Breastfeeding photo series challenges stereotypes of Indigenous parents

Photographer Elicia Munro-Sutherland is challenging views of Indigenous motherhood with her photography.

Pictures generate hundreds of shares on social media

Indigenous mother Deidre Sunchild says the photoshoot which featured women breastfeeding their babies was empowering. (Elicia Munro-Sutherland)

Elicia Munro-Sutherland wants to challenge assumptions people make about Indigenous mothers.

This fall, the Saskatoon-based photographer got an idea. She put out a call on Facebook for a shoot that would exclusively feature Indigenous women feeding their babies while wearing traditional clothing.

"I want to show the true beauty of Indigenous peoples and their culture," Munro-Sutherland told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "We're so stereotyped to be something different." 

The photos have travelled around the world digitally, generating hundreds of comments.

"I haven't even been able to read all the comments," she said. "It had me crying tears that people felt a connection to those photos."

Deidre Sunchild wore a traditional ribbon skirt to the photo shoot and put her baby in a moss bag. (Elicia Munro-Sutherland)

Deidre Sunchild was one of the mothers who participated in the shoot. She wore a traditional ribbon skirt and beaded earrings she designed herself.

"I found it really important to explore my bond with my kid," she said. "The only way I could embrace (him) more was to get out there and show people."

Munro-Sutherland's past photography projects have focused on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as well as the beauty of Indigenous men. 

The series' photographer wanted to challenge the stereotype that Indigenous people are bad parents. (Elicia Munro-Sutherland)

She said her latest project may be one of her most important. 

"We're reclaiming our power," she said. "We're stereotyped as bad parents, and everything like that, so we're reclaiming that. That is not who we are."

Eight Indigenous women participated in the photo shoot. (Elicia Munro-Sutherland)
So far, the series has received hundreds of comments on Facebook from around the world. (Elicia Munro-Sutherland)

- With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning