Hasnain Dattu - Agency 59 / Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Plan

Sometimes in the advertising world, we are given the opportunity to participate in a project that inspires social good. Today, and perhaps coincidentally --on International Women's Day--we are absolutely thrilled to launch the images shot by Hasnain Dattu for Ontario's 3-Year Anti-Racism Directorate. 

Here's a note from our photographer Hasnain Dattu on his experience working on the project.


It's funny how life works, and in this case, how synchronous it can be.  I had just finished my graduate proposal based on diversity and gender equity for an MFA at OCAD when I received the request from Agency 59 to work on a project for the Anti-Racism Directorate of Ontario.  We soon realized how aligned my project was with the government initiative, and the commission was granted to create five montage portraits reflecting the people of Ontario.

The key to the project was the casting and finding the right balance to reflect the diversity within Ontario.  The shoot went well and the retouching was long and arduous with many revisions.   The shots I captured turned out beautifully and have been very well received, but more importantly, I felt I had helped in the effort to create a better Ontario; an inclusive Ontario.  

One story from the shoot that especially touched me was the experience of working with Vivian; our Cree First Nations representative from Ontario. When it came to wardrobe selection, we opted for ceremonial garb from her nation instead of store bought clothes.  During a break, I saw Vivian in the back of the room crying. I quietly approached her to see if we had upset her and she cried even more. As it turns out, Vivian had survived the residential school system and had always felt that the government had stripped away her identity.  This was the first time that the government, through this project, had acknowledged her by allowing her to wear her own clothes and not those of mainstream western society. She sobbed as we hugged and said, “I feel a healing in me”.  Everyone was crying for the sadness of the past and the acknowledgment of Vivian today; a representative of Ontario without prejudice.

Thank you to everyone involved!

Hasnain Dattu

Here are a few of the final images and some of the behind the scene images from our shoot day: