Remembrance Day
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Dad's away

Photo essay by Christine Vanzella

For several years I have wanted to work on a long-term documentary photography project. After seeing the portfolios of other documentary photographers, I decided it was time to try a project for myself. A colleague came up with the idea of following an army family left at home while the soldier was on a tour of duty.

I photographed the Jackson family from July 1997 to January 1998. I've tried to capture their activities, thoughts and moods while their father was away. A father misses many family events while serving away from home, including a son's first day of Grade 1 and a daughter celebrating her first double-digit birthday.

I hope these photographs reveal a glimpse of what a family goes through while a spouse is serving a tour of duty, as well as show the soldier what he or she may be missing.

Christine Vanzella
Edmonton Sun


  • Where Dad's Going -- Sgt. Kevin Jackson shows his children Chelsea and Tanner where his tour of duty is on a map of Bosnia.

  • Kitchen Kiss -- Sgt. Kevin Jackson gives his wife Pat a goodbye kiss.

  • Dad's Departure -- Tanner Jackson looks up at his dad as they wait in the check-in line at the airport.

  • Family Goodbye -- The Jackson family say goodbye for the last time before Sgt. Kevin Jackson leaves for Bosnia.

  • Late Night Snack -- Mom Pat Jackson prepares her children Tanner and Chelsea a snack before bedtime.

  • Comforting Mom Pat Jackson comforts her son Tanner when he misses his dad.

  • Reflecting -- Chelsea Jackson has a quiet moment alone in her room.

  • Sibling Spin -- Chelsea lifts and spins her brother Tanner during a shopping outing at the local mall.

  • New Pants -- Chelsea Jackson is reflected in the dressing room mirror as she shows her mom Pat a pair of jeans she is trying on for size.

  • I Already Did -- Tanner Jackson sports an impish grin as he tries to tell mom Pat that he has already combed his hair (even though he has not).

  • Hair Pull -- Chelsea Jackson waits patiently while mom Pat combs her hair for school.

  • Morning Shadows -- Tanner and Chelsea Jackson cast long shadows as they walk to school for the first day of classes.

  • Teacher's Pet -- Chelsea Jackson smiles as she greets one of her teachers from school while her brother Tanner looks on.

  • New Classmate -- Chelsea Jackson meets one of her new classmates during the first day of school.

  • Solitary Walk -- Tanner Jackson walks home from school.

  • Maybe Braces -- Pat Jackson and the orthodontist look into Chelsea's mouth as he explains that Chelsea may need braces.

  • Birthday Twister -- Chelsea Jackson and her friends play a game of Twister at her tenth birthday party.

  • Dad's Uniform -- Pat Jackson helps her son Tanner try on one of his dad's uniforms that he left at home.

  • Banner -- Chelsea and Tanner make a welcome home banner for their dad.

  • Finally Home -- Sgt. Kevin Jackson returns at the end of his six-month tour of duty in Bosnia, much to the happiness of his family.