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Labrador’s World War 1 hero, Lance Corporal John Shiwak to be commemorated in Masnières, France

On Friday June 30, 2023, after a three-year delay due to the pandemic, the commemorative plaque for Labrador’s World War 1 hero, Lance Corporal John Shiwak, will be unveiled in Masnières, France.

Layout of the commemorative plaque to be unveiled on June 30, 2023. (Courtesy of the City of Masnières)

The city of Masnières has scheduled the unveiling to coincide with the visit of the annual Trail of the Caribou Tour led by the Royal Canadian Legion – Newfoundland and Labrador. This year, almost 70 veterans and students make up the group. They are accompanied by a minister from the Newfoundland-and-Labrador provincial government and historian Frank Gogos. A representative of Veteran Affairs Canada will also be present.

The ceremony is scheduled to happen late morning (Paris time). Upon arriving in the city, the group will first pay a visit to Masnières’ Caribou monument and then head to the Hostetter primary school on des Dimeurs Street. The plaque will be unveiled on one of the school’s exterior walls, close to where Shiwak was killed and buried on November 21, 1917. The plaque will be installed beside the one for another North American WW1 hero, Lieutenant Theodore Hostetter, an American aviator whose plane was shot down in Masnières in 1918. The school is named after him.

Caribou monument in Masnières, France. (Photo by France Rivet. August 2018.)
Exterior wall of the Hostetter Primary School. (Photo by France Rivet. August 2018.)

The ceremony will be simple. Francis Noblecourt, Masnière’s mayor, will say a few words followed by a Canadian representative. A vin d’honneur will be served in a reception hall.

The text of the plaque will be shown in three languages : English, Inuttitut and French. The English version was written by Danny Pottle (in consultation with other family members). The Inuttitut translation was prepared by Rita Andersen in Nain. The French translation was done by France Rivet in consultation with Jean-Marie Labre.

Lance Corporal John Shiwak (1889-1917) Royal Newfoundland Regiment #1735

A Labrador Inuk, born in 1889 in Cul-de-Sac (Cutzak) near the community of Rigolet, Nunatsiavut (Labrador), the eldest child of John Shiwak and Sarah Susanna Oliver.

Shiwak was a skilled hunter, trapper and fisherman. He enlisted with the Newfoundland Regiment on July 24, 1915. He would become one of the most respected and effective snipers in the Regiment.

On November 21, 1917, Shiwak was killed by an errant high explosive shell along with six others near today’s kindergarten. He was buried in a shell hole nearby that same day close to the Hostetter school. His body was never recovered. 

Shiwak, who came to defend France when the British Empire called, was one of the Unsung Heroes of the Great War. We, the family, and his fellow Labrador Inuit are thankful to the people and the town of Masnières for their kindness and gratitude for helping to ensure that Lance Corporal John Shiwak takes his rightful place in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian, and World history.

Lance Corporal John Shiwak (1889-1917) Royal Newfoundland Regiment #1735

Labradorimiuk Inuk. Inolisimajuk 1889-mi Cul-de-Sac-imi (Cutzak) Kanitangani Rigolet, Nunatsiavut (Labrador), angajudlipânga John Shiwak Sarah Susanna Oliver-iullu.

Shiwak ilisimatsialauttuk omajunniagiamik, mikigianniagiamik oganniagiamillu.  Ilaugiasilauttuk Newfoundland Unatattinginnut Joli 24, 1915-mi.  Ilangauniadluni sulijugijautsiajuk Kukiagiamut unatattini.
November 21, 1917-mi, Shiwak tuKutaulauttuk Kâjommut ilangillu sâkset Kanitangani kindergarten.  Iluvitaulauttuk Kâjottauvigisimajangani taitsumanitsaink ullumi Kanitangani Hostetter ilinniavingata.  Timinga nagvâtaulaungituk.

Shiwak, Franceliasiamajuk ikajugiattudluni British KaikKujilimmat, ilangaulaukKuk Tutsiutijausimangituk Unatattisuak.  Uvagut, ilaget, ammalu Labradorimiut Inuit nakutsavugut inunnik ammalu nunalinnik Masnières inutsiangulaummata nakutsadlutillu ikajugiamik Lance Corporal John Shiwak initsaminegiaKaninganik Newfoundlandimi Labradorimilu, Canadamiuk, ammalu Nunatsuami piusiKasimajuk.

Caporal suppléant John Shiwak (1889-1917), Régiment de Terre-Neuve #1735

Un Inuk du Labrador, né en 1889 à Cul-de-Sac (Cutzak), près de la communauté de Rigolet, au Nunatsiavut (Labrador), l’aîné des enfants de John Shiwak et de Sarah Susanna Oliver.

Shiwak était chasseur, trappeur et pêcheur expérimenté.

Il s’enrôla dans le Régiment de Terre-Neuve le 24 juillet 1915. Il est devenu l’un des tireurs d’élite les plus respectés et les plus efficaces du régiment.

Le 21 novembre 1917, Shiwak fut tué par un obus isolé avec six autres camarades près de l’actuelle Ecole Maternelle. Il a été enterré dans un trou d’obus, à proximité, le même jour près de l’actuelle Ecole Hostetter. Son corps ne fut jamais retrouvé.

Shiwak, venu défendre la France à l’appel de l’Empire Britannique, fut l’un des héros méconnus de la Grande Guerre. Nous, la famille, ainsi que ses compatriotes Inuit du Labrador, sommes reconnaissants envers la population et la ville de Masnières pour leur gentillesse et leur gratitude d’avoir aidé le caporal suppléant John Shiwak à occuper la place qui lui revient à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador, dans l’histoire canadienne et mondiale.

For more information on Lance Corporal John Shiwak’s story and how the commemorative plaque came about, we invite you to read the article Finding John Shiwak’s Final Resting Place published in the summer 2020 issue of Labrador Life magazine.

Nakummek to Danny and Derrick Pottle for volunteering to act as the link with the descendants of the Shiwak family, for giving the green light to the City of Masnières‘ proposal to unveil a plaque, for providing their opinion and advice along the way, and for writing the text of the plaque.

We would also like to thank historian Jean-Marie Labre, Mayor Francis Noblecourt and all personnel of the City of Masnières involved in this commemoration for their interest, efforts and dedication to duty of memory.

Historian Jean-Marie Labre (left) and Mayor Francis Noblecourt in front of Masnières' city Hall (August 2018. Photo: France Rivet)
Historian Jean-Marie Labre (left) and Mayor Francis Noblecourt in front of Masnières’ city Hall (Photo: France Rivet. August 2018)

140th Anniversary of Abraham Ulrikab’s Death

Version française de ce texte

The week of January 10 to 16, 2021, marks the 140th anniversary of the death, in Paris, of five Labrador Inuit including Abraham Ulrikab.

