Indigenous women in Canada reclaim their image in photo blog


PHOTO/Tenille Campbell

A small child performs a traditional Kwakwaka’wakw dance, showcasing the indigenous populations on Vancouver Island, Canada. A Cree woman wonders if there are other aboriginal Olympic weightlifters in the country. A family hunts for geese in the Northwest Territories.

These stories of indigenous women across Turtle Island, the name given to North America by indigenous cultures, are collected on the new photography blog Tea and Bannock.

The blog was founded by Tenille Campbell, a member of the Dene community who grew up in Lac La Plonge, in northern Saskatchewan, an area of Canada filled with trees, lakes, and bitter, cold winters.

Campbell, who now lives in Saskatoon, wanted to form a gathering place for indigenous photographers such as herself, particularly women.

“I thought we have something to say and we all have something to say that’s different because we are not all the same, which I think is a huge part of the blog,” said Campbell, a photographer, mother and Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan who’s looking at aboriginal literature and ideas of community, oral traditions, storytelling and urban and reserve identity through writing.

The blog, launched at the start of 2016, showcases some beautiful images. But its other purpose is to help indigenous women use the medium as a way to explore and reclaim their heritage.

“It was important for me to showcase my experience because I’m Dene … I don’t speak my language and that bothers me,” Campbell said in a phone interview after coming home from doing a workshop in northern Saskatchewan. “This was a journey, literally a journey, of finding out how I identify as indigenous.”

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