Flight – bringing awareness through photography to newly arrived refugees

Flight_Poster-Final (1)

Thanks to the hard work of Cameras4Change volunteers Maxine Bulloch and Kathryne Racich, ten recently arrived refugees and immigrants to Canada were provided with cameras and equipment from Nikon Canada, Lowepro and Sandisk to document their first thoughts and interpretations of Canada. The project, entitled FLIGHT was in collaboration with local organisations, DIVERSEcity and MOSAIC with support from SIETAR.

The purpose of the project was multifold: for participants to create their own story of what it is like to start a new chapter in a foreign country and create a visual time stamp of where they are right now; to increase communication of what it is to be a refugee/immigrant in the wider community; and to forge connections and help create communities for participants.

Participants came to Canada from Myanmar, Thailand, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and had been in Canada from between two months to two years. During the workshops which were constructed as an absolute safe-space and operated from a ‘do no harm’ frame, the participants talked about their experience of photography, what they were hoping to learn through their participation of the project and they learnt how to use their Nikon camera. At the follow-up workshops, participants shared what was opening up for them and their photos they’d taken, and photos were beautiful! Each person turned their camera and attention to what was important to them, with topics of interest including nature, symmetry, and symbols of the future. This was very much an exercise of ‘through the eyes of’, rather than having participants be in front of the camera – although if they wished to do so then by all means were free to! It was so great to see participants’ confidence grow during the project, and that reflected in the photography they did too.

From the images taken, the participants selected their favourite five and wrote descriptions to go alongside each and the chosen images were printed and exhibited from 1-7 April in a weeklong gallery located in Chinatown, downtown Vancouver in a space kindly donated by This Open Space. The opening was organized by SIETAR, and there were four speakers – Farooq Al-Sajee (Iraq/Syria), Josiane Anthony (Togo/Ghana), Daniel Tseghay (Eritrea), and Yashar Nijati (Iran), who helped educate the visitors of FLIGHT about the realities of the refugee experience. Farooq also serenaded us with his amazing classical improvised talents on the Oud.

FUTURE PLANS
– We are looking at connecting with organisations and city halls that are within the participants’ communities and beyond, in order to extend the exhibition. We are doing this with the aim of continuing advocacy and raising awareness – to increase understanding and to contribute to the building of stronger, more connected communities through dialogue and inner reflection.
– As a result of participating in the project, participants have expressed a desire for more programs, and for these subsequent projects to have longer durations. Thus, one of our future endeavors is to secure funding for the continuation of this powerful program, keeping in mind the needs and wishes of the participants.
– We are also looking for future collaborations with organisations and people who are interested in supporting newcomers and other societal groups going through transition or those who desire self-expansion through creative self-expression and dialogue.

To see a copy of the FLIGHT report and up-to-date news of what else is going on head on over to the FLIGHT Facebook page.

Check out this gallery of some of the work and words of the FLIGHT participants!

Waheed

Waheed, Afghanistan – “This is my favourite photo. It represents my longing for education in Canada, a desire I could not achieve as a refugee in Pakistan. University is something that builds someone’s capacity. I have sent an application and have been accepted to study.”

Rafi

Rafi, Afghanistan – “I like how the tree stands right in the middle of nature and the future. I think it represents how we are destroying nature and we think we’re making the world a better place but we’re really making it worse. I like how the tree doesn’t have a single leaf. It’s like the chemicals from behind have made it dry.”

Paw December

Paw December – “In the evening me and my nephew went outside to a pond because we wanted to see ducks. We brought duck food, and my nephew fed the ducks which they enjoyed very much. This is my favourite photo.”

Omar

Omar, Iraq – “Everything you see here is old. The chair, the clock, everything. I see English heritage in this photo. It is a classic look.”

Maryam

Maryam, Iran – “These two flowers represent that we can live together and share everything.”

Ku_Shee

Ku Shee, Myanmar – “This shows that Canadians love their pets. Even if they go to the snow they bring their pets. It makes me feel very happy that people walk with pets in the snow.”

Hlah

Hlah, Myanmar – “This is my favourite photo. It’s well known that people in big cities live a hectic life. I personally enjoy an easy life in a busy city.”

Fatemeh

Eh Hser, Myanmar – “My family took a walk with our neighbour. We’d never seen a tree like this, as we don’t have it in Burma. There were no leaves on it, just flowers. My son was so happy so I took a picture of him.”

Eh_Hser

Bahar, Iran – Grande Prairie Alberta.
“Be strong against the problems. I took this photo as a memory on the last day that I was in Grande Prairie.”

Bahar

Fatemeh, Iran – “The snail in this photo showed me to live in any way that I want even if I am going to be alone sometimes because we only live once.”

