Edmonton Journal/Edmonton Sun contributor receives National Newspaper Award nomination for cancer essays

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An Edmonton Journal/Edmonton Sun contributor is nominated for a 2020 National Newspaper Award for a series of first-person essays about receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roger Levesque, who contributed to the Journal’s arts section for more than 25 years, is a finalist for the William Southam Award for Long Feature.

In his two-part series, Levesque writes about going to the hospital last fall for what he suspects is food poisoning. He spends 12 days waiting for tests, during which he witnesses a health-care system struggling under the weight of the pandemic. After leaving the hospital without a diagnosis, he finds out about his inoperable cancer through an email from the province’s new digital health records system.

“It’s a thrill just to be nominated and be chosen as a finalist,” says Levesque. “When I submitted those stories I was a bit weary of putting myself out there in public, but the response was overwhelming. This feels like the ultimate validation.”

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  1. Roger Levesque talks about his cancer diagnosis and his observations with the health system during Covid. Taken on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 in Edmonton.

    PART ONE: ‘It’s not good news’: A cancer patient’s view of the health system under COVID-19 stress

  2. Roger Levesque learned his cancer diagnosis by email through MyAHS Connect.

    PART TWO: ‘You’re going to die from this’: The strange way I learned my cancer diagnosis and how I came to terms with it

“It’s an absolute honour for us to be nominated in the National Newspaper Awards,” says Colin McGarrigle, editor-in-chief of the Journal/Sun. “These awards showcase the absolute best journalism across the country and to be in the same company as other nominees is a tribute to the kind of journalism we try to produce everyday.

“Roger’s feature was very personal and poignant under difficult circumstance and we are honoured he was able to share his story with our readers.”

Postmedia newspapers receive 10 nods

Levesque’s nomination is one of 10 nods to Postmedia journalists.

The National Post has finalists in three categories.

Tom Blackwell is a nominee in the Business category for a story linking the demise of Nortel and the rise of Huawei. Blackwell is also a finalist for the Norman Webster Award for International Reporting, for reports on Oregon’s role during the U.S. election campaign.

Richard Warnica is nominated for columns published in the Post.

The Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Regina Leader-Post has two nominations, including one in the Local Reporting category for “Abandoned Saskatchewan,” a series of stories about an increasingly urban province with rural roots.

Heather Persson, former editor-in-chief of the StarPhoenix/Leader-Post, is a finalist for the Claude Ryan Award for Editorial Writing, along with Ryan Stelter, managing editor of Kenora Miner and News.

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The Montreal Gazette’s Aaron Derfel is a finalist for the E. Cora Hind Award for Beat Reporting for his coverage of health and COVID-19.

Dan Fumano of the Vancouver Sun is a finalist for the John Wesley Dafoe Award for Politics for his reporting on allegations of systemic racism in the Vancouver Police Department.

In the General News Photo category, Toronto Sun photographer Veronica Henri is nominated for an image of a mother in a long-term care facility reaching towards her daughter through a window during the pandemic.

The Globe and Mail has the most finalists of any newspaper with 18. La Presse has nine, while the Toronto Star and the Canadian Press have eight each. The full list of nominations can be found here.

Winners will be announced via webcast on May 7 at 5 p.m. MT.

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