Unloading Soapstone at craft shop, Baker Lake, N.W.T., [Baker Lake (Qamanittuaq), Nunavut], ca. 1962 - 1969. (Gabriel Gely, Library and Archives Canada, PA-131754)

"Unloading Soapstone at craft shop", Baker Lake, N.W.T., [Baker Lake (Qamanittuaq), Nunavut], ca. 1962 - 1969. (Gabriel Gely, Library and Archives Canada, PA-131754)

...these pictures ended up leading [to] a normal conversation between me and my father about his side of the family b/c I didn’t grow up with my father and I’m not too familiar with who he is related to and where he comes from. We ended up talking about his mother and like his father and my uncle who recently passed away and why my father and his brother had different last names and then it also lead into another conversation with me and my uncle about what he remembers from those days b/c that was when… roughly around the same time that they were going to residential school and the sixties and so it lead to a lot of regular conversations that we would have had but we probably wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have the pictures
— Natasha Mablick (Pond Inlet) 2009


What is this Project: "Views from the North"?

"Views from the North: Photo-based Learning with Inuit Elders and Youth" is collaboration between the Inuit training program Nunavut Sivuniksavut and Carleton University with contributions from the Library and Archives Canada. For this project, Nunavut Sivuniksavut students interview elders in their home communities about old photographs made by the Canadian government 50 to 70 years ago.

Why Use Photographs to Learn about Inuit Culture?

Photographs help us remember and they bring people together. In this project, those old photographs help Inuit elders recall their home communities, families and neighbours from years ago and share those recollections with youth. In simply sitting down over a photograph album and talking, elders and youth bridge the generations and strengthen Inuit community bonds. As student Natasha Mablick of Pond Inlet says, the photographs "lead to a lot of regular conversations that we would have had but we probably wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have the pictures."

Community Elder ‘Pork’, Baker Lake, March 1946 (George Hunter, National Film Board of Canada, Still Photography Division, Library and Archives Canada, e010752715)

"Community Elder ‘Pork’", Baker Lake, March 1946 (George Hunter, National Film Board of Canada, Still Photography Division, Library and Archives Canada, e010752715)

Who else uses photographs in this way?

Lots of people! Most of us talk with friends and family about photos, sharing them on our phones, computers or in prints. But photographs are also used by researchers to learn more about cultures. Anthropologists, for example, have long used photographs in this way. They call the use of photographs, "photo-elicitation," and it usually involved a western or southern researcher gathering information and taking it away without the people interviewed getting the information gathered. In recent years, many Aboriginal groups (sometimes working with non-Aboriginal researchers) have started to return images to their communities and use them for culture-building conversations called "visual repatriation." "Views from the North" is an example of "Visual Repatriation," in which Inuit youths speak to Inuit elders to learn about family and community members and life decades ago pictured in old photographs.

This project grows out of a visual repatriation project that Nunavut Sivuniksavut established with the Library and Archives Canada, Canada’s largest archive and the holder of many historical photographs of Inuit. Called "Project Naming" (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/inuit/index-e.html), that earlier project specifically aims to identify or name people in archival photographs. It has already identified hundreds of Inuit among these photographs through help from Inuit across Nunavut "Views from the North" builds on Project Naming by recording longer interviews between youths and elders about photographs. In this way, the images evoke stories about life and draw on the tradition of sharing stories.

But there are also new photographs on the site. Where did they come from?

Just as you can learn a lot from looking at photographs, you can also learn from making your own photographs. As part of the project, students were also asked to take photographs that could give people from across Nunavut and beyond a portrait of their home communities.

Why Is this Material on a website/cybercartographic Atlas?

The web is the best way for communities in Nunavut to reach out to each other and to access resources (like archival photographs) from the south. By putting the material on the web, it can be seen and learned from and used in conversations all around Nunavut.

What Will I Find on the Site?

To explore how youths and elders learn about the past and each other through photographs, click on a community. There you will find:

Unidentified Woman, Baker Lake, 1963

Unidentified Woman, Baker Lake, 1963

Can I Get Involved?

Absolutely! You can get involved by clicking Make a Contribution on any of the community sites and adding information or photographs that you would like to upload. If you are an Inuit youth and would like to conduct an interview or are an elder who would like to be interviewed, you can also contact the project coordinator (Carol Payne carol_payne@carleton.ca) so that you can share your "view from the north".


About Nunavut Sivuniksavut!

Nunavut Sivuniksavut is an Ottawa-based Inuit post-secondary school that collaborates on this project. It is well known across Nunavut as an eight-month or two-year program that prepares Inuit youth for educational, training, and career opportunities that are available thanks to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the Government of Nunavut.

Translated into English from the Inuktitut as "The Future of Our Land," Nunavut Sivuniksavut was founded in 1985 by the Tungavik Federation to teach Inuit youth about their cultural heritage. Initially, the school was established in order to prepare youth to participate in and be informed about land claims negotiations with the federal Canadian government. Those negotiations, which had been undertaken actively since the 1970s, sought title to land and self-government for Inuit; they resulted in the largest land claim settlement in Canadian history, with the establishment in 1999 of the Territory of Nunavut. In 2010, Nunavut Sivuniksavut celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary and moved into a new building on Rideau Street in Ottawa. Today, students learn about Inuit culture and history as well as developing other skills. For more on the school, see: http://www.nstraining.ca


What is a Cybercartographic Atlas?

A cybercartographic atlas is a ‘living’ online map. Through the interface of cartography, it enables visitors to the site to input information in a variety of forms including voice, storytelling, video, photographs, documents and text in many languages. On the specific Views from the North site, photographs, audio interviews and transcripts are used toward the goal of spreading Inuit knowledge across Nunavut and beyond. Putting this interactive material in the form of a map of Nunavut lets visitors see experience the history of different communities and then see how they make up Nunavut as a whole. Most importantly, using this format makes the images, memories and experiences of elders and youths accessible and interactive to Inuit across Nunavut. This cybercartographic atlas has been developed by Amos Hayes, Jean-Pierre Fiset, and Glenn Brauen of Carleton University’s Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) under the direction of Dr. Fraser Taylor. The atlas has been built using Nunaliit, a Cybercartographic Atlas Framework technology developed by the GCRC. For more on GCRC, see: http://gcrc.carleton.ca