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The PhotoVibe Documentary

The CBC National Award Winning Documentary

Based on PhotoVibe, discover how the youth and residents of Pinehouse Lake, Northern Saskatchewan, harness the power of therapeutic photography for solace and healing amidst grief, trauma, addiction, and mental health challenges. Witness the transformative impact of utilizing cameras as tools for expression, connecting youths non-verbally and fostering comfort through shared experiences. CBC's award-winning documentary captures the healing journey and the profound effects of photography on their mental well-being

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 A New Lens on Life

Shining a Light on the Power of Photography: The Pinehouse Club and the Youth Who Found Their Voice Through the Camera Lens

Youth in northern Saskatchewan have found solace in using photography as a means of healing from trauma, depression, and addiction. By utilizing a simple tool like a camera, they are able to express themselves in a safe and non-verbal way, finding comfort in connecting with others through shared experiences. This unique approach to therapy caught the attention of CBC, who documented the youths' journeys and the transformative impact of photography on their mental health.

Sunset canoe scene with the sun perfectly aligned between two individuals. Captured by Jen

Paddling Toward Healing

Empowering recovery from addiction through visual healing journeys

Two joyful youths walking, taking pictures, and having fun at Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan.

Behind the Lens: The Journey of Crafting CBC's Award-Winning Documentary in Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan

How Youth are Using Therapeutic Photography in Northern Saskatchewan

Utilizing therapeutic Photography, residents and youth from Pinehouse Lake in northern Saskatchewan find solace and healing amid grief, trauma, addiction, and mental health challenges.
Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.

World Health Orgnaization

Randall Johns, NY

How Therapeutic Photography Saved Lives in Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan

Skylar Lariviere faced despair in the vast forests of northern Saskatchewan, contemplating ending her life. But she found hope and purpose through therapeutic photography, which transformed her perspective. She dropped her weapon, ran towards life, and sought help. In Pinehouse Lake, a community grappling with high youth suicide rates, the Pinehouse Photography Club, founded by primary care nurse Dre Erwin, emerged as a beacon of healing.

Photography offered a creative outlet that not only captured the Northern Lights but also ignited a sense of wonder and purpose among its members. As they captured the beauty of Pinehouse through their lenses, they found solace and a way to cope with depression, addiction, and the challenges of remote living.

This powerful transformation through photography inspired others to follow suit. Teens like Louis Iron discovered the healing power of the camera, using it to navigate the darkness and find light in their lives. As Pinehouse's photography community blossomed, it became clear that this approach was more than a hobby—it was a lifeline.

Photography became a bridge to self-esteem and self-worth, allowing these young individuals to communicate their feelings and experiences without words. As Pinehouse's story unfolded, the Pinehouse Photography Club received recognition and grants, setting up a studio space and inspiring similar initiatives nationwide.

Today, Pinehouse's photographers continue to capture the beauty of the Northern Lights and their community. Their journey from darkness to light serves as a testament to the transformative power of photography and resilience in the face of adversity. This is the story of hope, healing, and belief—a story that reminds us all that, no matter how low we feel, we can always rise to the top.

Pinehouse youth from the Pinehouse Photography Club capturing her reflection in a truck's side mirror


Madeline Kotzer

Award-winning Saskatchewan journalist. Social Media News Editor/Presenter for CBC Saskatchewan & CBC Saskatoon.

Write to or follow her on twitter @MadelineKotzer.

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Madeline Kotzer CBC award winning producer of a New Lens on Life about youth in Pinehouse Lake who use therapeutic photography to help heal from trauma. Started by nurse Dre Erwin.

But the story doesn't end here. Dre Erwin and the Pinehouse Photography Club is on a mission to extend these opportunities to all Métis and First Nations youth through PhotoVibe, especially those in the northern and rural parts of the country. Their vision is to offer the same lifeline of creativity, healing, and hope to those who need it most, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a brighter future.

Therapeutic Photography Collaboration: Empowering Mental Wellness through PhotoVibe

Healthcare professionals, educators, and professional associations interested in exploring therapeutic photography, seeking public speaking engagements, workshops, or further information regarding the creation and implementation of therapeutic photography clubs or organizations, please feel free to reach out

Dre Erwin Photography text on a Northern Lights Logo.
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Image of a young man looking downward, conveying sadness or contemplation, captured at a lake in Pinehouse