leylandcecco Leyland Cecco

My first love is for philosophy- for the unending questions and mental gymnastics needed to constantly see things in different ways. My studies were focused mostly in the nature of moral theory and metaethics. Shockingly, this didn't lead to unemployment. I now balance my time between my job teaching history and politics to Egyptian students in Cairo, and embarking on adventures in unending sandy deserts and mountainous African forests. This has given me the opportunity to photograph the non-political effects of life during the Egyptian revolution. I've photographed riots and protests and dived World War II shipwrecks. I've shot unruly sports fans and contested elections, Kurdish farmers and Iranian clerics. I try to shoot where others don't want to. Mostly in heat others can't stand. I've travelled to and photographed: Uganda, Ethiopia, Turkey, Northern Iraq and Palestine. I've also shot Iran, Syria and Egypt. In the summer. I'm most interested in producing visual essays on topics relating to social mobility and human rights. Photography Gear: I shoot on a Sony A700 with a Sigma 50mm 1.4 and a 85mm 2.8 and an 18-55 3.5-5.6 For more documentary style images, I shoot on a Fuji X-Pro1 with a 35mm 1.4

Collections created

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
01 Apr 2015

Quebec/New Brunswick, Canada

Since the 1980's, Quebec has stopped at nothing to become the world's dominant supplier of maple syrup. The industry, which was once a past time for farmers, is now worth almost $500 million, with Quebec controlling the lion's share of the reserves. To ward off competition and ensure consistent supply and pricing, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has morphed into a government-sanctioned cartel. It chases after producers who don't play by the rules, and is even known to initiate cross provincial border raids. It stockpiles syrup inside its 'Global Strategic Reserve', where it stores more than 68 million pounds of the liquid gold. Pound for pound, a single barrel of syrup is worth 25 times a barrel of crude oil.

A theft at the Federation's warehouse in 2012 saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. While the perpetrators remain unkown, the federation has accused producers and distributors who oppose them of the heist and have gone as far as using their power to raid the warehouses of some of them.

While the American market heats up and erodes the market share, (buoyed by the consistently high prices set by the Federation), Quebec is willing to do whatever it takes to reign supreme. 

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Reviving Canada's Legendary Fur Industry
Canada
By Leyland Cecco
30 Jan 2015

The original currency of Canada, wild fur, is back. Pushed to the shadows for nearly three decades as effective animal welfare movements stigmatized the use of fur for fashion, massive appetite in China has revived the industry. Over the last seven years, Canada has seen a large increase in the foreign demand for both farmed and wild fur pelts. Sales in 2013 exceeded $950 million, a sharp increase. While there is international interest in pelts, economic uncertainty in Russia has resulted in near-total dominance of Chinese buyers at recent auctions. Roughly 90% of wild fur is sold to foreign buyers.

These images trace the movement of fur, from the forest to auction, and then to manufacturing and fashion. There are an estimated 60,000 trappers across Canada who supply pelts to auction. Marten, fisher, mink, coyote, beaver and fox are sold at the world's largest fur auction in Toronto.

At fur stores in Toronto, designers use the material to produce coats worth thousands of dollars. While the number of shops specializing in both design and manufacturing has declined, those still in business can produce items commanding hefty sums. 

While animal rights activists continue to campaign against the use of traps, much of the industry is now heavily regulated by both the federal and provincial governments. Old traps, which often caused animals to struggle, have been phased out, and the majority of trappers now use 'kill traps', which induce death within seconds. While leghold traps are used primarily for larger predators, they are no longer able to pierce the skin of the animal, resulting in reduced suffering. However, not all trappers agree on the use of these traps, highlighting an evolving view on animal treatment within the trapping community. 

There are also concerns that the number of animals being harvested isn't being recorded. While trappers are required to submit numbers each year, the termination of a national Wildlife Pelt Census means the data is often lost in a sea of bureaucracy. 

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Slacklining in Tehran
Tehran
By Leyland Cecco
22 Apr 2014

In a park in north Tehran, a new sport is drawing crowds.

With pants rolled up at the ankle and white earbuds dangling, a group of Iranian youth delight the onlookers by balancing on the narrow nylon bands anchored from the trees. Known as Slackline Tehran, this group meets almost everyday to practice. Most days of the week they practice in the many parks around Tehran, and on the weekends they escape to the nearby Alboraz Mountains further north of Tehran.

Unknown to most outside of the country, Iran has a vibrant outdoors community thanks to the many mountains throughout the country. “We were all rock climbers,” says Mojtaba Afarin, one of the group’s earliest members. The climbers soon heard of slacklining, a sport that in Tehran, is far removed from its origins in the United States

Most of the slacklining community credits students Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington with developing the sport in the 1979 at Evergreen State College in Washington State. Originally a cable strung between two trees on the campus quad, the sport has exploded in popularity throughout North America, and is now a fixture on university and college campuses.

