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Marie France is a Canadian professional photographer specializing in portraits and documentary photography. Before becoming a photographer, Marie France was fascinated by the human being’s capacity to cope with adversity and rebuild their life. That is what prompted her to undertake this documentary project honouring injured Veterans—Veterans: Life After the Forces.

Funded in part by Veterans Affairs Canada’s Commemorative Partnership Program, the Veterans: Life After Forces exhibit features a series of intimate portraits of Canadian Veterans who were injured while serving and their transition to civilian life. The images bear witness to their scars—visible and invisible—and reveal the bravery and sacrifice they have shown. The exhibit was open to the public from 11‑24 November 2019, at Galerie La Loge, in Saint‑Jean‑sur‑Richelieu, Quebec. As part of the project, Galerie La Loge also hosted a private commemorative ceremony for Veterans and their families on 11 November 2019, and a public ceremony on 16 November 2019.

A source of continued inspiration

The idea for this project came to Marie France in the spring of 2017. She had been working on a variety of exploratory projects centred on survival that included a portrait series of Canadian Veterans at Ste. Anne’s Hospital. She was deeply moved by their stories, but she was especially struck by the fact that— regardless of age, rank, mission or unique character of their stories—they shared similar injuries and experiences. Their transition to civilian life seemed to be an unfulfilled quest for a new identity.

These initial encounters at Ste. Anne’s Hospital are what gave rise to the idea of a project about Veterans transitioning to civilian life which centred on the themes of identity, injury and rebuilding. “By targeting younger people, I wanted to show the face of the new generation of Veterans. I also wanted to highlight the fact that the deepest wounds are often the least visible.”

Veterans: Life After the Forces Exhibit

Transitioning to civilian life

Every year, more than 1,500 members are medically-released from the Canadian Armed Forces. The transition to civilian life can be particularly challenging, especially for members dealing with physical or mental health injuries and illnesses. It is L’Ecuyer’s hope that “the project can build bridges between the military world and the civilian world through an intimate look into the inspiring journeys of individuals for whom each day has become a struggle, but one that they lead with dignity and resilience down the long road to recovery.”

Honouring Canada’s Veterans

Veterans Affairs Canada is committed to honouring those who served Canada during times of war, military conflict and peace, and to keeping the memory of their achievements and sacrifices alive for all Canadians. Funding is available to organizations that undertake commemorative initiatives through the Commemorative Partnership Program.

Date published: 2020-01-13

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