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Goota Ashoona Outdoor Sculpture Unveiled at WAG-Qaumajuq

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society dedicates permanent artwork to public school teachers

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1 Territory, January 21, 2021: WAG-Qaumajuq and the Manitoba Teachers’ Society are pleased to announce the unveiling of a monumental new sculpture by Inuit artist Goota Ashoona, in celebration of the light of Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre. The Verde Guatemala marble carving will welcome visitors and school groups into Qaumajuq, on the corner of St. Mary Avenue and Memorial Boulevard in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

The artwork was commissioned by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society “to honour teachers all around us—in the land and in our lives—who reveal the truth, wisdom and beauty that connect us all”. Titled Tuniigusiia/The Gift, Ashoona’s multi-faceted sculpture reflects knowledge transfer through education and storytelling, and the important role teachers play in our communities. Watch this video to learn more about the sculpture and the artist.

Quick Facts:

  • Born in 1967 in Kinngait, Nunavut, carver Goota Ashoona’s work is found in the WAG’s permanent collection. She creates out of Ashoona Studios in Elie, Manitoba.
  • Goota Ashoona is a third generation Inuit artist, and is the daughter of artist Kiawak Ashoona and granddaughter of printmaker Pitseolak Ashoona.
  • A multi-disciplinary artist, Ashoona carves primarily in soapstone and whale bone, has also produced several wall hangings, and made traditional Inuit dolls. She is an accomplished throat singer.
  • Carved from Verde Guatemala marble, Ashoona’s sculpture will grace Qaumajuq’s Outdoor Plaza, recently named Nutaaq Tummaqtuyuq, Inuvialuktun for “big steps forward”. The plaza’s name was chosen by a circle of Indigenous Language Keepers.

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 ca).
  • 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 and online shopping at


“A beacon that both emanates and attracts light, Qaumajuq will celebrate the artistry and acknowledge the history of Inuit and First Peoples. And it will teach us, as all good teachers do, to challenge conventional wisdom and privileged perceptions to find truth, connection, and value in our shared humanity. On behalf of Manitoba’s public school teachers, MTS is proud to dedicate Goota Ashoona’s Tuniigusiia/The Gift to the pursuit of understanding, compassion, wisdom and hope in the world.”
—James Bedford, President, The Manitoba Teachers’ Society

“The WAG is here to change lives through arts and nowhere is this more critical than in our education programs. The WAG and our dedicated Learning & Programs team have had the honour of building relationships with teachers across Manitoba to benefit youth in our province and in the North. Teachers have always played an incredible role in our communities and this has been brought into further focus in this difficult time. This beautiful sculpture by Goota Ashoona captures and pays tribute to teachers’ contributions. We thank the Manitoba Teachers’ Society for this legacy gift – for their heartfelt support – and we thank all teachers for the work they do every day.”
—Stephen D. Borys, OM, PhD, MBA, Director & CEO, Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society
Video made possible with support from The Winnipeg Foundation

Associated Links
Qaumajuq, the Inuit art centre
Unveiling of Tuniigusiia/The Gift, by Goota Ashoona – Video
The Manitoba Teachers’ Society

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Ray Job
Public Relations Officer
Manitoba Teachers’ Society
204.888.7961 ext. 221

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 2021, the centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. To learn more visit

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) is the collective bargaining and professional development organization for all of Manitoba’s 16,000 public school teachers. Founded in 1919, the Society provides assistance to local associations in collective bargaining, offers professional development workshops and lobbies government on legislation that affects education, students and teachers. As well, MTS provides a range of wellness and support services including the Disability Benefits Plan and Educator Assistance Program. 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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