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Born in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1940, Pamela Harris completed her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Pomona College in 1962, and moved to Toronto in 1967. A self-taught photographer, her work has consistently engaged with issues of social activism and feminist themes. In 1984, she embarked on perhaps her best known project Faces of Feminism, spending the next several years photographing women across Canada. The resulting work was exhibited extensively around Canada, and a selection of 75 photographs was published by Second Story Press as the book Faces of Feminism in 1992.
Pamela Harris first visited Spence Bay in September 1972. In 1973, she spent another four months in Spence Bay, Northwest Territories (now Taloyoak, Nunavut) photographing the people and landscape of the community, conducting interviews, and establishing a community darkroom where she taught local residents (mostly Inuit craftswomen) how to process film and print their own photographs.
In addition to the monograph Another Way of Being, published in 1976, Harris’ Spence Bay. N.W.T. photographs were exhibited in 1974-76 at The Photographers' Gallery in Saskatoon, the David Mirvish Gallery in Toronto, and the Monterey Peninsula Museum of Art in California. Photographs taken and printed by the Spence Bay residents as part of the darkroom project and natural dyes workshop were exhibited in 1974 at the Arctic Women's Workshop, a craft conference and exhibition held at the TD Centre in Toronto. An interview Harris conducted with Theresa Quaqjuaq, one of the Inuit women who participated in the darkroom project with Pamela Harris, was recorded and included in the 1973 Women’s Kit, a teaching aid Harris produced for the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) to be used in high schools and colleges for teaching women’s history in Canada. Excerpts of this interview, as well as an interview with Pamela Harris, were also aired on CBC Radio.
A small settlement near Boothia Peninsula (formerly Boothia Felix) in the Kitikmeot Region, Spence Bay was established by the Hudson Bay Company as a trading post in the 1950s, and settled by Netsilik and Dorset people. According to Harris, the population was about 400 in 1972-1973, most of whom had settled there within the past fifteen years, and many of whom spoke only Inuktitut. Her portraits of the people she met during her stay there and photographs of the landscape she encountered document the traditional ways of life and the rapid changes it underwent due to the cultural influences of the south.
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