Inuit Communities

Carvings from Kinngait (Cape Dorset)

Since the late 1940s, artmaking has become more and more popular within Kinngarmiut (inhabitants of Kinngait) as Inuit acquired more experience as carvers, drawers, or printmakers thus, getting recognition while their artworks were sold among the international artistic scene. Carving is doubtless the main artistic practice among Canadian Inuit communities, and Kinngait is the most famous one.

 Stone sculpture and other materials*

The West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative (WBEC) Producers Division has three major functions: the buying and selling of stones; the purchase of artworks and the production of prints. The Co-op buys carvings stone in late summer or fall from the stone harvesters who carry it and then sells it to the artists throughout the year. At one time, Kinngait sculpture was known by its unique green serpentine; over time however, fashion has affected the market. People tend to prefer either white marble polar bears or black ones, as opposed to green polar bears!

Carving stone for Kinngait is quarried from a number of sites. The main one is Kangirsukutaa (or Korok Inlet) which supplies the majority of stone to the WBEC. The stone from that site is serpentine and serpentine peridotite. Its colours vary from dark green to bluish green and include all the colours in between. Marble and serpentinized calc-silicate come from Tariujungaju (or Andrew Gordon Bay), while nearby Igalaalik has the really dark, hard black marble. Tatsittuq (or Markham bay) is known for its jade-green stone (sometimes referred as “apple green” in colour). Stone from Nuwata, accros the peninsula from Kinngait, is rarely quarried these days.

The WBEC buys mainly sculpture carved from stone; however, items from caribou antler and mixed media, traditional tools, some jewellery, and dolls are also purchased. Some of the items are sold locally to visitors, but the majority of sculptures are sent south to be sold through Dorset Fine Arts in Toronto. The WBEC is the only artist co-op in the Arctic that has his own marketing system. The other co-operatives work with Canadian Arctic Producers, the wholesale art marketing arm for Arctic Co-ops Limited.


Kinngait masters

Although some small, intimate works are still produced, most of the important Kinngait carvers have worked on a fairly large scale since the 1960s. Their sculptures are bold, dramatic compositions, in which the manipulation of elegant natural forms, sinuous lines, space and light rival content in importance.

The most skillful artists started carving narratives stories from oral tradition as well as hunting scenes and familial activities. These topics are still relevant today as younger artists share their experiences through their artworks. Making carving is part of daily life for the most of families in Kinngait, following the paths of their ancestors who are still in our memories such as Osuittok Ipellie (1923-2005), Paulassie Pootoogook (1927-2006), or Pauta Saila (1917-2009) who made the first dancing bear.

All artists learned to carve by watching their grandfathers, fathers, uncles, or brothers, and then started making carvings by their own. For example, Axangayu Shaa born in 1935, started carving small seals and birds at the age of 15. He is now famous for his dancing walrus with vigorous movement His sons Qavavau Shaa and Pudlalik Shaa are also well-known carvers after learning to carve after him. Axangaju Shaa has two brothers, both artists Tuqiqki Manumi and Qavavau Manumi. While Tuqiqki carves transformation spirit pieces related to shamanism, Qavavau makes drawings with vivid colours and humour.

The next generation will follow elders’ paths like Qavavau Shaa (Pudlalik Shaa’s son born in 1993) who is already an accomplished carver with strong simple form with lightness like his father’s work. This is a classic example of artistic traditional practices among Kinngait families, and for our best pleasure!



*VLADYKOV FISHER, Kyra, 2008, Guide to Cape Dorset artists. Cape Dorset: Municipality of Cape Dorset, pp.8-9.







Iqaluit, the Capital of Nunavut Territory


Iqaluit is the capital and the largest community of the Canadian territory of Nunavut located on the south coast of Baffin Island; its name means in Inuktitut “fishes”. Prior to 1987 the community was named Frobisher Bay when reverting to its original Inuktitut name. Inhabitants of Iqaluit are called Iqalummiut (singular: Iqalummiuq) and they were 6184 in 2006, an increase of 18.1 per cent from the 2001 census (Statistics Canada).

Iqaluit's economy is based mainly on a government that has expanded rapidly since the city became the capital of Nunavut in 1999. The city's infrastructure is extending at a steady cape, trying to catch up with population growth. As well as being Canada's newest and most northerly capital, Iqaluit is also Canada's fastest growing community (demographic and economic).


Cultural Institutions

The Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum is the major cultural institution in Nunavut devoted to Inuit arts and crafts. This museum show a collection of Canadian Arctic items from the past to present: traditional objects, contemporary carvings, drawings and prints are exhibited.

Iqaluit is also home to several institutions which contribute to protect the Inuit culture such as the Nunavut Arctic College and the Nunavut Research Institute formerly mentioned (see the text untitled “Government of Nunavut, Canada” post on November 20th, 2008).


Short History of Iqaluit

Here are few key dates:

1576: Sir Martin Frobisher sails into the entrance of the Bay, believing this is a strait and that he has found the route to China.

1800's: Commercial whaling brings men, ships and trade to the Frobisher Bay area.

Early 1900's: Collapse of whaling, rise of the fur trade. The Catholic and Anglican churches gain strongholds in the Arctic through the work of missionaries.

1914: The Hudson Bay Company opens a trading post at Ward Inlet, forty miles from Iqaluit's current location.

