Canadian Guild of Crafts celebrates 110 years of indigenous art

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Scrub by Jamasie Pitseolak, 2011; 5” x 10.5”; stone. (Dorset Fine Arts/Courtesy Canadian Guild of Crafts)
Scrub by Jamasie Pitseolak, 2011; 5” x 10.5”; stone. (Dorset Fine Arts/Courtesy Canadian Guild of Crafts)
The Canadian Guild of Crafts in Montreal, Quebec is a non-profit organization that works to promote the art of Inuit and First Nations in Canada.

They’ve played an important role in the development of First Nations and Inuit art in Canada for over a century.

This year, the Guild marks their 110th  anniversary and there are a number of events planned to mark the occasion.

It’s time not just to celebrate the past, but to spotlight the work of the next generation of Inuit and First Nations artists, said Karine Gaucher, the organization’s communications coordinator.

“We try to promote emerging artists, and we try to promote them as artists and not as ‘Inuit’ artists, Gaucher said. “That is what we are trying to achieve. We’re not there yet, but we are working on that.”

Press conference announcing plans for the Canadian Guild of Crafts 110-year anniversary. Left to right : Karine Gaucher, Michelle Joannette and Chloé Sainte-Marie. (Canadian Guild of Crafts)
Press conference announcing plans for the Canadian Guild of Crafts 110-year anniversary. Left to right : Karine Gaucher, Michelle Joannette and Chloé Sainte-Marie. (Canadian Guild of Crafts)
Promoting contemporary voices

The upcoming Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone is one example of where contemporary works by artists from Arctic Canadian regions like Nunavut and Nunavik as well as works from Greenland, will be shown this spring.

While attention still tends to focus on traditional works by older, more established artists from the North, Gaucher stresses that contemporary works have an important role to play in bridging understanding between northern and southern Canada.

“The reconciliation that is happening right now (in Canada), we are trying to take part in that as well. I think it’s very important.”

Feature Interview: Canadian Guild of Crafts celebrates 110 years

To find out more, Eye on the Arctic spoke with the Guild’s communications coordinator Karine Gaucher:

In this 2010 Eye on the Arctic video, printer Niveaksie Quvianaqtuliaq explains the printing process at Kinngait Studios in the community of Cape Dorset in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut:

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Arctic artworks featured at Canadian auction, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  London gallery offers multimedia Sámi art, Yle News

Greenland: Canadian artist explores Greenland’s past, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Karelian art on show in Russia, Yle News

Sweden:  Swedish Sámi visual artist shaping climate changes, Radio Sweden

United States:  Feature Interview – Alaskan artist Nicholas Galanin, Eye on the Arctic

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Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic circumpolar news project. At Eye on the Arctic, Eilís has produced documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the circumpolar world. Her documentary Bridging the Divide was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards. Eilís began reporting on the North in 2001. Her work as a reporter in Canada and the United States, and as TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China" has taken her to some of the world’s coldest regions including the Tibetan mountains, Greenland and Alaska; along with the Arctic regions of Canada, Russia, Norway and Iceland.

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