My Top 10 Stories of 2015 in The Tyee

As Staff Reporter at The Tyee, I’m proud to be part of a team of top-notch independent journalists doing great reporting on national issues. Read done of their work here and here.

I want to share some of the national investigative stories I’m most proud of this year. They span 10 months, nine cities, and four provinces!


(Since I first wrote this list on Dec. 14, I’ve published a three-part series on refugees I’m pretty pleased with — check it out here.)

Here are my own personal Top 10 stories — which I couldn’t have written without support from readers like you.

If you can, why not throw in a few bucks a month to keep it going long into the future?


1. Will Canada Unblock this People’s ‘Road to Freedom’?

WINNIPEG, Man./KENORA, Ont. — The First Nation of Shoal Lake 40 are surrounded by water they can’t drink but Winnipeg can. But they have a dream. This story saw me travel in April to a remote Indigenous community to find stories of determination, tragedy and hope.

2. A Metro Vancouver Midnight Transit Odyssey

SURREY, B.C. — With $7.5 billion transport plan at stake, I spent an entire night last March joining a hospital cleaner on her nightly, painfully long commute home.

3. Low-Rent Mansion Living? In Vancouver? Really?

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Groups of frustrated renters are snapping up urban acreages, and spend less on housing than the rest of us. Part of my year-long Tyee Solutions housing reporting project The Housing Fix, my story was reprinted by the Huffington Post and Megaphone Magazine, and widely discussed on Vancouver’s top radio and t.v. stations.

4. Veterans Deploy ‘Boots on the Ground’ to Help Homeless Comrades

DARTMOUTH, N.S. — The Tyee Solutions Society and Tyee dispatched me to Nova Scotia, where I met military veterans rallying around their comrades for housing and mental health care. ‘We would never leave them in the field, ever,’ one told me. ‘You’re not going to leave them on the street.’ The story was picked up by Huffington Post who produced a film with my footage! (While I was out east, I attended the Canadian Association of Journalists awards, where I was an award finalist for last year’s series on sanctuary and undocumented migrants).

5. After the Election, I Hope…

NATIONAL — Much of this past year has been gearing up for the federal election. In this four-part series, I set out to ask ordinary voters if politicians were actually talking about what matters in their lives. I spoke with a former Canadian International Development Agency contractor, a mother struggling to find affordable child care, someone toiling near minimum wage, and a young Aboriginal entrepreneur.

6. Advocates Question ‘Luxury’ Spending by BC Children’s Ministry

VICTORIA, B.C. — It’s been a rough year for the province’s department responsible for children in care. Not only have there been a series of tragic youth deaths, but I learned of a series of apparent luxury expenses in the ministry — from helijet resorts to golf courses to thousands in chocolates. All explained as justified perks for staff and foster parents, but which caused a stir after the story was picked up by CTV and Global news. The minister even wrote a letter to my editor about my reporting.

7. Winnipeg Housing Community Mourns ‘Instrumental’ Member

WINNIPEG, Man. — The Tyee Solutions Society sent me to speak at a national housing conference in April, and while there I met Oanh Pham, a 33-year-old mother who moved from dangerous, crime-ridden apartments to into an innovative new housing project where she found community. But her sudden and tragic death only months later had residents of the West End Commons pondering Oanh’s gifts.

8. Back When Ottawa Created a Housing Agency for All Canadians

OTTAWA, Ont. — Before it was mainly mortgages, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation was about putting people in homes, starting with thousands of returning WWII veterans. I investigated how it was that our ambitious federal housing agency became reduced to mainly insuring bank mortgages over its 70 years, speaking with former presidents and high-level staffers across the country as part of a three-part series on the agency’s future.

9. Jim Green’s Legacy to Social Housing

VANCOUVER — In his decades-long trajectory from Downtown Eastside activist to city politician, the late Vancouver Coun. Jim Green is credited with creating nearly 1,000 units of affordable and social housing. In this three-part series and film, I explored his legacy from the perspective of residents in the housing he helped develop — Four Sisters Co-op, Solheim Place and Woodward’s.

10. Indigenous Affairs Minister Says ‘Racism and Sexism in This Country Kill’

OTTAWA, Ont. — As the federal Liberals launched their promised national inquiry into more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women, I reached out to families of the missing — whom I’ve interviewed and written about extensively for years — to ask what they need and want.

Thanks so much for reading The Tyee!


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