Arctic mural underway in Toronto, Canada

The community of Cape Dorset in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. Four young artists from Cape Dorset are in Toronto this month working on a mural they helped design. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
The community of Cape Dorset in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut. Four young artists from Cape Dorset are in Toronto this month working on a mural they helped design. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
A giant wall mural by Arctic artists finally got underway in Canada’s largest city of Toronto on Thursday.

Artists Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka have long travelled to, and worked in, Canada’s North. But it was spending time in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, an Inuit community famous for its carvers and printmakers, that they got the idea for the mural project.

“We got to know quite a few young artists that got our attention and showed enthusiasm,” Thompson said over the phone from Ottawa this week. “The art classes in the school weren’t really functioning at the time so it was perfect timing that we developed this program.”

Thompson and Hatanaka received grants from places like the Canada Council for the Arts, Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, Street Art Toronto, Mural Routes and Heritage Canada, in order to bring four young artists from the community to Toronto.

The mural’s design was a result of collaboration between the Nunavut artists during drawing workshops in Cape Dorset. Each contributed drawings that ended up being combined into the mural’s finished image.

Searching for wall space

As if bringing four Arctic artists over 2000 kilometres south to work on the two-week project wasn’t daunting enough, a last minute hiccup left organizers scrambling for new wall space.

“We were basically hung out to dry and had to quickly scramble,” Thompson said.

But a call out to Toronto turned up a new space and now all should go as planned. Preparation on the wall started Thursday night and the mural is slated for completion around July 15th.

“Toronto has an opportunity to see something they’ve never seen before,” said Thompson. “And start thinking about where these voices come from.”

To find our more about the mural and why it’s important to both Cape Dorset and Toronto, Eye on the Arctic spoke with Patrick Thompson this week.

To keep track of the mural’s progress, follow @thepasystem on Instagram or

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Feature Interview – Arctic hamlet drives cultural centre campaign, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Karelian art on show in Russia, Yle News

Finland: London gallery offers multimedia Sámi art, Yle News

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

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

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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