Mary Fowles is an award-winning documentary storyteller whose work seeks to shed a light on dark corners, lend strength to quiet voices, and illuminate beauty.
Mary grew up on Salt Spring Island, the homeland of the Penelakut, Saanich and Cowichan First Nations.
In the early 2000's Mary moved to Montreal where she lived for over a decade, studied religion at McGill University and later obtained a graduate degree in journalism from Concordia University where she specialized in documentary film and print journalism.
In her last semester of journalism school Mary was one of four graduate students across Canada awarded with a journalism fellowship from Canada's International Development Research Centre.
In 2009 Mary released her first documentary feature film titled Taxi Casablanca, which she wrote, produced and directed after meeting Casablanca's first female taxi driver. The subject of her film, Zakia Mezzour, had to fight for her right to work in a man's job. In the process, she asserted her human right to freedom and independence for all the world to see - as she transported local passengers to every corner of Casablanca, working day and night. This heartfelt film was a true labour of love. It was acquired by TV5 Quebec for TV broadcast and attained high audience ratings.
In 2016 Mary filmed her short documentary film Welcome to Canada in her home town of Vancouver, Canada. The film looked at the influx of Syrian refugees who were welcomed to Canada in the aftermath of war and explored the complexities of resettlement. It premiered on the Atlantic and has been shown in festivals around the world.
Mary has been awarded many artist grants including production grants from both the Canada Council for the Arts, the Quebec Council for the Arts, CIDA, SODEC and others.
A feminist to the core, Mary's work and research constantly delves deep into topics of concern to women. Her feature article Roused from a Dream, which she wrote in 2014, reported on the the creation of a women's lineage document in the Zen Buddhist tradition. Comprising of eight months of research, the article traced back the history of women in the Zen tradition, and discussed how women were entirely left out of the transmission of religious authority, while preference was always given to a male heir. Qualified women with advanced skill were often erased from or demeaned in the recorded history. The article was featured in Tricycle Magazine, the leading Buddhist review in the US.
Her recent story for The Tyee published in February 2022 looks at the 2019 legal reforms around Canada's "choking law". It investigates how police, the healthcare system and the courts are struggling to catch up to the new law in terms of documentation and enforcement of a primarily invisible crime that affects women victims of domestic violence and coercive control. For this article she became a recipient of the 2022 Jack Webster Awards in the category of Excellence in Legal Journalism.
Mary has worked and lived for an extended time in both Morocco and Jamaica. In 2016 she move to Kingston Jamaica to work with Cuso International. During this life-changing experience she worked in schools with young musicians in the centre of Kingston. She also created numerous photo essays and developed her street photography portfolio in Jamaica.
In her spare time Mary works on documentary and street photography, travelling often between Vancouver, Canada and Kingston, Jamaica which has become her second home.
She is a member of the Vancouver Street Photography Collective.
"It is word, sound, and power that breaks down the barriers of oppression, drives away transgression, and rules equality." - P. Tosh.