Chambers leads overseas project

The British Museum's collection of Inuinnait (Inuit) objects is part of a visual repatriation project that saw northern elders, crafts people and researchers – including the U of L's Dr. Cynthia Chambers of the Faculty of Education visit the British Museum in London, England in mid-April.

In the above photo, Helen Balanoff, Emily Kudlak and Chambers hold a ceremonial dance hat that dates from 1855. It features a loon beak and a weasel ermine skin. It is made from strips of white caribou hide, and white caribou hide dyed red with ochre and strips of a black hide that is possibly sealskin.

Cynthia Chambers
Helen Balanoff, Northwest Territories Literacy Council, researcher Emily Kudlak and Dr. Cynthia Chambers hold a ceremonial dance hat that dates from 1855.

"After the group saw it, Emily Angulalik, with the Kitimeot Heritage Society in Lethbridge called home to Cambridge Bay in Nunavut to inquire and found out that Archie Komak, from Ogden Bay, Nunavut had made a similar hat in the past," says Chambers. "This confirmed that this hat was from the people in this project."

The elders, researchers and crafts people examined British Museum tools, clothing and other objects dating back to the first encounters between Europeans and ancestors of the Inuinnait.

The project is part of the Ulukhaktok literacies research, a long-term collaboration between the NWT Literacy Council, the community of Ulukhaktok and Chambers.

The research looks at understanding what literacy meant traditionally to the Kangiryuarmiut and what it means today. The story of this trip will be told in video and photos, which will be posted on the NWT Literacy Council website ( once it is completed.

This project adds to numerous research projects undertaken by the NWT Literacy Council over nearly a decade. Books, museum exhibits, slide presentations and educator 'tool-kits' have come from the many hours of research by individuals all over the north.

This story first appeared in the May issue of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.