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11 French Canadians
[At Owner's Risk: My Journey Among the Algonquian]
1972 / 2007
High resolution scan of original 35 mm negative, archival pigmented ink digital print on photo rag
16 x 20 in
Provided by the artist - Susan Ressler
Not all French Canadians looked upon the Indians as "les sauvages," but vast differences in class and social status had created a clear divide.
Whereas the French-speaking residents had all the basic amenities such as running water and indoor toilets, many of the Algonquian still lived in Hudson Bay tents or simple shacks.
But there was one thing that the Indians still had that the French Canadians envied: the ability to make snowshoes as their ancestors had, from supple moose hide and tender birch.
So a lively trade developed, and when a pair of snowshoes was available, the Indians were welcome to sit at the table. But the open-mouthed stares of the children revealed what a rare circumstance this was.
I will always regret that I didn't buy a pair of snowshoes. They were only sixty dollars, but that was a lot for me in those days.
But maybe it was a good thing I was an observer of such transactions. It was never clear which side of the table I was sitting on, as a young white girl photographing among "les Indiens."