Exposing equality, one photo at a time

Dana Bekk of Faro bought her first camera when she was 12 years old. "It was a Kodak EasyShare," she said. "It was a Kodak EasyShare," she said. "I always wanted a camera so I saved up for a long time and bought a little point-and-shoot.

Dana Bekk of Faro bought her first camera when she was 12 years old.

“It was a Kodak EasyShare,” she said. “I always wanted a camera so I saved up for a long time and bought a little point-and-shoot and then – I always tell people this, I always say -‘And that’s when photography just kinda clicked for me.’”

Bekk, who is now 16, has turned her photography hobby into a budding business. This past summer she shot a wedding and graduation portraits for some of her schoolmates in Faro.

“My favourite thing to photograph is people,” she said. “Different people can change a photograph so much; you can take the same picture of a different person and it will just be a totally different picture.”

Bekk has never taken photography classes, apart from asking for occasional help from her cousin, who is a professional photographer. Instead, the art form has come quite naturally to the young woman.

“It just kinda happens for me,” she said. “Both my sisters are really interested and good at performing arts and I was never interested or good at that and, I don’t know, I found photography and it just happened for me. I am good at it.”

Soon, Bekk will have national exposure thanks to a photograph she took of her counterparts at Girls Night Out.

The girl-directed support group, which has been meeting every Wednesday in Faro since 2006, came across a competition offered by the territory’s women’s directorate for the International Day of the Girl, which was on Oct. 11.

The competition was for the directorate’s poster design and asked the question: “What does equality and fairness for girls look like to you?”

It didn’t take long for the Faro group to start talking about career equality.

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One of the girls brought up the fact that one member, Caitlin Irvine, 18, is a volunteer firefighter in Faro but that most firefighters tend to be men.

Then Angela Unrau, 17, spoke up.

This fall, Unrau shot her first moose. She loves hunting, but few girls or women are hunters, she told the group.

“Most famous photographers are men,” added Bekk.

And while she knows that she will always practice photography, “no matter where I am in my life or what I am doing,” Bekk has plans to study to become a human rights lawyer.

It’s another career that is disproportionately male-dominated, she said.

Soon enough, the girls had borrowed uniforms from their fathers, local RCMP and the school’s science lab and took their places on the Faro bridge.

Bekk, of course, took her spot behind the camera.

The photo shows (from left) Irvine in her firefighting gear; Emily Grantham, 13, in an RCMP uniform; Unrau in her hunting camo; Christine Ryan, 12, in a scientist’s lab coat; group coordinator Heather Grantham, 35, in her EMS uniform; and 10-year-old Trinity Michel-Gagnon dressed as a construction worker.

The group also submitted a caption: “We are powerful like fire, we fight crime against women, we provide for our families, we recognize our own intelligence, we are our own first responders, we construct equality.”

“Each part of the caption corresponds with each of the girls,” explained Grantham. The words “we are powerful like a fire,” comes from the group’s theme song, called “Beautiful Flower,” by songstress India Arie.

“I think it’s so important for girls to realize that they can do and be whatever they want to be,” said Grantham. “Sometimes, living in small northern communities, it’s hard for girls to dream big. I think girls need encouragement to start early, thinking about what they want to do and what they’re passionate about and what they’re good at.

“It’s important to talk about this with young girls.”

Winning the competition was exciting for the group, added Grantham.

Girls Night Out hosted a free lunch on Oct. 11 to celebrate International Day of the Girl, and a large, mounted poster featuring Bekk’s photograph was mounted in the community’s recreation centre.

“It makes me feel a little overwhelmed,” said Bekk, looking ahead to her future career and efforts to bring equality to a male-dominated industry. “But I think it’s important for women to do whatever they want, no matter what. As someone who wants to be a human rights lawyer, I want to be able to advocate for girls all over the world who maybe aren’t as able to do jobs and things that men are able to do.

“Girls all over need to pursue their passions because if, four years ago when I bought my camera, someone told me I’d be interviewed by the Yukon News about photography, I wouldn’t have believed them. It’s important to pursue your passion because when you do, you’ll be able to accomplish things you never even imagined you’d be able to.”

Girls Night Out will be holding a camp on violence prevention at Sundog Retreat from Nov. 2 to 4. It is open to all Yukon girls aged 13 to 18. They have also started planning for a photography camp for next year.

It’s open to girls all across the Yukon, girls aged 13 to 18, and will be held in Whitehorse. Grantham can be contacted for details at tjandheather18@gmail.com

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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