Doukhobor Historical Series Wins Premier Award

For Immediate Release – October 2, 2009

Years of hard work and a sincere dedication to the task at hand paid off in a big way for Doukhobor writer and historian Jonathan J. Kalmakoff. Recently, Kalmakoff received provincial recognition for his work through the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association’s (SWNA) Better Newspaper Competition Premier Awards for 2009.

Kalmakoff alongside Anne Sanderson of the Wadena News received a first place award for Best Saskatchewan Cultural Story of the Year for their documentary series Their Story, chronicling the history of the Doukhobor settlement at Kylemore, Saskatchewan.

Published from July 9 to August 20, 2008 in the Wadena News, the five-part series examined the Kylemore colony from its early settlement and development, communal life and organization, to the eventual demise of the Doukhobor Community and break-up of the colony. The series has drawn a host of comments from both Doukhobor descendants as well as members of the general public who were pleased to see this little-known piece of history recorded.

(r-l) Jonathan J. Kalmakoff and Anne Sanderson accept SWNA Premier Award for Best Saskatchewan Cultural Story of the Year.

It is the first time Kalmakoff has received such recognition for his work, which is done entirely voluntarily out of true passion for the history of his ancestors and he said it is a moment he will never forget.

“I felt it was vital to document the Kylemore and surrounding area’s strong Doukhobor heritage and chronicle their important contribution to its historic development”, said Kalmakoff. “It was a wonderful opportunity to work with Anne Sanderson and share their story through the Wadena News. It is gratifying indeed to have our efforts recognized and appreciated.”

For Sanderson, recording the area’s history is her true passion and she could not be happier that the history in the Wadena News readership area is receiving provincial recognition.

“Anytime we can record area history it is a benefit for future generations, but this series was an extra special journey for Wadena News. Working alongside an historian like Jonathan Kalmakoff was an honour for me – he inspired me to dig beyond the surface and get the whole story for our readers,” she said.

“This series provides the reader with a fascinating unsolved mystery, a powerful highlight of a prominent Saskatchewan cultural group, as well as insight into the importance of heritage preservation to cultural groups in the province,” noted the Alberta guest judge who evaluated the series. “The writers have engaged in extensive research of both the past and present, drawing significant connections between the two.”

Wadena News July 9, 2009 cover featuring Their Story series.

The award was presented at the annual SWNA convention held September 18-19, 2009 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

The SWNA is an association that represents weekly newspapers across Saskatchewan. Its 87 member newspapers connect with over 500,000 readers across Saskatchewan and not only reflect life in the communities they serve, they are a central part of Saskatchewan’s unique lifestyle.

The SWNA encourages excellence by sponsoring an annual provincial competition, the Better Newspaper Competition Awards, to celebrate the achievements of its member newspapers. Newspapers compete against other newspapers for Premier Awards in such categories as editorial, photography, advertising and special promotion. In addition, newspapers compete in the General Excellence Competition, which recognizes newspapers for the best Editorial Page, Best Front Page and Best All-round Newspaper.

For general inquiries about the SWNA or the Better Newspaper Competition Awards, visit the SWNA website at: