Peter Sibbald

In the 1990s, photographer Peter Sibbald was documenting the plight of the Innu people of the Quebec-Labrador peninsula and staying with his friend Alex Andrew, an amateur photographer. Alex and, in particular, his then-wife, Martha, were having serious alcohol problems and had gone out drinking for the evening. A local teen, left to babysit the couple’s four kids, got drunk and abandoned the children. Peter awoke in the wee hours to four wailing little voices and a dawning awareness that neither the parents nor the hired babysitter were tending to their needs. He was it.
“This was long before I became a parent myself. If I’d come to this place to help make sense of their complex reality with my camera, it was a rude awakening that both it and I could be so useless at such a relatively simple but essential task as comforting small children,” says Peter. “After snapping this image, it took me nearly three hours to sort out their needs.”
On his next trip, Peter showed Alex this photograph: “Alex later told me it shook him profoundly, and prompted him to leave Martha, take the kids and begin pulling together his and the kids’ lives.”

For thirty years, documentary photojournalist Peter Sibbald has photographed on cover, portrait and story assignments for many of the world’s most major magazines, meanwhile concentrating the focus of his personal work on the themes of land, home and colonization. Recently he began extending his investigation of the same themes in motion and sound.
Peter has received national and international honours for his photography and was commissioned as the official portraitist to the Office of the Governor General of Canada during the tenure of Their Excellencies Romeo LeBlanc and Diana Fowler LeBlanc.