A culture of pride

“I saw the sniffers on Main Street and asked ‘are these my people?’”

Colleen Simard is speaking to a class of journalists about finding herself and her Aboriginal culture. She had trouble understanding where she was going when she didn’t know where she’d come from.

“There isn’t enough Aboriginal stories out there,” says Simard, who is herself a graduate of the Creative Communications program at Red River College and pens an “Ask an Indian” column.

What Simard suggests is a disconnect between the Aboriginal representations we see in the media – mainly focused on crime and various abuses – and the actual culture. In a circle of students, she shared a beautiful smudge ritual with the group and we each poured the sage smoke over our bodies and thanked our creator.

I’ve never had the honour of experiencing such an amazing ritual, and it’s something most of the class hadn’t even heard of before.

The reason it was so beautiful is how organic it felt, not some stuffy made-for-TV spectacle, and Simard agrees: “these rituals come out for special events, but why not everyday?”

In many ways, this was exemplified by the 2010 Vancouver Olympics: in the video below, journalist Tim Lawrence talks about the Olympics’ use of the Inukshuk in its logo. It’s a symbol of welcoming and peace, and paired with the Aboriginal dancers in the opening ceremonies, promotes an image that all is balanced and inclusive in Canadian society. But accordingly to the video, none of Canada’s athletes are Aboriginal.

What I struggle with is why it is so hard for Canadian culture to provide room for Aboriginal culture. In many ways, this still stems from Residential Schools. While Aboriginal people are still healing from the legacy of trauma these institutions left on many, those behind the schools (for lack of a better word we’ll say Europeans) are also dealing with a legacy that needs to be accounted for.

The legacy of racism and ignorance.

The ignorance part is an easy one to skip over. Perceptions of Aboriginal culture are often formed in very black and white terms. For example, I always assumed most reserves are horrible and that indigenous communities don’t like it there. Why I thought this, I’m not sure – all the CBC specials and newspaper reports on squalid conditions perhaps; but then Simard told me this:

“Reserves aren’t all bad – it gives a place for our community, and it insulates us from racism.”

I couldn’t understand the last part; are we just supposed on rest on our laurels and say racism toward the indigenous can’t be fixed, let’s all stay apart? Or is it that these communities are enriching because it’s a collection of people rejoicing in their culture, a culture torn at the seams by mandated assimilation.

It was not until I went up to the Northwest Territories to the town of Gameti – a place of 300 indigenous people, I noticed a difference between the Aboriginal people of the north, and those I see in Winnipeg. These are proud people, whose culture hangs on their sleeve and they are so happy to share with you experiences and stories without hesitation.

In this town, people share a balance of westernized lifestyle, driving large trucks and wearing non-traditional clothing. But they still share a distinct connection to their roots, and none more so than the Canadian Rangers, who trap animals, cut wood and cook animals the way people living on the land have been doing for centuries.

Joe Black, Elder Canadian Ranger

One Elder Ranger I met, Joe Black, is 78 and his joy was passing on his teaching to young males and females in the community. He was living – “very happy” he told me – on the land just like he had from the time he was born in 1935 to when he bought a house in the 80’s.

The children I met have the same hopes and dreams as any child, and no one there to undercut these dreams. I spoke with people at the health clinic and the stereotypical “Aboriginal problems” experienced in the south aren’t pervasive: alcoholism, suicide, unemployment. People work in industry or by selling furs.

In so many ways Gameti is an untouched gem, and that’s why it works.

This is not a usual blog post, I don’t have some conclusion I feel strongly about. As an immigrant Canadian, I love seeing all cultures more than applauded, accepted. And not just making room for, but including this in the country we share. If Gameti is any indication, cultural pride promotes healthy people in spirit and mind, it promotes opportunities – the kind where children of any origin can have dreams of being in the Olympics – and it promotes understanding: something one blog post can only begin to chip at.



Media in the Military

While it may seem I’ve been an inactive blogger, I am here today to prove just the opposite.

This here budding reporter has been blogging everyday on my Independent Professional Project website: mediainthemilitary.wordpress.com.

