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Old Posted Oct 31, 2020, 5:24 AM
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Qaumajuq to illuminate downtown
Indigenous advisory council chooses Inuktitut word meaning 'it is bright' for the name of WAG's new Inuit Art Centre
By: Melissa Martin | Posted: 10/28/2020

Light matters in the North, in a way the people who live there understand in their bones.

There's the light of summer, undying, shared by a sun that never fully sets. There's the light of the winter, thrown by lamps that allow life to thrive in the darkness, and by stars glinting in nights that never end.

"Us northerners that live in 24-hour darkness in the wintertime, brightness is awfully important to us, because we do need light, because we continuously create either art or clothing," said Theresie Tungilik, from Rankin Inlet, an artist and adviser for the Nunavut government.

"We need that light to see what we are creating."

For years, the things Inuit create in that light, the paintings and carvings and works of textile art, have captured the wider art world. Now, when the Winnipeg Art Gallery's new Inuit Art Centre opens in early 2021, it will bear a name that speaks to where those works come from, how they were made and the spirit in which they'll be shown.

Qaumajuq. In the way of Inuktitut words, it consists of a root grown and shaped into a verb: it means "it is bright," or else, "it is lit." A word that calls to mind the luminosity of northern light, and the conversation it keeps between snow and water and sky, a factor that also inspired the architect who designed the $65-million building.

The name was chosen by an Indigenous advisory council composed of people from across all four regions of Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland, as well as the Cree, Ojibway, Dakota and M├ętis nations. They chose a name for the centre and for the spaces in and around it, bestowing them with words that sing with meaning....

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