Photographer documenting Haitian immigration to Montreal

“The story is not just about the picture that I take, it’s that moment that I get to share," says Montreal photographer, Karene-Isabelle Jean-Baptiste, whose projects have focused on highlighting Black communities. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

Montreal-based photographer, Karene-Isabelle Jean-Baptiste, has been using her lens to tell important stories, with different projects specifically about the Black community.

“The story is not just about the picture that I take, right? It’s that moment that I get to share with the person, hear their story, and understand where they’re coming from,” explained Jean-Baptiste.

“I feel like we’re here and I just feel sometimes that we’re not seen enough. We’re both hyper-visible in some ways and not seen in other ways as well. And I think that those projects are a way to sort of shed some light on, you know, who we are and what we do.”

CityNews first spoke with the photographer after an award-winning project documenting Black women in healthcare working during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Montreal photographer’s portraits celebrate Black women in health care

“I started putting these pictures of Black women in healthcare on Instagram, and it seemed to really resonate with people. So I would take pictures of different people in different settings, like pharmacists and nurses and nurses, aides and doctors,” she explained.

One of her recent works in progress is documenting Haitian immigration to Montreal, with the help of her mother, Violette.

“I live in a big country that has adopted me and that I have also adopted. My daughter is here and we live well. Maybe this wouldn’t have been my life had I stayed in Haiti, it changed our lives and I appreciate that,” said Violette Jean-Baptiste, mother of Karene-Isabelle Jean-Baptiste.

“My mom immigrated to Canada maybe 50 years ago last year,” said Karene-Isabelle. “So that’s 50 years of her being here. 50 years of contributing, 50 years of, you know, giving back. And I think it’s important to be able to shed some light on those people that we just seem to be on the margins a little bit.”

Another ongoing project: capturing the neighborhood in Montreal North.

“I wanted to be able to sort of combat these stereotypes that people have on the neighborhood. I you know, I was born there. I still live there with my family. It’s a wonderful place, despite what people may think. And I want to talk about, you know, the little moments that we experience when we live there,” said Karene-Isabelle.

Karene-Isabelle, it’s a way of making a difference – one snapshot at a time.

“I wanted to be able to sort of recognize the people that I work with, the people that I know and possibly talk about, stories that I felt just didn’t have a lot of visibility.”

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