Behind the Headlines: 2020 Atlantic Journalism Awards Best Community Newspaper Story

Gold winner: Tina Comeau, Tri-County Vanguard, Yarmouth, NS (SaltWire) – Bringing life to unmarked graves

“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.”

Tina conducted online research about the house and interviewed two women (one in Digby county and another in Ontario) devoted to a project trying to account for all of the people buried in unmarked graves. In addition, Tina read through highway development reports, researched previous newspaper articles and visited the site of the former poor house, a 200-km round trip from her house.

Because of office has been closed since March 2020, Tina research this story from home with a less than ideal rural internet connection. At the time this story was written the SaltWire weekly newspapers were still in the midst of a seven-month hiatus because of COVID, so the story first appeared online on When the Vanguard was able to return to print in November, the story ran as a ‘While we were away’ feature.”

The Atlantic Journalism Awards (AJAs) announced the gold and silver winners for 2020 early in June.  We’d also recommend you read the two silver finalists:

Maurice Rees – The Shoreline Journal – Maitland, NS – Portapique coverage.

Rhea Rollmann – The Independent – St. John’s, NL – An empty lot on Eric Street holds the key to the city.