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Global Affairs Canada supports Northern Indigenous artists at the 2022 Arctic Arts Summit

Imaginary animals, in green, orange and purple hues.

The 2022 Arctic Arts Summit is an international symposium of circumpolar arts and culture. The event brings together artists, culture professionals and representatives of Indigenous nations and Arctic countries. The goal is to strengthen connections and engage Northern artists, organizations, and communities; develop international collaborations; and advance infrastructures and partnerships for circumpolar arts to develop. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for dialogue on Indigenous self-determination, sovereignty, and cultural integrity in Canada and internationally.

This third iteration of the summit took place from June 27 to 29 in Whitehorse, Yukon, and was the first time Canada was hosting. It included an art exhibition of contemporary Northern Indigenous artists from the circumpolar regions of Canada. The Global Affairs Canada (GAC) Visual Art Collection contributed to the summit by loaning artwork for one of the exhibitions presented at the Yukon Arts Centre.

Co-curated by Darcie “Ouiyaghasiak” Bernhardt, Leanne Inuarak-Dall, Heather Von Steinhagen and Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé, emerging curators connected to the circumpolar regions of Canada, the exhibition entitled TETHER showcased artworks by Northern Indigenous artists. It connected historical and contemporary art practices and highlighted the complex and inseparable bonds across these diverse groups. Five artworks from the GAC Visual Art Collection were part of this exhibition, alongside works from other federal collections, including the Canada Council Art Bank and the Indigenous Art Centre Collection (Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada). Learn more about the exhibition at Yukon Arts Centre.

Here are the artworks in TETHER on loan from the GAC Visual Art Collection

Toona Iquliq (he/him)

b. 1935, near Baker Lake, Nunavut
d. 2015, Nunavut

Mother + Child, 2010, stone, 27.5 x 17.0 x 20.8 cm, cat. no. 2011.8.1

Toona Iquliq (he/him) was an Inuk artist and an experienced carver known mostly for his rounded abstract carving of people. His work has been exhibited in several exhibitions in Canada and the United States as well as in Europe.

Kablusiak (they/them)

A person covered with a white sheet is standing in front of a small bluish wooden house.
Akunnirun Kuupak Series: Shed, 2020, archival inkjet print on Hahnemuhle paper, 69.8 x 98 cm each, cat. no. 2020.31.1e

b. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Lives and works in Calgary, Alberta

Kablusiak (they/them) is an Inuvialuk artist and curator, who uses a variety of media, including drawings, paintings, installations and photography. With their trademark use of ironic humour, they address diasporic challenges and displacement as well as engage with the topic of mental illness and well-being. Their art serves as an invitation to learn about Inuit art and people, debunking the archaic myth surrounding people who create and exist outside the traditional societal cannon. The bedsheet ghost has been a recurrent guest in Kablusiak’s art. It represents the struggle of being an urban Inuk.

They have been shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2019 and the Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award in 2021. Their work has been exhibited throughout Canada and is part of multiple private and public collections, including the Indigenous Art Centre, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Art Gallery of Alberta and the Banff Centre.

Joanasie Manning (he/him)

b. 1967, Kinngait, Nunavut
Lives and works in Kinngait, Nunavut

Owl and Young, 2008, Serpentine, antler, 17.0 x 52.0 x 28.5 cm, cat. no. 2011.13.2

Joanasie Manning (he/him) is an Inuk carver from a family of Inuit artists, including his grandfather, Osuitok Ipeelee, and mother, Annie Manning. Manning’s work has been exhibited nationally and is part of multiple private and public collections, including the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, England.

Jennie Williams (she/her)

Black and white close-up of a young child eating food held in his hands.
Nain Artic Char 4 (2019), inkjet print, 53 x 78.5 x 4 cm, cat. no. 2020.17.2

b. 1981, Happy Valley Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador
Lives and works in Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador

Jennie Williams (she/her) is an Inuk throat singer and visual artist, who works primarily with photography and film. In her practice, she records the everyday as well as the practices and traditions of the Labrador Inuit while also engaging in storytelling and knowledge sharing. Her work is deeply felt as she connects with her subject and community and demonstrates an authentic insider view of Inuit traditions, practices and values in a contemporary fashion. Her Artic Char series focuses on memories, moments of exchange and happiness created around the fishing of Artic char, showing the bond and resilience of the people.

Her work has been highlighted in Inuit Art Quarterly and Canadian Art and is part of the travelling exhibition SakKijâjuk and was included in the Bonavista Biennale in 2021.

Mary Yuusipik (Singaqti) (she/her)

b. 1936, Qamani’tuaq, Nunavut (previously known as Baker Lake, Nunavut)
d. 2017, Qamani’tuaq, Nunavut (previously known as Baker Lake, Nunavut)

Winter Scene / Summer Scene (1995) Wool duffle, appliqué and embroidery, 131.5 x 96.5 cm, cat. no. 996.46.1

Mary Yuusipik (Singaqti) (she/her) belonged to the last generation of Inuit to experience a nomadic way of life that centred on fishing and hunting caribou. Her work has been featured in Mart Yuusipik Singaqti: Back River Memories at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, in 2019, which was her first solo exhibition. Since then, both her wall hangings and drawings have been exhibited in Canada. Her work is included in the Government of Nunavut collection and in private collections.

More information about the four emerging co-curators

Darcie “Ouiyaghasiak” Bernhardt is an Inuvialuk/Gwichin artist from Tuktuuyaqtuuq, NT, and alumna of NSCADU in 2019 (BFA). Raised in Tuktuuyaqtuuq, where the ocean’s harsh winds carve into the Western Arctic landscape, Bernhardt has a special bond with this ecosystem and its connection to their family and sense of place. Their practice has primarily focused on the narrative of domestic life in the North stemming from memories of home.

Leanne Inuarak-Dall is an emerging Inuk and settler multidisciplinary artist, writer and curator based on the unceded Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver, BC). Through collage, textiles, beadwork and sculpture, her work seeks to articulate the stories embedded in materials and her experience as an urban Inuk raised in the South.

Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé, affectionately known as Ddhälh kit Nelnah, is a proud Niisüü member of White River First Nation (Beaver Creek, Yukon and Alaska). She is an Upper Tanana and mixed-heritage visual artist, emerging curator and Master of Fine Arts student at Concordia University in Studio Arts. Her visual arts practice is invested in the awakening of sleeping materials and the (re)animation of found objects. Her curatorial practice focuses on filling gaps and writing new narratives that highlight the importance of representation and visibility of Northern Indigenous peoples.

Homegrown from Whitehorse, Yukon, Heather Steinhagen is an “artist of sorts” with Cowessess First Nation (mother) and German roots (father, second-generation Canadian). Heather’s passion for supporting creative innovation and community building drives her career and art practice. She exhibits regularly and is often working on challenging and creative projects such as Indigenize Wikipedia (2018) and participating in talks like Becoming a Working Artist (2021).

Darcie “Ouiyaghasiak” Bernhardt
Darcie “Ouiyaghasiak” Bernhardt
Leanne Inuarak-Dall
Leanne Inuarak-Dall
Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé
Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé
Heather Steinhagen
Heather Steinhagen
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