To some, seeing a group of youth balancing and bouncing on ropes as an odd sight in Iran. However, over the last few years, urban sports such as parkour and slacklining have made a dramatic arrival. Iranians see Tehran as the most liberal and secular city, and also the one that sets the trends for the nation.

“We don’t usually have problems practicing,” says Afarin. “But if we are wearing shorts, or there are crowds that are too big, or there are girls practicing, then they kick us out.” The group has grown from a few avid rock climbers to more than 100, with 4 or 5 girls.

Because rock climbing is a popular sport in Iran, the ropes and cams used to anchor the lines are fairly easy to acquire. However, the lines themselves cannot be found in Iran, and the group relies on friends and relatives in Canada to provide them with the gear.

Tehran’s sprawling parks make for an ideal spot for the sport to take off. The rich greenery, which is a staple of public life, has more in common with university campuses than a heavily populated city.

Unlike tightrope walking, the slackness of the line creates a trampoline effect. Walkers can bounce up and down and perform tricks that would be impossible on a tightrope.

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Funeral of Nadia Haroun
By Leyland Cecco
12 Mar 2014

This is the funeral of Jewish Egyptian leader Nadia Haroun, on March 12, 2014. This is a rare sight in Egypt - Jewish Egyptians.Nadia Haroun was one of Cairo's only 11 Jewish Egyptians. There has been a slow disappearance of Egyptian Jews over the last 60 years. The population has gone from more than 80,000 60 years ago to less than 30 now. Most people inside and outside of Egypt have no idea this community still exists.

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The Robot That Will Save Syrians from...
Kilis, Turkey
By Leyland Cecco
26 Nov 2013

Working in a nondescript machine shop on the outskirts of Kilis, Turkey, a hacker and an engineer duo are putting the finishing touches on the robotic arms of a largely self-funded robot that will rescue casualties of sniper attacks without putting further lives at risk who try to rescue the victims.

The arms will be attached to a modified armoured bulldozer, and controlled using a sophisticated remote system with a 50 kilometre range. The team have been in discussion with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who have expressed interest in the project and have also been approached by Google Ideas to speak about their work.

With the all important arms now nearing completion, the duo are confident they will be able to get the arms over the Syrian border for final assembly within weeks.

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Prosthetic Limb Center in Turkey
reyhanli
By Leyland Cecco
26 Dec 2012

A prosthetic limb center recently opened just outside Reyhanli, Turkey. The center helps those who have lost limbs in the fighting in Syria. The center manufactures high quality prosthetics on-site, assigns them to the wounded and helps with the rehabilitation process afterwards. The clinic now produces limbs with a quality that can be compared to European standards, however, none of the staff at the center have a medical background. Some of the staff are previous patients, and have been trained by teams visiting from teams that also visit Pakistan, the UK and elsewhere in Turkey. The clinic is already treating up to 10 patients a day, but there are thousands more in need. To reach them those in need, there are plans in progress to launch a mobile center that will work from inside Syria next year.

Media created

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 21
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Inspectors contracted by the Federation of Quebec Maple syrup producers inspect samples drawn from barrels in the Federation's Global Strategic Reserve.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 22
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

The Global Strategic Reserve in Laurierville holds more than 62,800 barrels. Split between two facilities, the total reserve is 68 million pounds of syrup.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 23
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

The Global Strategic Reserve in Laurierville holds more than 62,800 barrels. Split between two facilities, the total reserve is 68 million pounds of syrup.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 19
Saint Quentin
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A large maple leaf sculpture greets visitors to Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick. The town also holds an annual maple festival to usher in the beginning of the sap harvest.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 20
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Discarded barrels that may have been recovered from a massive theft at the federation warehouse in 2012. The theft saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. The perpetrators remain unknown, but various producers and distributors opposed to the Federation in general have been accused and harassed by the federation over the incident.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 17
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A worker at Simone Vezina's sugar shack rests while guests in the other room eat.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 18
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St. Pierre examines syrup samples. The color is graded from light to dark, with the darkest often used for large scale industrial purposes, like maple flavoring.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 16
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Starting clear, the boiling process removes the water and gives the syrup its distinct golden color.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 12
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Pike, Tommy Brochu's dog, sniffs at the converted freezer that holds the pumps.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 13
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Tommy Brochu checks his vacuum pumps days before the season begins. He has harvested maple syrup for the last 4 years and sells through the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 14
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Guests dine at Simone Vezina's sugar shacks. Sugar shacks are becoming increasingly popular for corporate retreats and day trips.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 10
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

