Comprising stories from Inuit artists and writers across multiple media and formats, the IAQ offers an intimate look at an oft-overlooked aspect of Inuit creative life; the way names shape and influence not only identity, but also art.
As a culture of mononyms, or single names, passed down throughout generations, a pivotal aspect of Inuit naming practices is the “namesake” from which children receive their atiq, or “soul name”. Although the “namesake” is still practised today, layers of contact and colonization have since altered the stories of these monikers. Although some may be familiar with the painful history of the E-numbers, a numbered system that replaced traditional names in government documents as well as the colonial educational and medical systems in the 1940s, changes to Inuit naming practices does not end there. In the 1970s, as part of an initiative to collect census data, the Canadian Government began assigning surnames to replace these numbers. As a result, many Inuit took the names of one of their ancestors as their family names, most of which are still in use today.
Throughout this series, artists and writers who have reclaimed or embraced their names share their own unique journeys with their names that span their lives and careers. Together, we seek to explore the complex power and intimate knowledge of not only their own names but the practices of naming.