Photography club in northern Sask. gets photos picked up by Kids Help Phone
As part of the Finding Hope Action Plan, Kids Help Phone bought 12 photographs from Pinehouse youth
The Pinehouse Photography Club uses therapeutic photography to help heal from trauma, and now they're helping inspire other youth across the country.
After CBC published a documentary on the program, Kids Help Phone reached out and purchased 12 photographs.
The photographs are now a part of the Finding Hope Kids Help Phone action plan to combat suicide and support Indigenous youth.
"It was a warm welcome," Deanna Dunham, manager of Indigenous Initiative at Kids Help Phone said. "They were happy to hear about the action plan and they fully embraced the opportunity."
The Finding Hope Action Plan sets out to increase Indigenous counselling and crisis response, improve access to resources; promote mental, emotional and spiritual well-being; and increase education, plus it lays out material steps to achieve these goals.
Photographs from Pinehouse are easier for people to identify with because of who took them, Dunham said.
"It's really important that these photos are of young people and taken by young people. So it's youth as they're really defining themselves," Dunham said. "There should be nothing about youth without youth."
"We really want to build that awareness and reduce barriers to access for Indigenous young people."
Kids Help Phone paid $100 per photograph. Dunham said she hopes other communities will take up similar projects.
Photography student Jonah Natomagan had two of his photos purchased by Kids Help Phone.
"I was shock," he said. "I was really happy that they asked and I've been more than willing to help them in any way I can with my photos."
He hopes his photographs will inspire youth to think twice, Natomagan said.
"I think my photo being on there would let other kids know that there is other ways of coping with their depression, anxiety."
With the money from Kids Help Phone, Natomagan said he hopes to enlarge a couple of his photographs for the local Elders' home and maybe get a new tripod.
"I am an aurora borealis fanatic," Natomagan said.
"It's phenomenal," Pinehouse photography teacher Dre Erwin said. "Most of them are just blown away that now that they're helping other kids as well."
"It it gives them a sense of gratitude that you know when you help someone else out," Erwin said. "That's just an amazing feeling."
Erwin gets requests daily of people asking to join the group, he said.
"It's not just about photography. It's about just having positive role models and of a positive group to to be us and to guide them," he said.
As well in the future, Erwin said the group hopes to get a van to help transport people for photography shoots and summer photography camps planned.
"We're really excited about what what the future is going to hold for the club and for the youth," he said.
New studio set up from $70,000 grant
The Pinehouse Photography Club also received a $70,000 grant for a new studio that's now up and running.
The new studio set up has multiple colours for backdrops and they're doing personal and family portraits so far, but the studio is portable and could be moved anywhere. It's currently housed in a hall, but Erwin said he hopes to have it in the high school with a full-time staff member.
The studio has four desks, two printers and around 40 to 45 cameras plus tripods and lenses.tripod lenses.
Natomagan said the new studio is awesome.
"When we first started I didn't think, being in an isolated community, I didn't think we would come this far and we have came a long ways," he said. "I noticed it helped a lot of kids out."
He's learning to do studio portraits but the place is for more than just photographs.
"It's basically a go-to place. If you're feeling down you can go there. Even a last minute thing we can set up a quick gathering," he said. "Say if there's a couple people feeling down we can either get them to go out together or we can go out and help them and just talk basically and try to get the rough stuff off their mind."
With files from Coreen Larson