Sample work

Please note that this blog, which I started during my undergraduate years, is on indefinite hiatus. The best way to nudge me these days is through Twitter @FierceFab.

Below are a few samples of my journalistic work. These stories are not in chronological order, and have been selected to showcase a range of styles and subjects.


High Park Day school mixes ages, nixes grades
The Grid TO
Online feature with original photo gallery
May 2, 2012

Quinn arrived at High Park Day School (HPDS) with a strategy. The energetic eight-year-old, who had received many time-outs for failing to focus, had learned that sitting under a table and cradling a book would keep him out of trouble.

“He wasn’t really looking at the words,” said Aaron Downey, teacher and curriculum coordinator at HPDS, adding that the boy initially refused to read out loud—especially in front of his peers. […]

The staff at Toronto’s High Park Day School, a small alternative school that does not divide its 8- to 13-year-old students by age, rejects the dichotomy between “good” and “bad” students, tailors homework to each child, and sends parents progress reports—partly written by the kids—instead of grades. (Continue reading …)

Unfinished business: How one man keeps his late wife’s memory alive

Toronto Star, A1
Print and online feature with curated photos and videos
June 28, 2010

On the outdoor patio of a Brooklyn pub, surrounded by bright red walls and stringed lights, Adam Warner was cornered by a stranger.

He was sharing a picnic table with two New Yorkers, and one was probing Adam with where-are-you-froms and what-do-you-dos.

Eventually, the 29-year-old Washington native revealed his unofficial occupation.

“My wife just died,” he said, “so, I’m trying to set up a volunteer project to do all the things she wanted to do.” (Continue reading…)

Shuttle finale won’t end space age, Hadfield says — Canadian astronaut reflects on end of NASA’s shuttle program
CBC News
Online feature with audio slideshow
July 7, 2011

The July 8 liftoff of the space shuttle Atlantis will be one for the history books, the last launch of its kind, coming 30 years after Columbia’s maiden voyage in 1981. But it’s by no means the end of the space age, according to veteran Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, despite what some observers are saying.

In the days leading up to the shuttle’s final countdown, headlines have questioned the public’s will to continue to push the frontiers of space travel. The Economist quipped that “Inner space is useful. Outer space is history.” […] The Chicago Tribune wrote: “veteran former astronauts say the space program is in ‘disarray’ and fear the end of the shuttles could mean a permanent decline in U.S. space leadership as well.”

But despite the retirement of a space icon, Hadfield insists the sky is not the limit. (Continue reading…)

Click through to watch audio slideshow

You call that belly dance? Vancouver dance troupe Luciterra brings fusion and feminism into the spotlight.
The Tyee
Arts and Culture feature with two original videos, photo gallery
June 08, 2011

Laura Albert lingers behind a curtain, craning her neck and awaiting her cue. The sound system jolts to life and out blares a remixed hip-hop track. She strides into the bright red light.

On stage, Albert exchanges glances with Naomi Gallagher and their movements synchronize. The audience cheers as the women stiffen then loosen their shoulders, thrust then roll their hips, clench then unclench their stomach muscles, and smile.

Their costumes are carnivalesque: striped pants, tattered cloth, dark red bras, heavy jewelry, feathered headdresses.

This may not be belly dance, as you know it.

You Call That Belly Dance? from UBCjournalism on Vimeo.

Buyer beware: Consumers allege fraud at 4U Furniture
Open File
Consumer news story with original photo and video
November 14, 2011

Lucia Liu purchased a plush red love seat for her bedroom nearly one year ago, but she still hasn’t been able to sit back and relax.

Since last December, Liu has been struggling to get 4U Furniture to either deliver her sofa or refund her $850. Her numerous phone calls, store visits and complaints to business watchdogs have so far been fruitless.

“I came from China and I never ran into such a case in China. I don’t expect such things in Canada,” said Liu, who was given multiple reasons for the delays, including holiday congestion, a broken delivery truck and bad weather.

It wasn’t until she searched “4U Furniture” on the internet that she suspected fraud. She found dozens of reviews on consumer forums detailing bad experiences with the store—located in Centerpoint Mall at Yonge St. and Steeles Ave. E.—and its owner, Marley Gow. (Continue reading …)

Marylin Monroe to woo Canadian crowds
CBC News
Online arts/news story with curated photos
August 18, 2011

Visitors to this year’s Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto may catch a rare glimpse of Marilyn Monroe in Canada.

Images of the iconic blonde are famous the world over, but few have seen her standing tall beside a Mountie in Banff or learning to smoke cigarettes in a Niagara Falls hotel room.

Photographs of these scenes will be on display starting Friday, when the McMichael Canadian Art Collection showcases the Monroe memorabilia at the Queen Elizabeth Building.

Woman’s house crushed by city-owned tree, but who is liable?

Toronto Star, GT1
Print and online news story with submitted photo
June 02, 2010

Vada Kolish was already having a bad day.

Her cat had died at around 6:30 p.m. Friday and a friend was encouraging to her to go for a walk and purchase a lottery ticket, if only to attract better luck.

