I recently had the absolute honour of photographing Sekwan Nîpin Wabasca and her daughter, Kimowan.

I spent the day with Sekwan, hearing stories of her past while photographing her and her daughter in traditional attire. For this project, Sekwan and I collaborated on a number of ideas. I decided to shoot with black and white film on a medium format camera. I made this decision to ground and respect the energy of the past.

Selecting the Proper Medium

There is an intimacy in the process and processing of film. A flow from the composing, to shutter click, to the rhythm of the advancing frame. In the studio there is this music. Outdoors we become part of a larger symphony, with the trees, the wind and the birds playing their parts. 

With a clear vision of photographing Sekwan Nîpin Wabasca in nature, we photographed her among the trees. This signified her journey and pointed towards the future. The image below was created from this idea.

Panoramic image of Sekwan in forest.

Sekwan’s Story

My name is Sekwan Nîpin Wabasca. It wasn’t always so. I had three different names by the time I turned 6 weeks old. And I changed my name again when I got married. All my life I have felt as though my name didn’t fit, and it wasn’t right for me for who I am and where I come from.

I am part of the Sixties Scoop and have struggled all my life to feel a sense of belonging. My former name was a part of this feeling, and so for my 49th birthday I decided to take charge and change it. I knew it would be a massive undertaking as I am very well established in my private and professional life in my former name. I knew I would need to support the process by making a formal and professional name change announcement card–something tangible for family and friends to have to help them process the change. And knowing that the medium is the message I knew I needed to engage with a professional photographer who carries a diverse portfolio and could bring to life my vision of what this announcement could look like.

Working With Derek Ford Studios

Derek and I had an initial online meeting to discuss my project, and after I shared my story, he agreed to help me out. Not only did Derek agree, he insisted I accept his services free of charge as his contribution towards my personal journey. So gracious! As one may be aware, changing a name legally comes with many expenses and adding a formal name change announcement is just one of them. I am deeply grateful to Derek for his beautiful support of my journey!

Thank you, Derek, for seeing me fully and completely, right from the get go. And thank you for creating a fully safe space for me to undergo this part of my journey.

Kinanaskomitin,

Sekwan

An Unparalleled Experience

I was extremely grateful to be called upon to participate and support this project of unity, photographing Sekwan Nîpin Wabasca. Thank you to Sekwan and Kimowan for such an incredible opportunity. In addition, thank you to the Lekwungen, Esquimalt, and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, whose traditional and ancestral unceded Coast Salish Territory Derek Ford Studios is located on.

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