What my mother’s first photo in Canada taught me about the joy and hidden pain of immigrating

September 21, 2020

By CBC News |

Photographs are precious. I’m not talking about the ones you post on social media with the caption, “Felt cute, might delete later,” but rather the treasured ones you have collected in handbound albums; the pictures stuffed in oversized envelopes with their negatives tucked into the back; the Polaroids with vague handwritten captions on the small white border; the four-by-six prints with orange block-letter date stamps on them.

So when I heard about the National Film Board of Canada’s interactive First Photo Here — a collection of the very first photos taken by newcomers to Canada and shared with loved ones back home — I started thinking about my own mother and what her first photo might tell me about her immigration story.

The project is curated by Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker Joella Cabalu. I sent in a submission and then spoke to her about it.

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