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New sculpture honours past leaders

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On June 24, Tuktoyaktuk a small coastal hamlet in the Northwest Territories, unveiled their first public historic cultural sculpture. 

Through the Tuktoyaktuk Carving Project, Derrald Taylor Pokiak, the lead carver for the project, worked with elders in the community to design it. Inuvialuit Artists Ronald Nuyaviak, John Taylor and Derek Taylor were also involved. 

The 5,000‐pound sculpture is made from a grayish marble. It features animals significant to the community, like caribou and a beluga whale. It also has a polar bear, with the face of the first leader of the community, Mangilaluk. Stories of the leader from elders tell that the leader was a shaman who could shape‐shift into a polar bear. 

The statue also represents four other past leaders of the community: Eddie Gruben, Persis Gruben, Thomas Umoak and John Steen. They were chosen because they represent different points in time and have influenced the shape and culture of the community. 

The artists worked on the art piece for about three months. They worked with the help of Parks Canada and the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation to make the sculpture come to fruition.