Grateful for IWD2016

It is International Women’s Day and it seemed appropriate to bask in the glow of all the women in my life that I am grateful for.  From my family (mother and daughters, aunts and cousins) to the many amazing women that have inspired and given me friendship.  Also to the women photographers out there in the world whose work will always be a light to me.  I also feel so thankful for the women that I have met along the way and around the world as I have worked, both behind and in front of the camera, it really has been so awesome.  I made a promise to myself when I had been working for a while internationally, that when I took a photo of someone, I wanted it to honor something in them, their struggle, their joy, their story, and I never wanted to compromise anything about them in the taking of the photo.  In other words I wanted complicity, I wanted them to feel like they were in it with me on some level, we were doing this together.  So whether photographing a woman in the midst of her challenges, or in the buoyancy of her empowerment, or the arc of her hope, the photos would hold a deep truth for myself, the woman and anyone that viewed it.  I thank them all for allowing me to hold that moment with them, I will never forget you.  I also want to honor all the women photojournalists that have paid with their lives, you are never forgotten.

ccs_6055.jpg Full Circle Today is World Water Day Back to Basics #WaterWednesday WHO WILL CARE? Drop by Drop A MOTHERsLOAD Photo of the Day

Qmunity

WE are all about creating community at C4C and so when we were given the opportunity to work with the transgender youth group at Qmunity in Vancouver, we were delighted to come up with a novel idea for a workshop.  We wanted a short program that would be fun and not only give participants the chance to learn something through the experience of photography, but also create the space for them to safely share about themselves and get to know other group members too.

Lead volunteer facilitator Kimberley French decided that a polaroid portrait session, complete with lights and a backdrop would be the perfect solution.  The evening workshop began by meeting with the group and then sharing a short slideshow complete with an intro to the colorful and fun polaroid work of Andy Warhol.  After that we hooked up the participants into small groups so that they could each take turns photographing themselves and each other.  Afterwards they were encouraged to get even more colorful and use their creative writing skills to expand on themselves through the theme “What I like about being queer is ….”

All of the participants work was mounted on a wall to admire and then afterwards we all spoke about the experience.  We capped the evening off with a draw for a brand new Nikon Coolpix camera from Nikon Canada.

We loved the comments:

  • “This was the most fun I have ever had”
  • “These portraits really boosted my self esteem”       
  • “I have only ever seen photos of myself as a boy, and this is the first time there are photos of me as a girl, and I love them. I didn’t even know if I wanted to participate, but I am so glad I did”      
  • “I loved that you told us about Andy Warhol”

As ever we love creating workshops that allow others to explore themselves in a positive way, have fun, create a stronger community, and all through the art of photography!

QmunityTeaser_0003

Big thanks to volunteers Kimberley French, Kathryne Racich and Cate Cameron

QmunityTeaser_0011 QmunityTeaser_0012

Cameras4Change in Thailand – a volunteer’s story

Early this May, volunteer extraordinaire Justin Yapp partnered with C4C to run a program in Thailand!  We loaned Justin a workshop in a backpack! He took a small lowepro backpack with 10 Nikon Coolpix cameras, cards and a thumbdrive containing all of the essential information to run a C4C photoworkshop.  It was exciting to get his newsupdates and photos from the kids, so much so that we asked him to do a guest blog post and here it is!

This past June, myself and four other young adults from Vancouver ventured off to Chiang Rai, Thailand to volunteer at Baan Nam Jai (BNJ) also known as Home of the Open Heart– an orphanage developed for kids who have been affected by HIV.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 10.23.39 PMDuring the kid’s summer break, we organized various activities such as swimming in a river, venturing through a night safari, walking at night markets, and after partnering with Cameras 4 Change, we were able to include photography.
These kids were able to express themselves through photography where words could not be expressed. Their passion, desire to be heard, love for their surroundings and love for one another are seen through their photographs.
Everyday we picked a topic such as shadows, favourite spots, plants, and friends and they eagerly ran up to us to show what they came up with… including multiple selfies. I remember one of the boys showing me a photograph that he took of his favourite spot in the orphanage and why it was important to him.
I am extremely impressed by their perseverance, hope, and outlook in life despite being marginalized and going through hardships at an early age. It was a privilege to be able to share that time with them and to be able to see things from their perspective through photography.
Thanks Cameras 4 Change for making this activity possible!

IMG_2416 IMG_2468 IMG_2739 IMG_2742 IMG_7993 IMG_7996 IMG_8001 IMG_8007 P1030708

 

Xochimilco Workshop with Isla Urbana

FullSizeRender

Today was the first of 2 workshops here in different communities in Mexico City with our partners Isla Urbana!  Late this afternoon, Jennifer White of Isla Urbana and  I headed to a wonderful community high in the hills that flag the edges of DF  San Francisco is a community of needs within the delegacion of Xochimilco.  Isla Urbana are implementing a rainwater harvesting project here to satisfy the needs, and part of the overall process is to also provide cultural experiences within those communities.  This helps to solidify a bond with their clients, and also assists in solidifying the success of their programs.  We are delighted to provide creative experiences through photography.  When I asked the 20 participants ranging in age from 5 years to 72! ( yes there was a delightful 72 year old woman that came to our workshop) who had held a camera before, not one put up their hand.  They were so excited to get the cameras and we couldn’t help but smile.  One small boy who was going to share a camera with his mother had huge tears in his eyes and so of course we gave him his own camera to use!

