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Uniting the North through photos

A Facebook page dedicated to showcasing the beauty of the North hit a milestone earlier this year when it reached 10,000 followers.

Thomas Angoshadluk scrolls through the Facebook page "Photos of the North", which has gathered 10,000 members since he launched it in 2013. Cody Punter/NNSL photo

The Photos of North page was started up by Rankin Inlet resident Thomas Angoshadluk in 2013, following negative press Inuit communities received in the wake of the European seal ban.

“I was thinking about that, and thinking about how we can promote how we live up North,” he said. “The page (was started) to teach people that the North does exist with beautiful scenery, animals and people.”

When Angoshadluk was growing up in Rankin Inlet before the days of the Internet, he had no idea what the rest of the North looked like.

“I knew what the land between here and Baker Lake and Gjoa Haven looked like but I didn't have a clue what Baffin looked like at the time,” he told Kivalliq News.

After getting the chance to live in Kugkluktuk and Iqaluit later in his life, Angoshadluk was able to visit other parts of Nunavut. It was at that point he began to appreciate just how vast and breathtaking the North is.

Knowing first-hand how expensive it can be to travel here, Angoshadluk was inspired to start up the page to showcase the beauty of places many people would never get to visit.

“I just thought about my granny. How a lot of people from the north don't get to travel anywhere because of the cost of flying,” he said.

“I didn't think I would reach 5,000 people at first. And then when I reached 5,000 people I thought, 'OK, maybe it's going to grow bigger.' To my amazement, all these pictures that are posted and all these people that want to join now. It's like wow, it's hard to believe.”

The rules for the page are fairly simple. Only photos of northern communities are allowed, although the country doesn't matter. He regularly gets pictures from Russia, Alaska and Greenland and Canada's three territories.

“My favourite ones are mostly from Greenland area. Yukon, and Alaska,” said Angoshadluk.

Anyone can join Angoshadluk's page, but he keeps the page's settings private so that people can't share the images outside the group. He made the decision earlier this year to avoid people reproducing the images without people's permission.

“That page I created for people to see photos of the North, not so people could take advantage of people and make money off their photographs,” he said.

Angoshadluk said he gets an average of five people asking to join every day -- once had 250 ask to join in a single day. Between himself and another moderator in Cambridge Bay, they ensure that there are no fake accounts and that people are not posting content that isn't Northern.

Ninety per cent of the page's 10,000 followers come from Canada, with the United States a distant second, followed by Greenland.

However, Angoshadluk has connected with people from all over the world through the page. A few years ago he even got a message from a school teacher in Australia who was using the images from the page to teach her students about the North.

“She thanked me for creating this page,” he said.

Angoshadluk said he has been blown away by the quality of the contributors especially as the page has evolved. So far the page has featured mostly landscapes, however more and more people are posting pictures of people. Angoshadluk said he would particularly like to see old archival photos that show how people used to live in the North.

“When I look at something like that. I just think what kind of life did they live. How far did they have to walk? Did they have to move somewhere to eat off the land. It just amazes me.”