Dominick Tyler March 29, 2008Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Canada.
Stephanie, The Edge of Two Worlds. Labrador, Canada
Dominick Tyler is a concerned photographer from the United Kingdom. He has photographed feature stories for various magazines and newspapers and has traveled extensively. Dominick has also worked on collaborative projects such as “Foaie Verde”, a unique combination of music and photography commissioned by Opera North in 2005. He is currently finishing a book about wild swimming in the United Kingdom and beginning work on another book about the language of landscape as well as working on documentary projects in northern Russia.
About the Photograph:
His long-term project “The Edge of Two Worlds” documents a community of Innu, indigenous to northern Canada. It has won second place in the Observer Hodge award in 2004 and was awarded the Marty Forscher Fellowship Award for Humanistic Photography in 2005. I encourage you to read the story behind this image. This is a picture of Stephanie Rich, a young Innu woman from a community in Labrador, she was 17 when I took it in 2005. I met Stephanie during my long term project on the Innu, an indigenous people native to north-eastern Canada. I’d made several trips to the community in the years before this picture was taken and I met Stephanie the year before. She had been one of a group of teenagers that I’d photographed drinking in a basement, an all too common pastime among a people suffering from an epidemic of alcoholism. Stephanie had seemed particularly lost, and hopeless and the images of her stuck with me. When I went back the next year she seemed older, battered by life and dejected but there were moments of joyful optimism when she talked about spending time with her grandparents in the country. A lot of the social dysfunction and substance abuse that characterizes Innu life in towns seems to fall away when the Innu spend time in what they call “the country”. This country comprises the vast barren lands of northern Labrador and Quebec, covered in snow and ice for nearly half the year and home to the migrating herds of caribou that once sustained the nomadic Innu as the bison did for the Blackfoot and the Lakota of the Great Plains. Settlement in towns has severed these near-symbiotic connections (and replaced them with alcohol, satellite TV and fast-food) but the land is still immensely important to the Innu. The day this photo was taken Stephanie had been due to fly into the country with her extended family to stay a couple of months at a lake camp. She had been talking about the trip for weeks, looking forward to it like the date of her release, but on the day the weather made the flight impossible. The trip wasn’t canceled, just postponed, but Stephanie was devastated. I felt that she’d paced her energies so precisely even a short delay might take her beyond endurance, but all she could do was sit on her porch and wait.