Inukshuk art at Toronto’s Pearson airport angers some Inuit in Nunavut – North

The way three Inukshuks displayed outside Terminal 1 of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have been re-assembled has angered some Inuit.

The pieces were purchased by the federal government for installation at the airport in 1963. They were built by Kiakshuk, an elder from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, and member of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative.

At some point after, the works were disassembled and transferred into storage. Recently, though, they were reassembled.

But some say the new configurations are disrespectful of Inuit culture.

Officially titled “Three Inussuks”, the work is not accompanied by any description of its meaning. (Submitted by Elaine Prusky)

A CBC Nunavut Facebook post of the photos drew dozens of comments, with many pointing out the structures do not resemble traditional inukshuks. 

One inukshuk especially upset Piita Irniq, who has built several inukshuks across North America and served as a commissioner of Nunavut.

“It was put back together wrong,” he said in Inuktitut. “The way it was put back together with very obviously legs or raised arms signifies an area where someone was killed or died by suicide.”

He says places marked with inukshuks with raised arms were very rare and designated as dangerous places to be avoided.   

He says Inuit should be involved in rebuilding the pieces or they should be taken down. 

Airport unaware people were unhappy

Robin Smith, communications advisor with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, says he would like to see that happen, especially because before now, he says the airport was unaware people were unhappy with the current assemblage.

The inukshuks have been in their current location on the curb outside the terminal 1 departures entrance since 2002.

Officially titled “Three Inussuks,” the work is not accompanied by any description of its meaning. 

A Polaroid of the “Three Inussuks” in their original form taken for the airport’s fine art catalogue in…

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