For those unfamiliar with Abraham’s story, he was one of a group of eight who were recruited in Labrador in August 1880 to be exhibited in European “human zoos.” The group arrived in Hamburg on September 24, 1880, then travelled to Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Krefeld and Paris. Along the way, they unfortunately crossed paths with smallpox. Three of them died in Germany between December 14 and 31, 1880. The five who made it to Paris were exhibited at the Jardin d’Acclimatation from January 1 to 6, 1881. Then, on January 8, all were admitted to the smallpox unit of the Saint-Louis hospital, where they died, one after the other, between January 10 and 16, 1881. They were buried in the mass graves of the 17th division of the Saint-Ouen Cemetery, either one or two days after their death.

Here is a short video that was prepared in the spring of 2013 as part of the crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising funds to continue researching the traces they left in Europe. The video’s purpose is to introduce the eight Inuit and to summarize their story as it was then known:

When I conducted the actual research, from 2010 to 2015, the Saint-Ouen Cemetery was the only French institution to refuse to show its registers. The curator had nevertheless agreed to give us the information that had been recorded in it, but there was no way we could see the documents since they were said to be private.

Quite recently, I was most surprised to discover that the registers of Parisian cemeteries are made public on the French genealogy site Geneanet. Quickly, I went through the list  to see if Saint-Ouen was in there. Yes! The year 1881? Yes! The month of January? Bingo! Finally! The Labrador Inuit community can see the names of their predecessors in the cemetery’s registers.

This is the entry for Abraham’s burial on January 15, 1881. Abraham, 35, died on January 13, two weeks before his 36th birthday. The number “10” in the last column corresponds to the district where Saint-Louis Hospital is located, where the death occurred.

Abraham’s burial (part 1) (Source: Geneanet, digitization of the registers by the Archives de Paris)

If you wonder why Abraham’s last name is “Paulus” and not “Ulrikab,” you should know that in those days Inuit did not have a last name. To distinguish one Abraham from another, his first name was followed by that of his wife. So “Abraham Ulrikab” means “Abraham, husband of Ulrike.” Upon their arrival in Europe, for a reason unknown to me, it was decided to assign to the three Christian adults the first name of their father as their last name. Therefore, in Europe, Abraham was known as Abraham Paulus.

On the right-hand page, we see the burial place: the mass grave of the 17th division. Then, in the “Observations” column, we have the confirmation that the body was exhumed on June 4, 1886, to be transported to the National Museum of Natural History.

Abraham’s burial (part 2) (Source: Geneanet, digitization of the registers by the Archives de Paris)

This information is also present in the entry of the other four Inuit.

Maria Paulus, Abraham’s 13-month-old daughter, died January 10, was buried on January 12.

Maria’s burial (Source: Geneanet, digitization of the registers by the Archives de Paris)

Tigianniak, a 45-year-old shaman, widower of Paingu, died on January 11, buried on January 13

Tigianniak’s burial (Source: Geneanet, digitization of the registers by the Archives de Paris)

Tobias Ignatius, a 20-year-old young man, died on January 13, buried on January 14.

Tobais’ burial (Source: Geneanet, digitization of the registers by the Archives de Paris)

Ulrike Henocq, 24, widow of Abraham and last survivor of the group, died on January 16, buried on January 17.

Ulrike’s burial (Source: Geneanet, digitization of the registers by the Archives de Paris)

Although 140 years have passed since these tragic events occurred, the story of Abraham and his family is not yet over. Their skeletons patiently wait in the biological anthropology collections of the National Museum of Natural History, housed at the Musée de l’Homme, for the Labrador Inuit community to decide whether they will be the subject of a repatriation request.

Seeing the names of Abraham, Ulrike, Tigianniak, Tobias and Maria inscribed in black and white in the cemetery registers, I am very happy to have been able to collect another tangible proof of their passage in Paris in the 19th century. Many thanks to the Archives de Paris for digitizing these registers, to Geneanet for making them public, and to all the Geneanet volunteers who give their time to index the cemetery registers (as well as those of several other projects). We have here an example of the importance of everyone’s contribution to this long collaborative effort to bring the past to life, and to create links between people from different eras, continents and cultures.

Although he was a Christian, Abraham was educated by the Moravian missionaries (a branch of the Protestant Church) and he was terrified of Catholics. As I walked through the alleys of the Saint-Ouen Cemetery, and especially within the 17th division, I could not help but wonder if he was really resting in peace during the five years he was buried here, him who came from a community of 200 souls located by the sea. Let’s hope that Abraham’s wish to return to Labrador will come true even if, in reality, this coming home will be only symbolic.

Of the 35,000 people who were exhibited in Europe in such “human zoos,” Abraham is one of the few who left a written testimony. I leave the last word to him through this excerpt from a letter he wrote on January 8, 1880, the day before his admission to Saint-Louis Hospital:

I do not long for earthly possessions, but this is what I long for: to see my relatives again, who are over there, to talk to them of the name of God for as long as I live. I hadn’t grasped this before, now I understand. I shed tears easily, but the words uttered by Him console us very much again and again. My dear teacher Elsner, pray for us to the Lord that the evil sickness will stop if it is His will; but may God’s will be fulfilled. I am a poor man who’s dust.

Thank you! Nakummek!
France Rivet

140e anniversaire du décès d’Abraham Ulrikab

English version of this text

La semaine du 10 au 16 janvier 2021 marque le 140e anniversaire du décès, à Paris, de cinq Inuits du Labrador dont Abraham Ulrikab.   

Pour ceux qui ne sont pas familiers avec l’histoire d’Abraham, ce dernier faisait partie d’un groupe de huit personnes qui ont été recrutées au Labrador en août 1880 pour être exhibées dans des « zoos humains ». Arrivés à Hambourg le 24 septembre 1880, le groupe a ensuite voyagé à Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Krefeld puis Paris. En cours de route, ils ont malheureusement croisé le chemin de la variole. Trois d’entre eux sont décédés en Allemagne entre le 14 et le 31 décembre 1880. Les cinq qui se sont rendus jusqu’à Paris ont été exhibés au Jardin d’Acclimatation du 1er au 6 janvier 1881. Puis, le 8 janvier, tous ont été admis à l’unité des varioleux de l’hôpital Saint-Louis, où ils ont rendu l’âme, l’un après l’autre, entre le 10 et le 16 janvier 1881. Ils ont été inhumés dans les tranchées gratuites de la 17e division du cimetière de Saint-Ouen, soit un ou deux jours après leur mort.

