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The Narwhal a finalist for three 2019 Digital Publishing Awards

Documentaries on water pollution and endangered caribou and a feature article on the 2018 ‘smoke apocalypse’ selected among the country’s best

The Narwhal has been recognized for excellence in Canadian publishing for the second time this week, earning three nominations from the Digital Publishing Awards.

Judges considered top digital achievements from writers, editors, photographers and producers among others from 127 publications across Canada.

Works from 50 publications, including The Narwhal, have been nominated for awards by a volunteer panel of 80 judges. Winners will be announced May 29.

The Narwhal is an independent, non-profit publication that brings ad-free, in-depth reporting on the natural world to all Canadians.

Among the finalists for best feature short is Sharon J. Riley’s ‘The lost summer’: the emotional and spiritual toll of the smoke apocalypse, an in-depth look at the anxiety and grief caused by Canada’s ‘new normal’ of wildfires.

“It’s not just breathing difficulties and watery eyes that impact people living in smoke-affected areas,” Riley wrote in one of her first features for The Narwhal. “For many, it’s the unsettling feeling of living under a thick cloak of smoke, one that obscures the sun, wipes out the blue sky and hides the landscape in a disconcerting brown-grey veil.”

Other finalists in the feature short article include The Globe and Mail, Unpointcinq, Global News and CBC Radio.

The lost summer struck a chord with readers and remains one of The Narwhal’s most-read stories of the last year. Hundreds of monthly members of The Narwhal help fund Riley’s position with The Narwhal as an Alberta investigative reporter.

The Narwhal a finalist for documentary works

The Narwhal’s filmmaking is also being recognized by the Digital Publishing Awards.

Two original films, The caribou guardians and Coal Valley: The story of B.C.’s quiet water contamination crisis, are finalists for best online video feature and best mini-doc.

The caribou guardians documents the heroic effort of two B.C. First Nations to save an endangered caribou herd from local extinction.

In a remote corner of the province, caribou guardians provide 24-hour armed security to pregnant caribou and their calves, feeding the timid creatures hand-picked lichen from old-growth trees.

The video features The Narwhal’s B.C. legislative reporter, Sarah Cox, who has detailed the plight of endangered caribou in the province due to industrialized landscapes and habitat fragmentation. In addition to the film, Cox further explores the caribou penning program in her on-the-ground in-depth feature.

Ongoing efforts to protect caribou from local extinction are the subject of ongoing controversy in B.C., where a provincial caribou recovery plan has caused backlash and incited racist rhetoric towards the West Moberly and Saulteau First Nations. Amid much controversy, B.C. recently delayed the introduction of provincial species at risk legislation.

Other nominees in this category include VICE (Quebec), Sportsnet, Xtra and The Globe and Mail.

In another corner of the province, British Columbians are facing another kind of challenge: the contamination of water from a string of coal mines in the scenic Elk Valley.

The Narwhal’s Coal Valley documentary takes a look at the uncomfortable reality of selenium pollution from the mines, which produce metallurgical coal used in steelmaking and are owned by one of the province’s most influential companies, Teck Resources.

Tracing the pollution’s movement from giant waste rock piles to the small bodies of the local river’s prized fish, westslope cutthroat trout, Coal Valley documents the potentially 1,000-year threat selenium poses not only to local drinking water sources, but to the Koocanusa Reservoir, a large body of water Canada shares with the U.S. where contamination levels are on the rise.

Hosted and narrated by The Narwhal’s co-founder and managing editor, Carol Linnitt, Coal Valley is paired with an investigative article that asks why B.C. has failed to address the growing problem of selenium for so many decades. Coal Valley was selected to screen at Vancouver’s Elements Film Festival in April.

Both documentaries were filmed and edited by Approach Media’s Jayce Hawkins who is named in the nominations for his work.

Other finalists in the category of best mini-doc include Maclean’s, Xtra, VICE News Canada, VICE Canada and VICE Quebec.

In November 2018, The Narwhal won four Canadian Online Publishing Awards. In 2019, The Narwhal was nominated for three awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and four awards from the National Magazine Awards. In April, The Narwhal was named as the sole Canadian member of the Institute for Nonprofit News.

The Narwhal’s 700+ monthly members are the lifeblood of our newsroom, providing reliable support for our reporting on the natural world that can’t be found anywhere else. Please consider becoming a monthly member of The Narwhal today. Every dollar we receive from readers like you goes straight to creating independent journalism.

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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