1942: U.S. Air Force selects Koojesse Inlet as the site of a major airbase.

1955-57: The new settlement of Frobisher Bay becomes the centre for the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line) construction operations. This huge military project brings ton of supplies and hundred men into the area. By 1957, the population is approximately 1,200 and 489 of who are Inuit.

1960-63: Frobisher Bay is the location of a U.S. Strategic Air Command Unit. By 1963, when the American Air Force leaves, Frobisher Bay become the Canadian government administration, communications and transportation centre for the Eastern Arctic.

1976: The Inuit Tapirisaat of Canada (ITC) proposes the creation of the Nunavut Territory.

May 1993: Signing of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in Iqaluit

December 1995: Iqaluit was selected to be the capital of the new territory of Nunavut.

April 1st, 1999: The new Territory of Nunavut officially comes into being.






Government of Nunavut, Territory Canada


The Territory of Nunavut was formerly part of the Northwest Territories, until April 1, 1999, when the Government of Nunavut was officially inaugurated. Nunavut, “our land, our territory” in Inuktitut, covers about 1.9 million km² of land where about 30,000 Nunavummiut live and 161,000 km² of water. About 70 % of people speak Inuktitut, then 26% speak English, 1.30% speaks French and 1% speaks Inuinnaqtun. Twenty seven communities are located in Nunavut and shared out among three administrative regions: Kitikmeot, Kivalliq (formerly Keewatin) and Qikiqtaaluk (formerly Baffin).

In 1976, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatamii (ITK) - or Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (ITC), an Inuit organization - proposed the creation of the Nunavut Territory thus, beginning long negotiations between Inuit people, the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories.   On May 1993 was signed the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in Iqaluit; the capital Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay) was chosen by the December 1995 capital plebiscite. On April 1, 1999 the new Territory of Nunavut officially came into being.


Symbols of the Nunavut flag

The flag of Nunavut and also the coat of arms were designed by Andrew Qappiq, a famous artist from Panniqtuuq (Qikiqtaaluk region) who chose a red Inuksuk, a blue star and white and yellow colors in the bottom as Nunavut symbols.

The colors, blue and gold, symbolize the riches of the land, sea and sky. White and blue are colors of snow and ice thus, reminding us of winter whereas the sun and summer time are symbolized by yellow. White and yellow colors also refer to the light linked to the Inuit traditional knowledge. Red is both references to blood and life as well as reference to Canada (see its flag). The inuksuk symbolizes stone monuments which guide people on the land and mark sacred and other special places. The star is the Niqiqsuituq, the North Star and the traditional guide for navigation. The North Star is also symbolic of the leadership of elders in the community.


Silattuqsarvik-Nunavut Arctic College

Silattuqsarvik - Nunavut Arctic College name in Inuktitut - was funded by the Government of Nunavut and has several campuses and centres spread out throughout Nunavut.

The college started life in 1968 when created by the Government of the Northwest Territories as the Adult Vocational Training Centre. It became Nunavut Arctic College when the territory of Nunavut was created in 1999.

Its mission is to contribute to the development of Nunavut thus, offering about twenty training programs such as jewelery and metalwork training, interpreter-translator program, language and culture program, management studies and office administration, Nunavut teacher education program, nursing program, maternity care worker certificate program and midwifery training, hairstylist, etc.

The Nunavut Research Institute is a part of the Nunavut Arctic College and provides leadership in developing, facilitating and promoting traditional knowledge, science, research and technology as a resource for the well-being of Nunavummiut.



Nunavut Government:




Artistic Creation in Kinngait, Nunavut


The Kinngait community is located on the south west coast of Baffin Island on the Foxe Peninsula of Baffin in Nunavut territory (Canadian Arctic). 1236 persons live there (Statistic Canada 2006) including about 95% of Inuit and 5% of Qallunaat (non-Inuit).

Qallunaat people generally use the English name “Cape Dorset” to talk about the community instead of its Inuit name: kinngait which means in Inuktitut “mountains”.Kinngait Hamlet is well known on the international sphere as the most famous centre of artistic creation in the Canadian Arctic. Kinngait was the first Canadian Arctic community to produce drawings and prints; the graphic arts programme has been launched in 1956.

The West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative was founded in 1959 by Inuit own-selves to control the artworks distribution outside the Inuit territory and redistribute locally the profit of sales. Over the next five years, twenty co-ops were established across the Canadian Artic, ranging from Cape Dorset in the east to Holman Island in the west. Today, there are thirty-five which a small group leads even today artistic programs.

The artistic production - like drawing, print or carving - has been successfully developed in Kinngait, thanks to the Inuit artists’ will and enthusiasm as well as to James and Alma Houston's presence from 1951 to 1962 and Terry Ryan, first as an arts advisor in 1960 and then as manager of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-Operative from 1962 – 2001. The Dorset Fine Arts was established in Toronto in 1978 as the sale marketing division of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.

Over three generations of artists have produced sculpture, drawings and prints from Kinngait. As of 2005 over a dozen artists from Cape Dorset have been made members of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Abraham Etungat, Pitseolak Ashoona, Pauta Saila, Kenojuak Ashevak, Osuitok Ipeelee, Kananginak Pootoogook, Mayureak Ashoona, Kiawak Ashoona, Paulaussie Pootoogook, Toonoo Sharky, Pitaloosie Saila, Aqjangajuk Shaa and Oviloo Tunnillie.

