CBC documentary based on Desmond Cole’s National Magazine Award-winning story

Desmond Cole accepts the award for Best New Magazine Writer to a standing ovation at the 2016 National Magazine Awards in Toronto (Photo: Steven Goetz / National Magazine Awards Foundation)

In 2015 Desmond Cole’s essay “The Skin I’m In” (published in Toronto Life) made headlines across the country and became a touchstone for contemporary debates about race relations, privilege and law enforcement policy in Canada. Desmond Cole admitted to readers, “I was nine years old the first time I got stopped by police. Since then, I’ve been interrogated more than 50 times— all because of the colour of my skin.”

At the 2016 National Magazine Awards, Desmond Cole’s story won 3 awards–for Personal Journalism, Essays, and Best New Magazine Writer.

In an intimate portrait of systemic discrimination and how it erodes one’s sense of self, Cole has written in “The Skin I’m In” a powerful exposé of Canada’s justice system with clarity and integrity, holding up a mirror to readers of any ethnicity and making them rue what they see.
– National Magazine Awards jury

Since then, he’s become a columnist for the Toronto Star, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter and other organizations challenging police practices in Toronto, and has appeared on panels for the CBC, the Canadian Journalism Foundation, Global News, and more. His work also appears in the The Walrus, Torontoist, VICE, NOW Magazine, and Ethnic Aisle.

Tonight, the CBC airs its documentary based on Desmond’s National Magazine Award-winning story–“The Skin We’re In“–at 9pm.

For the film version of The Skin We’re In, the perspective shifts — but the intimacy of Cole’s work is not lost. His journalism is marked by his unapologetic connection to many of his subjects, which is captured poignantly throughout the film.

Click here to watch the trailer of “The Skin We’re In”

Off the Page, with Marta Iwanek

Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we caught up with photojournalist Marta Iwanek, who in 2016 was named Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation, in addition to winning the Gold Medal for Photojournalism & Photo Essay for her incredible reporting of the 2013-2014 Ukrainian crisis, titled “The Maidan” (Maisonneuve).

NMAF: In your award-winning photo essay, “The Maidan,” you take the reader on a journey to a winter in Kyiv, where thousands of Ukrainians gathered to take a courageous stand against their government. You capture the Maidan as a place of fear and uncertainty, but also of community and solidarity. How did you get a sense of the place when you arrived, and what were the human emotions that spoke to you as a photographer?

Marta: I first arrived in Kyiv in early November (2013) before any of the protests had started. I remember driving through the centre of the city and thinking what a bustling metropolis it was. Then I went out east to work on a film and returned in late November a little after the pro-European protests had begun. Everything was still calm at that point and there was a sense of hopefulness among the crowd.

The protest was to last nine days, but on the last night everything changed. The remaining protestors were chased out of Independence Square (Maidan) and beaten by police, angering many people. On December 1 a large demonstration occurred in Kyiv where the people re-took the square and the movement that became known as “the Maidan” began. I was supposed to fly back to Toronto shortly after, but realized I couldn’t leave.

The feeling was so powerful and strong among the people. It felt like people had been pushed to an edge and they had nothing more to lose. There were feelings of frustration, abandonment and urgency. At the same time, you could still find the glimpses of hope and community as people unified under one cause–to oust then President Yanukovych. I was always trying to show those emotions in my photos and trying to understand the situation deeper, trying to figure out what made it this way? I changed my flight and ended up staying three months, living among the protestors and spending my days and nights wandering the square, talking to people and trying to make sense of it.

I like to immerse myself in stories as much as possible and I hope this translates in my photos. It was also a story I felt personally connected to because my roots are Ukrainian and I grew up in the Ukrainian diaspora in Toronto. I grew up listening to the stories of Ukraine’s constant struggle for independence and to be free of corruption, so the feelings of the people in the square were not foreign to me. However, this time, it wasn’t just my parents talking about it in Canada, detached from the situation and it’s consequences. It was happening in front of me. When it was finally time to leave, I will always remember that contrast I felt when I first arrived in the capital and when I left–the place, the people and the country had been changed forever.

During my years as the art director of Maisonneuve magazine, I had the opportunity to work with many talented women photographers—each one a unique visual voice. Marta Iwanek stands out for the way she brings her compassion to a body of work that sits on the edge of war and peace, among fire and smoke, between life and death situations, especially with her Ukrainian “Maidan” project.
Anna Minzhulina, former art director, Maisonneuve

NMAF: Over one hundred people were killed in the government reprisals, and you spent time not only on the front lines but also with those who were wounded and grieving. How did you balance your own safety with your passion for capturing every aspect of the story? And did you learn anything about yourself as a journalist that will assist you in the future?

