SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Coming from a family who lost a loved one to violence, Denae Shanidiin understands how ordinary places like a hiking trail, childhood home, grocery store, or gas station can be triggering or uncomfortable for someone who survived trauma. She partnered with local photographer Jonathan Canlas to create the Safe/Not Safe photo series that profiles Utahns of color in places where they feel unsafe and then in places where they go to find refuge.
As the content director, Shanidiin explained the series is meant to provide a platform for these victims and survivors to find healing through sharing their personal stories, but also to normalize the conversation around trauma for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). Canlas said the photo series aims to shock its viewers and prompt them to think about the issues that exist outside their comfort zones, such as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic.
Shanidiin and Canlas joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion about their project. Davina Smith, one of the participants in the photo series shared her experience of overcoming trauma, what helps her move forward and face the places that make her feel unsafe, and why she decided to take part in the project.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Shanidiin, Canlas, and Smith, click on the video at the top of the article.