The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal


A blanket of snow covers Calgary on an early March morning. Inside Gravity Espresso and Wine Bar, Andy Fennell is giving service with a smile.

Nestled on the Music Mile in Inglewood, regulars flock to Gravity to escape the blistering weather.

Fennell greets his customers with a big grin and British accent, his trademark, along with his hand-drawn cup designs and mason-jar cheesecake. Local art, soft music and friendly chatter complete the cozy atmosphere.

A photo shoot for the clothing retail company Mark’s is about to take place. Nathan Elson is the man behind the camera.

He has always wanted to work with this client, but so far everything is going wrong, all while Elson’s nerves and lack of sleep are factoring in.

As he snaps his first couple photographs, they do not appear on his laptop screen. The art directors cannot see the photos that Elson is taking.

By this point there are a group of 20 people on the set: models, makeup artists, art directors and producers all watching Elson struggle with faulty equipment.

Although the shoot was not going as originally planned, Elson refused to quit.

Many Calgarians think of Marlborough Mall as a place they would rather not be after dark. Trying to illustrate this Gar Gar, a candidate in Calgary’s municipal election last year, said. “I went to Google, typed in ‘northeast Calgary’ – what I saw was accident on 36th, shooting, drug busting. And those were the only images that popped up.”

However, for Gar Gar, the area is  a part of this city that represents something different. At 17, Gar Gar had just recently come to Canada as a South Sudanese refugee and Marlborough station is where all the young adults in his community meet.

Growing up in Kenya, Ashid Bahl experienced the problems of wealth inequality first-hand. Now, living in Canada, he helps fight this inequality through his art and his non-profit charity, the For the Love of Children Society.