Inuit Art Centre becomes Qaumajuq

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Hello, Qaumajuq. Goodbye, Inuit Art Centre.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2020 (763 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hello, Qaumajuq. Goodbye, Inuit Art Centre.

The soon-to-be-completed addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery focusing on its vast collection of Inuit works of art (the largest such compilation in the world) has a new name.

Qaumajuq (KOW-ma-yourk or HOW-ma-yourk) is translated from Inuktitut, one of the main languages of the Inuit, as “It is bright, it is lit.”

Julia Lafreniere, Manager of Indigenous Initiatives at the WAG. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The name change was announced by Theresie Tungilik, an Inuit member of an Indigenous advisory circle the WAG brought together for the project, during a livestreamed ceremony Wednesday morning.

The advisory circle included language keepers from the four Inuit regions: Nunavut; Nunavik in northern Quebec; Nunatsiavut area of Newfoundland and Labrador; and Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories/Yukon. People representing First Nations in Manitoba, such as Anishinaabe, Ojibwa, Cree, Dakota, as well as the Métis, are also part of the advisory circle.

“For the last 10 years, the working name of this project has been the Inuit Art Centre, and it has served us well,” said Stephen Borys, WAG director and chief executive officer. “But we knew that one day it would be given a new name.”

In choosing Qaumajuq, WAG leadership said it is responding to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, both of which include articles that reference the importance of Indigenous languages.

Borys said it’s a site for reconciliation.

Qaumajuq's entrance hall is named Ilavut, which means "our relatives" in Inuktitut. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

“We understand that the history of our Inuit art collection is tied to colonialism in North America,” he said at the start of the Wednesday event. “Fur-trading posts disrupted the traditional and sustainable nomadic lifestyle of Inuit communities, which led to the permanent settlement of many Inuit.”

The new addition’s galleries, meeting places and learning spaces were accordingly named, as well.

Qaumajuq’s entrance hall is Ilavut, which means “our relatives” in Inuktitut; its outdoor plaza is Nutaaq Tummaqtuyuq, “new footsteps” in Inuvialuktun; a gallery is called Pimâtisiwin, “life and the act of living” in Cree/Ojibwa; and the second- and third-floor bridges that link Qaumajuq to the WAG are called Nakishkamohk, “connection” in Michif, the language of the Métis.

The WAG itself also was bestowed an additional, unofficial Indigenous name: Biindigin Biwaasaeyaah (BEEN-deh-gen Bi-WAH-say-yah) — “Come on in, the dawn of light is here,” in Anishinaabemowin.

Qaumajuq is scheduled to open in 2021, as part of a year-long celebration that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the WAG building on Memorial Boulevard.

Elder Martha Peet lights a qulliq, a traditional Inuit lamp, on Thursday. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Gustavo De Rosa-designed landmark was officially opened by Princess Margaret on Sept. 25, 1971.

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter:@AlanDSmall

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Qaumajuq is scheduled to open in 2021 as part of a year-long celebration that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the WAG building on Memorial Boulevard. (John Woods / WInnipeg Free Press)
Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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