What do you love about your home community? I love the endless smiles and waves as you walk along the shores of the Mackenzie River, the culturally rich community with many Dene and Metis traditions. Seeing the bison roam the fields freely, and of course the mosquito and black fly filled air – that’s when I know I am home.
I have spent most of my life living in the small aboriginal community of roughly 800 people, Fort Providence; Zhahti Koe meaning, “mission house” in Dene Zhahti. It’s located on the shore of Canada’s longest river and is located along the highway between Yellowknife and Hay River. We have an Elementary and High school – Deh Gah School, which means “By the River”. It’s where I’ve spent many long days in class making friendships and the best childhood memories.
Fort Providence is home of trappers, hunters, fishers, drummers, hand game players, traditional artists, beaders, quilters, moose-hair tufters, and moose-hide tanners. We also have the infamous Deh Cho Bridge, Dene Fur Clouds, a small hardware store called the Aurora Market, two little coffee shop called Snowshoe Inn & Big River Service and a Northern Store. Many cabins, snowmobile & quad trails, swamps and stray dogs surround it. I always look forward to returning home to the welcoming hugs and handshakes.
As a young lady hanging out with friends, playing hide and seek outside the band office, driving around on a snowmobile all hours of the night, or simply walking in the same circles around town, one thing is for sure – I always had a camera in hand, capturing it all. Photography quickly developed into a passion of mine and, thankfully, I grew up in a beautiful town with people who were willing to be subjects of mine.
No matter where I go and how long I am gone, I’ll never forget where I come from. Fort Providence fills me with many amazing memories. It is a part of my identity and has helped shape me into who I am today.
– Shawna McLeod