Today, the artistic creation and the sale of the works represent for people who live in Kinngait a major source of incomes; but more still, artworks act as supports of the elders’ memory and narratives for the future generations.


The Kinngait Printmaking Studios

More than 1200 people live in Kinngait and most families count with one's one artist or more as carver, printer or drawer. The Kinngait hamlet is well-known on the international art market as the major art centre in the Canadian Arctic.

Kinngait-miut (people who live in Kinngait) launched out in printmaking creation fifty years ago when the first studio opened there. In 1959 was found the West-Baffin Eskimo Co-operative by the Inuit own selves to control the artworks distribution outside the Inuit territories and locally redistribute the profit of the sales.

Prints are realized in two studios depending the printmaking technique used: there is a studio for stonecut and another one for lithograph where work between five and ten printmakers in each studio.

The prints are one of their important methods of storytelling, thus continuing the transmission of traditional knowledge. These prints record Inuit family and individual histories, or their feelings about oral myths. They show with pride the Inuit territories, their animals and spirit creatures from the shamanic world.



RYAN BOYD, Leslye, 2007, Cape Dorset prints, a retrospective: fifty years of printmaking at the Kinngait studios, San Francisco, Pomegranate.

The Dorset Fine Arts:




Panniqtuuq, Nunavut


Panniqtuuq is an Inuit Hamlet in Nunavut, located on east Baffin Island on the shore of the Panniqtuuq fjord. 1325 Panniqtuurmiut (95% are Inuit) live in this community (Statistic Canada 2006) which its name means in Isnuktitut: “rich in bull caribous”. Panniqtuuq is also called Pang and Pangnirtung in English. Tourism generates today in Panniqtuuq the major source of income based on the activities of the Ayuittuq National Park and the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts. Three artistic creation domains are developed by the local artists: carving, printmaking and tapestry.



Panniqtuuq is home to some of the most accomplished Inuit carvers in the Arctic. Some of the carvers specialize in serpentine or soapstone; other specializes in caribou antler and ivory.

Famous carvers such as Musisi Qijuarjuq (elder carver), Lipa Pisiulak, Jaco Ishulutaq, Manasie Maniapik (master carvers), Alan Alikatuktuk, Leopa Akpalialuk, Pilipusi Nakashuk (mid-career carvers), Jimmy Kilabuk, Danny Itooangat, Peona Qijuarjuq, Johnnylii Akpalialuk and Mosa Arnaqaq (young and emerging artists) exhibit their artworks in museums and art galleries in the south.



The Panniqtuuq print shop originated in 1969, with government support and financial assistant, as part of the Canadian's government effort to create cash-based employment in developing Inuit communities. In 1973, the Print Shop published, under the auspices of the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts, its first collection of limited-edition prints.

The annual Panniqtuuq Print Collection promotes Inuit culture with imagery that celebrates the land and traditional Inuit life, knowledge and myths. Each year, drawers collaborate with printmakers on the creation of a new collection of limited-edition prints. Josea Maniapik, Andrew Qappik, Jolly Atagooyuuk, Leetia Alivaktuk, Abigail Ootoova, Tommy Angakak, Noah Maniapik, Annie Kilabuk, Lipa Pitsiulak, Enookie Akulukjuk, Geela Sowdluapik, Jacoposie Tiglik, Simon Shaimayk and Davidee Akpalialuk are some of the artists.



Tapestry was introduced to the women of Panniqtuuq thirty-five years ago. Inuit women have always been excellent sewers; the welfare of Inuit families depending on their abilities to create handmade clothing that was warm, wind-proof and water-tight.

Panniqtuuq's artists range creations from warm woollen clothing (hats, scarves mitts, amautik ties, sweaters, wraps and kamiik), to cozy blankets, to traditional dolls, to well-crafted jewellery made of caribou antler, ivory, bone) to embroidered wall hangings, as well to prints and to small carvings in stone, antler, and ivory.






Iglulik, Nunavut


Iglulik is located in Qikiqtaaluk region in Nunavut, on a small island in Foxe Basin, close to Melville Peninsula (West of Baffin Island). Iglulik means in Inuktitut «there is habitations (iglu means: “house, dwelling” whereas “snow house” -or igloo in English or French- is expressed by igluvigaq). By 2006, a census of 1538 Iglulingmiut (inhabitants of Iglulik) was taken; the medium age of the population is 19 years old (Statistics Canada).

Iglulik is a community where the Inuit traditional culture and knowledge is promoted by artists and several local institutions through carvings, films, documentaries, books and a circus.



Artists from Iglulik are famous for their carvings in stone, caribou antler and walrus or caribou bone. As the stone is favoured by carvers such as George Auksaq and Jame Ungalar, others like Lukie Airut, Jake Kadluk and Marius Kayoutak create sculpture in stone, caribou antler or walrus tusk. Yvonne Kayoutak carves from caribou antler and bone.

Favourite subjects represented by the artists from Igulik are Arctic animals such as musk oxen, polar bears and marine mammals (beluga, narwhal, and whale) as well as famous local myths.


