• Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Madina Azizi interviews Allan Bunz, father of H2S victim Michael Bunz.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Prof. Patricia Elliott and student Jennifer Ackerman at the North Saskatchewan River. 

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Some locations required skidoos. 

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Student investigators Rebbeca Marroquin, Caitlin Tayor and Jared Gottselig.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Michener Fellow Patti Sonntag near Oxbow, Saskatchewan. 

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Rebecca Marroquin, Céline Grimard, Jared Gottselig and Caitlin Taylor made up Team Water, one of four teams investigating the oil industry in Saskatchewan.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Madina Azizi and Céline Grimard with Dianne Bunz, mother of H2S victim Michael Bunz.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Filming a pumpjack.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Student investigator Jared Gottselig on the road.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Mapping out the investigation.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Rebecca Marroquin at the site of the Husky Oil spill.

  • Behind the Investigation
    Behind the Investigation

    Interviewing Alvin Moostoos of James Smith Cree Nation.


Crude Power is a current affairs show about the influence of the oil and gas industry in Saskatchewan. While some communities are resilient in their fight against big oil companies, others face a "culture of silence" and are afraid speaking up will only hurt their reputation. Students in Intermediate Broadcast Journalism 306 and Investigative Journalism 307 conducted research for two months before filming stories that have been seldom reported by the media.

The class was split into four teams, each telling a different story. The show was supervised by Journalism instructors Trevor Grant and Patricia Elliott. Crude Power is part of a cross-canada investigative project (see sidebar article - The Price of Oil Series). Patti Sonntag, Canada's 2016 Michener Fellow, was the overall project manager. In addition to the documentary, this project contributed research and footage to project media partners the Toronto Star, the National Observer and Global National. 


Team Fire

Team Fire takes a look at the powerful influence big oil has on the Saskatchewan government. With new incentives every year and a regulatory system that puts industry first, one question remains: who and what gets left behind?

Team Air

H2S gas, a byproduct of oil production, kills some and hurts many others. Two Saskatchewan families struggle to speak out and hold government and industry accountable.

Team Water

We investigated claims that Husky Energy is negligent in compensation and cleanup efforts following a 225,0000 litre oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River in the summer of 2016.

Team Earth

When the oil companies came knocking in 1971, the Crushes let them in. But for the past 40 years Terry Crush has been fighting as his farm became an oil patch and his land now suffers the consequences.


Jen Ack2

   Jennifer Ackerman


   Team Air - Camera/Editor

Madina Azizi2

   Madina Azizi


   Team Air - Field Producer

Janelle Blakley

  Janelle Blakley


  Team Earth - Camera/Editor

Cory Coleman

   Cory Coleman


   Team Earth - Reporter

Josh Diaz

   Josh Diaz


   Team Fire - Camera/Editor

Katie DokeSawaktsky

   Katie Doke Sawatzky


   Team Fire - Field Producer

Brenna Engelfinal

   Brenna Engel


   Team Earth - Field Producer

Jared Gottselig

   Jared Gottselig


   Team Water - Camera Assistant

Celine Grimard

   Celine Grimard


   Team Water - Field Producer

rebbeca good

   Rebbeca Marroquin


   Team Water - Reporter


   Michaela Solomon


   Team Air - Reporter

Kyrsten Stringer

   Kyrsten Stringer


   Team Fire - Reporter

Cait Taylor

   Caitlin Taylor


   Team Water - Camera/Editor







The unprecedented collaboration behind the project

teamAirBS 1

Over nine months, an unprecedented collaboration of more than 50 journalists and editors from three Canadian media outlets, four journalism schools and a think tank worked to chronicle the hidden price of oil in Canada.

Collectively, reporters examined thousands of industry and government documents, analyzed terabytes of data and delved into dozens of freedom-of-information requests.

“The project started with the people,” says Patti Sonntag, a managing editor in the New York Times’ news services division, who launched the project with a grant from the Michener Awards Foundation. Following a tip from a colleague at the Corporate Mapping Project, she did some research and reporting in Saskatchewan last fall.

Working with the previous year’s Michener winner, Toronto Star journalist Robert Cribb, Sonntag created a team of students at the Ryerson, Concordia and UBC journalism schools. Concordia University’s Department of Journalism volunteered to act as host and headquarters for the project.

University of Regina students reported on the ground locally, shot video and developed sources, while students at the other universities aggregated and analyzed data and interviewed experts.

“We’re pulling these four different schools from across the country and looking at it from all different aspects,” says Janelle Blakley, a University of Regina student reporter whose team mapped spills data and met local farmers and residents. “This collaboration allowed us to really dig into it, where all schools were pulling apart different pieces of it and then coming back and putting it all together.”

The significance of the data quickly drew intrigue. What emerged was a picture of a few dedicated regulators — and even some industry leaders — who tried to introduce greater accountability, but these efforts were ultimately overwhelmed by larger forces.

“You start to understand these figures really do play a huge role in dictating the direction of the Canadian economy and that plays out in the lives of everyday Canadians,” says Lauren Kaljur, a graduate of UBC’s master of journalism program who has been investigating the concentration of corporate power in Saskatchewan’s oil and gas industry since the beginning of 2017.

To Matthew Gilmour, a recent journalism graduate at Concordia University, after spending months populating spreadsheets and ledgers, “there’s the human moment where you realize it’s not just a pocketbook story. It’s a human story. And people’s lives are affected.”

The work continued past the end of the semester in April 2017, with students working alongside veteran reporters at the Star, the National Observer and Global News to shape the stories, seek comments from all sides and publish hundreds of pages of government and industry records, detailing concerns about potentially deadly gas emissions for the first time.


Robert Cribb, The Toronto Star

Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow

P.W. Elliott, University of Regina

Elizabeth McSheffrey, The National Observer

Data and documentation journalist:

Michael Wrobel, Concordia University


Jennifer Ackerman, University of Regina

Madina Azizi, University of Regina

Janelle Blakley, University of Regina

Cory Coleman, University of Regina

Mike De Souza, The National Observer

Josh Diaz, University of Regina

Brenna Engel, University of Regina

Matthew Gilmour, Concordia University

Celine Grimard, University of Regina

Jared Gottselig, University of Regina

Lauren Kaljur ,University of British Columbia

Rebbeca Marroquin, University of Regina

Matthew Parizot, Concordia University

Katie Doke Sawatzky, University of Regina

Michaela Solomon, University of Regina

Kyrsten Stringer, University of Regina

Caitlin Taylor, University of Regina

Steph Wechsler, Ryerson University

Faculty Supervisors:

P.W. Elliott, University of Regina

Trevor Grant, University of Regina

Robin Lawless, University of Regina

Series Producer:

Patti Sonntag, Michener Fellow, based at Concordia University

Institutional Credits:

Concordia University, Department of Journalism

Ryerson University, School of Journalism

University of British Columbia, Graduate School of Journalism

University of Regina, School of Journalism

Global News

The Michener Awards Foundation

Corporate Mapping Project

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Parkland Institute

University of Victoria

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Televised investigation: Oct 1 & 2, 2017 on Global National at 5:30 CT/MT/PT & 6:30 ET/AT