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Recommended Reads: Week in Review
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Recommended Reads: Week in Review

Every now and again, people — let’s be honest, mostly journalism students — ask me how I know what will make a good story. The answer is sort of easy, sort of not. You’re looking for interesting people and a twist that’s unusual enough to stand out, but so familiar that readers see their own lives through its lens. Sometimes, though, it’s harder to pin down what makes a story special: you just get a sense, a tugging in the chest. Sometimes, you just know.

Almost two weeks ago, I had that feeling. I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a photo a friend had posted, of a soaring snow castle that one of her neighbours had built in his yard. From the replies, I learned that the man had built it for a little girl who lives next door. As soon as I saw that, I knew it would be great, and I wasn’t wrong.

The resulting story about eight-year-old Kaya, her retired neighbour Mo, and the adventures they’ve had together is easily one of my favourite pieces I’ve done in months, and I was thrilled that so many readers loved it. It was a nice reminder that great stories don’t have to be complicated; sometimes, the most beautiful stories are simple.

Kaya Raimbault (right) and Maurice “Mo” Barriault, neighbours who formed an unlikely friendship, at the ice castle they built. (Jessica Lee / Winnipeg Free Press)

I wanted to start off with that bit of light, because the rest of what follows is less so.

To start: it took a week, but we finally learned the names of the family members who perished near the U.S. border. My colleague, Chris Kitching, did remarkable work on this story, staying with it, bringing voices of care and love to it even before we knew who the family’s identity. Somehow, he also found time to do this graceful piece on how one doctor found that taking time to connect with one Hutterite community changed minds about vaccination; I’m always grateful to read about how relationships like these bring about a better exchange of information; that work is so invisible, for the most part, but it is a crucial part of the road forward.

It’s almost too heavy to read Dylan Robertson’s story from last week, about a retired firefighter who died due to surgery backlogs as hospitals weather the Omicron storm. And Jeff Hamilton’s in-depth look at an independent panel’s report on bullying and abuse in Canadian junior hockey is a grim reminder of the challenges still facing sport.

Some things to chew on, as we go forward. We might not yet know who’s in the running to be our next mayor, but Dan Lett’s survey of the possible field — and why we haven’t yet heard from any of them publicly — is an intriguing read.

Until next week, stay warm.

P.S. If you want to know how strange it is preparing to go to the Olympics under full pandemic conditions, I’ve got you covered.

Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin, Reporter-at-large

Melissa Martin

Photo of the week

Assembly of the 2022 collection of warming huts began at The Forks Thursday morning and local children’s entertainer Al Simmons is in on the fun this year with his guest entry, the Sounds Crazy Caboose. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

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