Isuma Productions, Independent Inuit Film

Iglulik Isuma Productions, Inc. was incorporated in January 1990 as Canada’s first Inuit independent production company. Isuma is 75% Inuit-owned; Isuma means «to think».  Isuma’s mission is to produce independent community-based media – films, TV and now internet – to preserve and enhance Inuit culture and language; to create jobs and economic development in Iglulik and Nunavut; and to tell authentic Inuit stories to Inuit and non-Inuit audiences worldwide.

In 1999, Isuma filmed the first Aboriginal-language Canadian feature movie, Atanarjuat, the fast runner, a historical thriller based on an Iglulik legend of love, jealousy, murder and revenge. Filmmaking in Iglulik in 1999 contributed $1 million to the local economy, creating more than sixty part-time and twenty full-time jobs in this isolated and under-employed community. By 2006, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen was produced; the first film to visualize the Christianization of indigenous people from their own point of view.


Artcirq, Arctic Circus

By 1998 was created Artciq with the financial support of the Cirque Éloize and Isuma Productions. Following the recurrence of teenagers’ suicide in Iglulik, some concrete actions were taken to give children and teenagers a medium to express themselves. The initiative of Isuma production formed a group of eight young people, intended to prevent suicide in this small community. Artcirq gave performances in southern area such as Montreal (Quebec), Dublin (Ireland) in 2006 or Annecy (France) in 2008.






Sanikiluaq, Nunavut


Sanikiluaq, the most southerly community of Nunavut, is located in the Hudson Bay, on the Belcher Islands, in the Qikiqtaaluk region. Sanikiluaq is the only community on the Belcher archipelago 60-80 miles distant from the west coast of Nunavik (Northern Québec). By 2006, a census of 744 inhabitants was taken in Sanikiluaq with a census of 180 families ; 39% of the population is aged 14 and less (Statistics Canada).

The name of this community comes from a famous hunter called Sanikiluaq who ran faster than fox; Sanikiluaq means in Inuktitut “not much space nearby”.



“What we show in our carvings is the life we have lived in the past right up to today”, Sanikiluaq artists explain. As they favor a naturalistic style, animals and birds are carefully executed and polished, with realistic details incised into argillite stone found in the area – its extremely fine grain is known to take excellent detail in carving and its color can vary from grey to black. Argillite is used in most carvings made in Sanikkiluaq by carvers such as Paul Kavik, Isaac Sala, Josie Ohaytook, Noah Ohaituq, Jimmy Iqaluk, Simon Iqaluk, George Euikotailuk, Moses Amiaqoalik, or Joe Ekidlak.


Najuqsivik Society

Najuqsivik is a non-profit organization which has been operating since January 1998. Its mission means to promote and preserve Inuit culture through economic and cultural projects. Najuqsivik is currently active in promoting culture thus, operating a non-profit daycare, frame-shop, radio and television stations, and community museum devoted to Inuit history. Najuqsivik also provides training and assistant to local artists in various skills such as making fish skin dolls, grass basket, model kayaks and polar bear rugs.


Nuiyak School

Nuiyak School was built in mid 1980s and opened officially in 1987. This school is one of the most important and dynamic in Nunavut with 283 students and 30 staff members, including 16 teachers, 3 languages specialists, 2 principals. The most used language is Inuktitut and their second language is English.

Nuiyak School has 18 rooms, kinder garden through Grade 12. So far 27 students have graduated in Nuiyak School since 1996-97 and a new record of graduated student was established by June 2008. The school is also home to several local services as gym access, meeting room access, library, informatics room and the museum.






Qamanittuaq, Nunavut


Qamanittuaq “where the river widens” in Inuktitut, is located in the Kivalliq area in Nunavut, 320 km inland from the Hudson Bay. Qamanittuaq, formerly Baker Lake until 1977, is the Canadian Arctic's sole inland community.  By 2006, a census of 1728 inhabitants and 450 families was taken in Qamanittuaq ; 47% of the population is aged between 0 and 24 years old (Statistics Canada).


The Sanavik Co-operative

The Sanavik Co-operative was incorporated one year after the release of Qamanittuaq’s first print collection in 1970.  A disastrous fire in 1977 destroyed the print shop, as well as the archive of drawings and the entire print collection for the next year. The co-op rallied, and within a month had begun work of a new collection. After several years of financial difficulties, the print shop was forced to close after releasing the 1990 collection.

Beginning in 1996, a graphic program sponsored by the Nunavut Arctic College permitted the release of new experimental collection.  Added to the artistic production, Sanavik’s activities include a hotel, retail store, cable TV, post office, video rentals and property rentals.


Printmaking, Carving, Wall Hanging

The most frequently used printmaking techniques in Qamanittuaq is stonecut and stencil, often in combination, supplemented in later years by serigraphy, linocut and woodcut. Textile art is also practiced by women like Jessie Urnaq, Janet Kigusiuq and Irene Avaalaaqiaq who sew wall hanging from drawings, as a natural extension of their work preparing skin and using them to sew clothing. Not much carvers work in Qamanittuaq.

Because Qamanittuaq is located inland, the iconographic subjects, both in graphic and sculptural domains feature caribou and muskoxen rather than marine mammals (whale, beluga, walrus and seal), the Kiviuk myth rather than the Takanaaluk or Uinigumasuittuq (Sedna) story.

