Ottawa exhibition spotlights the art and artists of Nunavik

The installation featuring throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik. Visitors stand in the felt pods and are then able to hear the singing. The outside of the pod features traditional tattoo patterns, or tunniit, designed by Mark. (Pierre Poirier/Canadian Museum of Nature)

A exhibition spotlighting the art and artists of Nunavik opened this Friday in Ottawa with a view to showcasing the region’s art and artists. 

Our Land, Our Art is taking place at the Canadian Museum of Nature and features the works of several Nunavik artists, created especially for the show. The works include a range of mediums from visual arts to video to beadwork to singing to circus performing.

It was put together by the Avataq Cultural Institute, which works to promote and preserve the language and culture of Inuit in Quebec. 

The exhibition also features 32 traditional objects, artworks, and artifacts from the Avataq Cultural Institute’s collections, which provided inspiration to the artists. This sculpture is one of the items selected by throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik. (Pierre Poirier/Canadian Museum of Nature)

At Avataq we have things like archeology, cartography, genealogy, and art is a great way to talk about the link with the land,” Andrée Anne Vien, the coordinator for Aumaaggiivik, the Nunavik arts secretariat, told Eye on the Arctic in a phone interview.

“The choice of artists was really about showcasing the variety of disciplines as well as connecting with the young generation of emerging artists as well as established ones.”

Using the past to inspire the present 

Nunavik is the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec and has a population of approximately 13,000 people, with 14 communities. 

The show is an important moment to showcase the unique Inuit culture of the region, Vien said. 

“Many people don’t know there are four distinct Inuit regions in Canada, and that Nunavik is one of them,” she said. “An exhibition like this can show some of what makes Nunavik unique and we hope visitors see just how much talent there is in Nunavik.” 

Artists include throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik; Taqralik Partridge, a visual and spoken-word artist originally from Kuujjuaq; Kangiqsujuaq photographer and video artist Lucasi Kiatainaq; and visual artists Qumaq M Iyaituk and her sister, Passa Mangiuk, who grew up in Ivujivik.

A large beaded amautik (women’s parka) by visual artist Taqralik Partridge. Her work is inspired by themes of the environment and ancestral connections to the land. (Pierre Poirier/Canadian Museum of Nature)

In addition, 32 items from Avataq’s collections are also on display, carefully chosen by the artists themselves and used to inspire the works for the show.

“The works themselves transmit so much about the land and the traditions, at the same time as how Nunavimmiut [people from Nunavik] live their culture today,” Vien said.

Those objects include things like contemporary carvings as well as objects traditionally used by Inuit including igaak (snow goggles), a nariarsaq (fishing lure) and a soapstone qulliq (oil lamp).

Some of the other objects include a pana (snow-knife blade) and a panak (knife handle ) made of walrus ivory.

The 1957 soapstone sculpture by Thomasie Kaitak that inspired photographer Lucasi Kiatainaq’s contributions to the show. (Pierre Poirier/Canadian Museum of Nature)

A wooden rod and seal bone, ajaqaq—similar to a cup-and-ball game—is also on display along with a wooden figure, believed to have been used as doll.

Throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik’s installation in the show is made up of two hanging pods that visitors can enter to hear the duo’s singing. The traditional items they chose includes archive photos and items associated with or used mostly by women.

For photographer and video artist Lucasi Kiatainaq, inspiration came from a 1957 soapstone sculpture of a hunter by Salluit artist Thomasie Kaitak.

“For me, it embodies that moment when a hunter experiences a feeling of uncertainty mixed with the adrenaline rush that comes with a success to come—a feeling that myself, my father and our ancestors have felt so often,” Kiatainaq told the museum. 

Our Land, Our Art runs until October 2024.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: New podcast series spotlighting Inuit artists to launch in January, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: German project to house everything published in Siberian and Arctic languages to seek new funding, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Award-winning novel set in Sapmi to get Netflix treatment, Eye on the Arctic

United States: American cartoonist says his new book on Canadian Indigenous history helped decolonize part of himself, CBC News

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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