It all started when I spent my spring break in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories with the soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group. For ten days I went on the snowy and icy roads from Yellowknife to Gameti, involved in their daily duties as soldiers.

Some of my favourite moments came when doing a walking patrol in Gameti, a town of 300 people. Everyone drives trucks, taking pictures through their windshields, and they smile and wave – even cheering “we’re your number one fans.” Those of course are the ones excited to see us there.

Others watch silently, forming their own thoughts of our troops behind their weathered eyes.

We also learned how to hunt and fish from elders who have lived on the lands for more than 75 years, and understand true wilderness survival.

Lft Donna Riguidel and I after my IPP Presentation March 9, 2012

These experiences are all chronicled on my IPP blog, along with my biography and links to the 38 Canadian Brigade Group newsletter I write for and design.

I also posted my video, slideshow and speech I presented at the Convention Centre on March 9, 2012 in front of my peers, instructors, family and clients.

The progression of this project has truly been worth the very positive responses I’ve received on Facebook, Twitter and the blog itself.  With over 1,100 views since it launched Friday, during my IPP presentation speech, my blog is being seen across Canada and the United States.

Recently The Western Sentinel, the Army newspaper for Western Canada, has contacted me to say it’s interested in publishing my work.

The outcome of this work was far from my mind when I had to actually experience the exercise; often I was cold, tired and in pain. But I feel so much stronger for it.

So if you’re thinking I don’t blog, try following Media in the Military – I’m posting daily articles from my time up north until they’re all posted. In total, I wrote 13 articles and put together 4 photo essays.

But I will continue releasing blog posts of other events featured in the March issue of The Brigade. 

We wield a crayon before a pen

This not the game of life – but it’s a visualization of someone’s life. And while a picture might say a thousand words – what does an image made up of a thousand statistics say?

We see them, we read them but we often have a tough time understanding their magnitude – numbers, the backbone of research and credibility (and the bane of a writer’s existence). Luckily, we live in a multimedia Mecca, with access to all forms of statistical visualization.   

And yet for some reason all we see are easy-to-build Google maps all over local news sites. Sure they’re easy to make, and quite effective, but how else can we tell a story? And is it possible for a graphic to work effectively in both a print and interactive format? Well, it depends on your data.

Today I found some information regarding elderly drivers. Love ’em or hate ’em, there sure are a lot of them – according to a 2009 Stats Can report, uh I’ll just let you enjoy the juiciest part of the report here:

“In 20093.25 million people aged 65 and over, or three-quarters of all seniors, had a driver’s licence. Of that number, about 200,000 were aged 85 and over.

 There was a substantial gap between men and women with respect to having a driver’s licence, particularly in those aged 85 and over. In 200967% of men aged 85 and over living in private households had a driver’s licence, compared with 26% of women.

In 2009, more than two-thirds (68%) of seniors aged 65 to 74 reported that their main form of transportation was driving their own vehicle. Less than 6% used public transit and 3% walked or used a bicycle.

Among seniors aged 85 and over, 56% of men and 18% of women reported that their main form of transportation was driving their own vehicle.” (Statistics Canada)

I specifically bolded the numbers and percentages to show you what journalists have to sieve through for a good story; although, I assure you I’m a big fan of stats( B+). Obviously an interactive map is not appropriate to show this data; but the numbers are important as they’re the blood pumping the heart of the story, which would include a Pulitzer-worthy interview with Opal about her experience driving as an elderly lady

Since the data involves many variables, there are multiple info graphics that would work in this case. A 3D bar graph, or a 3D bar graph with pink and blue cars at the end of the lines, indicating male and female drivers. Inspired by advertising, you could use a photograph of a female elderly driver on one side of (say) a magazine fold, a male on the other (both behind wheels) and have the main statistic information graphed below them like a speedometer, writing the rest out beside them. Now you have a human face by your graphic (or a designed image).

