I was 6 years old when I moved to the Northwest Territories, Canada. The move was quick, unplanned and photo-less. I have very few photos to look back on of my entire childhood and that is what fuelled my desire to freeze moments in time forever. I became a documenter of life, taking pictures of everything I’ve seen to make sure I would never lose that memory, and soon enough, it turned into a passion for photography.
This is a hobby that fits in well with my lifestyle. Having a full time job in Business Development allows me to travel around the North, and while I’m there, well, I’m taking photos! My family and I also spend a lot of time outdoors travelling the Mackenzie Valley by bush plane, boat, snowmobile, or 4 wheeler; camping and harvesting big game. These are amazing places to get great photos of the landscape, wildlife and Northern Lights! I live in a unique part of the world and I want to share it with everyone!
Week Ten - Passion Portfolio (runner up - tie)
For the Love of Oil
For the Love of Oil
When I started this photography challenge 10 weeks ago, the very first challenge was "Spectrum of Colour." My image was titled "For the Love of Green" and it kickstarted what has been an amazing and emotional learning experience that has formed new friendships and fond memories.
Now, as the challenge comes to an end, I felt it was fitting to title my final passion project "For the Love of Oil." Why? It's not necessarily the oil that I love, but the town that was built because of it. I grew up, and live in a unique, isolated little northern oil town and it too has been an amazing and emotional experience that has formed lifelong friendships and fond memories.
For years, my passion has been capturing the beauty of the North through photography and sharing it with the world. But there's another predominant side of life here that I don't normally share. The industry side.
We know that oil and gas drilling is a dirty business. An oil-devouring economy has not been good for the planet. But what would we do without it? Love it or hate it, the oil and gas industry is part of our landscape. We live with it. We call it home.
This is Life in a Northern Oil Town.
1. CONNECTed to the Land: Indigenous hunters have been connected to the land for millennia and that has not changed. What has changed is the landscape. Mixing traditional lifestyle and culture with economic growth, a local hunter passes through an oilfield of man made islands built in the middle of the second largest river in North America, the Mackenzie River, to get to his hunting grounds.
2. AMAZE-ing Skies: We have them, and people want to capture them. Tourists come from far and wide to take photos of the Aurora. And what better place to do it, then standing in the middle of the frozen Mackenzie River on an ice road that's constructed every winter season to haul workers, materials and supplies to and from the oilfield islands.
3. PROVOKing Pumpjack: What came first, the graveyard or the pumpjack? Not caring about the peace and quiet one would seek while visiting loved ones, the pumpjack looms over the cemetery like an unwelcome spectator. The constant droning and clanking sound of it shifting up and down is unintentionally provoking, yet interrupts any soothing thoughts one may have.
4. EDUCATE the History: There's a whole museum dedicated to the history and development of the town and the Canol (Canadian Oil) Project. Alexander Mackenzie noticed oil seepages when he traveled the river at the end of the 1700’s. In August of 1920, Imperial's first rig struck oil in Norman Wells; or in Dene language, “Le Gohlini,” meaning “where the oil is."
5. INSPIREd to Stay Healthy: The land is vast, crisp and clean, we all want to enjoy outdoor activities and fresh clean air for years to come. Will we be able to?
Week Eight - The Ripple Effect (winner)
HEALING THE FUTURE THROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF THE PAST
"They just took us"
I'll never forget feeling the emotion behind those words when spoken to me by my Mother in Law. We had such a truly meaningful day together, which I will cherish forever. We spent the entire Saturday afternoon connecting with each other by sitting at her kitchen table, sipping tea and sifting through her old photographs. With each image we came across, I heard a story of her past. Some were beautiful, wonderful memories of a time embraced that brought a big smile and an uncontrolled laugh to the surface. Some were more solemn and quiet, met with a disheartening frown. Born and raised in a small isolated Dene community with long harsh winters and equally long, never ending summer days, life was hard.
The stories you've heard are real. And now, many Indigenous people just like her find themselves down a long, difficult, continuous path of healing. "It never ends," she says. "It doesn't just go away."
"Healing" is a term widely used but perhaps not well understood. While most people are aware of the significant health and social disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, what is also important is the context in which these inequities occur; the way social, historical, political and economic factors have shaped and continue to shape Indigenous peoples’ health and well-being. How we understand these issues, is critical to any action we take.