Traditional myths are very popular among Qamanittuaq’s artists such as drawers and printmakers: Simon Tukumi (Tookoomi), Victoria Mamnguqsualuk, William Noah, Irene Avalaaqiaq, Luke Anguhadluk, Jessie Urnaq (Oornak), Janet Kigusiuq as well as carvers like Jonhy Iquliq, Tuna Iqulik, Matthew Agigaaq and Barnabus Arnasunngaq.



NASBY, Judith, 2002, Irene Avaalaaqiaq. Myth and reality. Montréal, McGill-University Press.

HESSEL, Ingo,1998, Inuit Art: an Introduction. Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre.

Sanavik Co-operative,  




Kimmirut, Nunavut


Formerly known as Lake Harbour, the name of the “Kimmirut” hamlet means “form of heels” in Inuktitut linked to a marble outcrop located opposite the community. By 2006, a census of 411 inhabitants with 225 males and 180 females was taken in Kimmirut; the median age is 22.1 years old (Statistics Canada). The community is located 120 km down South from Iqaluit, on Baffin Island in Nunavut.

Many nomadic Inuit families took up permanent residence in Kimmirut during the 1950s and 1960s and people in the community remain a relatively traditional life thus, participating in hunting and traditional arts and crafts activities. Buildings from this early era, including the first RCMP post (1915), the Hudson’s Bay Company buildings and the Anglican Church are still standing.



Local green soapstone and serpentine soapstone are often used by the Kimmirut artists; there is a soapstone quarry located near Kimmirut. Some sculptors work with ivory. They often produce scrimshaw etchings on the ivory. Some of them carve also caribou antlers.

Famous artists born in post camps near Kimmirut, such as  Eliyah Michael, Iola Ikkidluak, Temela Aqpik, Shorty Killiktee, Davidee Ittulu or Anu Arlooktoo carve with stone, ivory and caribou antler, thus carving animal subjects (birds, bears, seals, whales), hunting scenes, drum dancers and traditional Inuit myths. Their naturalistic style earned a strong reputation on the international art market







Arviat, Nunavut


The name Arviat is derived from the Inuktitut arviq meaning “whales”. Arviat, called formerly Eskimo Point until June, 1989 is the most southern community in Nunavut, located on the western shore of the Hudson Bay in the Kivalliq area. By 2006, a census of 2060 inhabitants was taken in Arviat; 1055 people is aged 19 years old or less; 455  private dwellings are occupied by residents; 95% are Inuit (Statistics Canada).

Carving production began in the early 1960’s, and artists soon earned a reputation for their distinctive style as they use a rough, local stone called steatite (popularly known as soapstone).  Some artists who come from Arviat or who live there are well known on the international art market as their artworks are kept by famous museums in Canada like the Winnipeg art gallery, the Canadian Museum of Civilizations and the National gallery of Canada.

Arviat steatite carving deals almost exclusively with family and maternal theme like works made by John Attok (1906-1980), Andy Miki (1918-1983) and John Pangnark (1920-1980). Details of anatomy and clothing are usually stripped away so that some works seem to be almost abstract in form and could be described as “minimalist”. Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok (1934-) focuses on the larger themes of family and community in her carving works; she is now probably the most famous artist from Arviat.

Other artists, such as Daniel Alareak (1964-), carve from caribou antler thus, exploring variety of subjects, including shamanism and  hunting. More recently, Daniel Alareak has made jewellery since 1994, working with walrus tusk ivory, and is now incorporating metal into some of his jewellery pieces.

On the other hand, women in Arviat make wall hangings which traditionally show caribou skin figures with faces carved from bone or antler. Dolls with soapstone or dried sealskin faces, are also made by artists Martina Anoee and Alice Akkamuk.

Arviat Hamlet also holds: the Margaret Aniksak Visitors Centre where are exhibited traditional Inuit life and artefacts from the Arvia’juaq archaeological site; the Arviat Sivulinut Elders Society which offers instruction in string games, throat singing and holds traditional cookouts of caribou heads, hooves for example; a Kiluk Sewing Centre which offers local art and crafts for sale and the Ulimaut Carving Shop provides a workspace for carvers in Arviat.



Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1982. Eskimo Point/Arviat, Winnipeg Winnipeg, Art Gallery.

Hessel, Ingo, 1990. “Arviat stone sculpture: born of a struggle with an uncompromising medium”, Inuit Art Quarterly, 5 (1): 4-15.




Kangiqliniq, Nunavut


Kangiqliniq is an Inuit community located on the West coast of Hudson Bay. Kangiqliniq means in Inuktitut “the bay” and Rankin Inlet is its English name: the town was named by owners of the Rankin Inlet Mine which produced nickel and copper ore there between 1957 and 1962. The mine was the more important miners’ employer in Canadian Arctic.

Kangiqliqniq is a major governmental centre in Nunavut. In the 1995 Nunavut Capital Plebiscite, Iqaluit defeated Kangiqliniq to become territorial capital of Nunavut. As of the 2006 census, the population was 2358, an increase of 8.3% from the 2001 census (Statistic Canada).

Kangiqlinirmiut (people who live in Kangiqliniq) share their artistic production between ceramics, carvings, prints, drawings, watercolours and bronze castings.  Whereas sculptural and graphic arts started to develop in the 1950s, the first ceramics workshop opened in 1963 and run until 1977. The current workshop was opened in the 1990s by a new generation of artists.

