Mickenzie Plemel-Stronks Amber Bracken National magazine Awards

The Narwhal snags six nominations in 2021 National Magazine Awards

In a breakout year, our small non-profit is being recognized for excellence in feature writing, investigative journalism and photography

The Narwhal has been nominated for six 2021 National Magazine Awards, which celebrate excellence in artistry and writing in Canadian publications. 

The nominations place The Narwhal in the top ranks of all finalists, a list topped by print publications The Walrus, Maclean’s and Toronto Life. 

From more than 1,000 entries from 160 publications across the country, The Narwhal snagged nominations for feature writing, investigative journalism and photography.

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“Our small team is so honoured to be recognized among the heavyweights of the Canadian magazine industry just a few days before our third birthday,” said The Narwhal’s co-founder and editor-in-chief, Emma Gilchrist. “As a non-profit online magazine, these nominations are especially meaningful and are a testament to the support of our readers.”

Photojournalist Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s harrowing work to document the impacts of hydro development in remote Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba was selected as an individual nominee highlight for being a finalist in both the portrait and photo essay and photojournalism categories. 

A portrait of a young girl on the streets of Easterville, Man., a reserve community founded by the Chemawawin Cree Nation in 1962 after they were forcibly relocated during the construction of the Grand Rapids dam, which flooded 202,343 hectares of land. This photo appeared in State of erosion: the legacy of Manitoba Hydro, a photo essay on The Narwhal nominated for numerous awards. Photo: Aaron Vincent Elkaim / The Narwhal

Amber Bracken also earned a photo essay and photojournalism nomination for her documentary work of the 2020 RCMP arrests of Wet’suwet’en land defenders in British Columbia as well as a nod in the portrait photography category for her work to document individuals working to restore Alberta’s native grasslands

Jimmy Thomson’s deep dive into workplace abuse within the trawl fishery is nominated for best investigative reporting. Thomson’s feature was based on a tip from a reader of The Narwhal and relied on the bravery of whistleblowers in the sector.

Journalist Lindsay Jones’ in-depth feature on the role of small family woodlot owners in the preservation and restoration of the Acadian forests in New Brunswick, which is accompanied by photography from Darren Calabrese, is nominated for best feature.

Melissa Labrador
Mi’kmaw artist Melissa Labrador on the Wildcat River in front of a centuries-old oak tree that she considers a healing tree. The endangered Acadian forest, also known as the Wabanaki Forest, is the traditional home of Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqiyik, the First Peoples of the land. It’s also one of the most diverse temperate forests in the world and is uniquely carbon dense and naturally fire resistant. Lindsay Jones’ in-depth story on efforts to save and restore the Acadian forest is nominated for best feature with the 2021 National Magazine Awards. Photo: Darren Calabrese / The Narwhal

The National Magazine Award nominations come in the midst of a swirl of accolades for The Narwhal, including 10 nominations from the Digital Publishing Awards and nine nominations from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the second-most of any news organization in the country.

With just eight editorial staff, The Narwhal’s nominations are a demonstration of what small, independent publications are accomplishing across Canada.

In late 2020, The Narwhal helped to launch Press Forward, a new association of independent media. Fellow members The Tyee, The Local and The Sprawl all received National Magazine Award nominations on Thursday as well. 

“If you’re looking for signs of hope on Canada’s media landscape, look no further than Canada’s digital innovators,” Gilchrist said. “These publications are reinvigorating the relationship between journalists and their audiences, creating new business models and award-winning journalism in the process.”

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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 five 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 4,200 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.

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.

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