We can step aways from maps and pie charts (using them when it works), and an effective way to show the numbers can be through (a series of) drawings or a new wave of graphics known as “real world” (such as the head scarf one below) something I was trying to mimic above.  You can see what I like in information graphics at Information is Beautiful, they do really kooky creative visualizations of data. I’ve also added a few more information graphics I found effective – even though I have no clue what the last one means…

Making every fail a ‘learning lesson’

When things go wrong in journalism school, it’s actually a good thing.

I’ve been learning this lesson throughout my time in CreComm, but it finally settled in Thursday when some technical difficulties in a news cast led to great teamwork and overall, an amazing (fun) show.

It all comes down to how you deal – and no, I’m not a zen master so it’s hit and miss on how I’ll react. But the more time I spend practising my craft, I realize making mistakes is inevitable and the more you try not to, the worse it burns.

Take the autofail, where an assignment is branded with an F is one name is spelled incorrectly. Yes it’s about not making the same mistake twice, but it’s also working through what could be perceived as a disappointment. Trust me, after four of these it’s like a bee sting.

And while it’s not always the easiest way to learn, I believe it’s the best damn way. So I’ve decided to lay it out: my “five important lessons learned the hard way” in journalism school.

Spelling matters, even on Twitter

Sometimes an honest mistake can cause enough curiosity on Twitter to drive more traffic to your blog. I was still green to the micro-blogging site when I (mean to) tweet out “It’s Halloween, and the Feed has for you a scary love story: Blood Clock.”

For some reason, I was getting quite a bit of hits on this poetry post. The next day a classmate of mine  says “I was curious when I saw the title on Twitter, spelling mistakes are a bitch.” Turns out it was a scary mistake: I forgot to add the L in clock.

Remove “stalker” from your vocabulary

One challenging aspects of being a student reporter is having the time to play phone tag and e-mail snake with your contacts. Sometimes you have to put the gadgets aside and go in head first.

For one broadcast story, my shooter and I decided we would find our interview subject by quite literally stalking the halls of the University of Manitoba. We knocked on doors, we sounded official and magically we walked in to the lobby at the right time to find him. And of course, we politely asked him for an interview.

Canada 411 is a crucial resource.

Yes, that tripod is supposed to have a plate

Because I’m not a media production student, I sometimes push my intuition aside because well, it’s easier to simply place blind trust in the camera bag i.e. assuming all your equipment is there and in order.

I have so many tales of the broadcast shoot gone wrong: no tape/SD card in the camera, no white balance, no audio and one time, my shooter didn’t hit record.

But my most recent ‘encounter-with-technology’ happened on my trip to Hecla, Manitoba. Every tripod needs a plate – even if your camera is little and a veteran shooter tells you it doesn’t.  So I shot handheld for everything (my preference anyway), but when it came down to doing my stand-up (my little bit on the screen) I had to think of how to level a camera that is balancing  45 degrees between a hope and a prayer.

Turns out Manitoba is flat enough to level the camera without much hassle.

It’s all in the ask

Knowing what you’re looking for in a story is the first step – the next is asking the most clear and concise question humanly possible.

Take into account what exactly you need from this person. My favourite example of a question that was much too broad happened when I was the shooter, and the reporter was doing a story about roof repairs on an old church in Winnipeg.

To begin, we only have 2 hours to shoot, enough time for a 1 minute full story. We’re already in the third quarter and it’s time to interview the reverend. To warm him up, my reporter asks “so, can you give us a brief history on the church?” About 12 minutes later we arrive at the end of his answer and we didn’t use any of it.

All we want to know is how this repair is affecting people. Not the history of a 100 year old church. Bad ask on the reporter’s part and something I myself have done leading to 20 minutes of interview. Yuck.

How do you spell your name again?

Never  assume you know how to spell someone’s name. Not in the age where names are spelled with “unique twists” like Jaremy. I, of course, made this mistake – and failed hard – even after I interviewed the person for more than an hour and even though this person is on TV anchoring the news every night. It’s Leclerc, not LeClerc, who’d have known.

It’s embarrassing, but more importantly it’s lazy. I just thought the C needed some extra attention, boy was I wrong; albeit consistently wrong. So my favourite question is, and will always be, can you say and spell your name? Because in this day and age, you never know what you’ll get.

