Talks/Meet the Author Events - Film Screenings - Photo Exhibits

Talks/Meet the author gatherings, film screenings and photo exhibitions allowing us to share our knowledge of the polar regions.


Talks/Meet the Author

Polar Horizons had the privilege of being the force motrice of the research that led to the discovery of the human remains of the group of eight Labrador Inuit who died in Europe in the 19th century while being exhibited in Carl Hagenbeck’s ethnographical shows. Abraham Ulrikab, his family, and travelling companions left Labrador hoping to earn sufficient money to improve their living conditions. Unfortunately, they never saw their homeland again! It is our responsibility to share our knowledge, and thus contribute to the reconciliation process.

Through our talks/meet the author events, you will:

  • relive the four-year research that resulted in the discovery of the remains and in the publication of the book In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab,
  • get a deeper understanding of the events that unfolded in Labrador and in Europe leading the group of Inuit to their death, and
  • be brought up-to-date on the current status of the repatriation of the Inuit’s human remains to Labrador.

Our talks/meet the author events target an audience 14 and older.

Talk: In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab

The basic talk lasts from forty-five to sixty minutes. It consists of a presentation illustrated with many photographs where France Rivet:

  • Gives a brief summary of her background;
  • Explains how she got involved in this research and what events led her to the Inuit’s remains.
  • Provides an overview of where the research was conducted;
  • Summarizes the Inuit’s travels through Europe;
  • Reveals how their remains found their way into museum collections;
  • Describes the steps taken to bring back their remains; and
  • Provides the current status of the repatriation process.

The conference is followed by a question/answer period.

The talk In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab is a most moving story about a dark episode in Western history: that of human zoos. The fatal journey of Abraham and his family, highlighted brilliantly by France Rivet, rightly stresses the uprooting of humans in order to exhibit them to the European public and scientists. Through her long-term work, France Rivet will certainly mark Canadian history as well as Aboriginal peoples' memory and particularly the Labrador Inuit. This talk by France Rivet will be of interest to the general public as well as to students from high school to university. Indeed, it is rare to cross paths with a person whose passion for the story of a family forgotten by all, resonated with a community in Labrador and resulted in diplomatic agreements between Canada and France.

Stéphane Wimart, Librarian. Service des bibliothèques et des lettres, City of Lévis, Québec

Optional presentation: The detailed steps of the research

For those who have an interest in learning more about how France Rivet conducted her research, the conference In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab can be followed by a presentation of about 20 minutes during which France will go into more details on the following aspects:

  • the places (countries, cities, institutions) where the research was conducted;
  • the chronology of the discoveries;
  • the aspects of Abraham’s story that are still unresolved.

Talk: When passion and intuition guide us... surprises await!

Through her talk When passion and intuition guide us... surprises await!, France Rivet explains her drastic career change which ended her 23-year career as an IT consultant to become, for a summer, a dishwasher on an uninhabited island in the Canadian Arctic and led her to found Polar Horizons! Two years later, a chance meeting in Labrador made her aware of the story of two Inuit families who died in Europe while they were being exhibited in zoos. Never would France have believed that her curiosity to know more about them was to lead her to the reserves of some of the largest museums of natural history and ethnology in France and Germany, to meet with ambassadors, to write a book, to become the editor of two books, to see her work become the subject of the documentary film Trapped in a Human Zoo (and have David Suzuki be the narrator!), and even less that her actions would lead to the inclusion of a clause in an agreement signed by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and French President François Hollande!

Be inspired to listen to your inner voice. Who knows where it will lead you?

This conference can be tailored for a period of 30 to 45 minutes.

Contact us to discuss the possibilities.


Film Screening

At Polar Horizons, we feel most privileged to have seen our research become the basis for the documentary Trapped in a Human Zoo: Based on Abraham’s Diary (PIX3 Films) released in winter 2016. Having been involved so tightly with the production of the documentary, Polar Horizons is authorized to organize screenings. Please note that these screenings are of the 61-minute version as opposed to the 45-minute one which aired on CBC’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. France Rivet is always happy to attend these screenings to share her experience and answer questions about her research and about Abraham’s story. Please note that France is not in a position to address questions in regards to the film-making process.

