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Special Invitation to Teachers, Instructors and Professors:

Our aim is simple: bring outstanding writing, photography and design to the classroom. Sure, we know we have great work in Western Canadian magazines, but how do we make it more accessible?

The answer: The Magazine School 2013

This year, there are four PowerPoint teaching presentations available to teachers, instructors and professors for use in the classroom. These four presentations profile the winners of the Gold Award for Best Article in each province/territory.

These teaching presentations are free to use as part of the Western Magazine Awards Foundation Magazine School 2013. Each one tells the story behind the winning story.

The PowerPoint presentations allow students to meet the creators and to understand their challenges. They provide a starting point for your class, and highlight key aspects of the category winner. We hope you will find our award-winning material engaging for your students to read and discuss.

The publications represented in The Magazine School 2013 are: Grain (Saskatchewan), Border Crossings (Manitoba), Eighteen Bridges (Alberta/NWT), Vancouver Magazine (BC/Yukon).

Gold Award, Best Article – Manitoba

Katie Addleman

Head On: Flashpoints and Clashpoints in the Art of Adad Hannah

Border Crossings

Background:Toronto author Katie Addleman has a particular interest in writing about art. While studying for a graduate degree in photography, she came across the work of Montreal-based artist Adad Hannah. She pitched a profile story of Hannah to Border Crossings, — a Winnipeg-based magazine that focuses on the fine arts. Hannah’s work largely consists of silent videos that explore the idea of using photography and video as performance art. Incorporating work on the history and theory of photography into her story, Addleman moves beyond traditional profile writing to examine the role of audience interactivity and reaction in Hannah’s art.

Story Themes:

  • Profile writing
  • Writing about the fine arts
  • How to effectively includeing (or exclude) details in descriptive writing
  • Providing historical and/or theoretical context for readers

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read the PDF of “Head On: Flashpoints and Clashpoints in the Art of Adad Hannah.”
2. Show the PowerPoint, which focuses on the award-winning story presentation.
3. What are the students’ reactions to Hannah’s art work?
4. Ask students to discuss how the author captured the details of the artist’s work. Did the reader need to see a photograph of the art to visualize it?
5. If this is a practical class, aAsk the students to write a detailed description of a piece of art, with the goal of allowing the readers to effectively visualize the work even if they cannot see a photograph of it.


Gold Award, Best Article – BC/Yukon

Frances Bula

How I Lost My Mother to Alzheimer’s Disease

Vancouver Magazine

Background:Author Frances Bula explores an aspect of Alzheimer’s that is particularly difficult for families and the health care system to manage: the tendency for those suffering from it to wander away and become lost. For Bula, this was a particularly personal issue: her mother Marie suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Although she wanted to write a story that focused on the physical and emotional aspects of wandering among Alzheimer’s patients, Bula did not intend to write it from a personal perspective. However, the difficulty of finding families willing to talk about their own experiences convinced her to shift the story’s focus inward. Bula’s mother passed away while she was writing the story.

Story Themes:

  • Profile writing
  • Personal journalism
  • Writing about a family member
  • Family relations
  • The impact of Alzheimer’s disease on both the family and the larger community

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read the PDF of “How I Lost My Mother to Alzheimer’s Disease.
2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.
3. Discuss the difficulties related to writing about a family member.
4. How does Bula combine personal anecdote with outside sources and research?
5. Which passages of the story resonate most with students?
6. Ask students to consider if, and how, they might feel comfortable writing about a family member.
7. Ask students to produce a story about a family member with a compelling story.


Gold Award, Best Article – Alberta

Max Fawcett

“Why Knot?”

Eighteen Bridges

Background:Max Fawcett, managing editor at Alberta Venture, uses long-form narrative journalism in this piece on family and the relevance of marriage in today’s world. With a mother and father who have each been divorced four times, Fawcett seeks to discover why he, himself, has yet to commit to a relationship and tie the knot.

Story Themes:

  • Family
  • Marriage
  • Self-discovery
  • Perspectives on marriage
  • First-person narrative

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read “Why Knot?” online.
2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.
3. How does the author use a narrative arc?
4. How does the author use academic research to support his story? How do you determine what numbers, statistics and research to use in a story?
5. Ask students their thoughts on marriage. Do they want to be married? Why or why not? How have their experiences influenced their ideas about marriage?
6. Ask students to write a narrative about their own family and find statistics or academic research to support their story.


Gold Award, Best Article –Saskatchewan

Ayelet Tsabari

Yemeni Soup and Other Recipes

Grain magazine

Background:After successfully making ugat shmarim, a Yemeni cake, author Ayelet Tsabari realized she wanted to write a story about her mother’s cooking and her memories of it through her life. In the writing process, she discovered that the story was less about her mother’s cooking and more about their mother-daughter relationship.

Story Themes:

  • Family
  • The mother-daughter relationship
  • Food
  • Jewish-Yemeni cuisine

Teaching Suggestions:

1. Have students read the PDF of “Yemeni Soup and Other Recipes.
2. Show the PowerPoint presentation.
3. How does the author structure the story? How does she use subheads? Does it work?
4. What do you do when a story or a story idea is rejected? How should you proceed to make the story better?
5. Ask students if there are foods or recipes that evoke memories to them. Have them write about the experience they have had with food and food culture in their home