Voici une courte vidéo qui avait été préparée au printemps 2013 dans le cadre de la campagne de sociofinancement (crowdfunding) visant à recueillir des fonds pour continuer les recherches des traces qu’ils ont laissées en Europe.  La vidéo a pour but de vous présenter les huit Inuits et de faire un sommaire de leur histoire telle qu’elle était alors connue :

Dans le cadre de mes recherches, qui se sont échelonnées de 2010 à 2015, le cimetière de Saint-Ouen a été la seule institution française à refuser de nous montrer ses registres. La conservatrice avait malgré tout accepté de nous donner l’information qui y avait été consignée, mais il n’était pas question qu’on puisse voir les documents puisque ceux-ci étaient privés.

Tout récemment, quelle ne fut pas ma surprise de découvrir que les registres des cimetières parisiens étaient rendus publics sur le site de généalogie français Geneanet. Vite, j’ai parcouru la liste des cimetières pour voir si celui de Saint-Ouen y était. Affirmatif! Est-ce que l’année 1881 y figurait? Oui! Le mois de janvier? Bingo! Enfin! La communauté inuite pourrait voir de ses yeux les noms de ses prédécesseurs dans les registres du cimetière.

Voici l’entrée correspondant à l’inhumation d’Abraham, le 15 janvier 1881. Abraham, âgé de 35 ans, est décédé, le 13 janvier, à deux semaines de son 36e anniversaire. Le chiffre « 10 » que l’on voit dans la dernière colonne correspond à l’arrondissement où se situe l’hôpital Saint-Louis, là où le décès est survenu.

Inhumation d’Abraham (partie 1) (Source : Geneanet, numérisation par les Archives de Paris)

Pour ceux qui se demandent pourquoi le nom de famille d’Abraham est « Paulus » et non pas « Ulrikab », il faut savoir qu’à l’époque les Inuits n’avaient pas de nom de famille. Pour distinguer un Abraham d’un autre, on faisait suivre son prénom de celui de son épouse. Donc « Abraham Ulrikab » signifie « Abraham, l’époux d’Ulrike ». Lors de leur arrivée en Europe, pour une raison que j’ignore, il a été décidé d’assigner aux trois adultes chrétiens le prénom de leur père comme nom de famille. En Europe, Abraham était donc connu sous le nom d’Abraham Paulus.

Sur la page de droite, on y voit le lieu de sépulture, « les tranchées gratuites de la 17e division ». Au Québec, cela correspond aux fosses communes. Puis, dans la colonne « Observations », nous avons la confirmation que le corps a été exhumé le 4 juin 1886 pour être transporté au Museum national d’histoire naturelle.

Inhumation d’Abraham (partie 2) (Source : Geneanet, numérisation par les Archives de Paris)

Ces informations sont également présentes dans l’inscription des quatre autres Inuits :

Maria Paulus, la fillette de 13 mois d’Abraham, décédée le 10 janvier, inhumée le 12.

Inhumation de Maria (Source : Geneanet, numérisation par les Archives de Paris)

Tigianniak, un shaman de 45 ans, veuf de Paingu, décédé le 11 janvier, inhumé le 13.

Inhumation de Tigianniak (Source : Geneanet, numérisation par les Archives de Paris)

Tobias Ignatius, un jeune homme de 20 ans, décédé le 13 janvier, inhumé le 14.

Inhumation de Tobias (Source : Geneanet, numérisation par les Archives de Paris)

Ulrike Henocq, 24 ans, veuve d’Abraham et dernière survivante du groupe, décédée le 16 janvier, inhumée le 17.

Inhumation d’Ulrike (Source : Geneanet, numérisation par les Archives de Paris)

Même si 140 ans nous séparent de ces tragiques événements, l’histoire d’Abraham et des siens n’est pas encore terminée. Leurs squelettes attendent bien patiemment dans les collections d’anthropologie biologique du Museum national d’histoire naturelle, conservées au Musée de l’Homme, que la communauté inuite du Labrador décide s’ils feront l’objet d’une demande de rapatriement.

En voyant les noms d’Abraham, d’Ulrike, de Tiggianniak, de Tobias et de Maria inscrits noir sur blanc dans les registres du cimetière, je suis très contente d’avoir pu recueillir une autre preuve concrète de leur passage à Paris au XIXe siècle et de la rendre disponible à la communauté inuite du XXIe siècle. Grand merci aux Archives de Paris pour la numérisation de ces registres, à Geneanet de les rendre publics, et à tous les bénévoles de Geneanet qui donnent de leur temps pour indexer les registres des cimetières (ainsi que ceux de plusieurs autres projets). Nous avons ici un exemple de l’importance de la contribution de chacun à ce long travail collaboratif pour faire revivre le passé, et créer des liens entre des personnes issues d’époques, de continents et de cultures distinctes.

Bien qu’il était de foi chrétienne, Abraham a été éduqué par les missionnaires moraves (une branche de l’Église protestante) et il avait une peur bleue des catholiques. En me promenant dans les allées du cimetière de Saint-Ouen, en particulier au cœur de la 17e division, je n’ai pu m’empêcher de me demander s’il y reposait vraiment en paix durant les cinq années qu’il y a passées. Lui qui venait d’une communauté de 200 âmes située en bord de mer. Espérons que le souhait d’Abraham de rentrer au Labrador se concrétisera même si, en réalité, ce retour ne sera que symbolique.

Cimetière de Saint-Ouen, 17e division (Photo : France Rivet, 2013)

Des 35 000 personnes qui ont été exhibées en Europe dans ces « zoos humains », Abraham est l’une des rares à avoir laissé un témoignage écrit. Je lui laisse le mot de la fin via cet extrait d’une lettre qu’il a écrite le 8 janvier 1880, la veille de son admission à l’hôpital Saint-Louis :

Je n’aspire pas aux biens matériels, ce à quoi j’aspire, c’est à revoir les miens qui sont là-bas et à leur parler du nom du Seigneur, tant que je vivrai. Cela je ne l’avais pas compris auparavant, maintenant je le sais. Les larmes me viennent vite, mais les mots que Lui-même a prononcés nous consolent beaucoup encore et toujours. […] priez pour nous le Seigneur que la maladie mauvaise cesse chez nous, si c’est Sa Volonté; mais que la Volonté du Seigneur soit faite! Je suis un pauvre homme qui n’est que poussière.

Merci! Nakummek!
France Rivet

Second edition of “Voyage With the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881”

Hello everyone,

After four years in the making, the second edition of Voyage with the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881 is finally out! From its initial 86 pages, the book has been expanded to no less than… 300 pages!

Cover – Second edition – Voyage With the Labrador Eskimos, 1880-1881.

