First Nation photographer takes to social media to put new touch on old pictures

Larissa Burnouf
APTN National News
A First Nations writer from Saskatoon recently signed a book deal with Penguin Random House.

In addition to the printed work, the book will be filled with vintage photographs of First Nations people and their stories.

Two years ago writer Paul Seesequasis had the idea to search through Canadian Public Archives of First Nations after his mother told him she was tired of always seeing negative photos and stories of them.

Once he began the journey of identifying the people and families in the photos he said their stories began to quickly evolve.

After posting them on social media like Facebook and Twitter, many people online became connected to their relatives for the first time.

From there, Seesequasis said the project exploded.

“That was one of the most exciting parts of it was the ability of the people in the communities to see their own histories, see their own ancestors again, see their faces in day to day life and that was really a great thing to see happen,” he said.

It also turned into a reclamation project.

“Often these photographers came into the communities, took the pictures and then they were gone and the photos went with them,” he said. “So in some ways, this was an important reclamation for them.”

So far Seesequasis has posted more than 4,000 historical photographs on his social media accounts.

He is excited for the book to be published so that a broader audience can be reached.

“I think the book is exciting because not only will it contain the photos but it will also have many of the stories that people have been sending to me cause these stories don’t belong to me, they belong to the communities,” said Seesequasis. “And if I can in some way give these stories and photos back to the communities through the format of the book, I think that’s a great thing.”

Seesequasis said 80-100 photos will be selected for the book which is expected to be published and hit store shelves by the spring of 2018.

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