2014 Outstanding Young Alumna
At just 31 years old, photographer and activist Catherine Oshanek (JA '05) has amassed a body of achievement and experience that belies her years.
In the nine years since her graduation, the SAIT valedictorian has secured columns at major newspapers in Calgary and Vancouver and participated on a research and development team that pioneered the conversion of 2D to 3D film and tested movies for such directors like James Cameron, George Lucas and Jerry Bruckheimer.
Today, she operates a successful fashion/fitness/commercial photography business — White Cedar Photography — photographing fitness and fashion celebrities internationally and breaking down beauty stereotypes by shooting for VOL•UP•2, a Paris-based magazine for plus-sized fashion. In 2011, Oshanek launched a bullying awareness campaign called "I've Been Bullied ." The campaign uses portraits as the visual heart of the crusade that coordinates teen mentoring, motivational speaking and support by connecting Kids Help Phone counsellors with kids seeking advice via email.
That keen social conscience also prompted Oshanek to roll up her sleeves for 30 straight days following the Southern Alberta floods in June 2013. For these efforts, Oshanek was named a Hero of the Flood by the Alberta Government.
Catherine Oshanek, White Cedar Photography, Founder of I've Been Bullied
"Since I won my award, things have certainly changed. I moved to the Niagra region and had a baby last summer. Until I had the baby, I was flying back and forth to Calgary to keep shooting (photography). I've had a few clients fly out here to work with me, too, in addition to my working with international plus-size fashion magazines. My fiance and I own a home renovation company, so I'm doing the marketing, PR, photography and client outreach for that.
Building community has always been important to me. Calgary is a place where entrepreneurs from around Canada go to create, to make their own accomplishments. I miss that energy, so I started a mom's group to bring together women business owners. And my son Maxen was born with a rare medical condition that affects his leg. I am working on a website for that. It's frustrating to Google something and there is nothing there. Fortunately, I am a journalist, so I put those skills to work. Now that I'm a mom with a child who has a visible disability, I want to make sure he is overflowing with confidence. He's honestly my best creation to date.
In the future, I will still be doing photography. It is my everything. I never expected to be living in the Niagra Wine Region and to have a baby out here. You can't plan life, though. I just work as hard as I can and hold on for the ride."