Sharon J. Riley Abandoned Wells Alberta

From 0 to 100 in record time: how far The Narwhal has come and how much more is possible

From publishing major investigations to getting widespread recognition to growing our staff, the developments have come fast and furious

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For the team at The Narwhal, this week has been a reminder of how far we’ve come and how much more is possible.

First came the news that we’ve been nominated for two Canadian Association of Journalists awards. Next, we published a deep-dive investigation into a battle brewing in Ontario’s rust belt. And finally, we introduced our stellar new Senior Editor Raina Delisle to our community (that’s her rocking The Narwhal toque!).

Let’s start at the top: the award nominations include a nod for our Alberta reporter, Sharon J. Riley, for her investigation into a plan by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government to automate licences for new oil and gas drilling. 

The details in the story — which revealed drilling companies would get their applications rubber-stamped in as little as 15 minutes — were buried in Alberta Energy Regulator documents. When Riley was quoted a fee of $643.95 to access that information, The Narwhal’s readers stepped up to cover the costs.

Let that sink in: a deeply important story on industry oversight came to fruition because of our members. Now it is up for an award in the same category as media giants like CBC News and BuzzFeed News.

A day after that announcement, we published an entirely new investigation by freelancer Hilary Beaumont on the residents who are fighting a proposed industrial facility in a region beset by high cancer rates. It’s a story that spans the Canada-U.S. border, and to pull it off we collaborated with a like-minded non-profit publication in the U.S., Environmental Health News.

Last, but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of offering readers a little insight into Senior Editor Raina Delisle. It’s her second week on the job, and she’s already making her mark with her sharp eye for detail — and getting our style guide in check. Raina even spilled the tea on how she managed to procure supplies during the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020.

These three things — publishing major investigations, getting widespread recognition for our work and growing our staff — have all developed at a pace beyond the wildest dreams of our founders when they launched The Narwhal less than two years ago. It’s a testament to what’s possible when you connect valuable work with an audience that recognizes and rewards that value every single day. And we’re only getting started.

Thanks for all you do. We hope you’re staying healthy and safe.

Arik Ligeti
Audience Engagement Editor

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‘Them plants are killing us’: inside a cross-border battle against cancer in Ontario’s rust belt

Selva Rasaiah observes the visible emissions emanating from the Algoma Steel plant

By Hilary Beaumont

Two communities — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — share both a border along the St. Marys River and a toxic legacy that has contributed to high rates of cancer. Now the towns are banding together to fight a ferrochrome plant planned to process chromite from Ontario’s Ring of Fire, in turn generating the so-called ‘Erin Brockovich contaminant’ hexavalent chromium. Read more.


Fisheries and Oceans Canada pulls at-sea observers from fishing boats due to coronavirus pandemic

Fishing trawler

By Jimmy Thomson

Fishermen rely on observers to keep the industry honest. Now they’re worried about maintaining a level playing field. Read more.


How the Tahltan Nation is weighing coronavirus concerns against Red Chris mine operations in northern B.C.

Red Chris mine Tahltan The Narwhal

By Natalia Balcerzak

Local support for the open-pit mine grows, even as industrial projects and remote work camps across the province face growing scrutiny for their fly-in-fly-out work forces that increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Read more.


‘Shut it down’: Yukon First Nations call for halt to mining operations in light of coronavirus

Eagle Gold mine

By Julien Gignac

‘Economic imperatives cannot be placed above the health and safety of our people,’ says Na-cho Nyak Dun chief, but territory deems mining an essential service. Read more.


10 things you need to know as a barrel of Alberta oil is valued at less than a bottle of maple syrup

Alberta oil prices covid coronavirus

By Sharon J. Riley

As fears intensify that the benchmark price for Alberta’s oilsands crude could drop below zero, we dig into what’s behind the crash, the phenomenon of ‘homeless crude’ and why new pipelines ultimately won’t solve the problem. Read more.


What we’re reading


Note from a Narwhal

“I’ve followed The Narwhal for the last six months but hadn’t yet subscribed. I just finished Hilary Beaumont’s investigation, and it became clear why it’s so important to financially support your work. Thanks so much for the in-depth reporting you’re offering. It helps someone like me, who lives in the city, understand both the environmental and human toll industry is having across the country.” — Bronwyn, a brand-new monthly member. Thanks, Bronwyn, and welcome to the club!


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Arik Ligeti is The Narwhal’s audience engagement editor, with a focus on growing a dedicated community of members and readers.…

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