katya ilina

Welcome Home (2020 - 2022) is a photographic project exploring the self-identities of first-generation Canadian young women. The work celebrates the multiculturalism of Toronto through the female gaze.

This project was inspired by my personal immigration experience to Canada in 2018. Since landing in Ontario, I have been trying to create an image of what it means to be Canadian, what is "Canadian identity", but I could not define it. In Toronto, I crossed paths and connected with many other immigrants like me and second-generation Canadians with seemingly nothing in common. The only similarity was that, one way or another, they made Toronto their home. So this series is my endeavour to create my subjective "image" of Toronto through portraits of my Canadian friends.

With this series, I aim to challenge the photographer-model power dynamics by giving the agency to co-create their stories to sitters. Each individual did their own styling so that it is representative of how they want to be seen. They also selected the location where they felt the strongest emotional connection and brought an object of their choice. The photographs came together through conversations and improvisations. 

Through this project, getting to know and documenting my friends' stories, I hope to bring a new perspective to understanding multifaceted "hyphenated Canadian identity" from a female point of view.








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