Presenting… Tiana!

By John Guido

Do you remember the photo contest that was launched by the “Mon ami Gil” series last spring?

Our friend Gil invited us to think about the importance of being “in the camera.” Gil embraced his professional photo shoot. It allowed him to shape and experiment with how his image is presented to the world.

Gil inspired us to invite others to take their turn. We are delighted to introduce you to Tiana, the first of two individuals with intellectual disabilities selected for a session with a professional photographer.

Tiana’s photo shoot

A professional photo shoot is a wonderful opportunity for an individual to shine, to present themselves in many poses, moods, and colours, revealing the unique and beautiful person that they are. This is particularly important for persons from marginalized communities who may not have seen positive representations of their communities in the wider culture.

When everyone, regardless of their background, age, or ability, has an opportunity to express their true selves, we will create a society that celebrates the unique gift of each person and the rich diversity of our human family.

Read also: Listening to and amplifying the voices of marginalized people

Tiana’s Thoughts

Why did you want to participate in the photo contest?

Oh Hi, I just saw Mon ami Gil video with my mom. and I thought he looks cool. I love his photo shoot. And I just thought it would be similar to him that I could have fun getting photos.

How did you feel before your photo shoot?

I felt a little nervous but yes I’m excited too.

What did you find difficult about being photographed?

It wasn’t too bad. I actually liked it.

Did you learn something about yourself?

I learned that I can be myself and that feeling of comfort with my look. I learned I love to model fun clothes. I learned I love to have fun with my family and friends with the camera.

Did you learn something about others?

I think so. Like I learned that about being myself and having fun with others. I was surprised when I saw the pictures. I’m surprised that I look so like me being a teenager.

Would you do it again?

Yes please. I feel free. I am away from high school commands. I’d be happy to do it again. I'm so thankful.

Dan, Tiana and Sandra Kirkegaard

Photo above: Dan, Tiana and Sandra Kirkegaard

From Sandra, Tiana’s Mom

We are so thankful for this amazing opportunity our daughter Tiana had.

It was such a joy to see her flourish in front of the camera. Tiana loved every single moment, especially when she was ‘ready and on’ as the camera started clicking.

She thrived when three people she loves that came to support her during the photo shoot called out to her, to encourage and help inspire her to shine.

One of the things I particularly loved as her mother, was seeing how natural she seemed in front of the camera, along with a new-found strength as she stood in a place of confidence, gentleness and authenticity.

Another precious part of all of it, was to watch her view the photo gallery. She giggled and squealed. She commented on each photo and expressed such delight!

We thank those who helped put the photo shoot together.

We are thankful to each one… from the photographer, to those who took Tiana shopping so she could choose clothes she wanted, to the advice givers, and to those who came to the photo shoot!! (Thanks Leticia and Laurie!)

Thanks to the Mon Ami Gil crew who set up the contest. Thanks to the L’Arche Canada Communications Team and to the sponsor of the contest.

In closing, we would like to say thanks to the ‘mini-village’ who helped make this dream come true for Tiana.

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