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AJAs 2020 Finalists

Bringing life to unmarked graves


Slug/Label Bringing life to unmarked graves
Date Aired or Published Sept 2 2020 online and Nov 4 2020 in print
Media outlet where first aired or published: Saltwire.com
Name of Program: Tina Comeau-Surette
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Yarmouth
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

I had been following various Alms House stories from Marshalltown Digby County over the years, although I hadn’t been involved in reporting on it. One day a friend from Digby County messaged me a facebook post he had seen where people were celebrating word that the local municipal unit was going to put a monument on the site where it is believed there are 200 unmarked graves of people who were residents of a poor farm, along with others. I started doing some research about the house on museum and archives websites. A facebook group. I tracked down two women who have devoted the past 6 to a project to try and account for all of the people who are buried in unmarked graves. One woman is in Digby County. The other is in Ontario. I conducted interviews with them. Also read through highway development reports. Researched previous newspaper articles. And I visited the site of the former poor house, a 200-km round trip from my house. Because of office has been closed since March 2020, I was working from home with a less than ideal rural internet connection. At the time this story was written we were still in the midst of a seven-month hiatus of our company’s weekly newspapers, including the Tri-County Vanguard, because of COVID, so the story first appeared online on our website Saltwire.com. When the Vanguard was able to return in November, we ran it in print as a ‘While we were away’ feature.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Worked on the story from home as our office has been closed due to COVID since March 2020. Had to struggle with a less than ideal rural internet connection during my research. Interviews were done over the phone. Made a 200-km round trip visit to the site. Worked on this by myself, Spent the better part of a week working on, as things would get interrupted by other timely news stories that also had to be written. No money budgeted for the story. I am adding a link to the online version of the story as well which had other multimedia aspects.

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