When employees integrate their passions and professions the results can be beautiful.

Dave Wiebe is an intake counsellor with Ehrlo Counselling Services, which provides a range of counselling, assessment, training, and consultation services to improve the lives of individuals and families in Regina and surrounding area.

As part of the Ranch Ehrlo organization, Dave has had opportunity to work with participants and has volunteered time to introduce young people to photography when he saw opportunity to build connection and confidence within them.  

Dave’s photography journey began in his early 20s first experimenting with film photography, including slide film and black and white film.

Dave’s passion has always been strong, however, it’s shifted in and out of focus throughout the years, as interests often do. He said the emergence of digital photography in the 1990s reignited his passion and resulted in a heavier investment of time and money.

“Maybe ten or 12 years ago, I purchased this ridiculous 600-millimeter telephoto lens and really started getting into wildlife photography, primarily birds,” he explained. “That’s kind of become one of the main things I’ve captured over the last several years because the lens allows me to get up close and personal with wildlife.”

Dave has captured thousands of images over the years and shares his favourites on social media and with those in his communities. He said it was a friend, and fellow Ranch staff, Kate Langen, who planted the seed and encouraged Dave to share his interest with the youth.

“What I did was put a proposal together, requesting money from the Ranch to purchase five Canon point-and-shoot cameras,” he explained. “The request was immediately approved and so I went on to send an email to all the caseworkers asking them to refer kids they thought would be a good fit.”

And so, in 2017, the Photography for Fun and Mindfulness Club was born.

The club would go on to hold one session in the spring, and another in the fall for several years. A cross-section of youth participated each season, meeting once per week for about two hours.

“There was really good buy in by pretty much everybody who attended over the years,” said Dave. “I encouraged them to try to let go of everything else happening in their lives, for a little while, because photography is about mindfulness – about being in the here and now as much as you can.”

At the end of each five-week session, youth were gifted a flash drive of their photos along with two framed prints to have as a keepsake. The sessions all concluded with a special slideshow presentation to the youth’s caseworkers, clinical staff, unit managers, and some directors.

“This (club) came from something that I really love to do and was happy to share,” said Dave. “This has happened many times at the Ranch over the years, where a staff member has an interest in something, and they get the kids involved. It just becomes another way to connect with the youth and build their confidence.”