Jenny Tootoo was born Jenny Quassa, on March 14th, 1918. She grew up in Chesterfield Inlet, a predominantly Inuit community, on the coast of Hudson's Bay. Raised in the Catholic faith with her four brothers and two sisters she did not have the opportunity to receive a formal education.

Jenny lived a traditional Inuit lifestyle with two husbands, Pierre Tootoo and Bob Hickes. They moved to Churchill and raised a total of thirteen children. Jenny was the first woman in the community to sew and sell sealskin kamiks (boots) as well as other articles of Inuit clothing. This provided additional income for her families.

When I met Jenny in the fall of 2000, I was struck by her vitality. She is remarkably fit as she closes in on her eighty-fourth birthday. I photographed her wearing a piece of traditional Inuit clothing. It was appropriate because it was a cold, blustery day and rain was imminent. Initially uncomfortable, I relaxed when I looked through the viewfinder of my camera. The weather did not bother Jenny in the slightest. Her gaze was direct and unwavering, a reflection of a woman who had experienced much adversity in her life but with extraordinary courage had endured.

Jenny Tootoo passed away during the summer of 2004 at age 86.

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Jenny Tootoo
Inuit, Chesterfield Inlet

Image size: 11 x 13 inches
Edition size: 975