Marta: There were certain days that felt very unsafe on the square, but the majority of my time spent there, things were peaceful. There would be flare-ups between police and protestors and then things would resume back to “normal.” I looked to other, more experienced photojournalists in the square for guidance and advice. I had only been freelancing for three months at that point, fresh out of college and had found myself in the middle of the news cauldron that was Kyiv.

There were many times that I was scared. Even today I think I still would be. The most important thing I learned in those kinds of situations is to trust your gut. There were certain situations I decided to be close-up and others I held back from. Sometimes, I beat myself up for not being in the right place or holding back too much, but you have to be honest with yourself and with what you’re willing to do. It took quite a while to reconcile these feelings, but the experience taught me that I’m not a conflict photographer.

Many photojournalists starting out often have a dream of covering foreign stories and conflicts. I didn’t go to Ukraine searching out a conflict to photograph, I just happened to be there when it all started. And a part of me left feeling like I had failed as a journalist because I hadn’t gotten the most heated moments, and I was actually back in Canada on the day that over a hundred protestors were shot. For me, it was more emotionally heavy to be away from the square during that time than when I was in it. Not knowing about the fate of many friends who were there, as well as feeling the guilt of not being there, took a toll.

We’re taught to want to be this travelling, conflict photographer, but that’s not who all of us are. The whole time on the square, I found myself being much more drawn and interested in the quieter moments and it took me a while to realize those moments are just as important too.

We are all unique and we will all notice different things in similar situations and we will be better at photographing in certain situations over others. Journalism is a communal effort and we need to be honest with ourselves, find out the type of stories you’re best at and are drawn to. Then don’t be afraid to do it.

NMAF: That was over three years ago, and since then Ukraine has experienced war and occupation perhaps beyond the worst fears of those who gathered on the Maidan. How has this story stayed with you since then? 

Marta: My time on the Maidan has been one of the factors that keeps driving me to keep coming back to this region and exploring the underlying issues more deeply, looking at why things are the way they are now, what’s caused them and what keeps causing them?

It’s also something I’ve always wanted to do because my background is Ukrainian. I’ve always been drawn to Ukraine and Eastern Europe because I’ve grown up with my cultural heritage being so central in my life, from participating in folk activities, being involved in the diaspora community to regular dinner table conversations about Eastern European politics. I actually started primary school barely speaking English because at home we just spoke Ukrainian. It has a huge place in my heart. I’ve started looking at my own family’s history in the area, connecting with relatives and following the story of Ukrainians in Poland who were deported from the South-Eastern territories in 1947 under military Operation Vistula. Deportations are a huge part of Eastern Europe’s history and play a huge factor in why things are the way they are today.

There has definitely been media fatigue with Ukraine as the conflict reaches yet another year. It’s why I think it’s more important than ever to stay with the story and understand what is happening there, to put the past and the future in greater context for the average viewer.

NMAF: For the camera nerds, what bodies and lenses do you shoot with? And what was your technical approach to the photography on the Maidan? 

Marta: Back then, during those three months on the Maidan, I was using a D600 and a 35mm f/2 and a 24-70mm. This is still my favourite set-up although now I have a D810 with a 35mm f/1.4. My technical approach is to go as light on gear as possible, zoom with your feet and build intimacy with the people you are photographing. This will create a much better photo than any lens or camera body can.

NMAF: You worked with Anna Minzhulina, then the art director of Maisonneuve, who said she was stunned by the evocative scenes and characters that jumped out from your images. Can you describe the creative process of how the two of you edited your body of work into a story that connected with the magazine reader? 

Marta: Anna is an extremely talented and passionate editor and I am so grateful for her eye. Editing is an art of its own and a skill many photographers often lack, myself included. It was also a story I had immersed myself in, so it can be very hard to be objective about the photos when editing, which is where Anna came in.

So often, I would attach a personal memory or story to a photo and Anna was able to single out the photos that could still speak to a viewer who was encountering them without all the backstory. She chose the photos that could speak on their own and spoke together cohesively to tell the story of the square.

It was also exciting to be able to tell a story in a magazine over so much space. The majority of my time I’ve spent working in newspapers where it’s usually one image to tell a story, but here it was a different process of how the photos work together to form a narrative.