Can you find the name mistake on the cover below?



Fake it ’til you make it

“Ten new Canadians are taking their oath right now, here at our Sun News studio here in Toronto.”

We all know now – that’s a load of bull shit.

With its tabloid headlines and vicious (often unfounded) commentary, and let’s not forget some of the most unethical television hosts – Sun News scores another victory. And this time, it’s personal.

The CBC posted an article about the Canadian Press and its Access to Information request:

“Documents released under Access to Information legislation show that just a few weeks before Canada’s Citizenship Week last October,[Immigration Minister Jason] Kenney’s staff directed departmental officials to add a last-minute citizenship ceremony at the network to their list of scheduled events.

Bureaucrats scrambled to work out the logistics, suggesting to the minister’s office that Sun News could cover one of the 13 scheduled ceremonies in Ontario — four of them in Toronto, including one at the Air Canada Centre.”

But even though there were viable options for REAL citizenship ceremonies (you know, because journalists should report on real events), a bureaucrat told Kenney’s office Sun Media only wanted to feature “the oath,”* which would “short-change new Canadians from the full ceremony experience.”

*It should have been at this point when the PR people for Kenney’s office stopped to question their morals. Should we really interfere with new citizens at a time that is so special and important, just for a television spot? Correct answer: no.

So after trying to figure out a way not to ruin the moment for new Canadians, the immigration office decides to have a wonderful “reaffirmation” ceremony at Sun News studio.

Their hopes: even though it’s not their official ceremony, have recent New Canadians reaffirm the oath and be announced as “New Canadians” once more. Now at this point, the ethics line is blurry, but one can (sort of) argue evenly both sides.  

BUT as it turns out: staging the ceremony with new citizens is tough stuff –  they’re too busy working and probably relieved that the arduous process of citizenship is finally over. (great commentary by the National Post here)  

So it’s time to fake it. The Access to Information request found this:

“Let’s do it. We can fake the Oath,” reads an email from a @sunmedia.ca email address, the name blacked out of the document.

Local department staff in Toronto then set out to find 10 new Canadians who would want to restate their oath at the Sun News studios on Oct. 18, calling people who had dealt with the department in the past.

…In the end, only three of the 10 people the department had lined up to appear at the Sun’s studios actually showed up. But the show went on — featuring at least six federal bureaucrats. Three of those who took the oath wore identical T-shirts with a citizenship logo on it.”

I have to stop to take a moment to vomit. Identical T-shirts? It’s a metaphorical slap in the face. Have these immigration bureaucrats ever met the people they are insulting? But wait –  there’s more.

The show continued, with Sun Media people tweeting about the 10 new Canadians reaffirming citizenship. The hosts sometimes dropped the word “reaffirmation” altogether; host Alex Pierson said she didn’t know about the bureaucrats. Co-host Pat Bolland even asked them what it felt like to sing the national anthem.

As someone who now shares citizenship as a South African Canadian, I am appalled at how far the media has gone. So much is invested into that ceremony: medical exams, paper work stacked on more paper work, money, tests, time – each time you travel it’s that much longer until you’re a Canadian.

Bet those bureaucrats have never dealt with the frustration of the immigration system; a friend of mine just took her oath after ten years of a paper work nightmare (you could’ve filmed her ceremony).

 As a journalist interested in television broadcast, I’ve learned a really important lesson:

[don’t] fake it, because you [won’t] make it.

There are instances in broadcasting where asking someone to repeat an action, so you can capture it, is allowed. But to stage a ceremony on a completely different day, in a studio, and then pretend to care about new Canadians all because it’s PR week for Kenney’s office: disgusting.

The positive from this: there are news organizations out there critical of the media. The Canadian Press did a great job bringing this situation to light, putting in an Access of Information request (not a free endeavour) to bring the truth to Canadians – and those still waiting in line at the Immigration office.

Now that makes me proud to be a Canadian.


It’s Monday J(ournalism) day, and today we mixed a little traditional with some modern twitterisms. That is, we went out and got some story scoops – posting our progress to Twitter through #storymonday. It’s been a fun day of gallivanting through the streets of Winnipeg, and here I am with a final story on the new community renovation grant program up for review by city council.

