You call yourself a news-aholic? Think you know what’s going on across Canada? The Ryerson Review of Journalism contacted journalists from sea to sea to sea and asked them for one story from their corner of the country you need to know about.
These answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Ashley Fitzpatrick, St. John’s
The Telegram, SaltWire Network
The Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project
Its construction timeline is blown by two years and costs have run from $6.2 billion in 2010 to $12.7 billion. Muskrat Falls is a public project being covered by power ratepayers. Research shows a greater risk of methylmercury poisoning to wild food sources downstream, adding fuel to grassroots movements that claim the project fails to respect health and way of life.
Adina Bresge, Halifax
The Canadian Press
Nova Scotia’s Family Doctor Shortage
Provincial health officials say 42,000 Nova Scotians are actively looking for a family physician. 100,000 are without a doctor according to federal statistics. ERs are shutting down from staffing shortages. The Liberal government is increasing efforts to recruit new doctors, but dozens of vacancies remain unfilled.
Prince Edward Island
Jocelyne Lloyd, Charlottetown
Traditionally, P.E.I. governments have been elected in sweeps, handing the reins back and forth between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. But over the past year, Islanders have become more accepting of third parties. The 2015 election saw the first Green member, Peter Bevan-Baker, elected to the legislature, followed by a second Green MLA in a 2017 by-election. The Greens are now polling in second place. Also, proportional representation and support for scrapping the first-past-the-post electoral system is gaining traction.
Julia Wright, Saint John
CBC New Brunswick
How Marginalized People are Treated in Prisons
Lying on his back on the shower floor, Matthew Hines begged the guards at the Dorchester Penitentiary to stop. They turned the water back on. Thirty seconds later, Hines appeared to have a seizure. A federal investigation found that prison staff ignored Hines’s repeated cries for help as he was dying. Two correctional officers were charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death. The lives and deaths of incarcerated, marginalized people are worthy of our notice.
Tom Fennario, Montreal
How the Mohawk will Respond to Marijuana Legalization
Not only are there the dynamics of directly competing with provinces for pot dollars, but unlike the every-smoke-shack-for-itself days of the Mohawk tobacco trade, band councils are more inclined now to try to regulate the business. Most Mohawk marijuana entrepreneurs want councils to stay out of their business interests, so there’s a standoff brewing between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, versus individual Mohawk band councils, versus Mohawk entrepreneurs waiting for each other to make the first move.
Michele LeTourneau, Iqaluit
Nunavut News, Northern News Services Ltd.
The Efforts to Preserve the Inuit Language
Inuit make up 85 percent of Nunavut’s population. Inuktut, which includes Inuinnaqtun and Inuktitut, is recognized as an official language, and each Inuit child has the right to a bilingual Inuktut education paired with French or English. But that’s not happening. “Ottawa funds Frenchlanguage services in Nunavut at a rate 44 times higher than Inuktut,” says Aluki Kotierk, the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., a group which oversees the Nunavut Land Claim. “Inuit are not receiving essential services in Inuktut.”
Jody Porter, Thunder Bay
CBC Thunder Bay
The Resilience of Indigenous Youth
In recent years, students have been graduating in record numbers from Keewaytinook Internet High School, a First Nations-run institution in northern Ontario. But you likely didn’t hear about it. I was busy telling a more familiar story: Tammy Keeash and Josiah Begg mysteriously turned up dead in a river in Thunder Bay. Their deaths shouldn’t be ignored, but neither should the lives of their peers. By focusing on death, journalists reinforce the colonial myth of Indigenous people as a vanishing race.
Ian Froese, Brandon
The Brandon Sun
How a Worker Shortage in Manitoba is Promoting Diversity
Two decades ago, Winkler, Manitoba, was a town with a largely Mennonite, Christian population. But Winkler needed workers. Town officials worked with provincial and federal counterparts to bring in blue-collar newcomers. In the decade following 2006, this town of 9,000 became a city of 14,000. They built more churches. A mosque was recently established to accommodate Syrian refugees. Scores of Filipinos have settled in Neepawa, west of Winnipeg. Some locals are even learning Tagalog to greet their new neighbours. These communities are models for others.
David Fraser, Regina
Violence Against Women
Women in Saskatchewan are more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence than in any other province. According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan had the highest rate of police-reported intimate partner violence in Canada in 2015 after the territories. Approximately 80 percent of Saskatchewanians who reported were women. Women are no longer accepting victimization and men are being held accountable, but Saskatchewan is lagging behind societal changes which is countering that.
Charlotte Morritt-Jacobs, Yellowknife
Housing Crisis in the North
For the last 15 years, Charlie Tale has been living with mould. “It’s getting worse every year,” says the native of Wrigley, Northwest Territories. Others told me they had mould so bad they had to bungee cord doors shut and keep fans on at all times. The housing crisis for the small Pehdzeh Ki First Nation community in Wrigley mirrors many residual effects of government displacement across the North.
Heide Pearson, Calgary
The Opioid Crisis
As opioid-related deaths continue to soar, the province and municipalities are scrambling to get ahead of the destruction. Calgary first responders saw a 250 percent hike in opioid-related calls in 2017. In response, the province has launched a community awareness campaign to reduce the stigma around the crisis.
Tina House, Vancouver
The Conflict over Pipelines
With the current battle waging between the Alberta and B.C. governments over the Kinder Morgan expansion project, First Nations and their supporters say it could become another Standing Rock. “Transporting nearly a million barrels of diluted Bitumen in B.C. waters is too risky and we will not sacrifice our environment,” said Rueben George of the Tsleil Waututh Nation. “Once that’s destroyed we have nothing!”
Nancy Thomson, Whitehorse
The First Nations Influence on Economic Development
The Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA)—signed between Yukon First Nations and the Yukon and Canadian governments—is the authority defining Indigenous self-government. It lays out how economic benefits will flow to First Nations through the final land claims. First Nations are increasingly turning to courts to defend agreements and have been overwhelmingly successful. Deep inequalities remain, but a paradigm shift is afoot, with three levels of government using the UFA as a blueprint.