Sculptors such as George Arlook, John Tiktak, Hunter Toonoo, work with steatite and serpentine (hard grey stone and black stone) as well as ivory and in ceramics; they are widely admired for his sculptural representations of the human form and face and organic shapes. Their artistic creations illustrate traditional themes in innovative ways.






Ulukhaqtuuq, Northwest Territories


Ulukhaqtuuq, “where we sew” in Innuinaqtun (Inuktitut dialect), is an Inuit community located on the west side of the Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories in the Canadian Arctic. A population of 398 ulukhaqtuurmiut including 105 families live there (2006 census, Statistics Canada). Ulukhaqtuuq (formerly Holman in English) was established in 1939 when a Hudson’s Bay Post and a Roman Catholic mission were erected. By 1966, the community outgrew its original site on King’s bay and moved to its present location in Queen’s Bay.



Ulukhaqtuuq is the only Western Arctic community with a printmaking program. This artistic practice came about in response to the growing need for economic development at first, such as other Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. Inuit artists and Father Henri Tardy, a priest who ran the Catholic mission at Holman from 1949 to the early 1980s, were inspired by the success of the arts and crafts enterprises in other Arctic communities like Kinngait and Panniqtuuq. In Nunavut and Puvirnituq in Nunavik, in order to form the Holman Eskimo Co-operative in 1961.

By the 1960’s, the artists in Ulukhaqtuuq used several printmaking techniques: acid-free etching, lithography, stencil, stonecut, woodcut. Initially, sealskin was used to produce stencils. Since 198, the main techniques have been stencilling and lithography which allow for the detailed, naturalistic depictions that are now the main interest of Ulukhaqtuuq artists.

Traditional subjects as hunting scenes, oral myths and past daily life are depicted by famous artists from Ulukhaqtuuq as: Flossie Papilluq (1904-1994), Mona Ohoveluk (1935-1892), Agnès Nanogak Goose (1925-2001), Alec Aliknak Banksland (1928-1998), Stanley Ilonak Klengenberg (1964-1999), Patrick Akovak Klenbengerg (1944-1976), Helen Kalvak (1901-1984), Mark Emerak (1901-1983), Victor Ekootak (1916-1965).

Harry Igutaq (1925-), Mabel Ninngiuq (1938-), Mary K. Okheena (1957-), Peter Palvik (1960-), Louie Nigiyok (1960-), Roberta Memogana (1971-), Susie Malgokak (1955-), Peter Malgokak (1954-), Elsie Klengenberg (1946-), William Kagyut (1919-), Trex Kangoak Goose (1965-), Julia Manoyok Ekpakohak (1968-), Harry Egotak (1925-) are artists who make drawings and prints with vivid colours and sophisticated compositions. Some of them also make sculptures even if this practice is not very developed in Ulukhaqtuuq.



COWARD-WIGHT, D. (ed.), 2001, Holman, forty years of graphic art/Holman, quarante ans d’art graphique. Winnipeg, Winnipeg Art Gallery.



Nunavik, Northern Quebec


The Nunavik area, “the place where we live” in Inuktitut, extends over 560,000 squares kilometres in the Northern part of Quebec -one third of the province of Quebec. Nunavik is separated from Nunavut Territory by Hudson Bay to the west and Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay to the North.

Fourteen communities are located along the maritime coast where 11,627 inhabitants live (Statistics Canada 2006). These Inuit communities are (from west to east): Kuujjuaraapik (formerly Poste-de-la Baleine), Umiujaq, Inujjuaq, Puvirnituq, Akulivik (formerly Cape Smith), Ivujivik, Salluit, Kangirsujuaq, Quaqtaq, Kangirsuk, Aupaluk, Tasiujaq, Kuujjuaq (formerly Fort Chimo), Kanngirsualujjuaq. Kuujjuaq is the administrative capital of Nunavik.


Artworks making and co-operative

Nunavik artists played a major role in the development of local economy, in the 50s and early 60s, were among the first to become known in international art markets. Artists commonly bring their artworks to the local co-operative in return of money; then the co-operative is in charge of spreading and selling artworks on the international art market. Since 1967, La Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau Québec represents all Inuit cooperatives located in Nunavik on southern artistic sphere.

Artists in Nunavik work on different medium such as carving (mostly with steatite or sopa stone, serpentine, antler caribou, whale bone, ivory), drawing and printmaking (stonecut, stencil and lithography). Like in Nunavut, carvers, drawers and print makers draw their inspiration from the past as well as present daily life with domestic scene, hunting subjects and myths.


Toward Nunavik regional government

The James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement signed on November 1975 allowed the building of La Grande hydroelectric complex and led to greater political autonomy with the founding of the Kativik Regional Government. The Makivik Corporation headquartered in Kuujjuaq, represents the Inuit of Northern Quebec in their relations with the governments of Quebec and Canada.

By December 5th, 2007 was held at the salon Rouge of the Quebec National Assembly the signing of the Agreement in Principle creating the Nunavik public regional government and the creation of the of an elected representative assembly. This is the result of ten-year collaboration between the negotiations teams of Quebec, the Inuit of Nunavik and Canada of which Donat Savoie was the Chief Federal Negociator retired in April 2006 and succeeded by Minnie Grey.



