Iqaluit photography project celebrates 'different perspective' on food and culture

"Food and culture is really deeply tied to identity," says Johanna Paquin, the facilitator of PhotoVoice Iqaluit.

PhotoVoice Iqaluit's goal was to promote self-expression and community discussion

Johanna Paquin organized the PhotoVoice Iqaluit project, which ended with a photo display about food at the Black Heart Café in Iqaluit. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

Photos taken by Iqalummiut are on display at the Black Heart Café in Iqaluit; it's the culmination of a two-week long community project focused on food and culture.

Johanna Paquin, the facilitator of PhotoVoice Iqaluit, solicited eight participants through Facebook. They met on Tuesdays and Thursdays in November to practice their photography skills, talk about what food meant to them and share a meal.

Paquin said the youngest participant was four and the oldest was in their mid-50s. 

"I believe food is culture, and it's a universal language to connect and understand each other. Food and culture is really deeply tied to identity," Paquin said.

They met at the Qajuqturvik Food Centre to eat a traditional foods. Cameras were provided, but some participants chose to use their phones. 

Participants in PhotoVoice Iqaluit met throughout November to practice photography, talk about food and share a meal. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

Participants documented their favourite seasonal and celebratory meals, and the logistics of how Iqaluit residents get their food. 

One photo collection showed pictures of caribou stew and written commentary explaining how hunting quotas affect access to country food.

Northmart fire reflected in photos

The workshop was in its first week when Iqaluit's largest grocery store caught fire. And its exhibition was the same day that Northmart reopened.

Three participants chose to display photos about the fire.

This included Northmart's pharmacy manager Melissa Thomas, whose photos told a story about pharmacy staff coming together to help clean up after the fire.

"The idea behind it is to give people a different perspective on an issue through their images, feel good about creating something and having it seen," said Paquin. 

The workshop's goal was to promote self-expression and community discussion. The photos will be on display at the Black Heart Café until the end of the month.

Paquin plans to run a similar photo workshop geared to teens and related to mental health in early 2019.