I splurge on a coffee I cannot afford, and I smile. The sun is shining. The mountains are outside the window. I write poetry. I am loved. All is well.
But slowly, slowly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel the joy. I couldn’t feel the passion. I felt… grey. Nothing. Absent. I went through the motions and denied that anything was wrong. Or I would sigh and shake my head, because even if something was wrong, there was nothing anyone could do to “fix it.”
I stood still for a second, listening to the Rez accents in a big city, the sweet rush of ocean wind blowing through our hair, and I smiled. Sometimes you find kin in the most unexpected places.
I've been photographing my Northern Grads going onto my seventh summer. I have worked in Beauval, Patuanak, Meadow Lake, Birch Narrows, Prince Albert, Rosthern and North Battleford. I have worked with my Métis, Dene and Cree kids while laughing at thick accents and the massive amount of family members that show up for 'immediate family only' images.
I needed a very specific shot of an Indigenous woman, standing proud, playful, and sensual. No biggie. Just decolonizing images, one Indigenous at a time.
One of the first dates I went on was with a white guy. Which was new for me. Being from a small Northern Indigenous community, I usually dated Dene’s, Cree’s and sometimes, when I was feeling exotic, Métis. But “dating” in the North – it’s not like in the city.
I watched the skyline of Toronto being bathed in the golden light of sunset and laughed, frustrated. The skyline blocked out all that natural light from hitting us – so how do the Toronto photographers do this?
It was one of the most incredible and humbling moments of my life, I even took a moment to just stand there and take it all in.
Learning the language empowers us to connect to our culture and elders in ways that are deeply meaningful, but it is also vital for the well being of our communities as whole.
I don't love studio work, but I accept the challenge. I want to try. I want to learn. I want to make the mistakes.