Common Weal Community Arts
 

I hope this project may play a role in helping people see newcomers as individuals, with happy and tragic stories, and unique reasons for coming to live with us. I hope the portraits make people feel curious.

— Michael Bell —
 

 
 

Shifting public perception of newcomer communities and increasing opportunities for connection and acceptance.

A Rightful Place is a year long multidisciplinary art and social justice project, in which the lives and migration experiences faced by newcomers were documented through portraits and personal narratives. These will be presented in comprehensive exhibitions in numerous locations throughout the province next year.
 

 

A Rightful Place was created as an effort to shift negative public perception of newcomer communities in Saskatchewan and generate opportunities for connection and acceptance amongst local communities.

Migration is central to the human experience. Throughout history, people have undertaken significant migrations that have shaped the world we now live in. These journeys are made in hope and exploration, as well as journeys made by force or desperation. Today, migration undertaken for the former reasons is especially prevalent, with thousands of refugees endangering their lives fleeing war-torn countries in the hope of finding a safe, secure, peaceful place to call home and raise their family.

Starting Year

  • 2016

Artist

  • Michael Bell

Project Locations

  • Estevan
  • Moose Jaw
  • North Battleford
  • Prince Albert
  • Regina
  • Saskatoon
  • Swift Current
  • Yorkton

# of Participants

  • 46

KM Driven by Artistic Director

  • 3,442

Countries Represented

  • 13

Partners

  • Regina and Saskatoon Open Door Societies
  • Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Estevan, Yorkton, and Prince Albert Newcomer Welcome Societies. 
  • Battlefords Immigration Resource Centre

Funders

  • SaskCulture/SaskLotteries
  • Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan
 
photo credit: Michael Bell

photo credit: Michael Bell

ARTIST, A RIGHTFUL PLACE
MICHAEL BELL

I am a photographer and photojournalist based in Regina.

This project was my first time creating work with the potential for broader social impact. As the first photo shoot approached, it occurred to me that I needed some way to connect with the participants to capture an honest moment. I started with a conversation. This helped me to understand each person’s personality, disposition, and story, which gave me visual ideas, at which point I asked their permission to start taking photographs.

I was nervous, but my fear evaporated when I met Afghan journalist, Abdulhai, at our first shoot. He was humble, joyful, charismatic, and so comfortable in front of the camera. His portraits are still among my favourite.

It’s been a privilege to meet new (and sometimes not-so-new) Canadians from all over the world, living all over Saskatchewan.