P.E.I. Indigenous photographer has 'amazing experience' at Banff school

P.E.I. Mik’maq photographer Patricia Bourque feels she’s ready to take the next step forward as an artist after a three-week residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

‘That’s what I needed. That’s what I was looking for’

Patricia Bourque attended Banff with nine other Indigenous artists. (CBC)

P.E.I. Mik'maq photographer Patricia Bourque feels she's ready to take the next step forward as an artist after a three-week residence at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Bourque said she applied for the course when online advertising for it caught her eye.

"It was focused on how to help artists develop a new creative narrative, using technology. That was the line that was on the web site. That's what I needed. That's what I was looking for," she said.

"It was an amazing experience. It was a dream come true. And I'm so glad I went."

Bourque attended the course with nine other Indigenous artists: seven from other parts of Canada and two from the U.S. In addition to working with new tools for online presentation, including audio and video tools, as a group they discussed issues such as social impacts of the changing landscape, digital racial profiling, cultural appropriation, and technological elitism.

Bourque has become well known as a photographer on P.E.I. (Patricia Bourque )

There were unexpected aspects to the program as well, such as working with the facilitator who produced video games.

"I'm not a gamer. I wasn't really interested in that, but I also know that I didn't come all this way to not participate in everything that was available," said Bourque.

She wasn't just thinking of herself. Bourque also mentors Indigenous youth in Lennox Island and Charlottetown.

"I wanted to absorb as much as I can," she said.

One of the themes of the residency was the social impact of the changing landscape. This picture of Bourque's shows erosion on P.E.I.'s North Shore. (Patricia Bourque)

"I can bring back some of this new knowledge and say, you know what, I may not be able to teach you this, but here is some resources. Because youth can pick up software, pick up programs, and they can figure it out."

Bourque is self-taught, and said she saw this as another opportunity to push herself in new artistic directions. Just as important as what the facilitators had to say, she said, was seeing how the other Indigenous artists expressed themselves.

A show by Patricia Bourque at The Guild in Charlottetown. (Submitted by Patricia Bourque)

"Some days you get used to seeing your own work and you're like, is anybody getting it?"

One of the key lessons from Banff was that she is not alone in that struggle.

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With files from Island Morning