Trapped in a Human Zoo: Based on Abraham’s Diary

Synopsis: Relive the incredible story of two Labrador Inuit families, who in 1880, lured by promises of adventures and wealth, embarked for Europe to become the latest attraction in the now-forgotten world of ethnographical shows (also known as "human zoos"). Soon, the Inuit realized their mistake and longed to return home. Sadly, none of them did: All eight died from smallpox less than four months after setting foot in Europe. If not for one small diary written by a member of the group named Abraham, their tragic story would have been forgotten forever. More than 130 years later a French-Canadian, France Rivet, not only discovered this fascinating story, but also located the remains of the Inuit in the vaults of a museum in Paris. Then begins her quest, as well as that of Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe, to discover the whole truth and to repatriate their bones.
If you are considering combining a talk by France Rivet with a screening of the documentary, Polar Horizons then suggests the following:
  • Talk by France Rivet where she will explain her drastic career change which ended her 23-year career in IT consulting to become, for a summer, dish washer on an uninhabited island in the Arctic; what led her to found Polar Horizons; how and why she became interested in the story of the Labrador Inuit, the circumstances that allowed her to locate their skeletons, and how the documentary came about;
  • Screening of the 61-minute version of Trapped in a Human Zoo;
  • Q&A period.

That said, in the past, we have also had great success by combining the screening with a musical performance by the duo Twin Flames (singer-songwriters of the song Isuma that is part of the film's soundtrack) as well as with a reading of excerpts from Abraham's diary. Contact us to discuss your specific needs. We are very open to explore the possibilities.


Photography Exhibits

At Polar Horizons we take sharing our knowledge and experiences of the Arctic to heart. One way we do it is through photography exhibit. You will have the chance to admire photographs of the Polar Regions’ natural world while learning new facts through the educational captions complementing each photo.

Here are the exhibitions we have developed or are involved in:

Exhibit: Somerset Island: White Ghosts Country

Drawn from over 2,000 photographs taken over a total of ten weeks spent on Nunavut’s Somerset Island, an island of the Canadian High Arctic located above the 74° parallel north and facing the famed Northwest Passage, the photo exhibition Somerset Island: White Ghost Country aimed to introduce this uninhabited island where we were bitten by the Arctic bug.

The exhibition was comprised of 21 photographs showing the island’s unique environment where, every summer, hundreds if not thousands of belugas congregate in the Cunningham Inlet Estuary at the mouth of the Cunningham River. Here, they find shallow and warmer waters. They come to rub against the rocky bottom to moult their skin.

For an overview, visit our Somerset Island portfolio.

Note: This exhibit is no longer available.

These are amazing photos — especially the bears. You have put a lot of work in the exhibition and there is so much information about the region. I hope it attracts some people to the area (but not too many). I just wanted to let you know how impressed I was and how much I enjoyed the photos.
Congratulations! Elizabeth K., Ottawa, Ontario


Exhibit: Arctic Wildlife Encounters

With fewer than 1% of Canadians living north of the 60° parallel, these northern lands often remain a mystery and a fascination for southerners. Not always easily accessible and often inhospitable, various wildlife species have nevertheless won their bet to survive and make the most of the Arctic environment.

The photo exhibition Arctic Wildlife Encounters is intended to show the diversity of terrestrial and marine species that have adopted the high latitudes as a place of permanent or temporary residence. Of course, the Lord of the Arctic, the polar bear, is there. So are 16 other species. You may be surprised to recognize some that also live near you!

The exhibition holds 19 photographs from France Rivet and Robert Gravel.

A true wonder. The message is that habitat remains fragile and that nature is beautiful. Thank you for your photos.
Jasmine, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec


Exhibit: Arctic Impressions

This exhibit is presented in collaboration with Dr. Shelley Ball of Biosphere Environmental Education.

In July 2014, 46 educators and support staff accompanied 86 students, originating from six countries, on a Students On Ice expedition in the Arctic. Their adventure, which took them to northern Labrador, Canada and southwestern Greenland, provided them with a rare opportunity to spend 12 days on a ship, exploring the Arctic together — seeing polar bears, experiencing the vastness of the tundra, watching glaciers crumble before our eyes, meeting with Inuit elders, hearing their stories and learning about their culture and history.

Dr. Shelley Ball’s role on the expedition was to teach photography to the students. The exhibit Arctic Impressions consists of 40 images taken by the students (aged 14–25) and represent the students’ impressions of the Arctic, the moments that captivated them. For some, this was their first time experiencing such high latitudes. For others, the Arctic is their home. The exhibit shows this diversity of perspectives.

What a stunning collection of photos and what an incredible adventure it must have been! I’ve been dreaming of a trip up North and this seals the deal. Thank you for sharing! (Anonymous)

These young photographers/artists have a "good eye". Enjoyed this artwork! Thanks for making my day. (L. R., Victoria, BC)


Don’t hesitate to contact us to obtain a copy of the detailed description of the exhibition and to discuss the possibilities for showing them in a place near you.

For the list of locations where our exhibitions have been presented to date.