Nunavik Gouvernment:

Avataq Cultural Institute:

Makivik Corporation:

Kativik Regional Government:

Nunavik Art:




Kuujjuaraapik, Nunavik


Kuujjuaraapik is the most southern Inuit community in Canada, located on the west coast of Nunavik in Northern Quebec. Kuujjuaraapik is known by different names as people from different languages and cultures lived and still live today there : it was called Kuujjuaraapik “the little great river” in Inuktitut, Whapmagootsi “where there are whales” in the Cree language and Great Whale in English (translated into French by Poste-de-la-Baleine).

The village started to develop in the late 1930s. During World War II, the United States built in Kuujjuaraapik a military base and airport, which they turned over to the Canadian government in 1948. This base was also the control station of the Mid-Canada Line, a line of military radar stations constructed in 1955 from the Atlantic Ocean to the Hudson Bay along the 55th parallel.

At this time, Kuujjuaraapik was the most important community in the Hudson Bay area. The population of Kuujjuarapik decreased significantly however in 1985 when many families, fearing the negative impacts of the Great Whale River hydro-electric project, decided to relocate to Umiujaq, another Inuit community about 160 km north of Kuujjuaraapik. Thus by 2006, a census of 568 inhabitants with 165 families was taken (Statistics Canada).

The art making such as carving and sewing started to expand when the Hudson's Bay Company opened a trading post called Great Whale River in 1820 on the site of today's Kuujjuaraapik. The main activities at the post were processing whale products of the commercial whale hunt and trading furs, but carvings were often exchanged for tools.

By the late 1960s, carving making grew up and more and more carving were sold down South through the Fédération des Coopératives du Nouveau Québec (established in 1967 to provide the growing co-operative movement with more effective powers and services to help attain their vision: atautsikut/together - working to develop as a people, leaving none behind).

Certain artists became very famous on the international art scene thanks their carvings, printmaking and drawings depicting more often animals and myths into a strong style: not much detailed composition but simple lines with the main characteristics of their topics.

Josie Napartuk (1901-1980) and his son Henry Ainalik Napartuk (1932-1985), as well as Lucy Meeko (1929-2004) were renowned for their carvings and print makings. Today, there is just a few number of artists in the community such as Alec Lawson Tuckatuck (1976-) who carves from soapstone, caribou antler, muskox horn, walrus tusks (he has his own website: Lizzie Amiaku Papialuk (1941-) and Emily Novalinga (1954-) make coiled grass baskets.






Inujjuaq, Nunavik


Inujjuaq, “the giant” in Inuktitut (formerly Port Harrison), is an Inuit community located in Nunavik (Northern Quebec) on the south west coast of the Hudson Bay. By 2006, a census of 1597 inhabitants and 335 families was taken in Inujjuaq; the median age of the population is 23.8 years old (Statistics Canada).

In Inujjuaq (Inukjuak in English), the Daniel Weetaluktuk Museum exhibits a collection of Inuit arts and crafts as well as traditional tools, hunting and fishing gear. Bas-relief sculptures depicting day-to-day life in an Inuit community are permanently on exhibit at the Innalik School lobby.


Famous carvers such as Juani Akuliak (1951-), Elisapi Inukpuk (1938-), Charlie Inukpuk (1941-), Noah Arpatuq Echalook (1946-), Lucassie Qumaaluk Echalook (1942-) work in Inujjuaq. Isa Paddy Aqiattusuk (1898-1954), Jimmy Inurali Arnamissak (1946-2003), Johny Manumi Inukpuk (1911-2007), Paulusie Kasudluak (1928-2000) were those who first  started carving in the community thus, giving to its art making a certain fame.



On March, 2009 – Aumaaggiivik Nunavik Arts Secretariat, a new department at Avataq Cultural Instituet to support and nurture the artists of Nunavik, officially kicked off activities earlier this month with a pilot training project in Inujjuaq. The Inujjuaq Jewellery Project began the first of two 8-week training modules on March 2, 2009. Inujjuaqartists will learn the aesthetic, technical and cultural aspects of high-end jewellery-making. The goal is to create an inspiring and dynamic learning environment that supports open exchange among carvers and jewellers.

The Inujjuaq Jewellery Project was made possible thanks to the long-term loan of a building in Inujjuaq owned by Makivik Corporation as well as contributions from Kativik Regional Government’s Diversification Fund and Employment and Training program, and Kativik Local Development’s Socio-Economic Fund. The course and workshop space were designed by Montreal media artist Catherine Béchard, a former jeweller with extensive experience in Northern communities, in collaboration with Bruna Mastroianni of Kativik School Board. Students from Nunavimmi Pigiursavik Adult Education Centre participated in the building renovations. Instructor Linda Brown will work with artists Joanasie Elijassiapik, Andrew Nulukie, Laina Nulukie, Eva Lucy Inukpuk, Inuksiak Arnamissak, Elijah Tukai, Jeffrey Kasudluak, and Clara Kasudluak.






Kuujjuaq, Nunavik


Kuujjuaq, Nunavik's largest community, is located on the west shore of the Kuuksuaq (Koksoak) river, about 50 km upstream from Ungava Bay. A population of 2,132 Kuujjuarmiut live there, as of the 2006 census (Statistics Canada).