Women photographers are still an anomaly in the male-dominated documentary photo world, with its emphasis on traditionally masculine values like the courage and bravery to ‘shoot’ with a camera. We need to encourage more female visual voices like Iwanek’s here in Canada and around the world. Death does not distinguish between genders. It takes all. But I’m interested in how the female eye looking through a photographic lens might see it differently. It’s important that we have different perspectives, that we pay attention to what they might show us that we haven’t considered before. That’s why we need exposure to more work of female war photographers, such as Iwanek.
Anna Minzhulina, former art director, Maisonneuve

NMAF: The night of the 2016 National Magazine Awards, you didn’t have a ticket to get in, but as the show started you were hanging out in the foyer in case your name was called. And it was—twice! What was that experience like? And when you were on stage accepting your awards, what was your message to the audience?

Marta: I was generously given a seat at the sponsor table and so in the end I was able to attend the awards. I had a small cheer crew at the table and we had a lot of fun. I hadn’t prepared a speech, but I just went up there and spoke from my heart. I thanked everyone who helped me and it was great to see Anna in the audience as I spoke. I was also thankful that the recognition of the award would bring more attention to the story, which had greatly fallen off the news cycle. It’s a story close to me and so I’m grateful for any opportunity to talk about it.

Marta Iwanek accepts the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Photographer at the 2016 Gala.
Marta Iwanek accepts the National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Photographer at the 2016 Gala.

 

NMAF: Can you tell us about some of your latest projects, and what you’re up to next as a journalist? 

Marta: A project titled “Darling” was actually one of my first projects and still one close to my heart. It is a story about an elderly couple in Trenton, Ontario, where Lex Duncan is the at-home-caregiver for his wife Mary Duncan, who has dementia. I started it as a way to reconnect with a generation I felt I didn’t get a good chance to know after my last grandparent died.

It was a project to deal with the loss and also understanding what my parents, as well as countless others in our country are facing as they care for an ailing loved one. I am so grateful to the Duncan family who opened up their home to me and gave me a chance to get to know them and tell this story.

Lex Duncan wakes his wife Mary up in the morning in Trenton, Ontario. Mary was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and Lex cared for her in their home until she died in 2015. (Photo courtesy Marta Iwanek.)
Lex Duncan wakes his wife Mary up in the morning in Trenton, Ontario. Mary was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 and Lex cared for her in their home until she died in 2015. (Photo courtesy Marta Iwanek.)

 

This year I started photographing in the villages my grandparents came from. They were once Ukrainian villages but after WWII became part of Poland and the majority of the Ukrainians who lived there were deported and dispersed either to Soviet Ukraine or throughout Poland, my grandparents included.

I’ve always been curious about my roots and grew up with a father who has worked as a historian, making films and writing books on eastern European history. So after the Maidan I became interested in exploring Eastern Europe on a deeper level and understanding events in the past that have an effect on the present. Through this project I want to explore how identity changes when a culture is displaced from its ancestral land. It’s been a very personal project, but I’ve also found it to be incredibly universal through the many forced migrations happening throughout the world today.


Marta Iwanek is a National Magazine Award-winning photojournalist whose work has appeared in Maisonneuve, Maclean’s, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and other publications. In 2016 she was named Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer by the National Magazine Awards Foundation. Discover more of her work at martaiwanek.com

The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are open for submissions until January 20, including three different categories for photography. Enter at magazine-awards.com.

Read more Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award-winning photographers including Roger LeMoyne and Ian Willms.

NMA gala photos by Steven Goetz for the National Magazine Awards Foundation. 

Enter Best New Magazine Writer | 2017 National Magazine Awards

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine journalist? Have you published your first feature story in a Canadian consumer, B2B or university magazine within the last 2 years? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Magazine Writer goes to the journalist whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award includes a cash prize of $1000, an awards certificate, and nationwide recognition.

ELIGIBILITY
Eligible work–including profiles, personal essays, reporting, literary journalism and other non-fiction genres–must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. Candidates must not have published any feature-length magazine work prior to 2015. The intent is to restrict this award to students and emerging writers with a maximum of 2 years’ experience in professional journalism. One entry per person. See the NMAF’s rules for further information about eligible publications.

HOW TO ENTER
Enter your submissions at magazine-awards.com. Submissions may be made by the writer or their editor or teacher, and must include a PDF of the work as well as a letter of reference (see requirements below). The deadline for applications is January 20. The cost to enter is $95 (freelancers who enter their own work may be eligible for the Freelancer Support Fund and an entry fee of just $50).

REQUIREMENTS

  • Upload a PDF of your story during the online application.
  • Upload a PDF of a letter of reference from a teacher, editor, mentor or colleague, which should introduce the candidate to the jury, attest to their eligibility for this award, and provide context for the work submitted. Both the story and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee by cheque or credit card.

