Author Sharon Krushel with good friend and fellow artist Mary Parslow, singing a song together at the opening reception for the ‘Mother Earth’ exhibit at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery.Tom Summer

Original Published 12:52 Apr 12, 2022

By Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative

Mother Earth – that’s the title for a new book curated by author and photographer Sharon Krushel, who came out on April 9 to sign copies at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery. 

At its core, the book is a collaboration, with additional photos provided by friends – biologists, tree planting university students, local First Nations, and fellow artists living in the Peace Region, says Krushel, who moved to Peace River from Camrose in 1982 with her husband.

“I live in the north edge of the town – there’s nothing but hills and trees behind our house, and so that’s my therapy, is to go looking for pieces of light with my camera and my dog,” she said.

The book has been in the works since 2019, noted Krushel, but started when she pieced together 20 years of photos and experiences living in Peace River into a small art book for the Peace River Art Club, but soon grew into the current release.

“One of the wonderful things about collaborating with so many people is the different styles of photography,” she said. “The first half of the book is mostly my photos and the second half is mostly the collaboration and stories.”

The photos often centre on wildlife, providing the common name and scientific names, in addition to Cree and Dunne-Za (Beaver) names for the flora and fauna found across the Peace, from Mile Zero to Fort Vermillion Falls.

“I know a lot of biologists, and that was another fun part of it. I’ve always been very interested in science,” Krushel said. “I’ve been asked to photograph the Peace River Powwow and different events for the aboriginal community. The English people were not the first people to name these species.”

A Cree language app was used to provide one half of the indigenous names, added Krushel, who also consulted with elder Mary Francis and other community members from the Beaver First Nation in Child Lake for the Dunne-Za names.

“I would put up a picture of say a Lynx, and then she would say what the word was,” said Krushel. “Another woman there would look up it in their book to figure out which dialect and pronunciation it was.

“It was quite a process, but the elder was so delighted to share their knowledge that way.”

The book also sports several aerial photographs, taken from the wings of a small plane built and piloted by her husband, capturing the area’s vistas.  

“It seems like I’m either on my belly on the ground taking pictures of the underside of a wild strawberry or I’m up in the air,” said Krushel.

This item reprinted with permission from Alaska Highway News, Fort St. John, British Columbia