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Abraham Anghik Ruben Outdoor Sculpture Unveiled at WAG-Qaumajuq

New Inuit sculpture commissioned by Tannis M. Richardson to greet visitors

Winnipeg, Manitoba, February 5, 2021: WAG-Qaumajuq is pleased to announce the unveiling of a monumental new sculpture by Inuit artist Abraham Anghik Ruben, in celebration of the upcoming opening of Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre. The stone carving, titled Time to Play, is part of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s collection. It was commissioned by Tannis M. Richardson. Carved from Indiana Limestone, the large sculpture features a family of bears, playfully climbing over one another. Time to Play will welcome visitors to Qaumajuq’s outdoor plaza, named Nutaaq Tummaqtuyuq, Inuvialuktun for “big steps forward” which is made possible by The North West Company and its current and former directors. You can now experience the sculpture at the corner of St. Mary Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. Watch this video to learn more about the sculpture and the artist.

Quick Facts:

  • Abraham was born in 1951 in a camp south of Paulatuk, Northwest Territories and east of the Mackenzie River Delta. This region is home to the Mackenzie Inuit or Inuvialuit.
  • Ruben moved to Vancouver in 1980, and to a quiet, rural life on Salt Spring Island in 1986 where he carves in an outdoor studio.
  • In 1989, the WAG organized Out of Tradition, an exhibition of sculpture by Ruben and his brother, David Ruben Piqtoukun. In 2001, the WAG organized his first museum solo exhibition.
  • Ruben’s work is collected by many major museums.
  • There are 32 of Ruben’s works in the WAG collection
  • Through public and private commissions, his outdoor sculptures have enhanced the streetscape of Vancouver and enriched the campus of the University of Manitoba.
  • In 2016 Ruben was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
  • In 2022, WAG-Qaumajuq will hold a major solo exhibition, which will explore Ruben’s experiences within his Inuvialuit culture and his more recent study of the history and oral culture of Nordic peoples, including the Vikings.

About Qaumajuq:

  • Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre, opens at the WAG in 2021.
  • Meaning “it is bright, it is lit” in Inuktitut, Qaumajuq connects to the WAG building on all levels.
  • Qaumajuq is the first art museum of its kind, bringing Inuit voices to the forefront, and dedicated to the art and culture of Inuit from Canada and beyond.
  • Qaumajuq will innovate the art museum, taking art from object to full sensory experience with Inuit-led programming, complementing and augmenting the cutting-edge art education that the WAG offers today.
  • The new 40,000-square-foot-building designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture with Cibinel Architecture will connect to the WAG on all four levels, providing stunning exhibition, learning and event spaces; a revamped shop; plus a new café on the main level in partnership with Circa Catering.
  • The central feature is a Visible Vault, showcasing thousands of carvings. The public is invited to support Qaumajuq by donating, or adopting a shelf on the Visible Vault (details at
  • Although the WAG is closed to the public until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community is invited to explore WAG@Home.
  • In addition, the Gallery Shop offers curbside pick-up as well as in-store and online shopping at


“The idea for the sculpture started in 1990 when I first received the five-tonne boulder. The following year, I started roughing-out the shape of a mother bear, and every other year I would rough-out more and more of the features of the sculpture. Initially it was intended to represent the different bears common to the various ancient circumpolar cultures. But when the idea for an outdoor sculpture emerged, the concept evolved as I wanted it to be something that children could relate to, climb over, and play with. So I included young bear cubs at different ages to represent the different stages of childhood development.”
— Abraham Anghik Ruben

“The polar bear is the largest bear in the world. It is a symbol of strength and endurance, traits that Manitobans strive to emulate. I feel privileged to have been able to support such a beautiful sculpture by Abraham Anghik Ruben. It is a sculpture that can be touched, hugged and enjoyed by all… especially the children!”
—Tannis M. Richardson, CM, LLD

“The WAG is pleased to unveil Time to Play by Abraham Anghik Ruben, an artwork that has been many years in the making. This commission for the plaza of Qaumajuq is a wonderful story of a donor and an artist making a difference in the lives of all the children who’ll visit the new centre. One of Canada’s greatest living Inuit artists, and one of the WAG’s most steadfast supporters, have created something beautiful for our community.”
—Stephen D. Borys, OM, PhD, MBA, Director & CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery

Tannis M. Richardson, CM, LLD
Video made possible by The Winnipeg Foundation

Associated Links
Video – Unveiling of Time to Play by Abraham Anghik Ruben

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Amy Rebecca Harrison
Engagement Supervisor
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Amber O’Reilly
Engagement Officer
Winnipeg Art Gallery
204.786.6641 ext. 210

The Winnipeg Art Gallery (the WAG) is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. The WAG holds in trust the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre. Opening in early 2021, the centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. To learn more visit


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WAG-Qaumajuq recognizes that land acknowledgements are part of an ongoing dialogue with Indigenous Nations, and we are grateful to live and work on these lands and waters. Institutionally, WAG-Qaumajuq is committed to acknowledging our colonial history and we are actively working to interrogate the Gallery’s colonial ways of being.

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