Amber Bracken Wet'suwet'en Coastal GasLink ArrestEquipment09

A groundbreaking new partnership — and the RCMP ‘package’ on journalists that never arrived

In our latest newsletter, we spotlight a collaborative reporting position with the Winnipeg Free Press. Plus, the details behind two investigative stories we just published about the RCMP

Wow, thank you. When I shared the news of The Narwhal’s new Manitoba reporter, part of a groundbreaking new partnership with the Winnipeg Free Press, I asked each of you if you could help us take even bigger steps to re-define what’s possible in Canadian media by becoming a member of our pod.

And 80 of you did just that — a show of support that means we’re now a quarter of the way toward our mission to add 500 new members in May. Will you help us reach 500? If just one in 100 people reading this join as a member, we’ll be able to publish three ambitious investigations this year.

a gif of a narwhal tusk stretching toward our 500 members in May goal.

At The Narwhal, we know that preaching to the choir isn’t going to change the world — and that’s why it’s such a huge moment for us to be partnering with the largest Canadian newsroom west of Toronto. All of reporter Julia-Simone Rutgers’ stories will be published in both The Narwhal and the Winnipeg Free Press.

This is a major breakthrough that will help fill a void for in-depth and investigative environmental journalism in Manitoba, bringing readers the kinds of stories they can’t find anywhere else.

Investigative environmental journalism is needed now more than ever — and we need your help to pull off three critically important stories that deserve to be told. Will you be among the one in 100 who help to bring these stories to life?

Emma Gilchrist

P.S. Become a Narwhal and we’ll send you our mag, seen below.

Speaking of investigative stories, we just published some pretty, pretty, pretty big ones — including two about the RCMP.

Ever since the police force conducted militarized raids on Wet’suwet’en territory in northwest B.C. this past November, arresting land defenders and journalists, our team has been trying to make sense of what exactly happened.

This week — after a five-month process of collecting and sorting through a large volume of evidence — we have uncovered some stunning revelations

Peppered with questions from managing editor Mike De Souza and northwest B.C. reporter Matt Simmons, the RCMP offered some contradictory and confounding responses. The Mounties claimed to have trouble locating key documents, including an email that a senior commander sent to himself. The investigation also revealed what some officers were saying about Indigenous land defenders and their allies when police thought nobody was listening.

And at a key moment when a senior RCMP official told Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs  — who never consented to the Coastal GasLink pipeline — that the Mounties wanted to negotiate peacefully, the force was also planning a raid led by heavily armed tactical officers and police service dogs.

Militarized police run to cut power, radio and internet supply to a tiny house at Coyote Camp in Gidimt’en territory near Houston, B.C., on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Photo: Amber Bracken / The Narwhal

“I was skeptical about some of the claims made by the RCMP in November 2021 after they arrested journalists covering Indigenous land defenders and their allies,” Mike says. “I was more skeptical after Matt and I reviewed more than an hour of video and audio recordings, dozens of affidavits filed in court by the RCMP and dozens of pages of internal government records and correspondence, including letters from pipeline company TC Energy. Some things didn’t quite add up.”

Among the things that didn’t quite add up? An email from a senior RCMP commander to the RCMP’s commissioner that alleged the arrested journalists — including photojournalist Amber Bracken, who was on assignment for The Narwhal — were activists, and that a “package” of evidence “bring into question their impartiality and show they have been advocating and assisting the protesters.”

That package of evidence never materialized.

“The idea that they can do this in secret, without needing to produce any evidence is a chilling comment on the state of press freedoms in Canada,” Amber says. “I hold myself to the highest standard of ethical reporting and have not been given an opportunity to respond to these false allegations.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. These investigations also provide fresh evidence about the role of pipeline company TC Energy and its relationship with the RCMP.

“These stories are important because they show what kind of challenges journalists may face when they report on Indigenous Rights and the fossil fuel industry,” Mike says. “Obstruction, secrecy and even violence and arrests are sadly part of our jobs now. We think the public deserves to know the truth.”

We hope you spend time reading these pieces.

And if you believe in journalism that holds those in power to account, become a member of The Narwhal today for any amount you can afford.

Take care and avoid contradictions,

Arik Ligeti
Director of audience

Ontario election event invite graphic, with headshots of panellists.

We’re hosting an Ontario election event!

We invited the Progressive Conservatives, but they turned us down. Everyone else is coming — and we hope you’ll join us, too. RSVP here.

This week in The Narwhal

Four years in, Doug Ford still can’t pay for a mining road to Ontario’s Ring of Fire: internal documents

A road into the woods superimposed with an illustration of a ring of fire.

By Emma McIntosh

This Ontario election, Doug Ford is promising a road to the Ring of Fire, again. But internal documents show requests for $1 billion in federal funding haven’t advanced since 2018. Read more.

Is small-scale forestry the big idea B.C. needs?

Shilo Freer sharpens the saw blade on Son Ranch Timber Co.'s 1930s-era head saw mill.

By Louis Bockner

Woodlot owners in B.C.’s Boundary region say redistributing tenure from major logging companies to smaller operators would help local economies and the environment. Read more.

Meet Julia-Simone Rutgers, The Narwhal’s new Manitoba reporter in collaboration with the Winnipeg Free Press

Reporter Julia-Simone Rutgers poses for a photo at St. Vital Park in Winnipeg wearing a grey sweatshirt with the Narwhal logo

By Mike De Souza

From a young age, Julia-Simone Rutgers knew she wanted to be a journalist. Now she brings her skills to a unique new role with The Narwhal and Winnipeg Free Press. Read more.

What we’re reading

Globe and Mail: At winter’s end, glaciologists take annual trek to measure glacier loss. With climate change accelerating, their findings are profound
Hakai magazine: Using a Board Game to Plan for a Changing Planet

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Investigating problems. Exploring solutions
The Narwhal’s reporters are telling environment stories you won’t read about anywhere else. Stay in the loop by signing up for a weekly dose of independent journalism.
Investigating problems. Exploring solutions
The Narwhal’s reporters are telling environment stories you won’t read about anywhere else. Stay in the loop by signing up for a weekly dose of independent journalism.

‘Treated like machines’: wildfire fighters describe a mental health crisis on the frontlines

Note: This story discusses mental health and suicide. If you or someone you know needs help, there’s 24/7 phone support available with Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566, or text...

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