The United Nations officially deemed 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, following the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 13-14 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action; 13-17. Institutional spaces have a significant role and capacity to support the revitalization and transmission of all aspects of Indigenous cultures. As a gesture to acknowledge the many Indigenous languages lost and still spoken, this exhibition places language at the centre in dialogue with works from the WAG collection spanning many decades. ᐃ is a symbol in both Inuktitut and Anishininiwak syllabics translated as ‘I’ to embody self-determination and solidarity in collective reclamation.

The connection between these cultures stems beyond language and syllabic, and is presented within sculpture. In 1968, a group of carvers from Garden Hill, Manitoba, The Ministic Sculpture Co-operative travelled to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to research Inuit stone carving and how the Arctic co-ops were organized. Ironically, at this time Rankin Inlet artists were exploring ceramics, having been recently introduced to clay through a federal government-run project inspired by Indigenous pottery from the south. The clay and stone sculptures in this exhibition display influences of each cultures’ established practice and methods in material and form. This exhibition explores the relationships in history and art history, exposing a cultural exchange and influence on collective and individual creative endeavours.

Jaimie Isaac
Curator, Indigenous and Contemporary Art

Jocelyn Piirainen 
Assistant Curator, Inuit Art

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