Talks/Meet the Author Events - Film Screenings




Talk: In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab

France Rivet 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, and their relatives were never told what really happened, until 133 years later, when France Rivet published her book In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab.

Through this 45-60 minute audiovisual presentation, France Rivet:

  • Gives a brief summary of her career path;
  • 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
  • Updates you on the status of the repatriation process.

The conference is usually 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


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 Screenings

At Polar Horizons, we feel most privileged to have seen our research has been immortalized by 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.

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.

World Premiere of Trapped in a Human Zoo, January 2016, Ottawa. In the company of producer Roch Brunette, film director Guilhem Rondot, and three of the Inuit actors (Charles Keelan, Julie Ivalu and Kristen Ungungai-Kownak). Photo: Brandon Pardy.

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.

We have 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.