Montreal

First Flashes photo exhibit by Syrian teenagers shows new view of Montreal

A group of Syrian teenagers are debuting their photography at the World Press Photo Exhibit in Old Montreal this month as the result of a project seven months in the making.

48 photos on display until Oct. 1 at World Press Photo Exhibit

Amina Jalabi was teaching the teenagers photography as part of her master’s degree in art education at Concordia University. (submitted by Amina Jalabi )

A group of Syrian teenagers are debuting their photography at the World Press Photo Exhibit in Old Montreal this month as the result of a project seven months in the making.

The 48-photo exhibit is called First Flashes and it's the result of work by dozens of teens and photographer Amina Jalabi. 

"They put their hearts into it. I'm very proud of them," Jalabi said on CBC's All in a Weekend.

She said the photographers — ages 15 to 19 — were shown the basics of using a camera and then told to capture Montreal as they see it.

The results were often pictures of nature and architecture, Jalabi said.

For months, one of the young photographers, Rania Al Mahameed, took her camera with her everywhere she went.

She came to Montreal from Syria in 2014 and has four photos in the exhibit. One of her favourites is of a sunset blocked by a tree.

Amina Jalabi and Rania Al Mahameed visited CBC to talk about the First Flashes exhibit. (CBC)

'They see the beauty ... for the first time'

Jalabi said the results of the project show that these newcomers see the natural beauty of Montreal in a way that many locals take for granted.

"Buildings, we see them every day, and they see the beauty of them for the first time," she said.

"They did this to be seen as Montrealers, not only as refugees, refugee is a legal status and not just who they are." 

Jalabi launched the project as part of a master's degree in art education at Concordia University. 

She said cameras are a powerful way for marginalized communities to tell their stories.

Her goal is also to welcome policymakers to the exhibition and challenge their view of what a refugee is.

With files from CBC's All in a Weekend

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