FINALISTS AND WINNERS
A shortlist of up to 5 finalists will be announced in the spring, and all finalists receive a certificate and recognition in NMAF publications and at the gala. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala.

PRIZE
There is a cash prize of $1000 and an awards certificate, and the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner. We’ll interview you for our blog and newsletter, and promote you and your work to art directors and magazine readers nationwide.

PREVIOUS WINNERS
Recent winners of the award for Best New Magazine Writer include Desmond Cole, Genna Buck, Sierra Skye Gemma and Catherine McIntyre.

Don’t forget the deadline: January 20, 2017.

Ready to submit? Click here.

ABOUT THE NMAF
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to foster, recognize and promote editorial excellence in Canadian publications. The annual program of awards are presented in the spring and are followed by a year-long national publicity campaign and several professional development opportunities.

Enter Best New Magazine Illustrator | 2017 National Magazine Awards

Are you an emerging Canadian magazine illustrator or graphic artist? Have you published your first major piece of visual work in a Canadian consumer or B2B magazine, a university magazine, or an arts journal within the last 3 years? Chances are you’re eligible to be named Canada’s Best New Illustrator from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

The National Magazine Award for Best New Illustrator  goes to the artist whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. The award includes a cash prize of $1000, an awards certificate, and nationwide recognition.

ELIGIBILITY
Eligible work–including illustration, photo illustration, infographics, graphic narratives and digital images–must have been published in a Canadian magazine (print, online or tablet) between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2016. The work can be a single illustration or a series accompanying an article or editorial package. Candidates must not have published any magazine work prior to 2014. The intent is to restrict this award to students and visual artists with a maximum of 3 years’ experience in professional journalism. One entry per person. See the NMAF’s rules for further information about eligible publications.

HOW TO ENTER
Enter your submissions at magazine-awards.com. Submissions may be made by the artist or their art director or teacher, and must include a PDF of the work as well as a letter of reference (see requirements below). The deadline for applications is January 20. The cost to enter is $95 (freelancers who enter their own work may be eligible for the Freelancer Support Fund and an entry fee of just $50).

REQUIREMENTS

  • Upload a PDF of your work during the online application.
  • Upload a PDF of a letter of reference from a teacher, art director, mentor or colleague, which should introduce the candidate to the jury, attest to their eligibility, for this award, and provide context for the work submitted. Both the visual work and letter are reviewed by the judges.
  • Pay the submission fee by cheque or credit card.

FINALISTS AND WINNERS
A shortlist of up to 5 finalists will be announced in the spring, and all finalists receive a certificate and recognition in NMAF publications and at the gala. The winner will be revealed at the 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards gala.

PRIZE
There is a cash prize of $1000 and an awards certificate, and the right to call yourself a National Magazine Award winner. We’ll interview you for our blog and newsletter, and promote you and your work to art directors and magazine readers nationwide.

PREVIOUS WINNERS
Recent winners of the award for Best New Magazine Illustrator include Byron Eggenschwiler and Hudson Christie.

Don’t forget the deadline: January 20, 2017.

Ready to submit? Click here.

ABOUT THE NMAF
The National Magazine Awards Foundation is a bilingual, not-for-profit institution whose mission is to foster, recognize and promote editorial excellence in Canadian publications. The annual program of awards are presented in the spring and are followed by a year-long national publicity campaign and several professional development opportunities.

Off the Page, with Richard Kelly Kemick

Off the Page is a regular interview series featuring National Magazine Award winners. Recently we caught up with Richard Kelly Kemick, who was nominated for 2 National Magazine Awards in 2016–winning the Gold Medal in One of a Kind for his story “Playing God” (The Walrus), a reflection on his singular obsession with building Christmas villages. The story also won him a nomination for Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer.

NMAF: “Playing God,” your story that won Gold in the One of a Kind category at last year’s NMAs, was developed at the Banff Centre for Literary Journalism. Can you describe your experience there, and how this somewhat unconventional idea was developed into an award-winning magazine story. 

Richard: During my month at the Banff Centre––as every tagline on their website attests––I worked alongside some of the best editors and writers in the business (Ian Brown, Victor Dwyer, Charlotte Gill, to say nothing of the exceptional participants I was writing alongside). What I wasn’t expecting, however, was how affirming it would be for me as a writer. 

As I’m sure we all do, I wrestle a lot with insecurity and mediocrity. Banff’s LJ program placed me an environment where I had a month to only write, read, and sit in Michael Lista’s room to watch The Bachelor (he forced us to watch, like, every episode with him). It was an environment which told me––day after day for a month––that as long as I’m writing, I am a writer.

