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Canadian Association of Journalists names The Narwhal as finalist for three awards

Less than a year after launching, our ad-free, non-profit online magazine is up against the country’s biggest media companies for national awards

The Narwhal has earned three nods from The Canadian Association of Journalists for its in-depth reporting and photojournalism.

Launched less than a year ago, The Narwhal’s team of investigative journalists dives deep to tell stories about Canada’s natural environment. The Narwhal is ad-free, not-for-profit and has just four full-time employees. More than 1,200 people donated to support The Narwhal’s journalism in the past year.

The Narwhal’s Alberta reporter, Sharon J. Riley — hired thanks to the support of our monthly members – was named as a finalist in the labour reporting category for her feature, Life after coal, showcasing coal miners in Wabamun, Alta., as they grapple with the imminent reality of being out of work.

“It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to interview Albertans from all walks of life,” Riley said. “The day I spent with coal miners last fall will always stick with me. I’m incredibly honoured that they shared their stories with me and that the Canadian Association of Journalists has chosen to recognize this work.”

Riley travelled to Wabamun with Edmonton-based freelance photographer Amber Bracken and spent an hour or more in one-on-one conversations with each coal miner at their union hall, where she heard a wide variety of opinions on the government’s transition programs, as well as on the reasons for the coal power phase-out itself. The story seeks to convey the complexity of the perspectives of resource workers in the fossil fuel industry.

Other finalists in the labour category include CBC News, CBC Radio, Briarpatch and HuffPost Canada.

Sharon J. Riley

The Narwhal’s Alberta reporter, Sharon J. Riley, interviewing a farmer about oil and gas wells near his property. Photo: Theresa Tayler / The Narwhal

The Narwhal also earned two nods in the photojournalism category.

Pat Kane’s photo essay on Indigenous-led conservation in the Northwest Territories showcases how Indigenous people are reconnecting with their ancestral homelands. Kane is based in Yellowknife and covers people, life and culture in Canada’s North.

His photo essay shone a spotlight on Indigenous Guardians programs, which are increasingly being recognized as an important conservation tool that can also help advance reconciliation.

“Programs like these help Indigenous communities become stewards of their ancestral lands, as land/water monitors, park rangers and environmental advisors in addition to building capacity for community-led initiatives,” Kane wrote in his photo essay.

“People are getting back to the land as a way to create jobs, bridge the gap between elders and youth and cope with intergenerational trauma wrought by residential schools and other manifestations of colonialism.”

Kane’s work has been featured in Canadian Geographic, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, CBC and more. He is a member of the Timiskaming First Nation in Ontario/Quebec.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim was also named a finalist in the photojournalism category for his photo essay on the Fort McKay First Nation’s fight to protect Moose Lake from rampant industrial development.

“Surrounded on three sides by oilsands operations, the Fort McKay First Nation has benefited tremendously from industrial development — while also experiencing firsthand its environmental consequences,” Elkaim wrote.

“While the nation has historically supported nearby operations, when Prosper Petroleum proposed a 10,000 barrel per day oilsands project near Moose Lake, an area of sacred cultural value for the people of Fort McKay, the community reached a tipping point.”

Elkaim’s work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, National Geographic, TIME, Telegraph Magazine, The Canadian Press and The Globe and Mail.

Other finalists in the photojournalism category include Jonathan Hayward of The Canadian Press and Larry Wong of the Postmedia Network.

As a non-profit magazine, our goal at The Narwhal isn’t to sell advertising or to please corporate bigwigs — it’s to produce award-winning journalism for all Canadians.

In November, The Narwhal won four Canadian Online Publishing Awards, including silvers for best news website and best publication and gold and silver for best photojournalism.

The Narwhal’s 583 monthly members are the lifeblood of our newsroom, providing reliable support for our factual, honest reporting. Not a member yet? Please consider becoming a monthly member of The Narwhal today. Every dollar we receive from readers like you goes straight to funding independent journalism.

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You’ve read all the way to the bottom of this article. That makes you some serious Narwhal material.

And since you’re here, we have a favour to ask. Our independent, ad-free journalism is made possible because the people who value our work also support it (did we mention our stories are free for all to read, not just those who can afford to pay?).

As a non-profit, reader-funded news organization, 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. And at a time when most news organizations have been laying off reporters, we’ve hired eight journalists over the past year.

Not only are we filling a void in environment coverage, but we’re also telling stories differently — by centring Indigenous voices, by building community and by doing it all as a people-powered, non-profit outlet supported by more than 2,900 members

The truth is we wouldn’t be here without you. Every single one of you who reads and shares our articles is a crucial part of building a new model for Canadian journalism that puts people before profit.

We know that these days the world’s problems can feel a *touch* overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like what we do doesn’t make any difference, but becoming a member of The Narwhal is one small way you truly can make a difference.

We’ve drafted a plan to make 2021 our biggest year yet, but we need your support to make it all happen.

If you believe news organizations should report to their readers, not advertisers or shareholders, please become a monthly member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

Emma Gilchrist is a reporter, editor, public speaker and spreadsheet-keeper. She started her journalism career more than 15 years ago…

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