Imaginative photo campaign uses First Nations models to oppose Enbridge

  • Aug. 24, 2012 3:00 p.m.

By Jane Wilson-A young woman’s anti-Enbridge Facebook campaign is causing an online stir.Michaela McGuire’s photos of First Nations models with anti-Enbridge slogans have been shared extensively online. “I never expected people to react so positively to my photos,” said the 21-year-old. “I am not a professional photographer – I’m a criminology student. The power of social media has overwhelmed me and to see how far my photos have been shared is insane. My friend told me that the Union of BC Indian Chiefs shared two of my photos. That is unbelievable.”Ms McGuire started her photo campaign in March after coming to Haida Gwaii to attend the Joint Review Panel hearings on the Enbridge pipeline. She lives in Vancouver, but has strong ties to the islands as her father is part Haida, of the Staastas clan, and she has spent most of her summers here since birth. “Ever since hearing of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline I’ve wanted to contribute to the fight to protect a place that I love from inevitable destruction,” said Ms McGuire, adding that she wasn’t sure at first how she was going to contribute. “I thought about writing letters, or poetry, or volunteering with different organizations. When I found out my friend Allison was coming from Haida Gwaii to visit me in Vancouver I decided that we should do a photo shoot. I don’t consider myself particularly talented, and I am far from a professional photographer, but I like to do photo shoots with my friends and play around with my camera.” Ms McGuire started taking pictures at her house in Burnaby. “I began with a concept that had been rolling around in my head, I felt as if the government and media were in many ways trying to silence or dilute our (First Nations and environmental groups) stance on the pipeline. Some of the first photos began with the concept of duct tape over our mouths to show that no matter how hard they try to silence us, our message will shine through.”When Ms McGuire came back to Haida Gwaii this summer, she decided to continue with the photos. She put a request on Facebook asking for help with the project and says she was overwhelmed with support from the community. People volunteered to model for the pictures, brainstormed locations and even drove her to the photo shoots.”I spent most of my time taking and editing pictures,” she said, “with the help of Allison Alsop who came up with a lot of the slogans used on the photos.”Ms Alsop, who also modelled for the pictures, said the campaign has connected more people with the campaign against Enbridge.”I believe the photos are very effective,” she said. “They have been posted and reposted on a daily basis and that means we’ve been heard. Now more people are speaking out, but we need everyone to stand up and fight with us.”Ms McGuire said she is going to keep working on the photo campaign as long as the battle against the Enbridge pipeline continues, and hopes to have a website displaying the photos soon.If you’re on Facebook, you can see the pictures by searching for the “Anti-Enbridge Photo Campaign” page.

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