Anytime I get an opportunity to work with an editor, it’s an absolute privilege. The “Playing God” piece was edited, edited, kicked around, and edited again. And while I came to develop a profound hate for the Track Changes bubbles on a word document, my editor, Victor, took the piece from the ramblings of a limp-wristed despot into something with form, narrative, and an actual arc. 

NMAF: More recently, your debut collection of poetry, Caribou Run was included in this year’s CBC must-read poetry list. How is recognition — from the NMAF and other organizations — significant to you and your work? 

Richard: The CBC list was bizarre. I had no warning; I received an email from my publisher with the link and a note saying “this better translate into book sales” (just kidding, they’re incredibly supportive). It was a very rewarding surprise, just like the NMA. 

These types of recognition are indeed significant. So much of what we do as writers is sit at a desk and clack away in an isolation the rest of the world would refer to as cruel and unusual punishment. (If you’re lucky, you’ll have a dog to aid you through this.) Any recognition that someone has actually read your work and––god forbid––actually enjoyed it is inexpressibly quenching. 

On the other hand, however, I don’t want to think that recognition objectively signifies quality. There were poetry collections which were far stronger than mine but not included on the CBC list. Same goes for the NMA. A writer once told me that saying you “deserved” to win an award is like saying you “deserved” to win the lottery because you played the numbers well. (That writer was Michael Lista and it was on a commercial break of The Bachelor.)  

Rewards are fantastic; anybody who says otherwise is either lying or Buddha. But it’s boom/bust. I was on the boom for a bit. Now is the bust. And I’m finding it hard not to become petty, jealous, and focused on recognition instead of the writing. But I’m trying to work against that, work through it. Because I think there is a name for writers, and the writing they produce, who are like that: fucked.  

NMAF: Robert Moore, English professor at the University of New Brunswick, recently wrote a piece for The Walrus questioning the future of poetry as an art form. In Adam Kirsch’s review of The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner, he claims poetry is “the site and source of disappointed hope.” He adds acclaimed poet Marianne Moore’s famous line “I, too, dislike it,” in reference to the craft. You’ve just published your first collection. What inspires you to write poetry? 

Richard: As a poet, the perpetual death of poetry is my favourite topic. Yes, poetry now panhandles in the literary ghetto––neighbouring junk mail and the academic essay. Yes, poems gather more dust than acclaim. Yes, when I write “Poet” on credit card applications I all but assure rejection. 

I think, however, that this apocalyptic setting is what enables Canadian poetry to be so exciting right now. We have an environment which produces writing, not writers. The pinnacle of this is when writers have brilliant collections (Michael Prior’s Model Disciple, anyone?) without floating off into the ether of poisonous pomp. Because the stakes are hedged, there is a democratizing force in contemporary Canadian poetry, a force which I’m not sure exists in any other commercial genre, a force in which free-verse upstarts and seasoned sonneteers are working within the same circles. Yes, there are politics within the CanPoetry community––just like anywhere. But at least we have the decency to wage our wars in divisive Facebook threads, rather than at the Giller’s or, for example, in a wildly offensive open letter. 

I started writing poetry (and still do) because I wanted to be a better writer. Poetry––for my money––is the genre that best develops your craft. The attention to language is merciless, and if you can make fourteen lines of ten syllables each tell a story, think of what you can do with some elbow room!

Richard Kelly Kemick accepts the award for One of a Kind at the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala.
Richard Kelly Kemick accepts the award for One of a Kind at the 2016 National Magazine Awards gala.

NMAF: Much of your work centres around animals. How does your love for animals influence your writing, and what inspired the theme of caribou migration in your latest collection? 

Richard: I write about animals because I’m unable to convey actual human emotion. Animals provide a healthy alternative. Like, if you’ve got a character that is unlovable but you want to make him lovable but you don’t know how–give him a dog. Then name that dog Maisy. Then let Maisy fool a woman, preferably a public school teacher because of the job security, into a long-term relationship. Then feel safe and loved and statistically unlikely to now die alone as you work on your poems all day, drinking coffee from small cups as your wife toils in a grade one classroom, with Maisy curled at your feet.

The caribou idea was just that I thought the migration was pretty rad and already had poetic elements within it. Four years later (which is about a third of a male caribou’s life), a book! Aim for the stars, kids. 

NMAF: Your writing ranges from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to prose — do you have a favourite form? And, if you can tell us, what can we expect to see from you next?

Richard: I don’t have a favourite form. I consider forms like my children: they all disappoint me for different reasons. 

