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Inuit artist’s legacy commemorated

Cutting Ice by Nancy Campbell, a book celebrating Annie Pootoogook’s art. © Goose Lane Editions

The official opening of Annie Pootoogook Park in Ottawa, Ontario, took place November 7, International Inuit Day. 

Born in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut, Annie Pootoogook was a well-loved Inuit artist whose ink and crayon drawings pushed the boundaries of what Canada and the world expected from “Inuit” art. Her artistry reflected her experiences as a female artist living and working in contemporary Canada, capturing the Inuit way of life, both traditional and modern. 

Drumming performances by Sheena Akoomalik and a traditional performance from Tununiq-miut Theatre from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, was part of the ceremony as well as a throat-singing performance by Annie Aningmiuq and Kendra Tagoona. Isaruit Inuit Arts provided a tent where attendees could learn about Inuit cultural traditions and practices and included a feast with a variety of northern country foods. 

“Annie left behind a legacy of Inuit art, promoting her Inuit heritage, showing our people who they are, the good and the bad,” says Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, who attended the event. “She showed Canadians how we express our joy and our pain, our struggles and our resilience. And how Inuit, like all Canadians, desire and deserve the same basic standards in life: respect, understanding, friendship, love and the opportunity to grow and thrive in a healthy and safe environment.” 

“Annie’s contribution toward Canadian art was immense,” says SAW Gallery’s Nordic Lab Director Taqralik Partridge. 

The Gallery’s new Annie Pootoogook Studio and workshop opened in November 2021 as well. The Nordic Lab is an initiative of SAW in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. A research and production space for artists from circumpolar nations, the Nordic Lab will be an integral part of SAW’s newly expanded 15,000 square foot centre in downtown Ottawa. In addition to programs in Ottawa, the Nordic Lab will forge collaborations and promote exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the North and the South along with partners in Scandinavia and other circumpolar nations. 

In addition to providing a space for artists-in-residence, the Nordic Lab will be home to SAW’s educational programs, which will be geared toward Indigenous youth. The facilities will include digital workstations, screen-printing facilities and a large-format photography printer. 

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