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The Narwhal is ringing in its 5th birthday. Help us celebrate

As The Narwhal turns five today, I’m giving thanks to the thousands of members who make our journalism possible

Editor’s note: We’re chuffed to see the love and support our newest members showed us — and grabbed the last few copies of our annual print edition. We’d love to welcome more readers to this thriving news ecosystem, but we’re all out of this year’s magazines!


It’s uncomfortable, how fragile we can become when we enter into a state of hope. 

With cynicism, there’s a certain invincibility one gets to enjoy. But when you allow yourself to dream — to truly, desirously dream — your vulnerability becomes unavoidable.

I’m reflecting on the uncomfortable stakes of hope as The Narwhal celebrates its fifth birthday. Thinking back to the moments just before we launched this audacious new publication (a non-profit online magazine focused exclusively on the environment? Good luck!) actually makes my heart race to this day. 

Looking back at this screenshot of a conversation between me and The Narwhal’s co-founder, Emma Gilchrist, from April 16, 2018, the day we officially created The Narwhal News Society, gives me a shot of nervous excitement:

Screengrab of a Slack conversation: Emma Gilchrist: "Are you SURE you want to do this?! *Deep Breaths*" Carol Linnitt: "ha ha ha ha, I've never been SO SURE! I'm sure I'm sure." Emma: "Oh phew, I kinda needed to hear you say that." Carol: "Are you sure?" Emma: "I'm sure. It's just so nervewracking. Ha!" Carol: "I know! It's kind of a big deal."

There was no way of knowing then what we know today, which is that thousands of other people shared our same dream. And those thousands were willing to join to make the dream of non-profit, member-driven, public-interest journalism a reality.

It almost gives me whiplash to fast-forward and look at what, together, we’ve built today: 

  • The Narwhal is now a bustling pod of 24 staff 
  • Our team has consistently swept the awards circuit, taking home gold for not only environment reporting, but photojournalism, investigations, digital design and labour and human rights reporting
  • In the last year we’ve partnered with the Toronto Star, The Weather Network, VICE World News, CTV, the Winnipeg Free Press and others
  • In the last half-year alone, our team has filed more than 230 freedom of information requests all across the country and is at the forefront of the nation’s reporting on Indigenous-led conservation, species at risk and mining
  • In the last three months we’ve had reporters on the ground in places as far-flung as Windsor, Ont., Kitimat, B.C., Fort Chipewyan, Alta., and Vivian, Man.

None of this happened on the shoulders of hope alone. It’s taken a momentous outpouring of public generosity — a miracle of sorts — to arrive at this incredible place just five years into The Narwhal’s existence.

More than 6,000 individuals donated to The Narwhal last year to make all of this magic happen, helping us become one of the fastest-growing member-funded media organizations in the country. 

It’s thanks to our members that our 2023 print magazine — available to anyone who becomes a Narwhal today — is packed with award-nominated stories about everything from the true history of Prairie farming to the end of an Alberta community to one First Nation’s long journey home.

When I reflect on those early days of The Narwhal, when it was still just a glimmer of hope on the media horizon, I can recall how painful it was to hear the voices of critics. Emma and I were told The Narwhal was not practical, it was too cute, too flippant, too idealistic, not possible. 

And the thing that proved them all wrong? You. Our readers. And in particular our members — the everyday people across Canada who are so inspired by the importance of high-quality, high-stakes journalism they’re willing to throw their hat into the ring with us. 

Will you become a member today? And as a huge bonus, anyone who joins our pod today will receive a copy of our Narwhal print edition, hot off the presses.

As we cast our minds forward to what we can accomplish in the next five years, we’re again ready to embrace the fragility and vulnerability that comes with the dream of The Narwhal. And it’s once again we remember the thousands of people who have our backs. We hope you’ll become one of them today.

Take care and keep the dream alive,

Carol Linnitt
Executive editor

P.S. Our members are the unsung heroes behind our biggest investigations and most ambitious storytelling. Become a Narwhal today to support the blockbuster investigations of tomorrow and we’ll send you a copy of our limited-edition 2023 print magazine! 

Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?
Like a kid in a candy store
When those boxes of heavily redacted documents start to pile in, reporters at The Narwhal waste no time in looking for kernels of news that matter the most. Just ask our Prairies reporter Drew Anderson, who gleefully scanned through freedom of information files like a kid in a candy store, leading to pretty damning revelations in Alberta this spring. Long story short: the government wasn’t being forthright when it claimed its pause on new renewable energy projects wasn’t political. Just like that, our small team was again leading the charge on a pretty big story

In an oil-rich province like Alberta, that kind of reporting is crucial. But look at our investigative work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to the west, or our Greenbelt reporting out in Ontario. They all highlight one thing: those with power over our shared natural world don’t want you to know how — or why — they call the shots. And we try to disrupt that.

Our journalism is powered by people just like you. We never take corporate ad dollars, or put this public-interest information behind a paywall. Here’s the thing: we need 300 new members to join this month to meet our budget. Will you join the pod of Narwhals that make a difference by helping us uncover some of the most important stories of our time?

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