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November 22, 2016

Belleville, Ontario, November 22, 2016 – Loyalist College is pleased to announce that 2009 Photojournalism graduate Farzana Wahidy is the recipient of the 2016 Premier’s Award for Creative Arts and Design.

Farzana was born and raised in Afghanistan during the civil war and Taliban regime. It was a time when women’s education was prohibited and photography was a crime. Farzana secretly attended school and when the Taliban was defeated she continued her education and completed high school. Her journey led her to Loyalist’s Photojournalism program.

“There was a time when I dreamed of the work I would do,” said Farzana. “I wanted to express myself as an Afghan woman living in a male-dominated country, but also become a voice for Afghan women who need their stories to be told. Loyalist, and the people who supported me, helped me to raise this voice and make it stronger. This may be normal in Canada, but in my country it is not. It is just a dream for the majority. I thank Loyalist for making my dreams come true and the Premier’s Award selection committee for the honour.”

Farzana worked as the first female Afghan photojournalist for several international wire service agencies. She has won various awards and returned to Afghanistan to capture the life of Afghan women, ensuring their stories are told.

“Loyalist is extremely proud of Farzana’s achievements,” said Loyalist College President & CEO, Ann Marie Vaughan. “Her strength, perseverance and dedication to women’s issues inspire us to pursue our paths with conviction.”

As an active contributor to the Afghan Photography Network, Farzana raises awareness of what is happening in Afghanistan and creates opportunities for an international audience to experience Afghanistan through Afghan eyes.

Farzana recently launched the Afghan Photographers Association and the Afghan Photo Agency. Both endeavours are registered with the Ministry of Information and Culture in Afghanistan. The Afghan Photographers Association advocates, trains and promotes photographers and photography in and outside of Afghanistan. The Afghan Photo Agency grants local media legal access to high quality images. It is a platform for Afghan photographers to display their work and to keep Afghanistan in the picture of mainstream media. 

The Premier’s Awards recognize outstanding college graduates who work to improve the social and economic well-being of those in their communities and around the world. This year’s Awards were held at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto on November 21 as part of the Higher Education Summit. 

About Loyalist College

We put you to work™. When it comes to grads getting jobs, 87.4 percent of the College’s most recent graduates found employment within six months of graduation compared to the provincial average of 83.6 percent, according to Provincial Key Performance Indicator (KPI) results released in April 2016. Located on more than 200 acres in the beautiful Bay of Quinte region, Loyalist College is a close-knit community where students and their success come first. Loyalist provides personalized attention in small classes, rewarding field placements and superior student services. To prepare students for in-demand careers, Loyalist offers more than 60 full-time programs; apprenticeships; and hundreds of online, distance and in-class courses, as well as opportunities for continuing education through more than 70 university transfer agreements. The College’s wide selection of advanced diplomas, diplomas and certificates aligns with market-driven disciplines including applied sciences, biosciences, building sciences, business and management studies, health sciences, human studies, justice studies, media, arts and design, and skills and technology. In Ontario, the College’s new Digital Media Centre and the LEED® Silver certified The Bay of Quinte Skills Centre are training centres of choice for students, as well as College business and industry partners. The College is a key driver of the social and economic health and prosperity of the area and contributes 5.4 percent to the Gross Regional Product. This represents an overall effect on the regional economy of $530 million – based on a 2014 Report by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI). For more information on the College’s Belleville and Bancroft campuses, visit

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Contact:  Kerry Lorimer, Director of Marketing and Communications, Loyalist College,, (613) 969-1913, ext. 2536