New book celebrates Nunavik’s beauty

Photographer demonstrates close relationship to region


Finally, there’s a book on Nunavik that does justice to the beauty of the region.

The recently published Nunavik – Québec arctique is a large, beautifully illustrated book, with more than 100 pages of photographs by Heiko Wittenborn, an introduction by Makivik Corp.’s communications officer, Lisa Koperqualuk, and captions by Lucie Dumas.

The photos, many of which spread over two pages, reveal the photographer’s close relationship to Nunavik’s landscape, wildlife, communities and its people.

Wittenborn catches caribou, foxes, ptarmigan, muskox and other familiar animals in intimate shots – the result of Wittenborn’s fascination with watching wildlife in the wild and his patience.

One shot of caribou shows the animals running directly toward the photographer – who was evidently able to take this photo and then run out of the path of the caribou before being trampled.

Last month, Wittenborn spent a week caribou-watching near Kuujjuaq – just one of the numerous visits the Montreal-based photographer has made to Nunavik over the past 10 years.

“I would like to thank the people of Nunavik for the hospitality and generosity they showed me as they welcomed me to an unfamiliar region. It would have been impossible for me to discover and photograph the beauty of their native land without this help and support.

“Many of those people, whom I met over the years, have become close friends. Every time I visit Nunavik, I meet these old friends again and, then, I feel as if I also belong to this territory. Sometimes it’s as if I’m returning to a very familiar place because I have gone back so many times,” writes Wittenborn in his personal introduction to the book.

Wittenborn’s eye caresses many of his images, reflecting his deep affection for what he sees. Photos taken in the moonlight or at sunset show how he often chases after the perfect light for a scene.

The colours particular to Nunavik – pinks and blues – are faultlessly reproduced in the book.

Wittenborn has taken thousands of photos of Nunavik. The quality and variety of his work is what convinced the publishers to focus on Nunavik in the the second in a series of coffee-table books on Quebec’s regions, called “Coins de pays” (the corners of our land) and published by the Quebec government.

“We were intending to produce a book on another region, but changed our mind when we asked [Wittenborn] if he had a lot of photos, and he said he had 10,000,” said Jean Montreuil of the Quebec government publishing house, les Publications du Québec.

Although this book will certainly find a market in Quebec and abroad, its French-only text is a barrier to finding a wider circulation in the North.

Nunavik-Québec arctique, ISBN 2-551-19632-9, les Publications du Québec, Gouvernement du Québec, 2003, 175 pp, $49.95.

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