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Christopher Cheung and Zoë Yunker Win Digital Publishing Awards

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Tyee Staff 10 Jun 2024The Tyee

We are so pleased to share that Tyee journalists Christopher Cheung and Zoë Yunker were honoured at this year’s Digital Publishing Awards, held last Friday in Toronto.

Christopher Cheung won Gold for Best Arts and Culture Storytelling for his piece “The Yips Are in the House Again,” about a family reunion marking seven generations of the Yip family in Chinatown, Vancouver.

“When Chris told me that he was interested in pursuing a story on Yip Sang and his family on the occasion of their summer 2023 reunion, I was glad to greenlight what sounded to me like a bright, meaningful local news feature about a longtime family in Chinatown. A shorter project, I thought,” said Cheung’s editor, Jackie Wong.

“As usual, Chris exceeded my expectations. One Yip relative connected him with another, and over the course of weeks he meticulously analyzed historical documents and archival materials, oral histories and the incredible work of Linda Yip, the genealogist of the family. The result was an impeccably researched long feature that brought together generations of family history against the backdrop of a changing Vancouver, one that reflects the story of the Yips and, in many ways, the experiences of many more Chinese Canadian families in B.C.”

A black and white photo of a three-story Victorian commercial building with a line of about a dozen-and-a-half figures in front with a horse-drawn cart.
Yip Sang and family in front of the Wing Sang building in 1902. On the outside, it looks largely the same today. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, AM1108-S4-: CVA 689-54.

“I am no stranger to large family gatherings, but stepping into the Yip reunion, with almost 400 people, was something else,” Christopher Cheung said.

“I think most journalists will agree that finding sources is one of the hardest parts of the job, but I had the opposite challenge for this story. Where do you start when you have 400 potential sources in front of you? How do you decide who to talk to? How do you make something out of the interviews?

“Yes, Yip Sang, their rich and successful ancestor, is a big deal. But talking to the Yips one by one, their family stories as witnesses for the entirety of Canadian history as racialized people are just as important, from being the first to enter certain professions to being the first families to move into certain white-only neighbourhoods.”

Cheung would like to thank Linda Yip and Yvonne Chiang in particular for handling the day’s logistics. Aside from a Cantonese language anchor from Fairchild TV, he was the only journalist in attendance at the family function.

“Chris’s extensive reporting on Chinatown, the Downtown Eastside and city building has built a body of work in which many people see themselves and the people they love in his stories. This is particularly impactful among those who are typically underrepresented in the media, including racialized communities who have faced discrimination and racism,” Wong said.

Silver for Zoë Yunker

Tyee contributor Zoë Yunker’s work was also recognized at the DPA Gala on Friday.

Yunker took home Silver in the Best Service Feature category for her piece “The People’s Filter,” which showed, step by step, how to make a low-cost air filter to better protect against COVID transmission and wildfire smoke indoors.

“This piece introduced me to a simple, affordable solution to the growing challenge of accessing healthy indoor air. In the process, I thought a lot about how equity and air quality intersect, and it was a joy to write up a fun, accessible introduction to an important tool to help communities care for each other in the face of the pandemic and the climate crisis,” Yunker said.

Kimberly Sayson, left, has shoulder-length black hair and glasses. She is wearing a black and white floral shirt and crouches to hold a piece of cardboard with a wide circle cutout in place while Jeffery Chong, right, secures it with black duct tape. He is standing and bending slightly, wearing a red plaid shirt and black jeans. Both are wearing white masks.
The Tyee’s office and systems co-ordinator Kimberly Sayson, left, holds a cardboard ‘shroud’ while her partner, Jeffery Chong, tapes it securely in place. The couple built a fleet of Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, a popular style of do-it-yourself air purifiers, to keep Tyee headquarters safe as Vancouver staff returned to work in the office. Photo for The Tyee by Christopher Cheung.

“The People’s Filter” was truly a joint effort, Yunker added. “Kimberly Sayson, Tyee’s operations manager, was the creative genius behind this piece. Her ingenuity and care for the Tyee’s office-goers led her to create the Tyee’s DIY air filtration system.”

“Zoë wrote the epitome of a service piece by sharing practical knowledge that empowers the reader — quite possibly to save lives. And Chris Cheung made a great video to help explain,” said Tyee editor in chief David Beers.

“I think this package really captured the DIY spirit of Kimberly Sayson who, with Jeffery Chong, built three air filters for her Tyee office mates.”

Alana Friend Lettner and andrea bennett took home honourable mentions in the Best Personal Essay and Best Arts and Culture Storytelling categories, respectively, for their pieces on tree planting and Tla’amin culture and history in Desolation Sound.

Congratulations to all the other journalists who were nominated and won at this year’s Digital Publishing Awards.

It is the support of Tyee readers that allows us to such important, award-winning work. To continue supporting fact-based journalism during a critical election year in B.C., consider signing up as a Tyee Builder today. We are are over a third of the way to our fundraising stretch goal, with one week left to go.  [Tyee]

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