2016 marked the 20th Biennial Inuit Studies Conference, which was co-hosted by Memorial University and the Nunatsiavut Government and held in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Themed around the concept of Inuit Traditions, this year’s conference was the first to be co-hosted by an Inuit government and privileged the inclusion and centring of Inuit voices and participation. The conference was also a spectacular showcase for artwork, thanks to complimentary events: the opening of SakKijâjuk: Inuit Fine Art & Crafts exhibition at The Rooms, featuring artwork from across Nunatsiavut curated by Dr. Heather Igloliorte; iNuit Blanche, the first all-night, contemporary circumpolar arts festival in the world; and the Katingavik Inuit Arts Festival. At the opening of the exhibition, Yvonne Jones, MP for Labrador and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced that the federal government has been working with the Foundation to transfer the igloo tag program, which was met with applause around the room.
The IAF was very proud to be the presenting sponsor of iNuit Blanche, which kicked off with the launch of the Fall issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly at the Christina Parker Gallery. We were lucky to have featured artist Isabella Weetaluktuk, Sean Lyall, the Minister of Culture, Recreation and Tourism for the Nunatsiavut Government and Yvonne Jones, along with many others, attend the launch. iNuit Blanche also featured works by twenty-seven artists throughout downtown St. John’s, in installations as well as performances, events and interactive experiences with participants. The night was a highlight of the weekend since, above all, it showcased the vibrancy and strength of contemporary Inuit art.