritual value are confiscated and destroyed … families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next. In its dealing with Aboriginal people, Canada did all these things.”
Canada’s colonial practices have far-reaching implications for newsrooms in Canada, which have long played a role in legitimizing abuses of power and cultural genocide.
The Narwhal recognizes that environmental journalism must be grounded in respect for Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous rights and must foreground Indigenous voices.
The most recent Canadian study of diversity in journalism (from 2006) found that just 3.4 per cent of journalists in 37 newsrooms across the country were Indigenous or people of colour. As of 2016, these groups comprised more than 28 per cent of the Canadian population.
The Narwhal is committed to building a team that includes Indigenous voices and reflects the communities we serve. We take active measures to provide equal opportunity to people of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, gender identifications and abilities. We are also committed to fostering a welcoming culture that encourages flexibility and inclusion so all team members can fully contribute.
As a small organization, we recognize some staff will undoubtedly carry an unfair burden if they are the sole representative of a marginalized group on The Narwhal’s team. We aim to avoid this where possible, but will also acknowledge when this does occur to mitigate the weight of these circumstances.
A diverse team enhances the relevance and substance of our journalism and is essential in fulfilling our mission to foster a deeper understanding of some of the most contentious issues of our time.