As Canada gears up to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding, photographers are using this moment to reflect on Canadian identities and policies, shedding light on the struggles of diverse communities from coast to coast.
Featuring: Rafal Gerszak, Nicolas Lévesque, Christopher Katsarov Luna, Yoanis Menge, Jalani Morgan, Renaud Philippe and Tim Smith
Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay
Groupe Photo Media International (GPMI)
Laurence Butet-Roch and Adrienne Surprenant
In Candide, Voltaire described Canada as “a few acres of snow.” Public opinion hasn’t changed much since then; the second largest country in the world is rarely in the news, even though there’s much to be concerned about.
With 3.91 people per square kilometer and a territory that goes from sea to sea, Canadians are diverse. Expressions of Indigenous, French, English, Allophone and other cultural identities create a tapestry; a cause for celebration but also of friction. While the legacy of the nation’s colonial past has endured over the last decade, the freedom of expression of scientists, journalists and activists has been undermined. The extraction of natural resources has been pursued despite environmental costs and a xenophobic climate has developed.
2017 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederation that united all these strangers under one flag, an opportunity to question Canadian identity and policies. Local photographers are uniquely positioned to bring to light issues that the country must address. The images of Rafal Gerszak, Christopher Katsarov Luna, Yoanis Menge, Jalani Morgan, Renaud Philippe and Tim Smith show this diversity, celebrating its existence but also hinting at the struggles these communities face. It’s time we take notice.
The photographers included come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. A founding member of Boreal Collective, Rafal Gerszak, lives with two retired sled dogs in the Pacific Northwest and is currently examining life in Canada’s most remote communities. Christopher Katsarov Luna, a Peruvian-Canadian who grew up in the industrial neighborhood of Weston, is concerned with the many contemporary and structural issues facing working people and their communities. Yoanis Menge, born with both Swiss and Canadian citizenship, has been following the lives of seal hunters, becoming one of them, in Magdalen Islands (where he resides), Newfoundland and Nunavut for over four years. His colleague at Kahem Collective, Renaud Philippe, follows the threads of those forced into exile by war, injustice and natural disasters. He has spent the past three years with some of the thousands of Bhutanese refugees who, like him, call Quebec City home. Also with Kahem, Nicolas Lévesque lives afield, in the countryside, his muse. He documents the lifestyles of his neighbours in Saguenay Lac St-Jean. Jalani Morgan, a Toronto-based photographer, focuses on documenting and portraying images of Black life both in Canada and internationally. Lastly, Tim Smith, a member of Rogue Collective based in Brandon, Manitoba, stumbled upon the Deerboine Hutterite colony while cruising the grid roads of the heart of the prairies, changing his perception of the insular community.
Groupe Photo Media International (GPMI) is a non-profit organization and its general mission is to promote photography. To achieve its objective, GPMI organizes events, exhibitions and publishes books. GPMI strives to develop photographic culture in Quebec, Canada and internationally. GPMI organizes Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay, the only photojournalism festival in Canada.