I’ve currently got a collection of non-fiction essays (one of which is the piece that won the NMA) under consideration. I’ve also got a collection of short stories that was turned down for publication, but I’ve since been working on it and hope to submit again soon. 

I’m trying to view rejection as an opportunity for me to make the work better. In five, twenty, or a hundred years (I plan to live forever), I know I won’t mind having been delayed in publishing a collection of short stories, but I will mind if those stories are shitty. I’m not saying that every rejection a publisher makes is sound; but in this individual case, the rejection has given me the clarity to realize that I can make the stories stronger and (after I’d cried myself dry and drank myself wet) I’m trying to do that. 


Richard Kelly Kemick is a National Magazine Award-winning writer whose work has been published in The Walrus, The Fiddlehead, Maisonneuve and Tin House. His debut collection of poetry, Caribou Run, (2016, Goose Lane Editions) follows the Porcupine caribou herd through their annual migration, the largest overland migration in the world. Caribou Run was included as a one of CBC’s fifteen must-read poetry collections. Follow him on Twitter @RichardKemick.

Special thanks to Krista Robinson for her reporting on this interview with Richard.

Check out more Off the Page interviews with National Magazine Award-winning writers like Emily Urquhart, J.B. MacKinnon, Heather O’Neill and more.


The 40th anniversary National Magazine Awards are now accepting submissions for the best work in 2016. Deadline for entries: January 20. Submit now.

Meet the Finalists for Best New Magazine Writer | NMA 2016 Nominees

We’re just three weeks away from the 39th annual National Magazine Awards gala, where among other surprises and delights we will find out who is named Canada’s Best New Magazine Writer, an award sponsored by the Reader’s Digest Foundation.

[Tickets & Gala Info]

Earlier this week we introduced you to the nominees for Best New Magazine Photographer. From pictures to words, let us now acquaint you with the four individuals whom the National Magazine Awards jury has declared to be the best emerging writers in Canada.

Tweet us your comments @MagAwards | #NMA16


Richard Kelly Kemick
Playing God
The Walrus

He has sold his wife, Litia’s, clothing and has snuck dried rice into his dog, Maisy’s, kibble to save money, to spend that saved money on his miniature, Victorian Christmas village. His mother thinks it is a fascination with scale, his cousin a ritual of collection. Richard, he doesn’t even really like Christmas.

An account of Kemick’s continuing obsession with creating a Victorian Christmas tableau, “Playing God” turns over any assumptions you might have had going in, and convincingly wrests the sublime from the trivial. He manages, astonishingly, a tone both earnest and ironic, with details and insights that are lively, unexpected, funny, and poignant.
– National Magazine Awards jury

Richard Kelly Kemick completed his MA at the University of New Brunswick. His debut collection of poetry, Caribou Run (2016), was included on the CBC’s list of 15 must-read poetry collections, while his poetry, prose, and criticism have appeared in The WalrusMaisonneuve, The Fiddlehead, and Tin House. He lives in Calgary with his dog, Maisy.

It’s hard to think of a more unpromising premise than model Christmas villages. But Kemick managed to turn that material into a compelling portrait of creative obsession. Marked by astonishing hallucinatory flights and moments of unsparing and hilarious self-reckoning, the writing feels fresh and unique.
– Carmine Starnino, senior editor, The Walrus

Read the full article.


Desmond Cole
The Skin I’m In
Toronto Life

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Desmond Cole has been stopped, and often carded, at least 50 times by the police in Toronto, Kingston, and across Southern Ontario. An exhaustive set of narratives — interrogations have occurred, for instance, while walking his bike along Bathurst St.’s sidewalk and while smoking a cigarette outside of a local community centre — highlights the exhausting task of having to justify one’s freedom.

In an intimate portrait of systemic discrimination and how it erodes one’s sense of self, Cole has written in “The Skin I’m In” a powerful exposé of Canada’s justice system with clarity and integrity, holding up a mirror to readers of any ethnicity and making them rue what they see.
– National Magazine Awards jury

Desmond Cole is an activist and freelance journalist in Toronto. He began his journalism career writing about housing, public transit, policing and Toronto City Hall for the news website Torontoist. His work also appears in the Toronto Star, The Walrus, Toronto Life, VICE, NOW Magazine, and Ethnic Aisle.

In crisp, evocative prose, Cole discussed his long and thorny history with police, the psychological effects of constant surveillance, and how his racialized identity causes him to him question every decision he makes.
– Emily Landau, senior editor, Toronto Life

Read the full article.


