Independent, investigative environmental journalism based in the neighbourhood
›› Lilly Kho
If you haven’t already heard, The Narwhal, an online magazine focused on sharing stories about Canada’s natural environment, proudly calls Fernwood its home. Although editor-in-chief and executive director Emma Gilchrist jokes about the fact that much of the publication comes together in the humble kitchen of her Fernwood home, The Narwhal boasts four Canadian Online Publishing Awards and is a growing powerhouse in the Canadian journalism scene.
Growing out of the environmental investigative journalism project, DeSmog Canada, The Narwhal has firms roots in diving deep to tell stories about Canada’s natural world. Speaking to the significance of the publication’s name, Emma says the goal was tap into Canadian’s shared values around a love of the natural world. Moving away from the dichotomies that often plague Canadian politics, The Narwhal aims to illuminate our shared sense of awe and wonder for the natural world. The tusks of these deep-diving whales serve as sensitive antennae, mirroring the publication’s desire to locate truth and investigate stories that other outlets don’t.
What makes The Narwhal different is what Emma describes as an underlying ethos, “that speaks beyond hardcore environmentalists to everyday Canadians.” In seeking to achieve an approachable and compelling way of news reporting, The Narwhal advances coverage that tends to be more complex and nuanced. Being from a northern “oil and gas town just outside of Grande Prairie,”
Emma notes that she, and her fellow colleagues who share this background, have the desire to produce work that speaks to those living in industry towns without alienating them.
As a result, The Narwhal’s emphasis on heavily visual coverage not only finds mass appeal in today’s image-driven culture, but also brings to life issues that often feel obscured and far away from Canada’s urban centres. With a vision like that, it’s hard to deny the appeal and relevance this growing publication has for Canadians.
To read more, check out thenarwhal.ca or subscribe to their weekly newsletter at thenarwhal.ca/newsletter. The Narwhal is a non-profit—you can become a monthly member by visiting them at thenarwhal.ca/member.