Documentary photographer Ian Willms was among the finalists in the Magnum 2012 Emerging Photographer Fund. Willms is from Kitchener, Ontario and is a member of the Boreal Collective. He was nominated for his ongoing project to document the First Nations community of Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta, which is situated just north of the Canadian Oil Sands. The Oil Sands is one of the largest industrial projects in the world and it has had a devastating impact on the people of Fort Chipewyan.
For over a decade, fatal cancers and other unexplainable illnesses have swept across the community, and still the cries of the people and medical practitioners of Fort Chipewyan continue to fall upon deaf ears. Tumor-laden fish now being found in Lake Athabasca and the results of independent environmental assessments have begun to confirm what the people of Fort Chipewyan have feared all along – their community is being poisoned by the Oil Sands. (Ian Willms)
Earlier this year this project also won Gold in the 2012 National Magazine Awards, Photojournalism and Photo Essay category, as well as an Ontario Arts Council Visual Artists grant. To learn more about Ian’s work please visit his website: ianwillms.com
The Emerging Photographer Fund (EPF) was initiated by David Alan Harvey in 2008, and the $10,000 grant is awarded by the Magnum Foundation, a non-profit created by the member photographers from Magnum Photos, Inc.
The 2012 EPF was awarded to Matt Lutton, an American photographer based in Belgrade, Serbia, for his project “Only Unity: Serbia in the Aftermath of Yugoslavia”. The finalists were: Ian Willms, Gustavo Jononovich, Ayman Oghanna, Laia Abril, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Bieke Depoorter, and Anastasia Taylor-Lind. The two runners-up were: Simona Ghizzoni and Giovanni Cocco.
Magnum Photos is considered one of the most prestigious and influential photo cooperatives in the world and was founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and William Vandivert. Some of the previous jurors of the EPF have included Carol Nagar, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Eugene Richards, Maggie Steber, Fred Ritchin, Bruce Gilden, David Griffin, John Gossage, Susan Meiselas, and James Nachtwey. The 2012 edition jurors were photojournalist Stephen Dupont, National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Sarah Leen, National Geographic Creative Director Bill Marr, photographer Rebecca Norris Webb, LaFabrica Madrid editor Arianna Rinaldo, and Magnum photographer Alex Webb.