More fun with more funds

Mayor Sam Katz hopes to make good this week on a long-standing campaign promise.

The community renovation grant program, a $1.2 million initiative to provide more funding to Winnipeg’s community centres, will be up for consideration by his peers next month.

“A lot of our community centres are old and they definitely need a lot of upgrading,” said Marlene Amell, executive director for the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres.

The general council includes 64 volunteer-run community centres, and administers all city funding to grant applicants who meet the criteria.

Fifteen per cent of city land sales will be dedicated to the new program, with an additional $470,000 provided by the land operating reserve.

“The criteria is based on need, that’s the No. 1,” said Amell, adding that community centres in high risk neighbourhoods are higher on the list and that the general council does “run out of dollars.”

Coun. Thomas Steen, who is responsible for youth and recreation services, also feels the pinch when it comes to funding community centres.

“We’ve been working hard with community centres to get them busier, it’s important for youth to be busy – and busy with modern things,” said Steen, who wants to see upgrades to older centres and acknowledges that city funding is “very limited.”

“We have more ideas than we have money,” said Steen.

Each program application is capped at $50,000; but for some, that may not be enough to bring substantial change.

“A million dollar fund is not at the level it needs to be,” said Scott Donald, vice president of sports at Park City West Community Centre, adding that the increased funding will help cover basic maintenance costs.

Park City West applied for an unrelated grant to cover expenses for a new floor and kitchen cabinets – the total bill coming to approximately $30,000. This is only a portion of the budget for a proposed expansion at the community centre, in the ballpark of eight to ten million dollars.

“The city of Winnipeg either needs to fund community centres or shut them down – but don’t starve them,” said Donald.

A report on the community renovation grant program will be reviewed and decided on Wednesday, February 1 by the executive policy committee, and taken to a final council vote on Wednesday, February 22.

Fluff stuff and the ‘cuteness bump’

It’s another early morning flight. Mr. Daniel makes his way to the baggage area of Kandahar airport, where access is restricted. He doesn’t understand the Afghani guards; they mutter angrily and stare at him – confused and afraid. Mr. Daniel is not alone, he has a right hand man leading him exactly where he needs to be; he has a job to do.

The bags are tossed roughly toward him, and he feels a slight tug from the man he’s with. Mr. Daniel walks forward, Afghani eyes watching his every move, knowing he’ll find something in the vast pile of human clothes, shoes and toiletries. Everyone waits for Mr. Daniel to do his job, what he was born to do, and after taking a sniff of a torn brown tweed bag, his tail wags.


Storytelling is the basis of journalism. It’s the power of connecting people through the real-life dramas of amazing and ordinary people – and animals.

Mr. Daniel

I know a man who is a contract dog handler currently stationed at Kandahar airport. Mr. Daniel is his narcotics dog, a hyperactive yet skilled springer spaniel, catching multiple bags with hidden compartments filled with the equivalent of marijuana. Mr. Daniel works alongside Lisa, a bomb sniffing German Shepard, who saves lives everyday.

Telling an animal’s story has its challenges – some people don’t feel the same sense of connection with these creatures as others. My friend has told me that many of the Afghani guards just don’t have the same respect for these dogs, even though they are so important and a human could never do their job.

There’s also what I’ve dubbed the “cuteness bump:” the idea that a cute animal story is somehow not as valid – or as newsworthy – as real hard news. But these are powerful and important stories to tell.

A classmate of mine, Krystalle Ramlakhan, did an excellent TV story about the Winnipeg Humane Society’s spay and neuter program. At the beginning, there are great visuals of the three most adorable puppies. Then one is taken into the surgery room and later, put under for her fixing.

When I first watched it I had to look away, I couldn’t watch this cute, adorable, little animal in surgery. It was the first time I had been exposed to something like this, but then I thought about how powerful it is – this story made me feel something. And that’s good journalism.

