Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Documenting traditional knowledge relating to Labrador inuksuit and stone markers

"They used to be waiting for caribou and when the caribou started comin' they'd go from one inukshuk to the other to get closer to the caribou" 
- Gus Semigak, Hopedale, Labrador, March 23, 2011

Inuksuit (the plural of inukshuk) have become an emblem of the north and an inukshuk appears on the official flag of Nunatsiavut (above). An inukshuk construction scene is pictured on the cover of the 2004 Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, and is clearly an important symbol of Labrador Inuit identity.

During the 2010 Nunatsiavut Heritage Forum in Nain, elders in attendance voiced their concerns about how inuksuit were not being constructed in traditional ways, and how they lacked the meaning that the elders of Nunatsiavut are accustomed to. Elders also pointed out potential dangers associated with randomly built inuksuit, which had no meaning, but which might appear to mean something they didn't.

As a response, the Nunatsiavut Government, with funding though the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Program and the Tasiujatsoak Trust Fund, has prepared a research report on inuksuit in Labrador. You can download the full report, in pdf format, here.

Flag photo from Paul Illsley's web site.

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