The first edition consisted of the English translation of the main portion of Johan Adrian Jacobsen’s 1880-1881 diary. It covered the period from June 28, 1880 (as he was sailing to Greenland to recruit Inuit to bring back to Europe) to January 20, 1881 (four days after the death of the last survivor of the group of eight Labrador Inuit). This portion of the diary was translated by Professor Hartmut Lutz.

Thanks to Dieter Riedel, PhD, we now have access to a larger extract of the diary. It starts in October 1879, when Jacobsen, his brother Jacob Martin, and zoo owner Carl Hagenbeck had the idea of purchasing a ship to travel to the Arctic to recruit Inuit; and it goes until July 24, 1881, the day before Jacobsen headed on his next mission: collecting artifacts on the Northwest Coast of North America for the Berlin Ethnology Museum.

But that’s not all, thanks to Dieter’s dedication, this new edition also includes the English translation of:

  • Jacobsen’s letters with the Greenland Inspector in July 1880 when he was denied the permission to bring Greenlanders to Europe.
  • Over 25 letters, Jacobsen received from family, friends, and business partners between November 9, 1880, and Dec 2, 1881, which mention the Labrador Inuit or give us insight into the world of 19th century “human zoos.”
  • Excerpts from two publications by Jacobsen where he talks about his travels on the Eisbar.
  • The 1880 registration documents for the ship Eisbar.

New additions also include:

  • A foreword by Cathrine Baglo, PhD, Tromsø University Museum, who has done much research on the groups of Samis who participated in ethnographical exhibits. Cathrine was also the instigator of the three-day workshop entitled Johan Adrian Jacobsen: Collector of People and Things held in Tromsø in 2016.
  • A revised and expanded introduction which provides an overview of the multi-year research which led to this second edition.
  • An afterword by Christine Chávez and Barbara Plankensteiner, respectively curator of the American collections and director at the Museum am Rothenbaum – World Cultures and Arts in Hamburg. They give us insight into how the museum came to preserve Johan Adrian Jacobsen’s archives, and express the importance for his archives to be made available to the descendants and communities of the individuals who crossed Jacobsen’s path.
  • An index of people and place names.

Finally, the number of photos and illustrations has gone from 14 to 54.

The book can be obtained in paper and ebook format from various online retailers such as Amazon, Indigo, Kobo, etc. It can also be ordered from your favorite local bookstore or directly from Polar Horizons, the publisher. This second edition is available in English only.

We sincerely hope that this new enlarged edition will prove to be worthwhile and meaningful to all who have an interest in better understanding the story of Abraham Ulrikab, his family, and companions who shared the last four months of their lives with Johan Adrian Jacobsen.

In less than two weeks, on December 14, will mark the 139th anniversary of the death of Nuggasak, the first of the eight Inuit to pass away. May this book contribute to their story never be forgotten.

Thank you! Nakummek!
France Rivet

Le Groenland au Jardin d’acclimatation, Paris, 1877 / Greenland at the Jardin d’acclimatation, Paris, 1877

Récemment, lors d’une recherche sur le site de Gallica de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, mon attention a été attirée par une série d’illustrations publiées le 24 novembre 1877 dans Le journal Amusant. Le dessinateur, Gilbert Randon (1814-1884), avait dépeint les six Inuits recrutés par Johan Adrian Jacobsen à Jakobshavn, maintenant Ilulissat, et présentés dans plusieurs grandes villes européennes tout au long de 1877-1878. Les illustrations de Randon se voulaient être une caricature du séjour du groupe au Jardin d’acclimatation de Paris.

Recently, while searching on the French National Library’s website, Gallica, my attention was drawn to a series of illustrations published in the November 24, 1877, issue ofJournal Amusant. The artist, Gilbert Randon (1814-1884), had portrayed the six Inuit recruited by Johan Adrian Jacobsen in Jakobshavn, now Ilulissat, and exhibited in several major European cities throughout 1877-1878. Randon’s illustrations were meant to be a caricature of the group’s stay at the Jardin d’acclimatation in Paris.

Le journal amusant, 1877-11-24, Page 4
Journal Amusant, 1877-11-24, Page 5

Encore aujourd’hui, malgré que la presse de l’époque ait couvert le séjour de ce tout premier groupe d’Inuits à être exhibés dans les spectacles ethnographiques organisés par Carl Hagenbeck, trop peu est connu à leur sujet.

Still today, despite the fact that the press of the time covered the stay of this very first group of Inuit to be exhibited in Carl Hagenbeck’s ethnographic shows, too little is known about them.

Afin que ces superbes illustrations puissent être découvertes et comprises tant par leurs descendants que par toute personne s’intéressant à l’époque des “zoos humains”, voici la transcription française de la légende de chaque illustration suivie de la traduction anglaise.

Puisse nos efforts être utiles et d’intérêt. Merci!
France Rivet

So that these beautiful illustrations can be discovered and understood by their descendants as well as by anyone interested in the era of “human zoos”, here is the French transcription of each illustration’s caption followed by the English translation.

May our efforts be of use and of interest. Thank you!
France Rivet

Page 4 – Illustration #1 – Le Groenland au Jardin d’acclimatation

(Paragraphe de gauche) Quelques peaux de phoques de tant bien que mal cousues ensemble avec des boyaux de ne sais plus quoi, plus deux ou trois perches pour le toit et le faîtage, voilà ce qui constitue l’habitation des quatre mois d’été au Groenland… S’il est vrai que l’homme le plus riche est celui qui a le moins de besoins, il faut reconnaître que, sous ce rapport, toute la tribu des Rothschild réunis ne ferait jamais qu’une collection de panés en comparaison du plus modeste des habitants de ces contrées bénies du ciel.

(Paragraph on the left) Some seal skins sown together as best they could with guts of I do not remember what, plus two or three perches for the roof and the ridge, this is what constitutes the dwelling in Greenland during the four summer months… If it is true that the richest man is the one who has the least needs, it must be admitted that, in this respect, the entire Rothschilds tribe reunited would never be more than a collection of panés[?] in comparison with the most modest of inhabitants of these heaven-blessed regions.

(Paragraphe de droite) Quant à l’habitation d’hiver, c’est un peu plus recherché, comme on le voit, mais si l’on veut bien réfléchir qu’il faut quelquefois passer là-dedans, sous dix pieds, vingt pieds de neige, par des froids de 40 à 50 degrés, plusieurs mois entiers sans sortir, on comprendra que, malgré sa simplicité native, l’Esquimau, qui, après tout, tient à vivre, sacrifie quelque peu aux douceurs du confortable.

(Paragraph on the right) As for the winter dwelling, it is a little more sought after, as we see, but if one wants to think carefully that it is sometimes necessary to go in there, under ten feet, twenty feet of snow, by colds of 40 to 50 degrees, several whole months without going out, it will be understood that, in spite of its native simplicity, the Eskimo, who, after all, wants to live, sacrifices somewhat to the sweetness of comfort.