On Sunday March 18, my classmates and I are putting on a nine-hour telethon for the Winnipeg Humane Society airing on Shaw TV Winnipeg. Even though it’s not a six o clock evening news report, I will be doing the same job as a hard news reporter: putting together evocative packaged stories and hosting on-air.

I myself will be heading into the surgery room with a cat and dog to report on some of the amazing work the Humane Society vets do to relieve animals of their pain and keep them safe.

Telling their stories is crucial, especially in a country where people love them like family, and still so many are abused and hurting. There are good people out there helping them everyday. This is not fluff for television, just because kittens and puppies are adorable and cuddly. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given lately is that a reporter uses the same skills to tell a story about a three-legged dog as he or she would to report on a recent murder.

A story is a story, soft fur or not. And for these animals, sharing their struggles with the humans who care for them, will ultimately keep them alive.


Arctic beginnings: false ice and false perceptions

If you hear a crack, go faster.

Push on the gas hard or else you’ll end up down below, more cold than your fingers and toes at the moment. It’s called false ice – the kind that looks thick and sturdy, but creaks eerily as your snowmobile glides over it. The kind of ice I went over more times than I’d like to think about.

Sleep whenever, and wherever

On the weekend of January 13-15, 2012, I went along with the Arctic Response Company Group to Gimli, Manitoba to start a weekend in training for the Arctic. My main job was to film the exercise for both the army and as a story for Shaw TV Winnipeg. Oh, and of course to learn how to live in the cold.

I can’t say it was an easy crash course, it wasn’t. I learned about working in cold conditions and how to function with less than adequate sleep. Basically, I thought I’d be more prepared for it than I really was.

So because I now have a vast wealth of knowledge, I’ve decided to highlight my top five moments/ lessons on how to be a journalist in the cold weather.

1. Do your research, and then do it again.

This was my first misstep. I went on this excursion having done some research on cold weather comfort, but mainly relied on my kit to keep me warm. And while my parka and deliciously attractive suspender strapped ski pants kept my body warm, the boots and gloves didn’t quite fit the bill – and how could I forget snacks! I will be doing a Costco shop before heading north.

2. Make friends.

The men and women I spent my weekend with are all travelling with me in the Arctic – so I made sure I got to know them. By the end of the weekend I was friends with the medic (good call because they can keep you warm); many of the headquarters guys (good call because they carry all the supplies) and of course, the soldiers who are driving the snowmobiles (good call because I’ll be chauffeured across the tundra).

3. Keep your camera close – and cozy.

I knew I would be carrying my small (but not that small) camera to shoot my story, and I also knew the temperatures with winds would be teetering around the -27 to -30 range. So I decided to bring my cozy lime green fleece blanket (that thing goes everywhere with me) and wrap up the Sony 150. It lasted the weekend and while the camera was still cool to the touch, it operated perfectly.

4. Carry everything yourself.

I showed up at the base and someone asked me if I was carrying a sniper rifle bag – it was just my tripod case. Making sure my equipment was close and always with me was a challenge because the army prefers it if you pack light. I had three separate bags for my camera, audio gear and tripod (not to mention my pack of clothes). In cold weather especially, people don’t like to do extra tasks – like carry the embedded journalist’s gear, and they’ll probably hate you.  Also, by carrying it myself, I kept things organized; a big plus in the cold.

5. Don’t complain.

Or at least save your complaining for a blog post. I woke up after my first night of sleeping in the winter tent and the captain asked how it was. I said “great,” he replied “really?” so I added “in these conditions.” The fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter all that much if the ground hurts – that’s what we have to sleep on. And I know what I signed up for — and it’s less than a month until the big event.


I will be posting imagery my Shaw TV story once they’ve been uploaded from respective websites.


Freedom at a price

2012 Journalism Majors. Photo by Wayne Glowacki, Winnipeg Free Press.

Freedom of Information isn’t free.

At the start of second year – September 2011 – my journalism class was given the Freedom of Information assignment. We’d have to find a topic to inquire about through the Freedom of Information act, whereby we can access documents through a formal application process. And make a story out of it. Our instructor, Duncan McMonagle, wrote an introductory article to what has been called “Open Secrets.”

