Part of a serises shoot for for Survival International documenting disparate communities that under threat of extinction. Here I photographed the Innu community in Davis Inlet, Canada. The community had been nomadic until low flying military jets and a oil pipeline disrupted the migration flows of the carabu, which was their main source of food. During the ensuing famine the government constructed a permanent settlement for the Innu. This provided for their material needs but destroyed their nomadic way of life. Alcoholism, petrol sniffing and domestic violence followed. For me it was the most depressing place I've ever stayed. The very soul of the people seemed to have been destroyed, they were totally lost. Families seem to be divided into those that drank and those that went out hinting and camping.
In 1992, six unattended children aged between six months and nine years died in a house fire. The report into the incident noted that about one-quarter of all adults in Davis Inlet had attempted suicide in the previous year. Such was the horror that the community was going through.
I visited during the annual community festival camping by a frozen lake. Temperatures at night dropped to -30C. It was so cold that half the landscape I shot were totally overexposed as my Leica's shutter lubricant started to solidify. I spent the first night alone in a tent and nearly freaked out it was so cold. After that I was lucky enough to spend the next two weeks staying with the Rich family. They were into hunting and took me out on their trips into the frozen landscape.
The photographs were published as part of a book on the conditions of the Innu by Survival International entitled: Canada's Tibet. The killing of the Innu.

Share:    Twitter    Facebook    LinkedIn
The eldest son looking out of his bedroom window.
Young family camping during the festival week.
Girls hands at window.
A cross erected outside the church tent at the festival.
Children and grand children hanging out in the family home.
Wall decoration.
Grand children playing out in the family home.
Portrait of Samuel Rich, who lives alone on the edge of the village holding on to his memories of a nomadic past. Davis Inlet, Canada.
The family home was a mini community centre where people dropped in throughout the day. The door was never locked.
Evening meal.
The youngest grand child having milk in the eldest son's room.
Dead Seals being stored outside after returning from hunting.
Native dress on sale in the local shop.
One of the neighbours asleep after a heavy drinking session. He came in, sat down, split for three hours and then got up a left without saying a word.
Edward Rich goes off to collect firewood. We would travel for several hours to find a good hunting spot and then set up tents as a base for the next few nights. Temperatures would reach -30C at night.
Mrs Rich preparing lunch in the family tent during a hunting trip.
In the Rich family tent at the community festival.
Service being held during the community festival.
The congregation at the festival church service.
Young family's tent during the community festival.
Dogs of Davis Inlet.
In the family home.
Mrs Rich washing one of her grand children.
Mrs Rich cooking at home
At home
The youngest of the Rich families son's. Tim has been mentally disabled since birth. Edward, his father, blames it on the containation of drinking water at Davis Inlet.
Middle son asleep in his bedroom.
X < >