Inuit relationships to water—to oceans, inland lakes and rivers—has been one of storytelling and survival for generations. In this Portfolio, the IAQ investigates these links with the shore, the surface and the deep and what those spaces mean for everything from the spiritual lives of Inuit to food harvesting practices.
With nearly every community across Inuit Nunangat clustering along-side the jagged coastlines where land meets sea, the shore means access to the waters on which people depend and its bounty of resources beneath. Community harbours represent vital aspects of the local economy, a haven for sealifts carrying goods from the South, or as a place to leave fishing boats bobbing in the waves that roll in from the open sea. In traditional food harvesting, preparation and butchering often begin immediately at the shore, with animals skinned and portioned on the rocks of the beach, or harvested in the shallows using fishing weirs. Although the shore and the deltas of rivers that feed into the sea represent the nascent point of Inuit relationships to the water they rely on, it can also represent danger, and Inuit oral history is rife with stories of creatures from the deep that snatch children who stray too far from their parents along the shorelines.
Tony Anguhalluq Two inuit are out camping for the summer in July and are out fishing by the east side of Baker Lake (2017) Coloured pencil and oil stick 56.5 × 76.2 cm COURTESY MARION SCOTT GALLERY
Simeonie Weetaluktuk Walrus and Bear (c. 1960) Stone 14.6 × 12.7 × 5.1 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S
Janet Kigusiuq Back River Landscape (2003) Coloured pencil 56.5 × 76.2 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S
Simona Scottie Summer Camp (1982) Coloured pencil 22.9 × 30.5 cm COURTESY ART GALLERY OF GUELPH
Sheojuk Etidlooie Fish Weir (n.d.) Coloured pencil and graphite 22.9 × 65.5 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S
This Feature was originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
See the Surface
See the Deep