This photograph shows a young Inuk girl in Kugaaruk, a hamlet of approximately 900 people in northern Nunavut, Canada, where the vast majority of the territory’s 38,000 people are Inuit. Most Inuit live in small, remote communities, and for many, modern life incorporates traditional skills essential for life in the Arctic. Mining, mineral exploration, and tourism are important parts of the economy.
Despite these resources, and despite being part of a stable democracy with one of the world’s most advanced economies, many communities in Nunavut experience food insecurity, inadequate health care and housing, lack of infrastructure, poor access to water and reliable energy, and have high rates of addiction and suicide. The full recognition of indigenous rights by the Canadian government is required not only to protect the human rights of those living in the Arctic, but also to support reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians for past rights abuses.
Jeff Topham is an award-winning Canadian documentary photographer whose diverse work has taken him from post-war Liberia to Antarctica, the Arctic and the Amazon basin.