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WAG Announces a Major Gift to the Inuit Art Centre

Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 12, 2019: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is pleased to announce a generous gift in support of the Inuit Art Centre from The North West Company and its leadership. Their total contribution to the project is $2 million.

This commitment will help the WAG build cultural and economic bridges between northern and southern Canada and create understanding through personal connections, stories and art. This gift will amplify Inuit voices, and ensure Inuit stories are told and heard.

The gift will support a community plaza to be established adjacent the new building, as an outdoor, accessible, art-filled space for all to enjoy, and an inviting welcome into the Centre.

The WAG thanks the donors: The North West Company; Edward Kennedy, President & CEO, and Stella Kennedy; H Sanford Riley, Chair of the Board, and Deborah Riley; former Chair Ian Sutherland, and Judy Sutherland; and J. Derek Riley (1922-2018), Founding Chair of The North West Company.

Quick Facts:

  • The North West Company team is committed to ensuring the needs of those in the North are met, and that we are all working together to shift national attention.
  • The WAG Inuit Art Centre will be a new home to the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, allowing it to be shared. It will also have significant economic, social, and cultural return for Manitobans and Canadians.
  • The WAG Inuit Art Centre seeks to be a home in which all Inuit are comfortable sharing their art and culture, as well as their stories, histories and their futures, with the world.
  • The new 40,000 square foot, four-storey WAG Inuit Art Centre is a $65 million initiative creating exhibition spaces, a glass enclosed visible art vault, a conservation facility, art studios, a two-level interactive theatre, classrooms, and more.
  • The Centre will offer ongoing education in Inuit history, culture, and art, in partnership with Inuit.
  • Currently under construction, the Centre is set to open in 2020, Manitoba’s 150th anniversary.
  • With over 13,000 carvings, drawings, prints, textiles, and new media, the WAG holds in trust the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. The collection is supported by an unparalleled record of Inuit art exhibitions, publications, and research.
  • Established in 1912, the WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery, housed in an iconic modernist building.


The North West Company and its leaders are champions of the WAG and the Centre, stepping forward to create a platform for Inuit to share their stories with the world.
—Dr. Stephen Borys, Director & CEO and exhibition curator, Winnipeg Art Gallery

We are committed to strengthening communities. We see the Inuit Art Centre playing an important role towards this goal, for Inuit and other Indigenous peoples, for all Canadians and for people around the world who will be exposed to the IAC.
—Edward S. Kennedy, President & CEO, The North West Company

I am delighted that my colleagues at The North West Company, and the company itself, have chosen to invest in this very important project. I’ve come to realize through my years with The North West Company the importance of art to Inuit, and to their culture and communities. I feel it is imperative that those of us who work extensively in the North give back and support projects that can make a difference economically and culturally. This is one such project. I’m proud to be a part of it, as I know was my uncle Derek Riley. Thank you to all the artists and Inuit partners who have made the WAG Inuit Art Centre possible, and to all those who continue to create breathtaking works.
—H. Sanford Riley, Chair, The North West Company

Associated Links

Winnipeg Art Gallery
WAG Inuit Art Centre
The North West Company

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For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Amy Rebecca Harrison
Engagement Supervisor
Winnipeg Art Gallery

Edward S. Kennedy
President & CEO
The North West Company

The Winnipeg Art Gallery 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 on earth. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building the Inuit Art Centre, the first of its kind in the world. Opening in 2020, the Centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making. To learn more visit

The North West Company (NWC) is a retailer serving rural communities and urban neighbourhoods in Canada, Alaska, the South Pacific and Caribbean. We are committed to helping our customers live better by bringing them the best products and services together with a tradition of community support. North West’s Northern and NorthMart stores are the largest local private employer of Indigenous people in Canada, with close to 3,000 employees and an annual payroll exceeding $65 million.


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