Photographer creates a digital 'campfire' for first-generation Canadians in Halifax

A photographer in Halifax is helping first-generation Canadians share stories that honour their culture.

Carolina Andrade is achieving that through her digital project called "Our Generation Project: Highlighting The Stories of First Generation Canadians and Immigrants in Our Community."

Andrade meets with first-generation Canadians in her home studio, surrounded by large windows and tropical plants, to take pictures and ask questions about what it was like growing up with two cultures.

"People want to share stories, you know, the most fundamental basis on where people began was around campfires, sharing stories, and that's how history moved forward," said Andrade who is a first-generation Canadian of Chilean heritage.

'Spanish culture is so loud and vibrant'

Carolina Andrade/IG:@carolikina

She was born and raised in Halifax after her parents immigrated from Chile to study for their PhDs at Dalhousie University. She grew up "in a household full of Hispanic colour — from food to music, customs and language."

"My parents just spoke Spanish to each other and they would practise their English with us. The way we would sit and eat at the table versus how we did at a friend's house is different," she said.

"Spanish culture is so loud and vibrant and there's always music playing and laughter, and when speaking Spanish you're very loud and passionate so you're used to a louder volume. But if a friend would come over they'd think my parents are yelling."

Building community

After graduating from university, Andrade travelled and worked abroad for three years before coming back to Halifax in 2015.

"Every time I came back from travelling I'd realize more and more just how my existence here is a lot different when I'm out in the world, say in a Spanish-speaking country or French-speaking country," said Andrade.

"When I came back, I was very driven to find a bigger meaning of community for myself."

Carolina Andrade/IG:@carolikina

One of the goals of the project is to create connections and opportunities among first-generation Canadians and immigrants, like Elias Abi Daoud. He's a Lebanese-Canadian who grew up in rural Nova Scotia.

"There were kids that if I walked by, they would just yell like weird terrorist comments because I grew up around the time of 9/11, so I just felt kind of alienated," said Abi Daoud, who loves to cook and play for his band, Ostrea Lake. "It made me feel a sense of shame."

Abi Daoud said, as an adult, he feels very proud of his culture, and being part of this project helps honour the sacrifices his family has made to build a safer and happier life.

Andrade said  "the goal is to eventually acquire funding, sponsors and partners in order to allow the project to reach its fullest potential."

"I do hope to hold fundraising events as well for organizations such as ISANS and other opportunity-creating initiatives for immigrants and diverse youth," she said.

The project can be viewed on Andrade's instagram account and website.