CURRENT RESEARCH: Chancellor's Chair Award (KPU)
I received a $60,000 Chancellor's Chair Award at Kwantlen Polytechnic University to conduct a long-term research project. The goal is to assist residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in producing a digital memorial. The project will help community members pay tribute to family members, friends, and co-workers who have experienced fatal overdoses.
My documentary, Duterte's Hell, won a World Press Award, was nominated for a Grierson Trust Award, and was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick. The film highlights the impacts of thousands of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug users and dealers in the Philippines. It was produced by Field of Vision, published online by The Intercept, premiered at MoMA in New York, and has screened at numerous film festivals across North America and Europe.
humanizing the opioid crisis
My doctoral project is a digital memorial for Michael Stone, a B.C.-based meditation instructor who died of an opioid overdose in 2017. The purpose of the participatory project is to challenge dominant and stigmatizing narratives about the opioid crisis and its victims. The research methods that I adopted include autoethnography, participatory methods developed by documentary producers with the NFB, counter-memorialization, collaborative testimony, and interactive storytelling.
For decades, documentary photographers and photojournalists have produced stigmatizing images of injection drug users. From 2014 to 2015, I attempted to produce humanizing counter-narratives of three long-term and vulnerable heroin users taking part in North America’s first heroin-assisted treatment program in Vancouver, B.C. known as SALOME.
After a year chronicling the participants' lives, I realized my photos were unable to communicate the full story of drug users’ lives and that addictions often stem from past traumas. In order to help amplify the participants' voices and experiences, I conducted photo-elicitation interviews and asked them to express their thoughts about the photos.
I invite you to view the The Outcasts Project and hear Cheryl, Marie and Johnny's voices. I also a three-part series published on Medium (links below), and wrote about the study in The Conversation and Afterimage: The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. My scholarly chapter about the project was published in The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction. The study was profiled by BBC3, CBC News, and Postmedia.