British Columbia

Here's our collection of CBC B.C. features and long reads from 2021

A collection of our carefully reported, richly detailed long reads of 2021.

From investigative reporting to striking photojournalism and poignant profiles

It has been a tumultuous year in day-to-day news, but we also saw some moving in-depth journalism over the course of 2021. (CBC News)

It has been a tumultuous year in day-to-day news, but we also saw some moving in-depth journalism over the course of 2021— from carefully reported investigative work, to striking photojournalism and poignant profiles of the people around us.

This is a collection of just some of our features and long reads published this year (listed in chronological order).

Learning from Evander Kane's bankruptcy

The basic facts of Evander Kane's money troubles were laid bare in a bankruptcy claim filed in the Northern District of California in January of this year. What was less plain to see is how the East Vancouverite, 29, arrived at his financial breaking point a dozen years into a professional hockey career that has to date earned him $53 million.

In this feature, reporter Karin Larsen explored the silent epidemic of gambling among professional athletes.

San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane is pictured in an undated file photo. Kane, who is originally from East Vancouver, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California in January 2021. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images/File)

How households navigate COVID-19

What is a household?

It's a question that largely went unasked before the pandemic, probably because the answer seemed so obvious. But in November, after B.C. abruptly banned gatherings with anyone outside one's immediate household, the meaning of the question changed. Reporter Alex Migdal searched for the answer in January.

Families living in different situations during the COVID-19 pandemic are pictured in January 2021. (Ben Nelms & Mike McArthur/CBC)

One year in

In late January, B.C. staggered through the anniversary of its first case of COVID-19. Writer Rhianna Schmunk and photojournalist Ben Nelms created a photo essay capturing our changed ways of working, living and being — as well as the key challenges that lay ahead.

People walk and cycle past a mural of a wave in Vancouver on Oct. 19, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Hoping for prosperity

As Lunar New Year arrived, videojournalist Gian-Paolo Mendoza examined how three different Asian cultures celebrate the holiday through food. Each had their own unique dishes and variations on Chinese cuisine, featuring flavours ranging from bright and tangy to warm and brothy — a palette reflecting the diversity of southeast Asia.

Each meal was united by common themes of good luck, prosperity and family.

Vancouver chef Regina Lee, far right, digs into yusheng, a raw fish salad served for Lunar New Year in Singapore. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

'You always remember everything'

When some people talk about treating addiction, they often speak more about healing the body than they do the mind. The big question for places like B.C., where thousands have died as a result of drugs, is what do we do about that and how do we help people heal before they die or hurt the people most important to them?

Writer Bridgette Watson and producer Jodie Martinson told the stories of four women in February in search of the answer.

A woman referred to only as T to protect her identity is pictured in February 2021. She says she has started weaving traditional Haida hats because connecting with her culture is helping her heal from the wounds of childhood abuse. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A trailblazer gets her dues

Barbara Howard was the first Black female athlete to represent Canada on the international sports stage. She rarely spoke of her accomplishments later in life, so even her students thought she was just a teacher.

In this story, reporter Karin Larsen explored the legacy and delayed recognition of one of the city's greats.

Barbara Howard pictured in an undated photo. (wikimedia/public domain)

Car 87, where are you?

Shirley Chan says she's made about six emergency calls to 911 over the years, each time requesting Vancouver's specialized Car 87 mental health team when her adult daughter was in crisis.

Each time, she said, nobody came. 

Reporter Bethany Lindsay spoke with service organizations and housing providers about how the program, while great in theory, can leave people in need waiting for nothing.

Shirley Chan, vice president of Pathways Serious Mental Illness Society, is pictured in February 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The murder of the man she knew

The body of the man Eva McLennan knew as Jesse James was found in his burned-out truck on the side of the Sea-to-Sky Highway more than four years ago. After he died, she found out he had an intense, secretive past that included several fake names, neo-Nazism and a cryptocurrency fortune.

In March, reporter Yvette Brend investigated the story of a woman pressing police to investigate the unsolved murder of the partner she isn't sure she really knew at all.

In March, Eva McLennan said she would not give up on solving the mystery of her boyfriend's shooting in Squamish, B.C., in 2017. He gave her the vintage racoon hat she wore for the photo. (Yvette Brend/CBC News)

The flying 248 Squad

In Vancouver, there exists a team of paramedics that traded four wheels for two and transformed their view of the community they work to save. Reporter Liam Britten followed the flying 248 Squad in March as they zipped through the streets, alleys and parks of the Downtown Eastside in search of the patients who need them.

Paramedic Darren Metta checks over his bike in the storage warehouse before a patrol in Vancouver on April 8, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Built on a bet

As the story goes, the world's narrowest commercial building was built after someone bet an old-school business owner he couldn't do anything with such a skinny building.

Nearly 110 years later, with Vancouver's Chinatown facing an exodus of legacy businesses, the current owners of the six-foot-wide Jack Chow building say it isn't going anywhere. Ashley Moliere brought us the story in March.

Rod Chow is pictured in front of the Sam Kee building in historic Chinatown in Vancouver on May 13, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Catching tears

As the country reckoned with unmarked burial sites at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, hundreds gathered in Kamloops, B.C., in June to share their grief and hold space for those in pain. They came to Kamloops by the hundreds — from B.C. and beyond, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, young, old, alone, together.