I worked with my partner, Garrick Kozier, on a project inquiring about injuries on city play structures. We didn’t know if we would come out with any telling information, but we set about on our application to the City – via fax. The first application didn’t end up in the appropriate department. The second was answered on day 29 of the allowed 30. And the estimated bill to recover all the documents was $26,000.

This assignment taught me that nothing is cut and dry – especially information. Even if my partner and I could afford the $26,000 bill, it would have taken them over a month to collect it (assuming that was the only job the document collecting guys would have). And as some of my other classmates found out, getting a straight answer out of some PR people can be a projet unto itself.

For better or worse, we all got our stories out. Five days before the deadline, I had finally negotiated and paid for a portion of the documents – the 311 call reports. With that, we tied together the other parts of our story, and this past Saturday – January 7,2012 – the Winnipeg Free Press published our story for their Saturday feature.

Our story is titled Parks and Wreck. There are comments galore, they provide an interesting read too.

Here are some of my classmate’s stories (more to come):

Hey pal, got an answer? Project uncovers problem of aggressive panhandling 
by Alyssa McDonald and Erica Johnson

The life of a transit bus driver is no ride in the park
by Ashley Wiebe and Anrea Zaslov

MS sufferers losing hope for Manitoba Trials
by Dani Finch and Terryn Shiells

Zoo’s inspection reports stay under wraps: Director
by Jordan Thompson and Lindsey Enns

Car thieves try to break leash
by Krystalle Ramlakan and Lindsey Peterson

Papers reveal flow of taxi complaints
by Alison Marinelli and Sara Harrison

Documents reveal 52 cases of abuse over 2 years at Manitoba agencies
by Emily Wessel and Laura Kunzelman


What do you think about Access to Information? Comment below!

Drawing on some down time

Does a journalist ever rest?

It’s the new year – and after wrapping up my last semester with some great work experiences for Canstar Community Newspapers and The Winnipeg Free Press, I immediately went into working full-time as a portrait photographer over the very busy (and frightening rude) month that is December.

But it’s always worth it – change of pace, spending good times with friends and finally working on a creative project. Yes, that’s right: on my time off all I wanted to do was dive into more work!

I’ve always loved sketching, and probably the last time I took some alone time to work with pencil and pencil crayon was for my cartoon blog image.

Since I’ve become a HUGE graphic novel fan – in almost all parts due to Colin Enquist persuading me to be open-minded about the genre, I decided to think 2D. We often compare our favourite panels, and his favourite was the inspiration of the project.

Have I mentioned I LOVE pencil crayons? They are a gorgeous medium to manipulate; although, finding the right colour and texture requires layering multiple pencil colours – but they’re so cheap, my pack of 50 varieties of colours was only $4.25.

So here’s what I did – I created an enlarged recreation of a two page spread from Fathom by Michael Turner (#12).

1. Gather my materials: I picked up two poster boards and a large frame (later reduced to just the white poster board and a smaller frame sized 22 X 16 in). One pencil, one sharpener, scissors, ruler, kleenex,  two fine sharpies and my no-name brand pencil crayons.

2. Make Your Grids: Whenever you enlarge an original image, you must scale. To make this easier (and less frustrating since I’m a detail freak), I made a grid scale of 1 to 2 inches per square (in light pencil, to be erased after). Then commenced with a pencil outline.

3. Fill in the pencil details: What I love about this image in particular, are all the rich nuances and details in the character. I pencilled in all my details first.

4. Start ink and colour: Some believe one must ink entirely first, and such is the case for comics where there are separate inkers. However, I wanted to clearly show my progression, and decided to ink and colour as I went along.

5. Nearing the finish line: My last push to complete this work was tough, the background was just as nuanced as the character. Colin told me  he didn’t care too much for the dialogue bubble (it says “yeahhh Baby!”). So I focused on capturing the shadows and fine details of the background.

6. The sign off: I did a soft shaving rub technique for the sky colour. While in the original it was a lot darker, I really wanted my details to pop, and be an even soft colour up top. Added my signature and gave it to Colin for Christmas.

Here is a slide show of the process:

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