With roughly 10 employees and an office not much bigger than a coffee shop, Yukon, North of Ordinary is, by any measure, a small magazine.
But this past September, the Yukon magazine captured five awards at the International Regional Magazine Association’s annual awards dinner.
It’s no small victory: many of the magazines Yukon, North of Ordinary competed against get government grants or are backed by large publishing companies.
“They have these really extravagant budgets, they have giant editorial teams,” said Tara McCarthy, the magazine’s editor.
“We’re working with a different budget but we’re still producing a quality product.”
And she is not the only one saying that: two years ago when she attended that year’s awards ceremony, other magazine editors congratulated her.
“They found it astounding that we’re not working off government funding or any real extra grant,” she said.
“It’s community-based: it’s all based on the support of other Yukon businesses.”
Created in 2007, the magazine first started as Air North’s in-flight magazine.
On top of feature stories, columns and photo essays, the magazine has a section dedicated to the airline.
It evolved into a full-fledged magazine, distributed across Canada while still being Air North’s in-flight publication.
“We’re very different from any publication that operates up here,” McCarthy said. “We’re just trying to tell Yukon stories.”
And it’s those personal stories that got the magazine so many awards.
It received two gold medals for the cover and photo essays put together by GBP Creative.
The photo duo comprised of Gary and Brianne Bremner captured a variety of Yukoners.
The award-winning photo essay featured Kate White, an MLA known to be a mountain biking addict, and Stephanie Dixon, known for out-swimming most people in the territory and her record as a 19-time Paralympic medalist.
It also featured the Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, who earned international recognition during performances in Taiwan, New Zealand and at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The magazine also won a gold award for a cover photo of one of the dancers, wearing a raven mask.
And looking at the photos, it’s easy to understand why it won. There’s the aesthetic of the studio-based set-up, with stunning colours and lighting. But what really makes those photos stand out is the air of authenticity each portrait emanates.
“I was pleasantly surprised it won but at the same time I’m not. Gary and Brianne did such a great job putting together this portrait series for the magazine,” McCarthy said. “We all unanimously knew it was the right cover.”
The magazine got two bronze awards for its reporting and photos on management strategies put in place to protect caribou, plus an award of merit for a feature on the Yukon band The Canucks.
When the magazine announced on its social media platforms it had won the five awards, readers celebrated — a lot.
“On our Facebook page the likes and the comments were pouring in from people all over the place,” McCarthy said.
It’s not the first award the magazine has earned. Every year since it started submitting to the IRMA, the magazine has won at least one award.
“Winning these awards helps us realize we’ve got a quality product,” McCarthy said.
For her, the goal is now to turn to the national stage.
While the magazine is available across the country, so are hundreds of others.
“It’s hard to stand out in the magazine world,” she said.
A lot has changed since the magazine first started.
The spring issue, set to come out in February, will celebrate the magazine’s 10th anniversary.
In that issue they’ll reveal the two finalists of their series “Top 10 under 25,” featuring remarkable young people across the territory.
The staff will be looking back at 10 years’ worth of issues.
McCarthy herself only recently flipped through the magazine’s very first issue.
“It’s incredible to put it side by side with our latest issue,” she said.
And, as with any important milestone, there will be a party.
“It will be about thanking and bringing together all the writers, photographers, advertisers, all the people that have really made the magazine possible.”
Contact Pierre Chauvin at email@example.com