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Portraits of Isolation in the Arctic

Apr 10, 2020 | 103 videos
Video by The Atlantic

The Northwest Territories encompasses some of the northernmost regions of Canada and extends high into the Arctic Circle. It is about twice the size of Texas but home to only 44,000 residents, who live in small communities spread across its vast area. The capital city of Yellowknife is 1,500 kilometers from the next-closest major city. It’s cold, ruggedly beautiful, and very isolated.


The region’s remoteness, its limited health resources, and the history of infectious disease among the predominantly indigenous population sparked an austere response to the spread of the coronavirus. Upon the discovery of its first case, the territory closed its borders to outside travel and implemented strict self-isolation measures.


These measures have left many residents out of work. Pat Kane, a documentary photographer from Yellowknife, was forced to give up a number of jobs. His community was housebound. His wife suggested that he make up for lost work by offering to take family portraits of his quarantined friends through their windows. He posted the idea to Facebook and responses poured in.


A new short documentary from The Atlantic follows Kane as he spends a day taking “isolation portraits” of his community in lockdown. The photographs illuminate the high stakes of coronavirus prevention in the Arctic and the community’s solidarity.

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Author: Nicolas Pollock

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Original short documentaries produced by The Atlantic