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In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab

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About the Author

After a 23 year career as an IT consultant, in 2005, France Rivet's life took a profound turn with a visit to Somerset Island, Nunavut. This first encounter with the Arctic was a life-changing experience! So much so that in 2007, France put an end to her IT career and decided to combine her growing fascination for the Polar Regions and her passions for travelling, history, writing and photography to found Polar Horizons, an enterprise allowing her to dedicate her time and skills to make the Arctic, its nature, people and history better known. As long as she can remember, France has always shown an interest in the communications field. Several of her texts and photographs have been published in Quebec newspapers and magazines. Also, France's passion for history and genealogy led her to volunteer for more than 15 years for the Societe de genealogie de l'Outaouais. Looking back, France realizes that her involvement in these various activities were actually preparing her for her most rewarding challenge yet: researching and documenting the events surrounding the death of eight Labrador Inuit who headed to Europe in 1880 to be exhibited in zoos. In summer 2009, when France was introduced to the story of Abraham Ulrikab, little did she know that, soon, she would take it upon herself to go to the bottom of Abraham's story. Abraham had left a diary which had been published, but his story remained incomplete. Where were the Inuit buried? What happened to their remains? Nobody knew. In 2010, France set out to look for answers. The more she dug into it, the more riveting the story became. In 2014, four years and three research trips to Europe later, France finally reveals her findings through her first book, In the Footsteps of Abraham Ulrikab. At last, the truth about the fate of the Inuit's remains is revealed and, from this book, emerges a yet-to-be-written chapter that could change the course of Abraham's story. France lives in Gatineau, Quebec.


Congratulations on your book [...] What I really like about it, apart from the good research and documentation, as well as the pictures introducing all persons and places involved, is the fact that you present the historical facts from all sides, but do not judge. (Dr. Hilke Thode-Arora, anthropologist, specializing in ethnographic shows in the colonial period, Munich, Germany) I'm familiar with your book on the Labrador Inuit and I'm impressed both by its thoroughness, the level of detail, personal accounts and open-mindedness. (Cathrine Baglo, Department of Cultural Sciences, Tromso University Museum, UiT-The Arc- tic University of Norway) I wanted to congratulate you most sincerely for the work you did on Abraham Ulrikab. If it had been a PhD thesis, I would have gladly granted you the Cum Laude designation. Of all the stud- ies I have read about the Jardin d'acclimatation's 'visitors', yours is the most thorough and by far the best. (Translation of the original text in French) (Gerard Levy, Expert-merchant - photography from its origins to 1940 (specializing in the exhibitions held at the Jardin d'acclimatation), Paris, France) I found it really good and pleasant to read. You have done an enormous documentation work. What a tragic story, which we'd think could and should have been avoided. And the anthropologists who, a posteriori, seem so tactless. But these were the manners of the universalist Republic that was sure of herself... (Translation of the original text in French) (Philippe Mennecier, person in charge (now retired) of the biological anthropology col- lections, Museum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris, France) This book initially interested me as I was born in Labrador. A well written and extremely exposing book of the cultures and ignorance of what was considered a superior race. The Inuit were true to themselves and their culture which was definitely misunderstood by the Europeans who thought them to be daft. I would like to think this kind of mentality has no place in our culture today but unfortunately I see evidence of this bullying behavior running rampant across the world. The author really gives food for thought and hopefully some lessons are learned through this book. (Evelyn, Goodreads review) I loved the fact that your book rests and builds on various writings that you have gathered with patience and rigor. I could follow these Eskimos' journey step by step through various newspaper articles or the writings of several people involved. In addition to the historical facts, there are Abraham's words, full of intelligence and also candor. What a beautiful soul! The second part of the book, in which scientists dissect all the physical elements of the Eskimos in order to categorize them, was more painful to read. Such coldness! I was surprised and shocked that one of them said Abraham was ugly. In short, France, what a beautiful and good book! (Translation of the original text in French) (Louise Joyal, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada) All in all, I found the story disturbing on so many levels. I understand it was a different time, with different beliefs or assumptions about the "other," but I still find the seeming inhumanity in the name of science and religion to be overwhelming. I felt some sympathy for Hagenbeck and Jacobsen when they express what appears to be remorse for the deaths-it seems as if they came to know and respect their charges. And yet, they continued on with other subjects. I wonder what we are doing today that will be seen 135 years from now as barbaric? Perhaps the decimation of ocean creatures? ... The photos throughout humanized the story. Made it real. (Rozanne Junker, Blue Sea Lake, Quebec, Canada)

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