Project Naming - Every Picture Tells a Story


Project Naming. Every Picture Tells a Story


(Text on screen: Project Naming. Every Picture Tells a Story)

Video length: 5:00 minutes

(Text on screen: What if an entire community of people was photographed and never identified?)

(Text on screen: How would younger generations of Indigenous peoples learn about their past… )

Curtis Kuunuaq Konek:
My name is Curtis Konek, I live in Arviat, Nunavut and I'm 28 years old. Arviat is a place where we hear people speaking Inuktitut, speaking their language. When I first got involved with Project Naming, with Beth Greenhorn, she asked me to bring some photos back home to show it to my grandparents and see if she could also get more names out of those photos.

Elder Helen Konek, Curtis' grandmother:
I feel happy, looking at this photo. If the photos were not taken, I would not be able to remember my relatives. And it makes me happy to recognize them.

(Text on screen: Helen received a photo from Library and Archives Canada's collection and she recognized her father.)

This is for me?



Project Naming is bringing people together, helping the community to get more involved with community events. We looked at the photos with Martha to see if she could recognise some of the elders in the photos.

Elder Martha Otokala Okutak:
It is very useful, this project. At first, the government was taking pictures of Inuit and we didn't know what the pictures of us were going to be used for. The purpose of Project Naming is to identify who is in those pictures and I also want to know that information.

Beth Greenhorn, Project Manager, Library and Archives Canada:
Library and Archives Canada is the national repository for historical archival collections of national importance and significance. Starting in the mid-1800s after the creation of the camera, government staff were travelling and staying in what is now present day Nunavut—at that time it was Northwest Territories—and they were documenting the people they saw, the daily activities that were happening, where people were living. Sadly, most of the Inuit that are depicted in these pictures were never named.

(Text on screen: Project Naming began in 2002, as a collaboration between Nunavut Sivuniksavut College, Government of Nunavut, and Library and Archives Canada.)

Elder Piita Irniq, former Commissioner of Nunavut:
My name is Piita, which is Inuit way of pronouncing Peter—Peter Irniq. I was born on the land, in an igloo, and I lived in an igloo for the first 11 years of my life until I was taken by the church and the Canadian government to go to a residential school in 1958.

During the early part of 2000, I wrote a letter to Jack Anawak, who was Minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth. I said, I'm extremely tired of southern writers, photographers, only identifying Inuit as "cross-eyed Jack" or "unidentified eskimo." I said we need to start looking at naming people in the photographs because as Inuit, we have names too.

Collaboration with citizens was, and is, the only way for Project Naming to succeed.

(Text on screen: The project started with 500 photographs of Inuit taken in Nunavut.)

(Text on screen: Elders identified 75% of the people in those images, exceeding all expectations.)

In May 2015, it expanded to become a national project, to include all Indigenous peoples, so it really—today it's still largely about creating those conversations with different generations of Indigenous people, but it's also—it helps support the Government of Canada's role in reconciliation.

(Text on screen: Open Government is about connecting people with their government and sharing information.)

The other important part was to share these photographic records that have been stored in the vaults for decades, and give access back to the communities so that they could have this information about this past through their elders. And being able to learn about Indigenous peoples—I think is just going to make us a richer country and better for it.

(Text on screen: Project Naming helped identify more than 3,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation peoples, places and events from across Canada.)

We have to see this as one of the most important projects in the history of Canada. It has a past, it has a present, it also has a future.

(Text on screen: Learn more about Project Naming
(Text on screen: Facebook: @project.naming Twitter: @project_naming)
(Text on screen: For more information on Open Government, visit:

Visual : Canada wordmark is shown on a black background.

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