Page 4 – Illustration #2 – Tableau de la troupe / Chart of the group

M.— OKABAK (Caspar-Michaël), trente-six ans, jeune premier rôle, fort jeune premier.
KAJAGA (Henry-Johannès), vingt-huit ans, jeune premier, premier amoureux.
KOKKIK (Hans-Huahsen), quarante et un ans, père noble, premier rôle marqué.
Mmmes — OKABAK (Magag-Julianne-Margaritha), vingt-trois ans, premier rôle en tous genres, grande coquette.
OKABAK (Anna), deux ans, première amoureuse, ingénuité.
OKABAK (Margaritha), amoureuse, ingénuité.
Chiens. — Phoques. — Ours blancs. — Utilités.

Mr. OKABAK (Caspar-Michaël), thirty-six years old, young leading role, very young leading role.
KAJAGA (Henry-Johannès), twenty-eight years old, young leading role, first love.
KOKKIK (Hans-Huahsen), forty-one years old, noble father, noticeable leading role.
Mrs. OKABAK (Magag-Julianne-Margaritha), twenty-three years old, leading role of all kinds, coquette.
OKABAK (Anna), two years old, loving, ingenuity.
OKABAK (Margaritha), loving, ingenuity.
Dogs. – Seals. – Polar bears. – Utilities

Page 5 – Illustration #1

Un peu basse, peut-être, de plafond, l’entrée de la demeure des Esquimaux; Mais quand on y est, on ne regrette pas sa peine ni son chapeau bossué; et pour ceux qui n’ont pas vu les casemates de nos remparts pendant le siège de Paris, voilà de quoi s’en faire une idée : même obscurité, même atmosphère écœurante et étouffée… Ah! Dam, quand on est obligé de vivre en guerre avec une nature féroce et de recevoir des ours blancs en guise de projectiles, on ne peut pas songer à faire son nid comme dans un entresol de la rue Saint-Georges.

A little low, perhaps, the ceiling of the entrance to the Eskimos’ house; But once inside, one does not regret his pain or his top hat; and for those who have not seen the casemates of our ramparts during the siege of Paris [1870-71], this is enough to get an idea: the same darkness, the same disgusting and muffled atmosphere… Ah! Damn, when one is obliged to live in war with a fierce nature and to receive polar bears as projectiles, one cannot think of making one’s nest like in an entresol on Saint-Georges Street.

Page 5 – Illustration #2

C’est par des dégelées de coups de fouet que cet intelligent sportsman supplée pour le quart d’heure à la gelée absente, afin que les bourgeois parisiens puissent se faire – quand même – une idée de ce qu’est un attelage du high-life au Groenland.

In the absence of frost, it is with a shower of whiplashes that this intelligent sportsman fills the fifteen minutes, so that the Parisian bourgeois can get – anyway – an idea of what is a dog team in Greenland’s highlife.

Page 5 – Illustration #3

En croirai-je mes yeux!… monsieur n’aime pas l’huile de baleine

Should I believe my eyes!… the gentleman does not like whale oil!

Page 5 – Illustration #4

Ah! Seigneur public, tu veux du nouveau, du pittoresque, de l’émouvant, de l’excentrique; eh bien, si tu n’as jamais vu de troupeaux conduits par une bergère comme on en voit peu, en voici un comme on n’en voit guère… Et dire que c’est pour toi, pour toi seul, gros chéri! Que tout cela, bêtes et gens, est descendu des extrêmes régions hyperboréennes!

Ah! Public Lord, you want something new, picturesque, moving, eccentric; Well, if you have never seen herds driven by a shepherdess as we see rarely, here is one as we do never see it… And all this is for you, for you alone, big darling! All this, beasts and people, came down from extreme hyperborean regions!

Page 5 – Illustration #5

Encore un mode de locomotion à l’étude au Jardin d’acclimatation, où les promenades à dos de phoque seront une des attractions de la saison.

Another mode of locomotion under study at the Jardin d’acclimatation, where rides on the back of a seal will be one of the attractions of the season.

Page 5 – Illustration #6

Il paraît que c’est nous autres chiens qui avons le plus grand succès de curiosité…
Oui, avec le traîneau et les coups de fouet.

Malheur! C’est tout de même vrai, j’y pense.
Que les chiens n’ont pas de bonheur.

It seems that we, the dogs, have the greatest success of curiosity…
Yes, with the sled and the whiplashes.

Good Grief! It’s true, when I think about it.
Dogs do not have happiness.

Page 5 – Illustration #7

Pardon, monsieur le dessinateur, ne pensez-vous pas qu’il serait bon de laisser quelque chose en réserve, pour surprises au public, comme par exemple notre attaque d’une pirogue sur le lac, l’assaut d’une hutte et notre combat corps à corps avec les Esquimaux, qui sont dévorés, naturellement?

Excuse me, Mr. Illustrator, do not you think it would be good to leave something in reserve, for surprises to the public, such as our attack on a kayak on the lake, the assault of a hut and our hand-to-hand combat with the Eskimos, who are devoured, naturally?

Polar Horizons’ notebooks get a makeover / Les carnets de notes d’Horizons Polaires font peau neuve

Hello / Bonjour,

A couple of months ago, we were contacted by Nadine Khalife, a most enthusiastic young mother of two boys who had just embarked on a major career change to follow her passion. She was about to launch her new entreprise Mint and Honey Miel et Menthe Gifts. Nadine had just discovered Polar Horizons’ art cards and notebooks and was envisoning to integrate them into the gift packages she was designing. As she told us, she had a “coup de coeur” for the Arctic Flora notebook. That specific notebook was her inspiration to launch into sourcing more and more northern products and she hopes to be able to add a variety which will contribute to local economy, even if just a little bit. / Il y a quelques mois, nous avons été contactés par Nadine Khalife, une jeune mère de deux garçons avec beaucoup d’enthousiasme. Nadine venait d’amorcer un changement de carrière majeur pour suivre sa passion et lancer sa nouvelle entreprise Mint and Honey Miel et Menthe Gifts. En découvrant les cartes artistiques et carnets de notes d’Horizons Polaires, Nadine a eu l’idée de les intégrer dans ses ensembles-cadeaux. Comme elle nous l’a dit, elle a eu un «coup de coeur» pour le carnet sur la flore arctique. Ce carnet a été son inspiration pour se lancer dans l’approvisionnement de plusieurs produits nordiques. Elle espère être en mesure d’éventuellement ajouter une grande variété de ces produits de façon à contribuer à l’économie locale, même si ce n’est que modestement.