Kat Shermack
The Tenant from Hell
Toronto Life

When Wilf Dinnick and Sonia Verma moved from Toronto, Canada to Doha, Qatar, they rented out their west-end house to Jesse Gubb, who turned the residence into an illegal rooming house. The 20-25 young females living in the rooming house were bound by strange rules (storing shoes only at the back of the house and a floor mopping schedule, for instance), while Gubb’s fraudulently secured leases allowed him to rake in roughly $200,000 a year.

A gutsy and thorough exercise in investigative journalism, Shermack’s demonstration of how unscrupulous landlords bilk both property owners and tenants is as fascinating as it is utilitarian. “The Tenant from Hell” is a many-faceted exploration, educating its readers about the flaws in the system and the often life and death dangers of illegal rentals.
–  National Magazine Awards jury

Kat Shermak, a native of Thunder Bay, completed a degree in social sciences and political science at the University of Ottawa and a post-graduate diploma in print journalism at Humber College. She is a freelance journalist based in Toronto, with work appearing in Toronto Life and Investment Executive.

Shermack elegantly connected Jesse Gubb’s story (a landlord with an ethically dubious rental scheme, sub-subletting rental houses) to the larger issue at play: the fact that Toronto faces an affordable housing crisis, and landlords hold immense power over their tenants.
– Malcolm Johnston, senior editor, Toronto Life

Read the full article.


Karen Ho
A Daughter’s Revenge
Toronto Life

Jennifer Pan never graduated high school, doctored her report cards, lied about attending Ryerson and U of T’s pharmacology program, and concocted a harrowing plot to have her parents —Bich Ha and Huei Hann Pan — killed. Karen Ho’s telling of the story is complicated by the fact that she was once friends with the people involved, and by her own experience of growing up with strict, disciplinary parents.

Using interviews, court documents, and other research, Karen Ho masterfully reconstructs Jennifer Pan’s journey from precocious elementary school student to a chronic liar who, eventually, hired hit men to kill her parents. “A Daughter’s Revenge” is inherently gripping, with a deliberately neutral tone, strong storytelling throughout, and a timely look at a cultural obsession with achievement.
– National Magazine Awards jury

Karen Ho is a University of Toronto graduate, and earned a journalism diploma from Centennial College. Currently, she is a Toronto-based independent writer and editor specializing in business journalism, with work published in (among others) Toronto Life, The Billfold, Canadaland, Torontoist, Masthead Magazine, the Ethnic Aisle and Longshot Magazine.

The piece required a staggering amount of research: thousands of pages of court transcripts, countless days in court, and a long list of interview subjects. Ho shows an impressive ability to objectively assess events and personalities.
– Malcolm Johnston, senior editor, Toronto Life

Read the full article.


Congratulations to our 4 finalists for Best New Magazine Writer. Tweet us your comments @MagAwards | #NMA16

The winner will be revealed at the 39th annual National Magazine Awards gala on June 10. Tickets

About the Award for Best New Magazine Writer:
The award for Best New Magazine Writer is open to students and writers with a maximum of two years’ experience in professional journalism. The intent is to restrict this award to emerging writing talent in Canada. Eligible work must be non-fiction and a minimum of 1000 words in length, and must have been published between January 1 and December 31 of the awards year in a Canadian print or online magazine. Articles published in university/college magazines are eligible. Submissions are due each year by January 15.

Meet the National Magazine Awards nominees for:
Best New Magazine Photographer
Single Service Article Package
Illustration

Art Direction of an Entire Issue
Portrait Photography
Words & Pictures

Complete nominations coverage

Special thanks to Leah Edwards for her reporting. 

NMA 2016 Nominees: Meet the finalists for Best New Magazine Photographer

The 39th annual National Magazine Awards are coming up on June 10 and the entire Canadian magazine industry is getting ready to see whose work will be recognized at this year’s gala.

It’s always exciting to see the nominees for our best new creator categories (Best New Magazine Illustrator* / Photographer and Best New Magazine Writer) as we’re exposed to some of the Canadian magazine industry’s great, emerging talent.

The finalists have been announced and this year’s jury has nominated four finalists for the Best New Photographer award. The winner will be announced at the National Magazine Awards gala on June 10 in Toronto.  [Tickets & Gala Info].

Tweet us your comments at @MagAwards | #NMA16.

And now, please meet your finalists for Canada’s Best New Magazine Photographer…

SexEdRevolution

Luis Mora

Luis Mora’s portrait series for Toronto Life, “The Sex Ed Revolution” focused on changes to Toronto’s sex education curriculum and featured subjects who had never been professionally photographed, and had reservations about appearing in a major magazine themselves, never mind having their children participate. Mora’s talent in disarming his subjects’ apprehensions resulted in an honest, nuanced and powerful portrait series.

