Ivujivik, Nunavik, QC

Ivujivik, Nunavik, QC

Ivujivik, named after the piles of ice that stack along the shore, is Nunavik, QC’s most northern village. Built on a sandy cove, the surrounding landscape is dominated by massive granite cliffs that dramatically drop into the turbulent waters of Digges Sound where the forceful currents of Hudson Bay meet the Hudson Strait. The nearby East Digges Island and Cape Wolstenhome are noted ecological sites for their large colonies of Thick-billed Murres.

Rich in plant and animal life—locals are familiar with occasional polar bear warnings shared on Facebook—Ivujivik winters are extremely cold, which can impede transportation in and out of the village, but rarely stops the local hunters.

Ivujivik has an important sculptural legacy, which includes artists such as Simon Luuku and Tivi Paningayak. While early carvings were mostly created out of steatite—which has become more difficult to source—many sculptors, such as Mattiusi Iyaituk, experiment with a variety of stones, including serpentine, sandstone and granite. Iyaituk, who, early in his career was influenced by the work of his brother Nutaraluk Iyaituk (1943–2005), is well known for his highly stylized abstract style, depicting visual representations of his personal experiences and observations. 

In May 2017, artists Passa Mangiuk, Qumaq M. Iyaituk and Mary Paningajak worked with Lyne Bastien in her home studio to get trained on linocut printing, which led to Convergence North/South, a 2019 group exhibition of their work at Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto, ON. For the past decade, members of the community have been advocating for a dedicated arts space that would serve not just Ivujivik, but other nearby communities who come to the village for training in disciplines such as drawing and printmaking. Until the project comes to fruition, Paningajak’s home serves partly as a printmaking studio, and she also facilitates workshops through the local Nuvviti school. The hope is that a proper facility would also help revitalize and educate younger generations.

Digital art and graphic design is an emerging discipline in Ivujivik, thanks to Nuvviti Director Thomassie Mangiok, whose company, Pirnoma Technologies, promotes Inuktitut language resurgence through films, apps, comics and colourful animations inspired by Japanese manga and other popular styles. The community’s current mayor, Adamie Qalingo, also serves as President of the Board of Directors for Théâtre Aaqsiiq, a theatre company working regionwide to offer training to local youth and to create Inuktitut-language plays based on stories from Nunavik and its people.

This profile was authored by the IAQ and created in collaboration with Mary Paningajak of Ivujivik, Nunavik, QC, and Avataq Cultural Institute in January 2023.

Ivujivik, 2022 © Caroline Makimmak

Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC

Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC

Located on the edge of the boreal forest and the Koksoak River, the largest in the region, is the community Kuujjuaq. Named for the “Great River” in Inuktitut, life in the hamlet of approximately 2,700 residents is oriented to and closely tied to the river and is the largest village in Nunavik. Home to the annual music festival Aqpik Jam, established in 1996 and Nunavik's largest music festival, Kuujjuaq is host to numerous year-round activities, including Ski-Doo races and the annual fishing derby.

Notably, Kuujjuaq is home to Jennie Snowball’s signature ookpik doll. These stuffed sealskin owls with large round eyes would eventually become a Canadian icon, putting Kuujjuaq on the map for an international audience. The financial success of Snowball’s dolls in the early 1960s, gave the community's recently opened co-operative the financial support it needed to build momentum. Today the co-op remains an important part of daily life.

The community is well-known for its many contemporary performers and storytellers including spoken word artist, curator and writer Taqralik Partridge; performer and playwright Sylvia Cloutier; circus performer Charlie Gordon; and musicians Etua Snowball and Juurini; as well as William Tagoona, a member of The Harpoons, one of the first Inuit rock groups, who settled in Kuujjuaq in the early 1970s from Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), NU.

Jewellery, graphic arts, photography and painting are also strongly associated with the hamlet today. Notable artists working in and often across these mediums include: Eva Saunders, Hannah Tooktoo, Jennifer La Page, Julie Grenier, Mary Gordon, Niap, Charleen Watt, Dawn Forrest, Janice Parsons Gordon, Sammy Kudluk and Tanya Innaarulik.


This profile was authored by the IAQ and created in collaboration with Charleen Watt of Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, QC, and Avataq Cultural Institute in December 2022.

Kuujjuaq © Mary Gordon

Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL

Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL

Located on the north coast of Labrador is the town of Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL. The hamlet’s name is derived from two Inuttitut words, maggok meaning “two” and vik meaning “place”. The landscape surrounding the community of 400 is defined by its treelined vistas. It is home to the White Elephant Museum, the Makkovik Craft Centre and, annually over four days in August, a trout festival known for its musical performances—a nod to local traditions of guitar, fiddle and accordion, and more recently the work of violinist Kendra Jacque. 

The hamlet is widely regarded for its signature work in coat-making: silipaks (traditional and lightweight) and akuliks (lined and fur trimmed). Dr. Nellie Winters and her daughter Blanche Winters are particularly well-known for their work in this area as well as their teaching and skill sharing initiatives to support the next generation of textile artists.

A massive untitled mural painted by artist Jessica Winters is situated on the side of Frank’s General Store. Created in 2020 with assistance from four local youth interns, the scene depicts marine and other local wildlife against a backdrop of vibrant teals. Adorning the wall at the local museum is a mural by artist Gerald Mitchell Sr. whose paintings and prints can also be found in homes throughout the community.

The work of photographer James “Uncle Jim” Andersen is also synonymous with the community of Makkovik, laying the groundwork for a rich local practice of image making that is carried forward today by Holly Andersen, Gary Andersen and others.

This profile was authored by the IAQ and created in collaboration with Joan Andersen of Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL, in October 2022.

Makkovik © Holly Andersen

Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, NL

Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, NL

Agvituk, ‘the place of whales’, is located at the midway point along the Labrador Coast. Renamed Hopedale in 1782 by Moravian Missionaries, the community is home to the legislative capital of the Nunatsiavut Government as well as some of oldest wooden-framed buildings in Canada. The Hopedale Mission Complex and Interpretation Centre houses thousands of objects and written materials that provide a first-hand view into the complex and intertwined histories of local Inuit, European missionaries, commerce, religion and culture.

Today the community’s skyline is defined by a radically different structure—the Nunatsiavut Assembly Building. While the 2012 building nods to the architectural style of the mission through its windows and steeple, the Assembly is a decidedly Inuit structure featuring an iglu-shaped front with labradorite and sealskin decorated interiors, the latter an important and ubiquitous material in local artmaking. Like most communities along the Nunatsiavut coast, sewing and textile arts are well represented in Hopedale. Talented seamstresses such as Sarah Jensen and sisters Vanessa and Veronica Flowers work in sealskin, moosehide and furs to create boots, mitts and other wearable artworks. The Flowers, taught by their late grandmother Andrea Flowers, today carry on the skills and expertise needed to undertake the detailed and laborious process to make the black-bottomed sealskin boots (traditional waterproof boots).

Sculpture, particularly wood carving, is another distinct practice represented in Hopedale. Known for their delicately carved wooden caribou, the late Chesley Flowers, his son Gilbert Flowers and nephew George Flowers have created numerous miniature herds from soft aspen and caribou antler. Ross Flowers, also a sculptor like his uncle Chesley, also a sculptor works in wood and antler as well as whalebone and stone, and is highly sought-after for his handmade Inuit drums.

This profile was authored by the IAQ and created in collaboration with Sarah Jensen of Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, NL, in January 2023.

Hopedale © Ryan Winters