Where Peace is War: Indigenous Resistance to Resource Imperialism in Guatemala
In her acceptance speech for the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize Lecture, Arundhati Roy writes that “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” Later on, in her speech, Roy poses several questions to her audience, asking, “What does peace mean in this savage, corporatized, militarized world? What does it mean to the millions who are being uprooted from their lands by dams and development projects? Lastly, she asks, “What does peace mean to the poor who are being actively robbed of their resources and for whom everyday life is a grim battle for water, shelter, survival and, above all, some semblance of dignity? For them, peace is war.” As I drove through Guatemala’s many geographically diverse regions I found myself ruminating over Roy’s quote and how poignantly relevant it is for the country’s indigenous communities.
With Indigenous peoples accounting for five per cent of the Earth’s population, it is predicted that over half of the world’s remaining mineral resources lay beneath lands and territories they inhabit. Rather than reap the rewards of their geographic prosperity, for Indigenous peoples in resource regions in Guatemala and around the world, the presence of foreign mining companies presages the passage of peace to war. Although this war plays out in various arenas; from corporate boardrooms, to remote indigenous territories and Canadian courtrooms, it is patently obvious that as Canadians it is just as much our waras it is that of Guatemalan indigenous communities. It is war that requires an immediate shift in consciousness from Canadian resource colonialism to equitable, inclusive and real sustainable ‘development.’ We cannot afford to turn a deaf ear any longer for this war has catastrophic consequences so complete and pervasive that if left unchecked will unequivocally threaten the very continuation of our human civilization. Our only hope at combating such an inconceivable outcome is to learn from, and defend cultures in which respect for land and resource conservation is an integral part: a principle poignantly absent from the dominant cultures presiding over our planet. A necessary prerequisite to this a dramatic paradigm shift, whereby Indigenous voices are empowered, amplified and brought to the forefront of decision-making processes in a way that shows respect for their right to complete autonomy and self-determined development.
All that being said, this photo exhibition speaks to the resiliency, bravery and unwavering resolve of indigenous land and human rights defenders in Guatemala in safeguarding their ways of being and for whom peace is war. Defenders who have lost their land, their loved-ones and their sight, yet who remain steadfast and resolute in their conviction that mining runs counter to their collective aspirations and ideals as Indigenous peoples. By recording how resistance has become routinized and the resiliency that this involves, these photos exhibit that even in the face of such unimaginable loss, these courageous leaders have never lost sight of their vision for a better future. A future where economic globalization does not occur at the expense of human rights and fundamentally a future where respect for fellow human-beings, our environment and Mother Earth takes precedence over capitalism’s insatiable demand for profit.
Various portraits of M.A. candidates in Columbia's Master's in Human Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights
A personal project documenting a weekend spent in one of Canada's most iconic national parks, Jasper. A weekend which involved a 30 kilometre canoe to Spirit Island on Maligne Lake, the largest glacially filled lake in the Canadian Rockies, the view from which many consider to be one of the best in the entire Rocky Mountains.
A commissioned shoot capturing the day Dalana Davis & Aaron Cuillitons said I do.
A collection of photographs taken will travelling across Southern Africa visiting Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. The photos were captured during and directly following a four month internship at the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation in Cape Town as well as during an independent Thesis project that involved researching the lessons South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission offers for post conflict peace building.
A small compendium of photographs taken in June 2014 in Northern Uganda on assignment for Photographers Without Borders in collaboration with Children of Hope Uganda (COHU). The goal of this series is to illuminate the change that COHU is actively working to bring to fruition in communities impacted by the Lord's Resistance Army. Having raised over (CAD)$1,000,000 in a span of 8 years, COHU has helped to empower thousands in communities surrounding Lira, Uganda while emphasizing self-reliance and local ownership over income-generating activities.
This photo essay features a series of photographs taken in every country that comprises the Levant (Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon) minus Syria (although there are a few frames shot along the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights) in addition to Egypt. The pictures were captured while participating in a course entitled; "Coexistence in the Middle East" at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem while renewed fighting between Israel and Palestine erupted during the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian 50-day war.
A collection of photographs shot in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia while researching the African Standby Force at the African Union Headquarters.
"The best camera is the one you have with you." A small selection of some of my favourite photos shot from my iPhone 5S.