Two months ago, we didn’t have any notebooks in stock. They were printed in the United States and had a perfect binding which made it awkward to write inside the notebooks. So, thanks to Nadine, we decided it was high time to revamp our collection of notebooks. We therefore took this opportunity to go through each notebook and made some changes to the set of photos by integrating recent images. We also changed the binding with a metal Wire’o spiral and found a local printer. / Il y a deux mois, nous n’avions aucun carnet en stock. Ces derniers étaient imprimés aux États-Unis et avaient une reliure parfaite (aussi appelée reliure allemande, ou à dos collé) ce qui n’était pas pratique pour écrire à l’intérieur des carnets. Donc, grâce à Nadine, nous avons décidé qu’il était grand temps de revoir notre collection de carnets. Nous avons donc profité de l’occasion pour apporter quelques modifications aux photos qui constituaient chaque carnet en intégrant des images récentes. Nous avons aussi changé la reliure par une spirale métallique Wire’o et trouvé un imprimeur local.

So, today, we are very happy to introduce the new and improved collection of Polar Horizons notebooks. / Aujourd’hui,  nous sommes très heureux de vous présenter notre collection de carnets de notes revue et améliorée.

Five notebooks are now available. Click on either the title or the photo of the cover to browse the content of each notebook. / Cinq carnets sont désormais offerts. Cliquez sur le titre ou la photo de la couverture pour feuilleter le contenu de chaque carnet:

The notebooks can be ordered through Polar Horizons’ Bookstore. If you know of organizations, schools, etc. who might be interested in using them as part of their fundraising activities, we sure are open to discussion. Just get in touch with us. / Les carnets peuvent être commandés via la librairie d’Horizons Polaires. Si vous connaissez des organismes ou écoles qui pourraient être intéressés à les vendre dans le cadre de leurs collectes de fonds, nous sommes ouverts aux discussions. Il suffit de nous contacter.

To celebrate this new collection and the end of the year 2017, we are offering a 15% rebate on all orders of notebooks from now until end of day December 31, 2017. You simply have to enter the coupon code BYEBYE2017 at checkout time. / Pour célébrer cette nouvelle collection et la fin de l’année 2017, nous offrons un rabais de 15% sur toutes les commandes de carnets de notes d’ici la fin de la journée du 31 décembre 2017. Il vous suffit d’entrer le code BYEBYE2017 au moment de passer la commande.

Thank you! / Merci!

France Rivet


New book launched – Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station


On Thursday, November 30, more than 80 people gathered at Memorial University’s Marine Institute in St. John’s to attend the Newfoundland and Labrador Historical Society‘s Gilbert Higgins Lecture, an annual event co-sponsored by the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives. The audience consisted of members of the kayaking society as well.

This year, author Rozanne Enerson Junker shared the story of her multi-year investigation to retrace the Inuit family her uncle Elwood “Woody” Belsheim had shared so many precious moments with while serving at a secret U.S. weather station in Hebron, Labrador, during World War II. Rozanne’s lecture traced the history of the Ferry Command, the secret weather station, and the Inuk hunter, Renatus Tuglavina, using a model sealskin kayak, made for Woody by Renatus, as her spirit guide.

Larry Dohey, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Historical Society.

Larry Dohey, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Historical Society, welcoming guests. Photo: Dave Lough.


John Griffin, President of the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador

John Griffin, President of the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, remembering Gilbert Higgins. Photo: Dave Lough.


Catharyn Andersen

Catharyn Andersen, Special Advisor to the President of Memorial University and Nunatsiavut beneficiary, introduced Rozanne. Photo: Dave Lough.


Rozanne Enerson Juner

Rozanne Enerson Junker – guest speaker for the 2017 Gilbert Higgins Lecture. Photo: Dave Lough.

The evening also served as the official launch of Rozanne’s book Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station. Less than a week before, we had picked up from Imprimerie Gauvin, in Gatineau, the copies of the book people would be holding on that special evening.

Rozanne Enerson Junker and Patricia Latour

Rozanne Enerson Junker and Patricia Latour, Assistant General Manager at Imprimerie Gauvin, in Gatineau. Photo: France Rivet.


Rozanne Enerson Junker with boxes of Renatus' Kayak

Rozanne Enerson Junker with boxes of Renatus’ Kayak. Photo: France Rivet.


Rozanne Enerson Junker holding her new book, Renatus' Kayak

Rozanne Enerson Junker holding her new book, Renatus’ Kayak

Rozanne’s lecture received media coverage in Newfoundland and Labrador with two interviews on CBC, and one feature article in The Telegram. Here are the links where you can read/listen to her fascinating story:

People have been asking where they can get a copy of the book. At present, the following brick and mortar bookstores carry it:

Newfoundland and Labrador


The book can also be ordered directly from the publisher: Polar Horizons.

That said, wherever you are in the world, the book can easily be ordered through many online retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Here is a list of the retailers that we have put together, and which we will try to keep up to date: Where can I purchase Renatus’ Kayak?

Over the last week, we are thrilled to see the book continue to climb in the Amazon rankings. On December 2, it was at rank #14 and #15

2017-12-02 - Amazon Ranking

For all of you who already purchased, or will be purchasing, the book through Amazon, thank you for taking a few minutes of your time to rank the book by awarding it the number of stars you feel it deserves. Complementing your rating with comments would be a most generous bonus. It will help the book get discovered by more readers.

Thanks to all who have had a role to play in the successful launch of Renatus’ Kayak.

France Rivet

Presenting the book cover for “Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station”


For the last week, Rozanne Enerson Junker and I have been working with designers from the 99designs platform to come up with the cover for Rozanne’s new book Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station. The book, to be officially launched on November 30, 2017, in St. John’s, NL, is the result of Rozanne’s multi-year research to find an Inuit hunter, Renatus Tuglavina, and his daughter Harriot, the two individuals who befriended her uncle Elmwood “Woody” Belsheim in Hebron, Labrador, while serving at a secret U.S. Army weather station during World War II.

The designers had the mandate to come up with a cover that would best reflect the content of Renatus’ Kayak, a book which seamlessly melds World War II military history, Labrador Inuit culture, religion, politics and love through the true stories of Woody, Renatus and Harriot. The link between the three individuals, as well as between the WWII era and today, is a three-feet sealskin model kayak which Renatus made for Woody, and which Woody, in turn, gave to Rozanne.

One of the criteria imposed on the designers was that they had to integrate on the front cover the artwork entitled Silent Boats #5 by artist Allen Smutylo. Rozanne and I were so thrilled when Allen gave us his blessing to use his artwork on the cover. Finding an illustration that incorporated a representation of three main elements of the story – the kayak, an Inuit hunter (Renatus) and a woman (Harriot) – was simply unhoped for.