"I want the freedom to sell my syrup wherever I want," says a defiant Angele Grenier. She has been selling her syrup in New Brunswick to avoid the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 11
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Angele Grenier surveys the tubing that carries maple sap from the trees to collection barrels. There are more than two miles of tubing on her property.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 09
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Vacuum tubes weave through the forest on Angele Grenier's property. To fuel her boiler, Grenier will use 40 cords worth of wood.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 06
Quebec City
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Quebec's cold winter has delayed the start of the syrup season for more than a month. Because climate change will cause more dramatic season fluctuations, a stockpile of syrup can will benefit the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 07
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Horse-drawn carts and farm animals are a staple of many sugar shacks.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 08
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Vacuum tubes on Angele Grenier's property. The trees will produce between 45-50 barrels, each 400 pounds.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 04
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St-Pierre runs SK Export, a production and brokerage facility in New Brunswick. He is the main buyer for Quebec producers who want to avoid the Federation. He is also the main enemy of the Federation and he has numerous legal cases pending that were brought on by the Federation.

Etienne St-Pierre argues that because he has a federal permit, he should be able to buy and sell to whomever he chooses.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 05
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A 2012 theft at the Federations warehouse saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. Days later, the Federation launched a cross provincial raid on St-Pierre's warehouse stealing syrup, forklifts, and other equipment. The Federation accused him of being behind the theft and St-Pierre is currently under an ongoing investigation.

Pierre has maintained his innocence and feels the Federation used the theft as a convenient pre-text for cracking down on producers and distributors who oppose them.

"I won't stop until I can get my syrup back," says St-Pierre.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 02
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
30 Mar 2015

Buckets hang off maple trees as a taps hammered into the trees drip sap, which will be used to map syrup. Buckets attached to trees are becoming increasingly rare, as producers opted for vacuum tubes with much higher yields.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 03
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St-Pierre shows the color grading and sugar content of maple syrup in his warehouse. After the theft of syrup, he was suspected by the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 01
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Simone Vezina is reflected in a new batch of maple syrup. Starting clear, the boiling process gives it the distinct golden color. With 7,000 taps, she can produce 35 barrels per year, worth almost $60,000.

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Canada's fur industry 25
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
02 Sep 2014

Fur pieces are displayed in the window of the Hudson's Bay Company in downtown Toronto.

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Canada's fur industry 23
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
05 Feb 2015

A finished wild silver fox coat, designed by Farley Chattow, is displayed in the show room of Four Seasons Fur in Toronto.

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Canada's fur industry 24
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
05 Feb 2015

A finished wild beaver coat, designed by Farley Chattow, is displayed in the show room of Four Seasons Fur in Toronto.

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Canada's fur industry 22
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
05 Feb 2015

Fur is 'blocked out' on paper to show the design of a coat, or in this case, a blanket.

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Canada's fur industry 21
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
03 Sep 2014

Fur strips are 'blocked out' on paper to show the design of a coat.

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Canada's fur industry 20
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
03 Sep 2014

Farley Chattow works with his 'blocker' to design the layout of a fur coat.

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Canada's fur industry 18
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
03 Sep 2014

The large sacks of fur in the forground are full of scraps that are unusable. These scraps are sent to Greece, where they are finely stiched together, and shipped back to Canada. This allows for visibly seamless pelts to be reconstrcuted and used for more inexpensive designs.

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Canada's fur industry 17
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
03 Sep 2014

Farley Chattow, a prominent Canadian designer, has used fur in his collections to varying degrees for the last 26 years. Over the last 8 years, he has worked almost exclusively with fur.

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Canada's fur industry 15
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
26 Jan 2015

Buyers from all over the world, but predominatly China, bid on wild red fox pelts.

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Canada's fur industry 16
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
26 Jan 2015

Due to the taxing nature of the job, auctioneers are shuffled around each hour. The lead auctioneer (center) calls out prices, with assistants on either side taking phone bids or bids from the auction area.

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Canada's fur industry 14
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jan 2015

Porters (dressed in blue) bring different 'lots' of coyote pelts to prospective buyers. The buyer inspection process lasts 4 days prior to the auction.

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Canada's fur industry 13
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jan 2015

Porters (dressed in blue) bring different 'lots' of coyote pelts to prospective buyers. The buyer inspection process lasts 4 days prior to the auction.

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Canada's fur industry 12
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jan 2015

Coyote pelts are sorted into 'lots' depending on the quality of the fur. A buyer bids on a lot, often 90-120 pelts. During the most recent auction, the average price was $135/pelt, placing the average lot value at almost $15,000 USD.

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Canada's fur industry 10
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jan 2015

A buyer inspects wild coyote pelts days before the auction.

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Canada's fur industry 11
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
23 Jan 2015

A buyer inspects wild coyote pelts days before the auction. On the left are wild pelts, and on the right are farmed mink pelts.

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Canada's fur industry 09
Toronto, Ontario
By Leyland Cecco
07 Jan 2015

A worker passes by trolleys of farmed mink pelts. The majority of the pelts sold at auction are farmed, rather than wild. In late January, 3.1 million mink pelts were sold.