Since the signing of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975, Kuujjuaq has become the administrative center of Nunavik. Many regional organizations have their head offices in the community, namely the Makivik Corporation, the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik Regional Government Council (known as Katutjiniq), the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, and the Nunavik research Center.

With its two airstrips, Kuujjuaq is the transportation hub of Nunavik and Nunavut as all planes coming from the south have to stop in Kuujjuaq. The community also boasts a number of hotels, restaurants, stores, arts and crafts shops and a bank.

The Kuujjuaq Co-operative was established in 1961 and began their membership with the federation of Co-operatives of Northern Quebec (FCNQ) thus, opening a general retail store. In Kuujjuaq, carvers commonly work with steatite (or soap stone), caribou antler and ivory; their dominant iconographic subjects are of Arctic fauna, daily life and traditional myths.

Kuujjuaq, “great river” in Inuktitut, was known before by another name: Fort Chimo. “Chimo” is a mispronunciation of the Inuktitut word saimuuk “let's shake hands”. Early fur traders were often welcomed with this sentence which they adopted as the name of the trading post.




Makivik Corporation:

Kativik Regional Government:



Puvirnituq, Nunavik (Northern Quebec)


Puvirnituq is one of the 15 Inuit communities in Nunavik in the Northern Quebec, well known by non-Inuit people as Povungnituk or POV; about 1400 people live there. In Inuktitut, “puvirnituq” means “it smells rotten meat”. Two explanations are commonly given for the name of this village, according to Taamusi Qumaq, an Inuit author. The first recounts, that many years ago when migrating caribou attempted to cross the river many were swept downstream and drowned. Their carcasses, it seems, were washed up on shore were they began to rot, producing a putrid odour. The other explanation of the site's name tells how everyone living in the area where once the victims of a deadly epidemic. In the end, there was no one left to bury the dead bodies. The flowing spring, the snow houses melted, and people found the corpses giving off the odour of putrefaction. The community was named Puvirnituq to commemorate the event.

In 1956, a catholic mission was founded in Puvirnituq by the Father André Steinman. Two years later and thanks to his help, Puvirniturmiut (people who live in Puvirnituq) established the Carvers Association of Puvirnituq which became the Co-operative Association of Puvirnituq. Today a symbol of the community's solidarity and independance, it is one of the most dynamic co-operative which make up the Federation of Co-operative of Northern Quebec.



Towards the middle of the XXth century, carving expanded quickly in the Canadian Arctic while the artworks got larger stature, created from soapstone and serpentine, the raw material used for the qulliq -the traditional seal oil lamp.

Today, carvers as Davidialuk Alasua Amittu, Isah Papilakuk, Moses Aupaluktuk and Thomasie Sivuarapik for example are well-known on the international art market and their artworks are exhibited in the biggest museums.

The arctic animals like seals, polar bears, caribous, as well as shamanism, daily life, environment and hunting scenes are still today the very widespread subject linked to the individual and collective experiences.



Printmaking took roots in Nunavik in the early 1960s when a printmaking workshop was set up in Puvirnituq. By the end of the 1980s, the production of prints fell off due to decline in demand, and ended abruptly when a fire destroyed the Puvirnituq workshop.

Famous drawers and printmakers from Puvirnituq like Davidialuk Alasua Amittu, Josie Papialuk, Leah Qumaluk, Aisa Amittu, Joe Talirulini, Thomassie, Daniel Inukpuk, Paulosie Sivuark and Tivi Etook Echallok are the best references in this artistic domain.

In the last few years, Nunavik artists and various cultural organizations as Avataq Cultural Institute, launched a movement to try to revive the art of printmaking in the region thus opening a new print studio, in tandem with the Saputik Museum.





Caribou antler sculptures from Kangiqsualujjuaq


Located on the eastern shore of Ungava Bay in Nunavik (northern Quebec), Kangiqsualujjuaq (formerly George River) began specializing in caribou antler sculptures since the 1970’s. Kangiqsualujjuaq means in Inuktitut (Inuit language) “very large bay”; about 750 people (2006) live in this Inuit community. “What we show in our carvings is the life we have lived in the past right up today. We show the truth” say Inuit artists.

The importance of depicting the reality of daily Inuit existence, as well as events described in Inuit oral history, mythology and personal recollection, is a current that has run through fifty years of Nunavik sculpture. Artworks from Kangiqsualujjuaq have sometimes a tendency toward distortion and expressionism in human and spirit faces and bodies inspired by shamanism and spirits’ transformation scenes.

Although the international art market values the achievement of “classic” 1950s Nunavik art, it very much encourages and rewards innovation today. Inuit have been making antler sculptures for centuries related to shamanism and nomadic way of life. Thus moving from winter camp to summer camp, traditional ivory carvings and antler sculptures were on small size. But the size of artworks significantly increased, both linked to the development of the Inuit art market on an international scale as well as the arctic communities’ establishment and forced sedentarization.

Antler is commonly utilized material: Inuit hunt caribous to eat their meet, to wear their skin, to change their antler into tools and sculptures, etc.; caribou shed their antlers each year. Inuit artists often combine antlers with stone, whalebone or ivory. Caribou antlers (like ivory) are usually worked with smaller flexible-shaft grinders, saws.

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