But just 15 minutes after she left, a large branch split from the massive city-owned tree on her front lawn and crashed onto her home on 7 Denton Ave., a two-floor detached 1914 house.
(Continue reading…)

B.C.’s cold weather sparks concerns about adequate shelter space

The Globe and Mail, A12
Print news story, posted online
November 19, 2010

Winter-like weather has arrived in Vancouver before the needed number of cold-weather shelters.

There are three seasonal shelters in the city that are mostly funded by the B.C government, down from seven that were open during the Olympics. This means that, at the start of a winter expected to be harsher than the last, many more homeless people will be forced to choose between jam-packed shelters or the streets.
(Continue reading…)

The Deepest Wilderness: UBC student was a ‘missing person’, from “The Secret Lives of UBC students
Blog post with audio
March 18, 2010

There’s something wrong with Glastenbury Mountain, at least according to local lore in Bennington, Vermont.

Many people, especially watchers of the paranormal, have ominous theories about that stretch of the Appalachian Trail. A number of people are said to have gone missing there.

But none of this fazed Robert Singley, a PhD candidate at UBC, who used to hike the trail when he lived in Bennington. That is, until the day he too got lost in the woods.
(Continue reading…)

When it’s wrong to be a good sport
The Tyee and Schema Magazine, “But, where are you really from” reflection series
Personal essay
August 26, 2010

I still remember the bright yellow menus, the ubiquitous TV screens and the lingering smell of chicken wings in my hair. As an undergrad, I spent many nights serving tables and scouring my apron for extra packets of dill sauce.

A sports bar may seem like a strange entry point for a reflection on race, so I should mention that my ethnicity came up all the time. My customers asked “where are you from” about as often as they asked about the actual hotness of the hot wings.
(Continue reading…)

One dead, one arrested after ‘spectacular’ residential crash
Toronto Star, A6
Breaking news story online, fit to print
July 31, 2010

One person is dead and another has been arrested following a chaotic T-bone collision at a residential intersection in North York this morning.

A black Dodge Caliber and a silver Chevrolet Malibu collided at around 7 a.m. near Finch Ave. and Bathurst St., ejecting one male passenger.

“Literally, for a side-street residential crash, this is one of the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Sgt. Tim Burrows, explaining that the severity of the collision is more typically found at major intersections. (Continue reading…)

Does this library poster promote storybooks or stereotypes?
The Toronto Star, L2
Print feature posted online
June 17, 2010

Some people will look at the picture and simply see curious children exploring a tropical habitat. But the jungle-themed poster for the 2010 summer reading club is also attracting criticism mere weeks before its distribution to roughly 30,000 young users of the Toronto Public Library.

The debate hinges on whether or not visible minorities are poorly represented in the program’s showpiece, an illustration by award-winning artist Stéphane Jorisch.
(Continue reading…)

‘Healing garden’ nourishes Aboriginal Vancouverites
Online feature including original photos, video
April 8, 2010

Growing a cauliflower can bring childlike joy to a grown man’s face. At least, it did for John Skulsh, who still talks about the first vegetable he’d ever grown.

“I lifted it up,” said Skulsh, who hails from the Gitxsan Nation.

“What a feeling that was! You know, the only time I’d picked up cauliflower was from Safeway, wrapped in cellophane.”

Skulsh is among the many residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who steward the Urban Aboriginal Community Kitchen Garden, a half-acre of fertile land at the UBC farm. The project aims to shrink the distance between the garden and the grocery store, while celebrating Aboriginal traditions around food in the context of the city.


6 thoughts on “Sample work

  1. I was tempted to vote for the car crash story simply because we’re all rubber-neckers deep down.
    But seriously, it seems a little out of place among all the more “feature-y” stories. I guess you need a sample that shows you have the stomach for that kind of thing?

    That car looks pretty messed up. Did you see the guy that got ejected from it?
    I don’t think I could handle that.

    Well, that’s why I’m an office worker and not a journalist.

    • Thanks for that, Dana. Actually, this summer I worked in the Toronto Star’s radio room. We worked the phones to get the details of breaking news stories. The person on scene was the photographer, and he actually provided me with some of the detail after I’d acquired the basics from the police.

      Ideally, we go to the scene. That way we can ask questions based on first-hand observations. If I had seen it first hand, I’m sure it would have been really gut-wrenching. The guy killed was young, and it really is unusual that it was so bad in a residential area.

      As always, thanks for commenting!

  2. I don’t know if my feedback will be useful since I was most interested in reading the two stories about people I knew, namely, you and Bob. The other one I clicked on was the stereotype library poster, mostly because I remember Andrew telling me about the greenchat conversation that it spurred.

  3. I love “The Good Sport”.

    “As quaint as it sounds, I now know it’s possible to be a friendly person without allowing just anyone to take shots at my values.” Anyone can relate to that. And every minority woman in this country can relate to the whole story. It’s real, and beautiful written.

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