This series first appeared in the print edition of the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.
Like Leslie Reid, whose profile appeared earlier on this site, many Ottawans have travelled to the Arctic. Whether for work or pleasure, these trips often seem to involve life-changing experiences.
In addition, due to a variety of factors — the land claims process and the role of government organizations in mapping the north are just two examples — Ottawa has seen a growing Inuit population. This strong, unique community is a remarkable treasure that contributes much to the city’s identity.
Take the case of Michelle Valberg. “I discovered the Arctic, and my whole world changed,” says Ottawa photographer Michelle Valberg. In 2009, Valberg visited the Baffin Island community of Pond Inlet to begin what she envisioned as a coffee-table book about Canada — but she never got over the North.
The result is Arctic Kaleidoscope, which features photographs taken over five years to reveal the people, places, and wildlife of the North with unique vibrancy.
But it was something else she saw on that initial trip that led to Project North. Explains Valberg: “These small communities have hockey rinks, but not hockey equipment.” Knowing that a two-litre bag of milk can cost upwards of $15, she saw the need and filled it by campaigning in Ottawa for equipment. So many bags, pads, helmets, and skates were gleaned in the roundup that she had to call on First Air for help transporting it all. More corporate sponsors joined, and Valberg recently travelled to Iqaluit, Stephen and Laureen Harper in tow, with $100,000 worth of goods from Canadian Tire.
“I was so touched by the people that I just wanted to give something back,” says Valberg. “On that first trip, I realized how little I knew about Canada and the North and the Inuit.”
Watch for more stories like Valberg’s in the coming weeks as Ottawa Magazine explores the North as a thriving, dynamic area from which we can draw knowledge and inspiration.
Also in this series:
BY PAUL GESSELL
Renowned for her landscape paintings that evoke emotional responses, Leslie Reid reveals the sublime, fragile nature of the North in her latest series, Mapping Time.
BY DAN RUBINSTEIN
From women’s healing circles and drop-in baby playtime to book-making workshops and throat-singing lessons, the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre is a “hub for celebrating Inuit culture.”
Thanks to an iPad-based tool invented by CHEO physician Dr. Matthew Bromwich, children from Nunavut can skip the plane ride from Iqaluit to Ottawa to have their hearing tested.