It’s only about 40 kilometres up the Sea to Sky Highway, but at times, Mount Currie can feel a world apart from Whistler.
It’s a distance that 28-year-old Erin Hogue is trying to bridge with the launch of a photography program that will put cameras into the hands of a group of Mount Currie teens this spring.
The five-week course, which starts in late April, will not only teach Mount Currie youth the basics of photography, but also incorporate art therapy techniques into the program.
“I am working with an art therapist to include those elements so the option is there for (participants) to express themselves a little bit more and gain a little bit more confidence from their work, creating a positive atmosphere and giving them an opportunity to have a say,” Hogue said.
Hogue is herself an accomplished adventure sports photographer (she’s competing in this year’s Deep Winter Photo Challenge), and has worked for high-profile clients like MTV, Transworld Snowboarding, Billabong and others, but it was an earlier project at an Ontario youth centre that inspired her to launch her latest initiative, called Giving Youth A Voice.
“I haven’t really done anything to help anybody else in a couple years, and I was looking for something to do that still included my passion,” she said. “I did some work at a youth centre in Ontario and did a photography program there and just loved it. The kids fell in love with photography and really enjoyed the program. It was fun teaching them and seeing how far they could take it.”
Hogue’s course will be run in conjunction with the Mount Currie Health Centre’s Youth Program, and will give 12 to 15 interested teens the chance to showcase their culture and community, culminating in a final art show in Whistler. The location of the exhibition has yet to be confirmed, but Hogue said she’s hopeful it can be displayed at the award-winning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre after the course is completed in June.
Along with giving Mount Currie youth a creative outlet to express themselves, Hogue wants the final show to offer Whistlerites a rare glimpse into life in the Lil’wat community.
“(Aboriginal culture) is something that I don’t know much about and I feel like a lot of the people I associate with don’t know much about it either,” said Hogue. “So I think it’s better if we give that generation the ability to speak for themselves and give them a voice.”
To raise funds for the course, Hogue is donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her prints at www.eringhogue.com. Prints of the photos appearing in the Whistler exhibition will also be available for purchase, with some of the proceeds supporting future courses.
Hogue is currently accepting used laptops and cameras for the participants to use on the course. To donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.