But what can we do? We can take responsibility for our own learning. We can take action to make change. We can speak out against racism. We can take time for self-reflection. We can commit to lifelong learning. We can listen. We can acknowledge. We can connect with one another.
Week Seven - Exposure Self (fourth place)
Week Six - Sell Me a Story (Top Three)
Your North Magazine
Week Five - Black and White (SAFE)
Few issues divide urban and rural Canada more than guns. In cities and suburban areas, polls have shown for years that there’s strong support for tighter restrictions. Horrific crimes like 2020's shooting and arson spree in Nova Scotia increase that sentiment and we all have a role to play in keeping our communities safe.
However, in many rural areas and Indigenous communities, guns are a part of everyday life and are used by responsible gun owners. Many people living in remote communities require firearms to continue a traditional harvesting lifestyle as fresh food is often limited and expensive, and may cost as much as three times the Canadian average.
Education to prevent gun violence is crucial and can take many forms, including promotion of safe storage to reduce access to firearms by children, youth, and other unauthorized persons and teaching safe behaviour around firearms to prevent or reduce youth violence.
Week Four - Scratching the Surface with Maya Ramsahoye (Winner)
THE PRESSURE OF PERFECTION
At first glance you'd think she's just another pretty girl in a blue dress, but like many women she's a single mother who does it all while trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations society has placed on females. Images in the media are filled with stereotypes of women and what their roles should be in society, considering physical attractiveness to be the most important female trait.
What we don't see while Crystal goes about her everyday activities, is the constant negative perception she has of herself due to these societal pressures and expectations:
"I look fat in this dress, I'm not a good enough Mom, I'm not smart enough for this job, all I'm good for is cleaning this damn house, I'd like to start a smoothie business but it probably won't work, I can't eat this spaghetti, it's fattening..."
"I'm just not good enough."
I have been good friends with Crystal for almost 30 years. I know how she tries to do it all, and she's amazing at it, but how she perceives herself is sadly negative. So an image of her wearing the metaphoric blue dress, trying to be perfect while "doing it all" is something that I wanted to portray and she was 100% on board with this project. We did in her her home and it cost us $0.00
Week Three - KISS with Curtis Jones (Keep it Simple, Shooters!) SAFE
Sanctuary. A place of refuge or rest. A place where you can feel at peace protected from danger or a difficult situation. In today’s reality, as weary souls battle with the uncertainty of the future and ups and downs and open and closed, finding sanctuary and that slice of peace and solitude is more important than ever. For some, that might be a good book, a long walk, or a hot bath. For others, it might be listening to your children giggle, movie night in with the dog, or leaning into the comfort of a warm embrace. Then there are people who find sanctuary huddled in a little pup tent on frozen water as the wind violently whips snow around and those capturing that moment of absolute simplicity and peace really, really wishing they hadn’t forgotten their gloves at home!
Week Two - Recreate a Renee Robyn (Bottom Three)
Learning to fly
I chose this image of Renee's because I thought it would be a fun one to try. I wanted to practise in photoshop and understand how this was done.
Let's talk about the challenges...Hahaha...
My son, who has a beard and glasses and is the same size as the man in Renee's photo, was going to jump around for me with the broom that my husband made. Sadly, he got tested positive for Covid 2 days before our shoot, so he is now in isolation at his home for 10 days. This left me with...me!
I wanted to do this outside, and I gave it an honest try but it was -30 and I could only put the camera on timer and get into position and jump around so many times before I froze to death. Sooo, in the house I went!
I don't have a studio set up, so my living room wall it is!
With camera on continuous timer, I took about 1001 photos and narrowed it down to one.
I used my own photo for the background as I did not want to use a stock photo. Although not exact, I thought it would do the trick.
The rest was 2 full days of practising photoshop!
Week One - Spectrum (SAFE)
"For the Love of Green"
Green means growth, renewal, nature, health, balance and love to name a few. It is the primary colour of plants. The connection between plants and the colour green is what inspired me to use the plants in my home. This directly fits into our team's chosen theme of exploring a spectrum of colour and emotions through the meanings of each colour, using objects found around our home.