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Reclaiming Life named best feature series in Canada

Friday April 27, 2012

It was a moving, emotional tribute to the strength of women, the support of a community and the power of healing.

Now Adrienne Fox’s feature series on the struggle of women in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug to recover from prescription drug addiction has won a national newspaper award.

Fox’s three-part series, Reclaiming Life, which ran in Wawatay in February and March 2011, was recognized as the best feature series in its class at the 2012 Canadian Community Newspapers Awards.

“I think all the credit needs to go to the women who were willing to share their stories with me,” Fox said. “I really admire them for their openness, and for being strong in their struggle to kick the addiction.”

The issue of prescription drug addiction resonated with Fox, who understands the deep impact that the drugs are having on the communities of northwestern Ontario.

“The epidemic of addiction to oxycontin touches everybody in northwestern Ontario on some level,” Fox said. “I’ve got family members addicted to the drug, and I really feel sorry for anyone struggling with the addiction.”

Since Fox’s stories ran, the issue of prescription drug addiction in northwestern Ontario has finally started to receive the national attention it warrants.

But the former reporter, editor and news director of Wawatay noted that the paper has an advantage over other media sources when it comes to reporting on challenging stories such as Reclaiming Life, because of the sense of ownership that communities have with Wawatay.

“Wawatay really has a deep connection to the communities, because there’s a level of trust that has been built over so many years,” Fox said.

Wawatay’s former news director Brent Wesley was also nominated for a national award. Wesley won second place in the Best Feature Photo category for his front-page photo of Lyle Fox on crutches, walking down an empty stretch of highway during last summer’s Penasi Walk against prescription drug abuse.

“I'm honoured just to be recognized as a finalist,” Wesley said. “It's a huge challenge to get national recognition at these awards, so placing second is a great accomplishment that I'm proud of."

Wawatay CEO David Neegan said the awards go to show that Wawatay News is one of the top community newspapers in Canada.

“I would first like to congratulate Adrienne Fox on the award-winning series,” Neegan said. “Adrienne is a gifted writer with immense talent of whom I have come to respect and admire.”

“Over the years Wawatay News has received numerous awards, which illustrates the consistent quality of the paper,” Neegan added. “It is important that Wawatay Native Communications Society provide the best possible service to the communities. Wawatay News is your newspaper and we should all be proud of this achievement.”

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