Of the 43 designs that were submitted, Rozanne and I selected our top three. To help us see more clearly, and to make the final decision, we ran a poll asking for thoughts, comments on the three designs. Over 125 people provided their feedback either through the 99designs platform, Facebook, email messages or phone calls. Some people opted to rate their choices using a 5-star system, others awarded their first, second and third place, or simply shared with us their top pick. People were also free to provide comments or explain their decision.

Before I go any further, here were our top three choices (in chronological number of cover id):

Votes came in from both ends of North America (California and Nunatsiavut), everywhere in between, and from Europe. Some were already familiar with Rozanne’s research, others had never heard of it. Even though the poll had nothing scientific, we were extremely pleased with the number of people who took the time to review.

Very quickly, it became obvious that we would not be able to rely solely on the statistics provided by the 99designs platform to help us make our decision. The scores were simply too close, didn’t take into consideration the many votes received from other sources, nor the actual comments. We had to develop our own analysis system. What were people really telling us?

First, I came up with a list of about ten questions. For example, which cover…

  • … better reflects the book’s genre?
  • … better conveys the tone of the book?
  • … better reflects the Arctic setting?
  • … better grabs the attention?
  • … looks more professional?
  • … is more pleasing to look at?
  • … is easier to read?
  • … matches our target audiences?
  • etc.

Then, I went through all the received comments and put them beside the question they related to, asking myself whether the comment represented a pro or a con for the cover. So, slowly, the spreadsheet was being built. Once all comments had been classified, I took each question, analyzed the comments and tried to determine which of the design had the advantage. At the end of the process, one design clearly had gathered the most advantages.

I sent the spreadsheet to Rozanne for her to look at and see if my logic made sense. Would she come to the same conclusion? Interestingly, some of the comments I saw as a “con”, she saw as a “pro”. We discussed, made adjustments, and in the end, we both agreed that one design stood out. But, because we really liked all three of them, in the back of our minds, there was still a tiny doubt. Yes, but this one… and this one… We knew we’d end up disappointing lots of people and two of the three designers. That was unavoidable.

There was one more check we could make. Would the printer have issues with any of the covers that we didn’t couldn’t identify? The answer came back that from a production level, it didn’t make any difference which one we would choose. But, in their opinion, one stood out as being “on the target” for the current market. It was the one that our analysis had identified as the winning design. Somehow, both Rozanne and I felt relieved. We were making the right decision.

Without any further ado, here is the winning design for the first edition of Renatus’ Kayak: A Labrador Inuk, an American G.I. and a Secret World War II Weather Station:

The winning design.

A few minor adjustments will be made before going to print.

Thank you so much to the three designers: semnitz, Wally_F, Inosity Studios for their time, enthusiasm and hard word. It was a great pleasure to collaborate with all of them.

Thank you! Merci! Nakummek! to everyone who took the time to look at the cover options, rate them and/or provide comments. Every single rating and comment was useful and helped us reach the final decision.

We’re now one step closing to holding the final products in our hands, and to be able to share it with the world.

For those of you who are in St. John’s, NL, please note the date of November 30, 2017, as it will be the official book launch when Rozanne gives her talk at the Newfoundland and Labrador History Society at 7:30 p.m.

Thank you for your interest and support.
France Rivet


NunaKakKaasimajut (First Peoples First Occupants): A New Radio Show Hosted by Angus Andersen Dedicated to Canadian Indigenous Music

Angus Andersen loves listening to indigenous music. Quite often you’ll find him searching on YouTube for new songs and performers. But, in March 2016, something changed! As a member of the Inuit Drum group Kilautiup Songuninga (strength of the drums), Angus flew from St. John’s to Ottawa to take part in the Inuit community’s Spring Equinox celebration. Little did he know that sharing the stage, and meeting, so many Inuit artists from all regions of Canada would become the catalyst for him to host a radio show fully dedicated to Canadian indigenous music.

Solomon Semigak, Angus Andersen, Sophie Angnatok and Stan Nochasak performing at the Spring Equinox celebration in Ottawa. March 2016. (Photo: France Rivet)

“There’s a lot of aboriginal music out there. I wanted people in the St. John’s-Avalon area to hear Inuktitut voice on the radio and hear more aboriginal music because none of the big stations here have aboriginal content,” Angus explained to me when we chatted on the phone.

“Every now and then, on Fridays, I listen to CHMR-FM radio. They have a great two hours of country music. One day, I said to myself, ‘I should write them a letter and see if I can do a show.’” Well! Angus did write to the station. His idea received an immediate positive reply which led Angus to meet with two of the radio station’s program directors. A week later, on July 20, 2017, at 2 p.m., Angus was sitting in CHMR’s studio welcoming listeners to the very first hour of NunaKakKaasimajut (First Peoples First Occupants), a bilingual talk show (Inuktitut and English) featuring 100% Canadian indigenous music.

Angus Andersen hosting NunaKakKaasimajut. (Photo by Colleen Power)

“All radio station programs today have a 20% content of Canadian music. The difference with mine is that it is 100% Canadian aboriginal. I’m playing from unknown local artists to more popular groups. I have had three requests so far. Other than that, the choice of music played has all been based on my preferences.”

Things happened so fast that Angus still can’t believe that his radio show has become reality! What he likes most about hosting it is the ability to speak Inuktitut on the air, and to do so without restriction. He is most proud that CHMR has given him carte blanche.

Angus Andersen with CHMR News Director Colleen Power. (Photo courtesy of Angus Andersen)

Initially, Angus’ intent was to concentrate on playing Inuit artists and music. But a discussion with his aunt Rita Andersen made him realize that the title he had chosen, NunaKakKaasimajut, really encompassed more than Inuit. It meant First Peoples, so music from Metis and First Nations had to be part of it too! “That is why I brought in all aboriginal music,” explained Angus. In his very first opening, he dedicated his show to the Beothuks, the indigenous people of the island of Newfoundland whose last survivor, Shanawdithit, died in 1829.

People who know Angus know very well that he is not new to the world of communications nor to community involvement. He worked for eight years as a journalist for the OKâlaKatiget Society, in Nain, and has done freelance reporting for CBC Radio One. “In the 1980s, when the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation decided to come up with their own station, which later became APTN, I was on one of the selection committees in Labrador. I have been involved in communications maybe 30–35 years, but I have always been a community person. Even before I started with OK Society, I was helping with community events,” Angus explained to me.

Still today, he plays very active roles in a variety of initiatives, from St. John’s community freezer program and Urban Inuit Committee to organizing sessions for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and raising awareness, through his water bottle campaign, on the methylmercury issues posed by the Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric project. Despite all these activities, Angus still finds time to give Inuktitut classes (one-on-one in person or online) and to do soapstone carvings.

