Battlefords Untapped Portrait Series

Battlefords Friendship Centre - Jordon Weenie

Battlefords Friendship Centre - Jordon Weenie

Battlefords Untapped - Jordon Weenie

I moved to Battleford, Saskatchewan from the Yukon at the very end of 2018. Before my wife and I officially decided to take the plunge and pursue this new adventure, we did what anyone would do - we googled the place.

Unfortunately, this community has received more than its fair share of bad press over the years. Most recently, the CTV show W5 aired a documentary that labelled North Battleford “Crimetown”. Oh boy. 

While the documentary didn’t serve as much of a sales pitch for moving here, I immediately questioned the value of such one-dimensional reporting that clings to sensational statistics. Of course CTV knew that Canadians would be drawn to take a peek at “Canada’s most dangerous town”, but I felt that there had to be more to it than that - and I decided that I wanted to use my photography as a tool to help tell more positive stories about the community.

But as someone new to the Battlefords, how would I go about finding these stories to tell? And really, why on earth would  I think that I’m the one to do this? That’s when I head about an event hosted by the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce. There were speakers lined up, discussing a new podcast - all about celebrating and showcasing some of the area’s unsung heroes across the realms of business, arts, culture and sport. It was called Battlefords Untapped, and I had to find a way to get involved.

As soon as the presentation ended, I tracked down and cornered the host of the podcast, describing the project that I had in mind for months. Amazingly, he told me that the team behind the podcast had been brainstorming about how to capture better visuals to promote the show - so it was a perfect opportunity to collaborate. Sometimes the stars just align!

I thought that a series of portraits of all of the podcast guests would be a great way to expand beyond the initial audio experience of listening to the show. The images could be used not only to promote the show via social media, but hopefully after enough episodes had passed, the collection of portraits could be leveraged to create a platform - whether online or in a physical space like an exhibit - to revisit, explore and expand the Untapped conversations. In our fast-paced media world, I wanted to find a way to slow things down, to ensure that these stories weren’t forgotten as soon as the next episode aired.

So I’m pretty proud to be able to start sharing some of these portraits here as I kick off my new blog and new website!

That’s Jordon Weenie at the top of this post. He’s in charge of Urban Programming for Indigenous People at the Battlefords Friendship Centre. There, his work focuses on Indigenous and Metis people - but he casts a wide net to include other vulnerable members of the community as well. He has a vision for shining a positive light on North Battleford, and draws continuous strength and inspiration from his mother. 

Follow the link below to listen to his episode, and be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen!

Battlefords Untapped - Jordon Weenie

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