North­ern High­lights:

Inuit Art Quarterly - - CONTENTS - Belinda Webb

In the Field: Il­lusuak Cul­tural Cen­tre A new cen­tre cel­e­brates all Nu­natsi­avut has to of­fer.

The es­tab­lish­ment of the Il­lusuak Cul­tural Cen­tre in Nain, Nu­natsi­avut, is rooted in the need for Nu­natsi­avum­miut to have a place where cul­ture, lan­guage, tra­di­tions, sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences can be shared and cel­e­brated, pre­served and pro­tected and re­vi­tal­ized and en­hanced. The project, con­ceived in 2010 and sched­uled to open De­cem­ber 1, 2017, has been de­scribed as a place for Labrador Inuit, about Labrador Inuit, by Labrador Inuit.

Il­lusuak is the Inut­ti­tut word for “sod house”, the tra­di­tional sum­mer home in Nu­natsi­avut, a con­cept that is re­flected in the curv­ing lines of ar­chi­tect Todd Saun­ders’ de­sign. The name was de­cided af­ter ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tions with el­ders and is ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause the fa­cil­ity is to be a gath­er­ing place. In ad­di­tion to nar­ra­tive and his­tor­i­cal ex­hibits, the cen­tre will also in­cor­po­rate an au­dio-vis­ual/per­form­ing arts the­atre, a café, a gift shop and sev­eral of­fices. It will show­case all that Nu­natsi­avut has to of­fer and be­come a hub of ac­tiv­ity, bring­ing peo­ple to­gether to cel­e­brate the cul­ture and lan­guage of Labrador Inuit through ex­hibits, pro­gram­ming and spe­cial events. It will help bridge the gen­er­a­tion gap be­tween el­ders and youth, en­cour­ag­ing an open di­a­logue and the shar­ing of tra­di­tional knowl­edge. As Jo­hannes Lampe, Pres­i­dent of the Nu­natsi­avut Gov­ern­ment, ex­plains, “Il­lusuak will give our cul­ture a home, bring­ing gen­er­a­tions to­gether to share ex­pe­ri­ences and ex­per­tise. [It] will hon­our our cul­ture, en­cour­ag­ing all Labrador Inuit to con­tinue our tra­di­tions— grow­ing, evolv­ing and car­ry­ing our knowl­edge for­ward for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Il­lusuak will house per­ma­nent ex­hibits on our cul­ture and his­tory and is be­ing over­seen by the 10-mem­ber Il­lusuak Ex­hibit Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, es­tab­lished in Jan­uary 2015. The cen­tre will pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for a va­ri­ety of in­di­vid­u­als and ex­perts to de­velop both per­ma­nent and ro­tat­ing ex­hibits that will high­light var­i­ous as­pects of Labrador Inuit his­tory, cul­ture and achieve­ments in a way that will en­hance and en­cour­age con­nec­tions be­tween the of­ten re­mote com­mu­ni­ties in Nu­natsi­avut. One such project, Faces of Nu­natsi­avut — Pho­to­graphs from Within, is a large-scale photo in­stal­la­tion that has been com­mis­sioned by the Nu­natsi­avut Gov­ern­ment. The in­stal­la­tion will be cre­ated from the archives of Nu­natsi­avum­miut across the re­gion, whose per­sonal pho­tos will be scanned and vis­i­bly dis­played at the en­trance to the per­ma­nent ex­hibit. Projects such as th­ese will tell the Labrador Inuit story in such a way that the cen­tre will be a com­pelling rea­son for vis­i­tors to ex­plore and share their ex­pe­ri­ences of Nu­natsi­avut as well as the nearby, world renowned Torn­gat Moun­tains Na­tional Park.

The sto­ries that will be told in Il­lusuak will make Labrador Inuit proud. By un­der­stand­ing where we came from and how we sur­vived as a peo­ple, Nu­natsi­avum­miut will have a bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion of who we are as in­di­vid­u­als and as a cul­ture con­tin­u­ing to evolve and thrive in a mod­ern world, as echoed in our guid­ing state­ment for the project:

The strength of our an­ces­tors Is the heart­beat of our land, Car­ry­ing us for­ward

Through sea­sons of change. We are the Inuit of Labrador.

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