This is the story of the incredible journey of eight Inuit who came from Labrador in 1880 to Europe lured by promises of adventures and wealth, only to realize they had been trapped in a world that time has today forgotten; the world of human zoos. Thirty-five thousand indigenous people from around the world were recruited for these zoos.
In this world, men, women and children were exhibited like animals. An era of scientific racism was ushered in. And if not for one small diary found after being lost for over one hundred years, written by a man named Abraham, their tragic story would have been forgotten forever.
Listen to an interview on CBC's The Current with author France Rivet.
CBC Newfoundland and Labrador: Documentary looks at Inuit family put in human zoo.
But 130 years later, author France Rivet and Inuit Elder Johannes Lampe, will uncover the mystery of their disappearance as they discover the remains of five members of the group in Paris. They will follow Abraham’s voyage through Germany and France. In Berlin, they'll visit the zoos where our Inuit were displayed, in Paris they'll stroll along the museum galleries where the skeletons of five of the Inuit were put on display until the 1930’s, then, down to the vault where they will see firsthand, the remains that have laid silent for the last 130 years.
In 2013, Canada and France signed an agreement to repatriate the human remains of Inuit back to Canada. A final chapter of Abraham’s diary is about to be written. Abraham will return to his homeland Labrador.
Abraham Charles Keelan
Nuggasak Kristen Kownak
Paingu Julie Ivalu
Rudolf Virchow Gilles Provost
Sara Mya Arngnanaaq-Boyer
Tigianniak Michael Singoorie
Tobias Archibald Kadloo
Ulrike Annie Ningeok
Photographer Louis-Philippe Pariseau
Twin Flames for ‘Isuma’ (ode to Abraham)
Me Marie-Josée Harel
stockfootage courtesy of
France Rivet/Horizons Polaires
Gaumont Pathé Archives
National Film Board of Canada
Still images courtesy of
Anne Kirsti Jacobsen
Archives de l'Assistance publique-Hôpitaux de Paris
Archives de la préfecture de la Seine
Archives de la ville de Krefeld
Archives municipales de Neuilly-sur-Seine
Bibliothèque centrale du MNHN @ RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource
Groupe de recherche ACHAC
Hessian Departmental Archives
J.M Jacobsen/Nederlands Fotomuseum
Museum für Voelkerkunde Hamburg
Tierpark Hagenbeck Archives
we graciously acknowledge the participation of
Dr. Carl-Claus Hagenbeck
special thanks to
Elders’ Committee, Nain
Ethnological Museum of Berlin
Museum of Ethnology Hamburg
Library and Archives Canada
Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Musée des moulages de l’Hôpital Saint-Louis
Musée du Quai Branly
Nain Brass Band
…and all the students who contributed to the translation of Abraham’s diary, Greifswald University
for the CBC
director of production
director of finance
executive in charge of production
The Nature of Things with David Suzuki
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
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