“I have a vivid memory, from when I was five years old, of sitting on a rock out in the tundra and feeling at peace.”
BY John Graham
Portraits of Labrador | Photo by John Graham |Monika Rumboldt
Monika Rumbolt is a visual artist (photographer and painter). She grew up in Port Hope Simpson. She is of Southern Inuit ancestry, and is a Member of NunatuKavut. She lives in Labrador City with her husband Matt.
“I have a vivid memory, from when I was five years old, of sitting on a rock out in the tundra and feeling at peace. I’ve always felt a strong connection to the Land and that in some way the Land is who I am. Early on, I repressed my Inuit identity, but it was such a powerful feeling and it fought to be explored. I don’t look Inuit, so some people didn’t see it as appropriate for me to drum dance or paint traditional art. So, I began to express myself through photography, because it felt safe. People didn’t judge me when they looked at my photographs, rather they saw in my photographs Labrador’s beauty.
Last summer, I was in Hopedale photographing the people, the landscape and the buildings. While there, an Inuk man approached me and asked where I was from. I told him I was from Port Hope Simpson. He asked if I was Inuit. I said I was a member of NunatuKavut. He said, “no, no, no, you are Inuit and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently”. This was a game changer for me. This Inuk stranger was telling me that the Land is my home and that this is who I am. He said, “a land claims agreement is just a piece of paper, a legal document. Our people were nomadic and travelled all over this land.” He told me to be fierce and make sure that people know that I’m Inuit. This was the spark that allowed me to express my creativity in many different forms. We are a living and thriving culture that is based on the land, a people of the land, no matter what we look like we all have the same beating heart and it’s the heart of Labrador.”
The Tamarack Camera Club has partnered with the Labrador Institute on a photography project called The Humans of Labrador. Some of these photos will be published here as Portraits of Labrador. The series was launched with this photo by John Graham.