While out on assignment the day before the provincial budget was presented to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly a couple of weeks ago, I came across a familiar face. It was one of two protests that were taking place that afternoon on the front steps of the legislative building.
Anti-poverty demonstrators had gathered to give speeches and wave signs. When you go to the number of events we do as photojournalists you tend to see some of the same people fairly frequently. This guy always catches my eye, I always want to take his photo. This time I took the time to try to get to know him a little more.
I asked Isaac Dyck what he did for a living and what brought him to the demonstration that particular day.
"I'm a retired school teacher. I taught in the North End of Winnipeg for many years. So, I have a passion for people who are underprivileged, who experience oppression. Today we are reminded that there's a significant amount of poverty in our communities. In our community of Winnipeg in particular. We see this around us and we are reminded by the speakers and by the highlighting of this issue today, that this needs to be addressed in a concrete way.
Have you ever experienced extreme poverty?
"I grew up in a poor household, with eight kids, and a limited income. I remember the Christmas Cheer Board dropping off a box of food and putting it in the middle of the floor and how excited we were; there were toys in there. That was where my life began and I'm very fortunate that I'm a privileged white individual in this society, because many people don't have that good fortune. So, I was able to succeed and move out of that position."
If you could give some advice to a community of people what would it be?
"It's time for our government representatives to recognize that the time for words has passed. The time for the nodding of the head has passed. That it's time for direct action to address the concerns around poverty."
The Hungry Eye
Walker Evans, one of America's great documentary photographers, once said, "I go to the street for the education of my eye and for the sustenance that the eye needs -- the hungry eye, and my eye is hungry."
For me, this quote has always felt like a call to action. It is why I've embarked on a new photojournalism project -- called the Hungry Eye -- that I hope will take me into the lives of Winnipeggers from all walks of life.
One of the many things I hope to accomplish is to revisit some of the people who I meet during assignments, people who are often not the main focus of the story. Or they often have something interesting to say that isn't directly related to the topic at hand.