As a young Inuk, I grew up with intergenerational trauma, in poverty, around addictions, mental health crises and in and out of foster care. I left home at 13 and I never graduated high school. However, I am a very proud alumni of the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program. My life turned around completely after reclaiming my culture, and I graduated with a 3.95 GPA. The program focuses on the Nunavut Agreement and its implementation, Political Science, Research, Inuit-Government Relations, Contemporary Issues, Inuit history, and Inuktitut. Not only did I learn so much, I was able to be a cultural ambassador: sharing my Inuit culture from the Governor General's Winter Celebration to the Oslo Opera House in Norway. From the National Arts Centre to Hui Malama O Ke Kai in Oahu, I have honoured and celebrated Inuit excellence.
Inuuqatigiitsiarni in Inuktut means “respecting others, relationships and caring for people”. I want to reflect that Inuit societal value. I want to achieve a worthwhile career creating art that’s also purposeful, encaptivating and shares who I am. Photography has been my way to contribute meaningful art to our Canadian society. I believe that teaching about my Inuit culture will help people understand our past and present. As well as giving resources to help shape the future with Indigenous people in Canada.
My photography career started out with the Art Gallery of Guelph, in 2018 with the exhibit, Getting Under Our Skin, which was inspired by Inuk filmmaker Alethea Anarquq-Baril’s award-winning documentary Angry Inuk. The exhibition was grounded in intergenerational art and activism that spoke to the central role of the seal and seal hunting within Inuit culture and society. I documented the Pro Seal Hunt Rally on Parliament Hill which was a hybrid fashion show, dance performance, and protest by Inuit students wearing seal skin parkas.
From there, the City of Ottawa’s Direct Purchase Program acquired a piece called “Our Women and Girls are Sacred” named after the disproportionately high number of murdered and missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit in Canada, and it had showcased it during the exhibit Kaleidoscope. Next, I participated in Signal: 2019 Additions to the City of Ottawa Art Collection. Followed by They Forgot That We Were Seeds, an exhibit that uses foodways to re-imagine the history of Canada as a settler-colonial state, placing Black and Indigenous women at the center of an effort to construct a counter-archive at Carleton University which had been curated by Kosisochukwu Nnebe. Touching on issues of land, migration, and food justice and sovereignty, the exhibition offers a glimpse into decolonial and sustainable futurities rooted in Indigenous worldviews. As well as, Indspire x SAW Nordic Lab’s exhibition at the National Arts Centre.
During the beginning of COVID-19, the City of Ottawa's Public Art Program launched Microcosm and I had shared portraits of BIPOC that I respect and admire, to been included within ward 7 at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre. I wanted to showcase strong, beautiful, multinational individuals as a reminder that we are all a product of complex histories and storied pasts. Those portraits were meant to be a starting point to engage in conversation, to be open to others’ experiences and to think about what living in a multicultural society actually means.
Then, my proudest achievement: I became a recipient of the 2020 New Generation Photography Award. The National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with Scotiabank created the New Generation Photography Award to support Canadian artists at the beginning of their careers, aged 35 and under, who create lens-based photographic work. Soon afterwards, I was one of the winners for the SAW Prize for New Works. The SAW Prize for New Works was created as an emergency response to the pandemic, offering critical support to regional artists through the commissioning of new works.
In February 2021, the exhibit Starting Over… Again with Olga Korper Gallery was a multi-generational group exhibition celebrating the power of art and community. The show took us on a journey, from ashes to renewal and reminds us that hope prevails even in times of uncertainty and despair. The power of art and community has restored us as we prepare for our next journey. Next came the City of Ottawa's Corridor 45|75 exhibit, Napaaqtulik (Forest). In the still silence of nature, between every second tree, is a doorway into a new world - a place to restore oneself.
The exhibit, She Has Something to Say, followed, which featured photographs from, "All Eyes on Mi'Kma'Ki''. I captured Autumn Peltier, an Anishinaabe Indigenous clean water advocate and Chief Water Protector for the Anishinabek Nation and Ma-Myriah, an Inuk and Mi'Kma'Ki artist and mother in solidarity of The Sipekne’katik First Nation who have a right to fish as protected under the 1752 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which guarantees the Mi’kmaq right to earn a “moderate livelihood” from hunting and fishing but have been met with racism and violence.
My pieces titled, “Return If Possible” features my brother Simon, a young Inuk man who left us too soon. Inuit suicides rates are the highest in the country. His death has left me angry, grief stricken and a deep desire for a dire need of awareness and change. I want to honour Simon, tell his story and advocate for all Inuit who need to heal from the acculturation, intergenerational traumas and ongoing colonial violence.