Announcing “Our Home On Native Lands”

Posted on Jul 5, 2013

 Announcing Our Home On Native Lands OHONL photo

I’m excited to announce the concept launch of a new collaborative storytelling venture I will be pursuing alongside a handful of talented photographers, writers and thinkers. As explains,

“Canadian-Indigenous relations are at a breaking point.

In the winter of 2012, a wave of protests spread across the country. Staring constant discrimination in the face, Aboriginal communities have chosen to be Idle No More.

“Our Home on Native Lands” innovatively combines six photo essays to tell the tale of people who lost land, rights and self-determination within Canada. Works by Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Jonathan Taggart, Ian Willms, Johan Hallberg-Campbell, Laurence Butet-Roch and Yoanis Menge seek to plug the gap and build a bridge between common Canadian misconceptions of Indigenous peoples and the contemporary circumstances they face. Their photos take us from the Magdalen Islands in Quebec to the Lillooet Valley in Northern British Columbia. Viewed individually, they each tell the story of a specific community’s challenges.

Laurence Butet-Roch’s work documenting the lives of Aamjiwnaang youth explores the hard decisions teenagers face while residing in a toxic environment. Johan Hallberg-Campbell surveys the impact of poverty and racial discrimination in Attawapiskat First Nation, where the wretched living conditions prompted the declaration of a ‘State of Emergency’. Jonathan Taggart’s piece is concerned with the daily struggles of isolated communities in Northern British Columbia. Both Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s and Ian Willm’s contributions delve into the profound environmental, psychological and economic impacts of large industrial complexes on native land. Finally, Yoanis Menge follows members of the Micmac First Nation who, after losing their ancestral hunting knowledge, are now taught by Canadian fishermen how to hunt seal.

As a collective, the photo essays connect each unique story to a larger narrative about social injustice in Canada. Official policies and general attitudes towards Indigenous communities are highly prejudicial, who are often stigmatized as “lazy”, “alcoholic”, “violent”, “spoiled” and “privileged”. Within communities, an awakening is taking place: staring constant discrimination in the face, they are mobilizing to be “idle no more” while fighting for their rights, and seeking change to the status quo. This initiative documents and illuminates both the despair and hope of these peoples, struggling for social and environmental justice in Canada.”

The project is also being guided by Sarah Marie Wiebe, political science instructor at the University of Victoria. Visit the website to stay up-to-date on new developments, and check out the British Journal of Photography article “Group Mentality: How Photographers Can Join Forces To Tackle The Market” to read about how collaborations such as this represent a rethinking and revitalization of journalism as we know it,