Writer Rhianna Schmunk and photojournalist Ben Nelms took us through the stories of two strangers who came together.

On the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, Katherine Cooper from the Mosakahiken Cree Nation in Manitoba consoles her friends on June 4, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The painted ones

There are few artists keeping batok, a tattooing tradition of Indigenous communities in the Philippines, alive across Canada. In this feature first published in June, videojournalist Gian-Paolo Mendoza profiled one such artist in Vancouver who specializes in the technique, meeting younger Filipino Canadians set on reconnecting with their heritage.

Jen Angelucci receives a traditional Filipino batok tattoo, featuring designs from the Visayas — the region of the Philippines where her mother is originally from — in June 2021. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Overtime in Vancouver

Ten years ago last June, the Vancouver Canucks lost the last game of a bitter Stanley Cup Final at home. Before the match was even over, a riot erupted in the city.

On the anniversary of the chaos, reporter Liam Britten spoke to the people who were there and compiled their memories of the night it all went down — and explored what it all might mean a decade later.

Scott Jones, left, and Alex Thomas hold a framed print of the photo of them that went viral after the 2011 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver. This version remained hung up at the bar Jones owns as of June 2021. Another copy was hung up at home in Fremantle, Australia. (Ben Tessler/for CBC)

The view from Ridge Camp

After months waging a war against an industry they said would irrevocably damage a rare ecosystem, activists trying to save old-growth forest on Vancouver Island dug in their heels and said temporary logging bans weren't enough.

Reporter Kieran Oudshoorn travelled in June to stay at Ridge Camp, the original and most remote in a series of blockades obstructing old-growth logging in the area, to report on their work and day-to-day life at camp.

Activists from Ridge Camp share a meal at a lookout point near the headwaters of the Fairy Creek watershed on southwestern Vancouver Island in June 2021. (Kieran Oudshoorn/CBC)

Revitalizing Vancouver Island's Indigenous languages

Many Indigenous people are in a race against time to keep the languages of their ancestors alive. In some communities in British Columbia, only a few fluent speakers remain.

In some cases, those people are "silent speakers" — elders who have knowledge of the language but have not actually spoken it since they were punished for using it as children in residential schools.

Reporter and host Kathryn Marlow profiled the younger generations who are taking up the cause.

Tim Masso had nearly finished his bachelor of education degree in Indigenous Language Revitalization as of June 2021. He was already teaching members of his community, including his niece and nephew Huumiis and Cinkwa Wenstob. (Submitted by Tim Masso)

Not just a 'Lytton problem'

The story of the catastrophic wildfire that destroyed nearly every single building in Lytton, B.C., is among the more striking to highlight the consequences of human-caused climate change this year.

Survivors scattered across the province pleaded with Canadians not to turn away from the crisis and to take the lessons of the tragedy seriously. Reporter Bethany Lindsay travelled to what remained of the village in July to see the damage and hear their stories.

A lamp post stands in front of the ruins of a burned building in Lytton, B.C., on July 9, 2021. (Bethany Lindsay/CBC)

The fraud lurking in B.C.'s art galleries

Until recently, gift shops in some of B.C.'s most famous museums and art galleries sold wood carvings by an artist identified as "Harvey John" for hundreds of dollars a piece.

According to a standard biography, Harvey John is Nuu-Chah-Nulth from Vancouver Island and learned traditional Northwest Coast formline carving from an uncle.

But, as Bethany Lindsay uncovered in her investigation last July, none of that is true. 

Fashion designer Erin Brillon is pictured at the Haida Now exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver on Sept. 22, 2020. Brillon was one of the first people to post her suspicions about 'Harvey John' online in 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Meme accounts satirizing life in B.C. are taking off

Local meme accounts poking fun at life in B.C. have proliferated on Instagram in recent years, lampooning everything from major institutions such as the University of British Columbia to topics as niche as the public bathroom scene in Vancouver. 

In exploring how memes have become part of our culture, reporter Alex Migdal interviewed the anonymous creator behind @seabusmemes — one of the most popular B.C.-based accounts of its kind.

The Seabus Memes Instagram account is seen from a laptop in Vancouver on Aug. 16, 2021. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Paradise lost

One of the worst wildfires of the season this year left only destruction in its wake after it tore through parts of B.C.'s southern Interior in early August. After speaking with families in the aftermath, photojournalist Maggie MacPherson and writer Courtney Dickson took us through the stories of those who wished they had a better chance to save what was lost.

Kristine Andersen looks out at a burned hillside from her property near Monte Lake, B.C. on Sept. 2, 2021. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Taking back Tk'emlúps

In the shadow of an institution that tried to destroy their culture forever, members of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc spent the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in September reclaiming their identity. The day came months after ground-penetrating radar confirmed what survivors had been saying for years — that there were potentially hundreds of unmarked children's graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Reporter Angela Sterritt and writer Bridgette Watson took us back to the community in the midst of the healing.

Watch a performance of the Secwépemc Honour Song

11 months ago
Duration 0:53
Members of the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Nation practise for their performance on Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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