Inuit art featured on new Canadian banknote

Image of Canada’s new commemorative $10 bill. Owl’s Bouquet, an image by Canadian Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak, is featured in the new banknote. The two-sided image is pictured above in the lower left hand corner.(Courtesy Bank of Canada)
The Bank of Canada has released a new $10 bill featuring the work of one of Canada’s most renowned artists, Kenojuak Ashevak.

The bill’s design was revealed this month in Ottawa to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation on July 1.

A two-sided, holographic version of Ashevak’s 2007 stonecut and stencil print Owl’s Bouquet is featured on the bill in a clear window.

Dorset Fine Arts, the marketing division of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative/Kinngait Studios, said the inclusion of Ashevak’s work was an important day for Inuit art.

“Kinngait Studios has been creative home to many significant Canadian artists, and one of its most beloved is Kenojuak Ashevak”  West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative President Pingwartok Ottokie said in a statement on Monday.

“It is fitting that her work be a feature of this new commemorative bank note, both as a tribute to her artistic legacy and as a reminder of the ongoing cultural contribution of Inuit art from Cape Dorset.”

It’s the first time the work of an Inuit artist has appeared on a bank note and only the second time original visual art has been included, the statement said.

The Pioneer – Kenojuak Ashevak

Watch Eye on the Arctic’s 2010 conversation with Kenojuak Ashevak, when we visited her home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut to talk art, her creative process and what’s ahead for the new generation of Inuit artists:

Bringing Arctic art to the world

Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) was born in the southern part of Baffin Island in what is now Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.

She was one of the most successful artists to come out of Cape Dorset’s Kinngait Studios.

Her 1960 image Enchanted Owl is recognized internationally.

Her work has been featured on Canadian stamps and she has also received important commissions like the stained glass window at Appleby College’s John Bell Chapel in Oakville, Ontario, a town west of Toronto.

Marking Canada’s birthday
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance and Stephen S. Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada unveil the bank note last week. Prominent historical figures and Canadian landscapes are featured in the commemorative design. (Courtesy Bank of Canada)

Other images on the new bill, include four historically prominent politicians.

Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald; Sir George-Étienne Cartier, one of the fathers of Canadian confederation;  Agnes Macphail, who in 1921 became the first woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons; and James Gladstone, also known by his blackfoot name, Akay-na-muka, a member of the Kainai (Blood) First Nation, who became a Canadian senator in 1958.

The new $10 dollar bill is only the fourth time the Bank of Canada has issued a commemorative note: the others were in 1935 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V; 1967 to mark the centennial of Confederation; and in 2015, to mark the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning sovereign in Canada’s modern era.

Forty million of the banknotes will be issued.

The bill goes into circulation on June 1, 2017.

What does the all this look like up-close?

For more on the new bill, the people depicted, and to explore the commemorative design in detail, visit the Bank of Canada’s interactive website

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: VIDEO: Arctic Art – In studio with Jimmy Kamimmalik, 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:  ‘I Am Inuit’ goes from Instagram to museum in Anchorage, Alaska, Alaska Public Radio Network


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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