Angus teaching Labrador Inuktitut at the Ottawa Inuit Children Center in Ottawa, March 2016. (Photo: France Rivet)

As I write this note, Angus is preparing the fourth instalment of NunaKakKaasimajut. So far, his playlists have included artists such as Beatrice Deer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Charlie Adams, Charlie Panaguniak Kamatotc, David Hart, Eastern Owl, Eli Merkuratsuk, Inuvialuit Drum Dancers, Jaaji, Kashtin, Lisa Penashue, The Jerry Cans, Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt, Kelly Fraser, Nain Drum Dancers, Saali and the Ravenhearts, Twin Flames, William Tagoona, to name just a few.

Angus’ hope is that eventually, as more people tune in, as more requests come in, and as more CDs are collected, the station will consider adding a second hour to his show. But, for now, the priority is to spread the word about NunaKakKaasimajut, an initiative which can definitely be seen as contributing to building bridges between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

The show airs at 2 p.m. Newfoundland Time, and even though you may not reside in the Avalon Peninsula where CHMR’s antennas can reach you, you definitely can listen to the show live or as podcasts. So far, people have been tuning in from as far as Anchorage, Alaska.

HOW TO LISTEN TO NunaKakKaasimajut

If you live in the St. John’s—Avalon peninsula area, simply tune in CHMR FM 93.5 on Thursdays @ 2 p.m.

If you live outside the broadcasting area, access CHMR’s home page. In the top left corner, you’ll see a “Listen Now” button which allows you to tune in.

Here are the podcasts of the latest three instalments:

To listen to any of the shows that aired in the last four months, you can also go to this address Here’s what you will see:


Specify the date of the show you’re looking for (remember that NunaKakKaasimajut started on July 20, 2017). Enter 14:00 as the start time and 15:00 as the stop time. Press the Stream m3u button. You’ll get a pop-up to either open the link or save it to your computer. If you choose to open it, within seconds you’ll be listening to the live broadcast.

Currently, YouTube is Angus’ main media for making his selection. That said, artists are just starting to send him copies of their CDs. So, if you are a Canadian indigenous artist, or know one who could be featured on NunaKakKaasimajut, Angus will be thrilled to get a copy of your CD. Here’s the address where it can be sent to:

Attn: Angus Andersen
Box A-119
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s  NL  A1C 5S7

Music can also be submitted as MP3. But, before you send anything in that format, please read CHMR’s policy on submitting material.

Whether you’d like to send a special request, ask a question, or tell Angus where you’re tuning in from, you can reach him via:
Twitter: @AndersenAngus

From now on, every week, you can share an hour with Angus who does his best to create his own version of the Spring Equinox event where the seed for this big adventure was planted a year ago. Hope you tune in, enjoy and share the news with friends and family.

Thank you! Merci! Nakummek!
France Rivet






Labrador Inuit Featured in the German Embassy’s new Exhibit in Ottawa

Good day,

I am so excited and proud to tell you about the “Germany and Canada: Partners from Immigration to Innovation” exhibit that just opened last night in Ottawa. The exhibit is being presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and its many partners, to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. It is located in the International Pavilion, a brand new building (7 Clarence Street, on the corner of Sussex Street) which was also inaugurated last night.

The main floor is dedicated to introducing bilateral research projects and partnerships. For example, that’s where you’ll be able to use your mind to turn a wind turbine. Check out the Mind2Motion Challenge and you  might even win a Siemens drone!

The second floor is aimed at highlighting a few of the stories of how the peoples of Canada and Germany have interacted and shared experiences over the centuries. That’s where you’ll discover a few notable German personalities in Canada, the Canadian Forces Base in Lahr from 1967 to 1994, and how the city of Kitchener got its name.

But, for those of us with an interest in the North and the Inuit culture, the section you cannot miss is the one entitled “Moravians in Labrador: A dialogue between German and Inuit cultures.” I am so thrilled that the German Embassy  considered this subject “a must” to be included in the exhibit. Two of the highlights are the Moravian music and Abraham Ulrikab’s story.

Here are a few photos to give you a better idea.

Introduction panel to “Moravians in Labrador: A Dialogue Between German and Inuit Cultures”.


View of the entrance of the section “Moravians in Labrador”.


The panel on the Moravian Brass Band with pictures of the brass band playing on the roof of the church in Nain.


The panel “The Inuit Voice in Moravian Music” where you can watch “Till We Meet Again: Moravian Music in Labrador” as well as a few other video clips.


In the next corner, is the panel on the story of the eight Inuit who were taken to Europe in 1880 to be exhibited in zoos.


People reading excerpts from Abraham Ulrikab’s diary provided in a flip book.


Here I am surrounded by Robert Evans, from Origin Studios, the Ottawa-based company who designed the exhibit, and master photographer Hans-Ludwig Blohm who introduced me to Abraham’s story back in 2009.


Tom Gordon and his wife Mary O’Keeffe looking at the acknowledgement panel.

Here is an article published on the Embassy’s So German! Si Allemand! blog about Abraham’s story.

The “Moravians in Labrador” section of the exhibit was made possible through the contribution of many individuals. The names I recognized on the acknowledgment panel include: Jamie Brake (Nunatsiavut Government archeologist), Tom Gordon (Memorial University), Jack Ives (who contributed a 1956 photo of Hebron), Hartmut Lutz (German-English translator of Abraham’s Diary and author of the book “The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab: Text and Context”),  Nigel Markham (film director of “Till We Meet Again”), Ossie Michelin (contributed photos and video clips of the Nain Brass Band), France Rivet (yours truly), Jacqueline Thun (German-French translator of Abraham’s Diary), and all the various archives who agreed to the use of their images.

I would like to express my thanks to:

  • Martin Schurig, First secretary – Communication and Culture, who had the idea of including Abraham’s story in the exhibit and brought his colleague Peter Finger to the world premiere of “Trapped in a Human Zoo” so that Peter would get introduced to the story;
  • Peter Finger, the person in charge of the exhibit, who requested that we have a chat and decided to give consideration to my suggestion to put Abraham’s story within the context of the Moravian presence in Labrador. Shortly after, he flew to St. John’s to meet with Tom Gordon and came back convinced that this was the right path.
  •  Ambassador Werner Wnendt who gave his blessing.
  • The staff of the Communication and Culture sector, Claudia Ringwald, Frank Hartmann and Kerstin Kormendy, for all their support and help.

Please spread the word to people who might be in Ottawa between now and July 26th. The exhibit is open 7 days a week. Mondays to Fridays: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Sundays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

France Rivet