A small team of Siberian husky dogs was in attendance for the official opening in Edinburgh of a new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland. But almost as good as the real thing are the images of other huskies, on screen and in photographs, that feature in Extremes: Life in Subarctic Canada, running at the museum in Chambers Street until October 5.
This excellent show focuses on the life of the remote Tlicho aboriginal community in the Northwest Territories of Canada, where temperatures can plummet to - 40 degrees centigrade.
The Tlicho are part of the Dene people and the exhibition has been built around the museum's collection of everyday objects - clothing, utensils, hunting gear and so on - made by the Dene and traded from them by employees of the Hudson Bay Company in the mid-19th century, at the request of the museum's first director, George Wilson.
The Tlicho, who number around 3,500 people, recently achieved autonomy over their land and affairs and they have been working as partners with the National Museums on the Extremes exhibition which has already been seen in Yellowknife and Ottawa.
Representatives of the Tlicho, who now live in settled communities but still camp out in the summer, were in Edinburgh for the opening and confirmed their delight that their material heritage had been preserved. Staff from the museum took less fragile pieces from the collection over to Canada for educational workshops with Tlicho children, as well as sessions with adults who were able to contribute stories about some of the objects.
Using old and new objects, photographs, film and a minimum amount of well-chosen words (in English and Tlicho), Extremes shows how this robust community has managed to survive over the centuries with many of its traditions and values intact.
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