And Mary You’ve Seen Hard Times

Winter Camp by Mary Yuusipik Singaqti

“I would always have to walk ahead leading the dogs. I hardly ever rode in the sled. Older children were wrapped in caribou fur to keep them warm and tied to the sled. One time when I was pregnant I was carrying my son Percy on my shoulders, packing my son Jeremy on my back and carrying my bedding.  I had a miscarriage. I lost a lot of blood and blacked out.  Percy was crying and trying to wake me up. I buried my baby.”

Hardship by Mary Yuusipik Singaqti

Those words are part of the haunting description artist Mary Yuusipik gives about what it was like in the 1950s to follow the caribou and set up winter camp in the isolated interior of the Back River area of Nunavut where Mary and her husband were raising their young family.  Times were hard, food was scarce and there was always the worry about being diagnosed with tuberculosis and being sent away from your family.  

Artist Mary Yuusipik creating an artwork outside her home

During this Christmas season as I hear stories about the biblical Mary forced to travel to Bethlehem while she was pregnant, and then forced to flee to Egypt with her young son, I  keep thinking about another Mary, Mary Yuusipik up in Nunavut  facing even greater hardships as she was forced to travel with her young children from camp to camp in such harsh conditions.  It reminded me of a song from a popular Christmas carol …. “and Mary you’ve seen hard times and all that you’ve been through”…

Photo of Mary and a grandchild by Fred Ford from the My WAG magazine

The Mary Yuusipik exhibit is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Not only is Mary’s artwork special but all the drawings are accompanied by personal  stories Mary shared  with the gallery’s Inuit art curator Darlene Wight. The show will run through the Christmas season. It’s a must see. 

Other posts………

Butterflies in Nunavut? 

Crossing Seal River



Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

2 responses to “And Mary You’ve Seen Hard Times

  1. Yvonne

    Merry Christmas! I have been following your blog this fall and enjoying your photography and insights. Thank you for opening my eyes to the wonders at the art gallery.


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