Today was all about getting to know each other a little and introducing photography and cameras to the group, then we let them take the cameras to the streets for the first time.  Tomorrow we will be focusing on portraits.  I will be posting more as I can, it is a very busy workshop as there is only myself and one assistant with 20 people!!

Many thanks towards all of our tribe of supporters, from all of the individuals who have participated in our funding events, to our corporate partners, Nikon Canada, Fluevog Shoes, Sandisk, and Lowepro.  We couldn’t do it without you!

 

Below:  20 cameras tagged and ready to go out into the world, that would be 20 Nikon Coolpix point and shoot housed in some sweet little Lowepro bags and holding 8gig cards from Sandisk, thank you!

IMG_4555

 

 

Our Partners are making us Proud!

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 10.25.53 PM

Our lives expand in so many different ways, whether we tend to them or not, things will change.  So it is with the seeds that we have planted through Cameras4Change too!  We could not be prouder of the many accomplishments that have taken place in the past couple of years since we began this journey.  Our last workshop in Mexico City in June was the result of an ongoing collaboration between C4C and three different partners there.  Sometimes we don’t always know what will happen when we begin working with a new partner, but we are sure that the experience and work we do in these initial projects will be worthwhile in itself.  To our delight however, the partners in Mexico have taken things to an all new level, using our photo workshop model and incorporating it into their programs and proving the sustainability and legacy of what we envisioned from the beginning is possible!  Since the original workshop in June, Proyecto ConcentrArte has utilized the cameras gifted to the Paz Paz Bus for a number of different workshops in other areas in .Mexico, Huamantla and incorporated them into a longterm annual project they participate in every September in Cuatro Cienegas, a Mexican biological reserve.  This past week we learned that the cameras will now be used in a very interesting eco-project in Balancán Tabasco Mexico. Cameras4Change friend Shiara Gonzales, a veterinarian will be giving guided tours to groups of 9-12 year olds, touring them into the jungles where the Saraguato Monkey lives.  The Saraguato Monkey is an endangered species and the children will photograph the monkeys and their habitat as a way to explore their importance and where they live.  We love how the cameras continue to be utilized in new and creative ways, but more importantly that they continue to live on in meaningful projects, and others continue to experience the art and joy of photography, and tell their own stories in their own ways.

ecologiamono

Segunda Semana Internacional del Mono Saraguato Negro – Balancán, Tabasco, México

This is the ethos of cameras4change, community, learning, changing and growing!

…and so it grows!

These are some serious new photographers!!!

This is the exciting part of what we can do.  Making a connection and running a workshop is only the beginning.  What happens afterwards has the potential to be even more rewarding, and ultimately it is what we strive for at Cameras4Change.  Giving people that have never had the opportunity to use a camera is an amazing experience.  It is invigorating, soul defining and gives meaning to and for everyone involved.  Workshop participants usually take the camera and run with it, to take photos, to have the experience to define their world, to look back on who they are, where they come from, and then where they want to go!  Photography has the potential to offer all of this.  Our June workshops in Mexico were just that, and now our partner organizations are continuing an even deeper and rich legacy with the cameras we left behind!  We love these photos of the budding new photographers in Huamantla eager to take photos!!  Thank you to Liliana Riva Palacio of Proyecto ConcentrArte working in conjunction with Sistema Biobolsa and Isla Urbana.  Lili is creating a living legacy with the cameras from the workshops!!  It is fantastic that they are continuing to be utilized and introducing photography to whole new generations that would otherwise not have touched a camera yet!!


A C4C Short by Celsa Calderoni

This past June we met an amazing person in Celsa Calderoni, a videographer and film maker in Mexco City.  Celsa agreed to come out and collaborate with us as we ran our workshop in Quiltepec.  She shot and edited this piece for us in record time and we are in awe!!  It was a meeting of like minds as we symbiotically knew what the other wanted and needed!  The result is this great little short promo!  Enjoy!    http://youtu.be/p9EumpTEK3E

 

Saturday September 6th – “Returning” a series by Kimberley French at Kimoto Gallery

Save The Date "Returning"

Save The Date “Returning”

Save the date for Saturday September 6th when Cameras4Change board member and photographer Kimberley French debuts her third solo exhibit.  Kimoto Gallery will host “Returning“, a stunning series of work inspired by Stanley Park and Haida Gwaii.  5% of artist’s proceeds will be donated to Cameras4Change.  Please do not miss this opportunity to come out in support of local Vancouver art and C4C!

Cameras4Change a year in review

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.51.06 PMC4C 2014 AGM – A Year in Review V4

Here attached is a pdf document we want to share with our friends, it is a year in review recently presented at our AGM in June.  It has been a busy year for our C4C volunteers as you will see.  We will have a more in depth newsletter coming out soon, and look forward to sharing a short video from our Mexico workshop!  More photos in the attached PDF!

 

C4C 2014 AGM – A Year in Review V4

Page 1 of 1512345...10...Last »