“His enthusiasm, energetic personality and unwavering professionalism give Mora the exceptional ability to put inexperienced and apprehensive strangers at ease.”
– Daniel Neuhaus, Director of Photography, Toronto Life

SexEd2

Mora approached this photo essay with courage and consistency, and as a result, touched his audience with the emotion that lives just beneath the surface of his subjects, expertly portraying them with honesty and transparency.
– National Magazine Awards Jury

TL3

Luis Mora is a full-time photographer whose work has appeared in numerous magazines including Toronto Life, VICE, FSHN Unlimited, The Kit, ELLE Canada and Flare.


Maiden

Marta Iwanek

Marta Iwanek’s photo essay, “The Maidan” published in Maisonneuve, introduces us to the human element in any conflict – the collateral damage. Armed with only a camera, Iwanek travelled to Ukraine in 2014 to march alongside protestors, and amidst the backdrop of armed forces, burning buildings and explosions, was able to expose the basic human longings that are written in her subjects’ faces.

Iwanek is a brave, courageous and objective photographer who digs beneath the surface, is unafraid to pose questions and leaves us wondering how we can make this world a better place.
– Anna Minzhulina, Art Director, Maisonneuve

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Each of Iwanek’s 14 photos is powerful and emotive, and together they expertly document the enormity, confusion and emotional drama of Ukraine’s revolution. Her use of light and treatment of imagery have a stunning impact, and her coverage of this topic is a masterful achievement and stunning example of photojournalism.
– National Magazine Awards Jury

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Marta Iwanek is a Toronto-based photojournalist whose work has been published in various publications including the Canadian Press, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and Maisonneuve.


FaceTime

Hannah Eden

Hannah Eden was wandering through a city in Yellowknife, on the lookout for her next subject, when she popped her head into a carver’s studio and photographed him for “Face Time” published in Up Here. Whether the shoot is taking place on a windswept frozen lake at -40 C, amidst a cloud of summer bugs, or involves wrangling children on the tundra, Eden shows no fear when confronted with challenges.

 Hannah Eden has flown above the Arctic Circle to remote communities, driven hundreds of kilometres of roads through the southern NWT and visited far-flung fishing lodges across the North, returning with rare, compelling images and videos.
– Daniel Campbell, Associate Editor, Up Here

Hannah Eden is a graduate of the photojournalism program at Loyalist College and a multimedia photojournalist, originally from the U.K., currently living in Yellowknife.

Simple, elegant and impeccably executed, Eden’s portraits capture an exposition of truth in the faces of her subject, as she applied a concept of juxtaposition to reveal what lay beneath the surface of what’s expected. Though a brief essay, there’s an undeniably thorough and compelling visual story being told.
– National Magazine Awards Jury


Filler1

Ted Belton

Ted Belton is an anthropologist armed with a camera, whose creative vision continually proves his ability to excavate the spirit of the moment. He strays from the norm, as seen in his conception of an editorial on through to his final images, as was demonstrated in “Fringe & Fluff” for FILLER Magazine. Belton has a creative mind, inspiring attitude, passionate work ethic and is a well-respected collaborator.

Ted’s work demonstrates an exceptional eye—the eye of an artist and an art lover. Each photo he shoots wear the Belton stamp: raw and romantic. Ted turns fashion into art.
– Jennifer Lee, Editorial Director, FILLER Magazine

Showing tremendous maturity, range, precision and forethought, Belton approached his subjects with sensitivity and a keen eye, resulting in images that are saturated with depth and expressiveness. His work is at once classic, current and relevant.
– National Magazine Awards Jury

Ted Belton is a Toronto-based portrait and fashion photographer.


Congratulations to our 4 finalists for Best New Magazine Photographer. Tweet us your comments at @MagAwards | #NMA16.

The winner will be revealted at the 39th annual National Magazine Awards gala on June 10. Tickets

About the Award for Best New Magazine Photographer:
The awards for Best New Magazine Photographer and Best New Magazine Illustrator are presented to Canadian visual artists whose early work in Canadian magazines shows the highest degree of craft and promise. Submissions are open to any Canadian editorial artist with a maximum of 3 years’ professional experience in journalism. Submissions are due every year by January 15, and submitted work must have been published within the 3 years prior to the due date.

*The awards for Best New Magazine Illustrator and Best New Magazine Photographer are presented in alternating years.

Meet the National Magazine Awards nominees for:
Illustration

Art Direction of an Entire Issue
Portrait Photography
Words & Pictures

Complete nominations coverage

Special thanks to Leah Jensen for her reporting.