is an important part of conserving Inuit history in Nunavut"
handful of Inuit youth reached a milestone last week in putting
names to faces of Nunavut elders, formerly missing from photographs
of Inuit stored at the National Archives of Canada.
months of traveling door-to-door in Nunavut communities, the mostly
volunteer group has wrapped up the first phase of Project Naming,
an effort to find the names of Inuit shown in stacks of black and
white photos taken decades ago, and now stored in the federal government
archives in Ottawa.
summer 2001, students from Nunavut Sivuniksavut, an Ottawa-based
college program for Inuit, have been meeting elders in their communities
to show them photos on laptop computers, hoping they might recognize
the smiling and sometimes perplexed faces in the pictures.
laptop photos were scanned from original prints taken by federal
public servants and other photographers from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Until now, hundreds of these photos lacked proper identification,
and simply labelled the Inuit as "Eskimos."
May 21, students joined staff from Library and Archives Canada and
officially launched a web site featuring the faces - and more importantly,
the names - of Inuit from around Nunavut's three regions.
surfing the Internet can now get a glimpse of the photos, taken
in Kinngait, Kugluktuk, Igloolik, Taloyoak, Arviat, Hall Beach,
Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Iqaluit, and Kimmirut. The project was funded
by Nunavut's Department of Culture, Elders, Language and Youth,
and the federal ministry of Canadian heritage.
Angus, a college instructor who oversaw the project with support
from National Archives staff, said the naming project aimed to fill
in the blanks left behind by the photographers. He pointed out that
many elders are dying, and taking their knowledge of the past with
project] is an opportunity to record information about the past
that will soon be lost forever," he said.
noted that the project also put Inuit in touch with their past.
Ashevak, a student from Kinngait, collected names while interviewing
elders he rarely spoke with before, including his own grandmother,
a project report, Ashevak recalled how listening to their stories
taught him a new respect for his elders.
opportunity gave me a better understanding of how we should build
our territory, Nunavut," Ashevak wrote.
organizers hope to continue collecting names for hundreds more archival
photos in 2005, especially in the Kivalliq region.