Alumnus uses photography to transform lives in Northern Saskatchewan

Image credit: Dre Erwin
Image credit: Dre Erwin

Pinehouse is a small town in a remote part of northern Saskatchewan, 350 kilometers north of Saskatoon. It’s a place where people, especially youth, can feel isolated and alone, often choosing to make unhealthy choices as a way to cope with the loneliness. But Dre Erwin, a Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (now known as the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing, SCBScN) graduate, 2004, has figured out a way to help.

“Photography helps the youth tell their story to the lens, in a non-verbal and safe way,” says Erwin. “When they post their pics, they get positive feedback and support. It helps increase their self-esteem and self-worth.”

Since moving to Pinehouse a few years ago, Erwin launched the Pinehouse Photography Club to give local youth a chance to express themselves in new, creative ways. Erwin himself took up the hobby during a difficult time in his own life and learned just how photography can help people who feel lost and alone.

“After looking through the lens to get the perfect shot, they begin to start looking for beauty in everyday life,” he says. “When one starts to look for beauty all the time, it really does change how one looks at life in general.”

But, Erwin adds, it’s not necessarily all about the photography all the time.

“Half of the fun is working together and editing our pictures. We learn that everyone’s pictures are just a little bit different and that even though you may have your own perspective, thoughts or opinions, it isn’t the only one or the right one,” says Erwin.

So far, there are more than 200 members of the Pinehouse Photography Club and they are making connections to teachers and mentors across the country. Erwin, who also graduated from Sask Polytech’s Critical Care Advanced Certificate program in 2006, says his nursing background and training at Sask Polytech gave him the foundation needed to ensure club members have the necessary supports they need to grow and become healthy adults.

“I don’t know where I would be today if critical thinking wasn’t a major focus in the education I received during the SCBScN program,” says Erwin. “Being a nurse in the north means we can spread our wings and use a lot of the education we received on a daily basis.”  

Currently, the club is running a campaign to raise money for more equipment and to help promote club members work through exhibits in Pinehouse or in other communities across the country. If you would like to learn more about Dre Erwin and the Pinehouse Photography Club, please visit his Facebook page.

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Dre Erwin

Dre Erwin

Published April 2018.