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Follow along as we work towards systems change and help create better outcomes for kids in our community.

Through My Own Eyes: A Visual Narrative of Life in the North End – Part II

November 28, 2014

As explained in a past blog post, photovoice is a research method used to gather insight from community, by community. The process involves gathering community members together, identifying the research purpose and equipping people with the tools to take photographs of people places and things that they find meaningful in their community. The meaning behind the photographs is the piece that gives voice to participants and ultimately creates a platform for decision-making within the research process.

Our photo installation unveiling held on November 13, 2014 was an event that marked the end of the photovoice process and the beginning of the sharing of this installation with the community. At the same time it kicked off a new way of looking at the Point Douglas community for both photographers and community members at large.The photographs that were taken by community members were full of rich meaning and insight into their personal lives and what they feel is important to them as residents of this community. Images of smiling children, First Nations art work and teachings, pets and parks, still objects including bridges, statues, and murals, are just a few of the images captured throughout a week of the participants’ lives.

Prior to beginning the project photographers reported feeling mostly excited about being involved in the project. While many indicated medium or no skill level to use a camera, after the project many indicated an increase in their capacity around camera use to either a medium or high level of skill. Additional skills gained through this process included: how to center and focus on a subject, being more aware of the north end, and the confidence to speak up and assert one’s self.

This project left many feeling proud, empowered, and valued at the end of their participation. Individuals also commented about feeling  “different” in the sense of prestige, feeling more connected to community, important, and accepted.

For many the most meaningful part of being involved was the process of taking the photographs. Being behind a lens allowed people to look at the neighbourhood from a different perspective. As such, people felt they were seeing beauty they hadn’t seen before, that happiness was being part of something bigger, and that everything can be made into a memory by the click of a button. The ability to take a photo, share its meaning, and have it displayed publicly was a full circle experience for the residents capturing and sharing their personal experiences in Point Douglas.

Through this project, this new perspective on life in Point Douglas has left some photographers wishing the process could have been longer. They came to appreciate the things they saw and now seem to find picture worthy opportunities in moments when a camera isn’t on hand. Many of the participants even expressed interest in joining this Photovoice process if it were ever offered again.

The installation will be available for viewing through the end of November at the Winnipeg Boldness Project offices (607 Selkirk Ave) and then will travel around the city after that for viewing in other locations – look out for a schedule to be released in the next few weeks. For now, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with us and learn more about the project!

Land Acknowledgement

The Winnipeg Boldness Project resides in and works on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), Anishinabewaki (Oji-Cree), Dené, Michif Piyii (Métis), Nêhiyawak (Cree), and Očhéthi Sakowin (Dakota). We recognize that we have benefited from and continue to benefit from colonization on the Treaty 1, Treaty 3, and Treaty 5 Territories.

It is important to also acknowledge how we benefit in this territory at the cost to Indigenous Peoples. Winnipeg has been drinking clean water for over a century via an aqueduct from Shoal Lake. In 1917, 3000 acres of Treaty 3 was declared property of the city of Winnipeg to build the aqueduct. This aqueduct was built over ancestral burial ground, to build these structures, the ancestors were disinterred and reburied. Construction of the aqueduct changed the waters significantly, causing the peninsula to become a man-made island. This now isolated Nation faced many challenges as a direct result from this aqueduct; Necessities like water, groceries, schools, and mail were only accessible via the dangerous trek to the mainland. Lives of adults and children were lost crossing to and from the mainland. Freedom Road, an all-weather road access finally opened summer 2019, over a century after displacement. This road, a testament to the success of Indigenous-led solutions, helps bring materials to build schools and a water treatment plant.

“I always think of it, even when I turn on the tap I’m like this comes from our community and this water probably contains our ancestors and the spirits of our ancestor. I think about the hardships of the people from Shoal Lake 40 who have gone through so many things for the benefit of Winnipeg’s drinking water,” says Angelina McLeod.1

Another benefit we reap in Winnipeg at a cost to Indigenous Peoples and land is the Hydro Electricity Development in Treaty 5. To optimize water movement for greatest power production the Province of Manitoba increased waterflow by creating the Churchill River Diversion in 1976. The modification of the waterflow caused flooding, shoreline erosion, and changes to water quality. This destruction of habitat has caused disruption to waterway travel, fishing, and hunting.