Incorporated in 1972, Arctic Co-operatives Limited was established with a vision for its Members to be able to coordinate their resources, consolidate their purchasing power and provide operational and technical support to independent community-based businesses throughout the Arctic. Fifty years on, the goals and approach remain the same—support community capacity, strengthen local economies and build a thriving and prosperous member-driven network across the North.
Today, 32 community-based Co-operative businesses owned and controlled by Inuit, First Nations and Metis communities are located in Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon. For five decades, Arctic Co-operatives Limited has been guided by the principle of “one member, one vote.” In celebration of this important legacy and the exciting future ahead, we asked a few Member artists about the impact of Arctic Co-operatives Limited on their work, careers and communities:
Mary Okheena COURTESY CANADIAN ARCTIC PRODUCERS
“In the old days, we put inuksuit in areas for meeting and hunting. Those inuksuit were built to stand for years. The Co-op is like an Inuksuk, it stands strong and is always there for the people and the community. This print represents the old days, when we travelled by dog team in the night, under the moon and northern lights.”
– Mary Okheena, Artist, Holman Eskimo Co-op LTD.
Paul Maliki COURTESY CANADIAN ARCTIC PRODUCERS
“We appreciate Arctic Co-operatives and the Co-op in our community—they have always been there for me and for my family. I was 11 years old when I made my first carving. It was a narwhal and I was very happy to bring it to the Co-op. I would like to thank the Co-op for supporting me, my community and my art. I’m very grateful.”
Jaco Ishulutaq COURTESY CANADIAN ARCTIC PRODUCERS
“The qulliq represents the Co-op and the people around it represent the community. Without the Co-op, the community would be dark and the people would be very unhappy. Here the qulliq is lit. The future—our future as a community—is bright.”
– Jaco Ishulutaq, Artist, Pangnirtung Eskimo Co-op LTD.
Danny Aaluk COURTESY CANADIAN ARCTIC PRODUCERS
“The dog team plays a vital role in the Inuit culture. Lead dog has a great role, but cannot do it alone, as it depends on his team. The logo design represents Arctic Co-operatives coming together, working together with the Co-ops to reach that one common goal. To be strong and successful.”
– Danny Aaluk, Artist, Qikiqtaq Co-op Assoc. LTD.
Jeneen Frei Njootli COURTESY CANADIAN ARCTIC PRODUCERS
“This is a stylization of a beadwork pattern from my family, my auntie Alice Frost’s design. Dog teams are a traditional mode of transport and traditionally we honoured that by sewing beautiful regalia for our family and dogs. Coming from a long line of dog runners myself, I wanted to showcase something that is distinctly northern Indigenous to honour Arctic Co-operatives’ 50th anniversary.”
– Jeneen Frei Njootli, Artist, Old Crow Co-op LTD.
Jaco Ishulutaq People of the Community (2021) COMMISSIONED BY ARCTIC CO-OPERATIVES LIMITED © THE ARTIST
About the artists
Danny Aaluk is a graphic artist from Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), NU, where he is still based today. Aaluk is most well known for his “drum” drawings, whereby he redefines the meaning of a stretched canvas by drawing directly on the skin of traditional Inuit drums.
Jaco Ishulutaq is one of the most well known and prolific artists working in Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung), NU, today. A skilled sculptor in antler, ivory, whalebone and stone, Ishulutaq was awarded the Nunavut Commissioners’ Arts Award in 2018 in recognition of his contribution to the visual arts of Nunavut.
Paul Maliki is a celebrated sculptor, highly sought after for his depictions of arctic wildlife. Based in Naujaat (Repulse Bay), NU, Maliki is a self-taught artist whose work is heavily influenced by his work as a hunter. His work can be found in private and public collections across North America and around the world.
Jeneen Frei Njootli is a 2SQ Vuntut Gwitchin artist with Czech and Dutch ancestry whose award-winning practice takes the forms of performance, sound, textiles, images, collaboration, workshops and feral scholarship.
Mary Okheena is a prominent multidisciplinary artist based in Ulukhaktok, Inuvialuit Settlement Region, NT, who primarily works in graphic art but also creates wallhangings and embroidered works. Across each medium, Okheena’s work is characterized by playful visual narratives, which include both human and animal figures.