How the Nation brought home the hardware from the QCNA Awards Gala

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For over two decades the Nation has participated in the Quebec Community Newspaper Association (QCNA) Awards, a gala to honour journalists, photographers, editors and publishers from across the province for their work in community media.

And every year we’ve taken home our fair share of hardware.

One of our first entries in the competition – back in 1994 – was “Inside The Evil Empire,” by Will Nicholls.

“After years of fighting against the infamous Mega-Corp Hydro-Québec in the north-eastern United States, I was about to finally visit the dams that I felt had damned my people,” read the article’s opening line. “It is hard to approach this type of story without a bias or an opinion, so I didn’t even try.

To our surprise the article, which had been submitted as almost a joke, won third place honours. After that, the Nation started taking the awards a little more seriously

This year, however, the Nation was unfortunately unable to attend the event hosted at the Hotel Mont Gabriel in Sainte-Adèle, Quebec on June 8.

As you’re aware by now, a car hit Editor-in-chief Will Nicholls in early March. He underwent separate surgeries on his ankle in April and May and is still on crutches. Meanwhile, Production Coordinator Dan Isaac recently welcomed his first child into the world.

Our long-suffering editor and 2016 recipient of the QCNA’s Lindsay Crysler Outstanding Achievement Award, Lyle Stewart, was also unable to attend.

According to Carolyn Kitzanuk, Assistant Administrator at the QCNA, we were missed. Several guests at the yearly gala asked about the Nation. She’s also assured us that Will’s recent editorial detailing the grisly accident has been scanned and sent out to the QCNA’s Board of Directors.

But on to the accolades.

The Nation took home nine writing honours, two photography awards and two advertising awards.

Our long-time sports writer, Dan Coyle, took home first place for best sports story for his article “The New Arms Race” – about the father-son arm-wrestling competitors, John and Casey Bosum.

“There’s something to be said for the ability to take a niche sport and craft it into something so engaging,” category judge Brad Brown said of the article. “The art of research, interviewing and storytelling are all on full display here. Magnifique!

Nation newcomer Ben Powless won top honours in the Arts and Entertainment category for his piece on the life and art of Annie Pootoogook. He also came third in the Best Education Story category.

“In just 10 words [Powless] hooks the reader with a tantalizing intro that acts as a doorway into the world of Annie Pootoogook,” said judge Juris Graney, reporter for the Edmonton Journal. “Coupled with some excellent layout, this entertainment feature was a joy to read and re-read.”

Ironically, those 10 words, that lead, became a point of contention during that production cycle. Production Coordinator Dan Isaac fought editor Lyle Stewart tooth and nail to preserve Powless’ original text. The argument even included a late-night call and email to the author himself. Powless’ response to the call and email was that he couldn’t tell the difference between his original line and the edited version. In the end Lyle won and was evidently right – in hindsight.

Our final first place of the evening came from photographer Peter Power, for his work at last summer’s North American Indigenous Games.

Waskaganish photographer Ian Diamond received a second-place finish for his photo of last year’s Journey of Hope.

Another notable second place went to Jessie Staniforth for his article on the Chisassibi bread shortage of 2017 in the Best Business Story category. He also received a third place plaque in the Best Feature category.

“A quirky and fun read about a bread crisis in the community,” said judge Emma Graney, provincial affairs reporter for the Edmonton Journal. “Staniforth also showed admirable restraint in the use of bread puns. Well done.”

Both Matt Desner and Jinheng Taing won second place in the Best Advertising Creation Small Format and Best Ad categories, respectively.

Rounding out our list of winners was Dan Isaac, who took home second place in Best Education Story, Will Nicholls who finished third for Best News Story, Josh Grant also came third in the Best Environmental Story, and the Nation came second in the Best Headline Writing Category.

In the end though, the real prize is delivering the best possible Nation to our readers. Still it’s always nice to be recognized for the work we do by our peers and we look forward to rubbing elbows with them at next year’s gala.

We’d like to end this by thanking all our readers for bringing us into your homes and workplaces, and making us part of your community.

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