12/16/2014 09:14 EST | Updated 02/15/2015 05:59 EST

Free makeover photoshoot aims to empower Burns Lake Aboriginal women

A volunteer in Burns Lake, B.C. treated Aboriginal women to a free makeover and photoshoot over the weekend, after having a transformative experience herself.

- PHOTOGALLERY Free makeover photoshoot aims to empower B.C. Aboriginal women

The idea came from Shannon Alec, who was inspired by a free photoshoot she had attended at St. Michael's Church in Prince George.

"I was in poverty, living off of welfare," she told Daybreak North's Carolina de Ryk.

"When I saw my picture I was just so taken, because [I had] never in my life got my picture taken, because I could never afford it," she said.

"I just saw a native who had made it out of poverty, and somebody who had a future."

When Alec moved back to her hometown of Burns Lake, she wanted to do the same for people in the small community in the province's central-northern Interior.

"I wanted to pay it forward. I now have a job, I'm now out of poverty, and I'm happy, and I just thought, I want to pay it forward. I want to do what St. Michael's Church did for me for everybody in Burns Lake," she said.

Alec started Honzu Makeovers, which means "beautiful" in the Carrier language spoken by First Nations people in the central Interior.

Over the weekend, a group of volunteers got together clothes, shoes, make-up and other beauty products for the photoshoot. Deanna Nolan and Heidi Currie volunteered to do hair, and Carla Lewis took the photos.

Alec said a wide range of people, of all ages, showed up to take part.

"They were really shy and kind of anticipating to wait to see what they would look like," said Alec, who was pleased with the reactions people had to the photos.

"This one mother left her daughter with us and then she had to go away and do some errands and then she came back and her eyes were just like 'Wow!'"

Alec has plans to do more free photoshoots and is asking for donations of clothes or beauty products to make it a reality.

She has plans to do a fashion shoot, as well as a shoot focusing on Aboriginal people in the area and their connection to the land.

"There's so much need for our culture to get back into our hearts," she said.

To hear more about Honzu Makeovers' free photoshoot click the audio clip labelled: Free makeovers for Burns Lake women.